Jesus changes lives! Some of those who were confirmed in October 2012 wanted to publicise the declaration of their faith in the Lord Jesus. Here’s what they say about how they came to that point:
During my childhood, the only religious instruction came from school. As a family we only attended church for weddings and funerals.
My journey with God began in July 2009 when our daughter Emily attended Holiday Bible Club which was organised by Christ Church.
To be honest I saw it as an excuse to keep her occupied for a couple of hours a day during the first week of the holidays. As the week went on Emily would come home with tales of what they had done and I became curious.
That weekend, a church service was held to celebrate the Holiday Bible Club and we were given a warm welcome by Peter and Bridget and other members of the church family. It was not at all what I expected, everyone was so friendly and from that Sunday on we became regular visitors. I had felt that there was something missing in the jigsaw of my life. I had a loving husband, a happy, healthy child and all the material things in life but there was something else.
Over the months, I listened to the sermons in church, began to pray and read the bible. I have to admit I did (and sometimes still do) get confused about the detail of what is being said but the message is clear. God sent his Son the Lord Jesus Christ to die for us and save us from sin. I will always remember listening to Rico Tice and he said that if we only remembered one thing from that day it was “Jesus died for me “.
I am happy to acknowledge this truth in front of my family and friends at Christ Church. The saying is true God works in mysterious ways and I have found the missing piece of the jigsaw of my life.
I grew up in a Christian home, but it took me a while to understand that faith is not about family or cultural background, but a personal commitment to – and relationship with – God.
I started asking myself, “Does Christianity make sense?” As I came to the conclusion that it did, it also became clear to me that this was now in my hands – God had invited me in, and it was up to me to respond. In many ways, it was a relief to commit myself into God’s hands, and let go of little worries and fears.
As a Christian, I have different priorities, a new sense of purpose, and the hope of heaven. Now, I want to share my faith, and the joy it brings me, and celebrate joining the Church.
I was an atheist since before university, although not militantly so. My view was not that I doubted the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth, and I thought his teachings, so far as I understood them at the time to be a force for good, but in my experience it was not possible to walk on water or rise from the dead and so the miraculous or supernatural elements of the Bible had to be false.
I think the first stage in my path to becoming a Christian was the birth of our daughter. As we were faced by the responsibility of teaching Emily about right and wrong, I became increasingly aware of the need for more of a moral framework in our lives. Therefore I was really pleased when Emily had the opportunity, when she was at Priory Infants School, to attend Christ Church’s Holiday Bible Club. Sheryll and I attended the service at the end of the club as proud parents to see the children sing the song they had learned and we were made to feel very welcome. It was Sheryll who suggested that it might be nice to come again and since I thought it was important that we attend as a family, I came along too.
Sheryll was the first to do the Christianity Explored course and it was through talking to her about what she was learning and listening to the sermons at Christ Church week by week, that I came to the conclusion that passively observing wasn’t really right. Therefore I decided when the course came round again to try it and come to a clear decision about what I thought.
Although I wasn’t entirely ignorant of the Bible or theology, the course was the first time I had read one of the Gospels from start to finish. As I read Mark’s Gospel I realised that my former position of seeing Jesus just as a good man who taught an ethical way to live wasn’t really tenable – that wasn’t what he said of himself. His claim to be the Son of God with the power to forgive sin meant that if he wasn’t, he was either mad or evil – and nothing else in the account suggested this, or that the account was itself fabricated but that didn’t seem likely since that would have meant that the witnesses to his life had died horrible deaths for something they knew to be false. Given all this evidence, the last stage was my realisation that to accept Christ for who he said he was didn’t mean a wholesale rejection of rationality, but to accept that God could on occasion intervene in the created world to do the miraculous.
I would not describe the conversion itself in my case as overly dramatic. I prayed to say that I did accept that there was a God, that I did accept Jesus as Lord and wished to be forgiven for my years of rebellion. I did really feel a sense of relief, acceptance and of being less alone.
The changes in me since my acceptance of Jesus as Lord have been more of a process than a sudden transformation. I do feel calmer, happier, less worried by the things of this world as I now believe that that what happens in this world is not all there is. That is not to say of course that I don’t get cross and irritable and worried, but when those things happen I am comforted by the fact that I am loved and forgiven.
My Christian journey started while I was still living in London. We had a vibrant, diverse Anglican Church at the end of our road in Cricklewood - St Gabriel's - and I often went there with my children to the popular baby and toddler groups. But it was after losing my father suddenly to cancer in 2004, and finding it difficult to cope with the bereavement, that I began to feel interested in answering the big questions in life and eventually plucked up the courage to enroll on an Alpha course. I had plenty of questions! Especially regarding my father. I questioned how a loving God could take my wonderful, talented father away just before he was about to retire - as any non-Christian would. It wasn't easy but I began to understand - at least as far as is possible - how God works in our lives. The Alpha course was definitely the commencement of my awakening and I went on to attend numerous other Christian courses at the church, interested to delve deeper into understanding the Christian faith.
I vividly remember on an Alpha session being shown Holman Hunt's picture of Christ, the light of the world, knocking at the door and it really struck a chord with me. It was then that I decided to really "listen" for Jesus and open the door so I could know him better. My husband and I had already decided by this point to move to East Kent to be nearer my mother who was having difficulty coming to terms with losing my dad. On the first Sunday we came to Christ Church in 2011, I was overwhelmed by the welcome shown to me and my family - Bridget and Peter opened their arms to us and I have really enjoyed becoming part of the Christ Church "family" ever since!
I had enquired at St Gabriel's about confirmation before we moved, but we were destined to leave London before it would have been possible - and I'm so glad because I am thrilled to be undertaking such an important and meaningful service here at Christ Church in Ramsgate!
I would like to be confirmed because I have accepted Jesus as my Saviour and that he died to save me from my sins. The people that have inspired me to be a Christian and get confirmed are my Mum, my step dad Trevor, the Vicar of our church Peter and his wife Bridget - she and Peter taught me at my younger youth group I used to go to called You2.
I would like to be confirmed now because I feel like I have a better understanding of Jesus Christ. I would also like to make a public declaration of my faith so everyone can see I’m a Christian.
The reason I have faith that Jesus is my Lord and Saviour is because whenever I’m in trouble or doubt I can always call on him and although he may not answer immediately, I know he has heard and he will always deliver.
My mum has helped me stay in Christianity by regular prayer meetings with the family, which are always beneficial. If I am ever confused or worried about something there has never been a time when she has not been able to answer or explain.
I had no religious upbringing, neither parents went to church. When I was pre-school age my neighbour would take me to church and Sunday school in Woodensbrough near Sandwich. My mum then got me christened there.
When I was around nine years old we moved to Broadstairs, I attended Salem Baptist Church in St. Peters with a friend until I was approximately 14 years old.
In my later teens none of my close friends attended church so my visits became less frequent and eventually I stopped attending any services.
When I got married and had children, I felt the need for them to experience for themselves the family life of church. I took them to Anath Hall, which was convenient as it was only around the corner from where we live. My eldest son was only five at the time and he is now twenty and we continue to attend as a family.
It was just after my mother’s funeral I found out I was pregnant with my 5th child. After my son was born, I decided to contact Brian of Christ Church for information on having my youngest two children christened. He had been so supportive during my mother’s passing that I felt that it was the right place for my children to be christened. During this time he made us feel so welcome that as a family we have visited regularly for 11 years.
Soon after joining Christ Church I went to ‘Christianity Explored’ and for several years I’ve helped out at Holiday Bible Club. I continue to go to growth group meetings and help out in crèche. I have learnt a lot about the bible and also know I have a lot more to learn but I pray to God and trust and believe in him. My life would not be the same without him.