How I Came To Faith – Ben’s Story


How did I come to faith? Well, I guess I’ve been exposed to faith in Jesus my whole life. Before I was born, my parents were missionaries in France, and by the time I came along they had been church leaders. My dad would go on to become the principal of a bible college in Cambridge, England (while my mum became Professor Stephen Hawking’s nurse- but that’s a story for another day!) It’s hard to ignore Jesus stuff with that kind of background. (Fellow preacher’s kids, can I get an ‘amen’?)

I attended church throughout my childhood and can never remember a time where Jesus wasn’t part of family life. And yet, there are two important moments in my own journey where I moved from being in a household of discipleship, to becoming a disciple.

The first of these came when I was ten years old. One night I became aware that my older sister had gone downstairs after bedtime and had stayed down there for a long time. Assuming (possibly hoping, as I was far from saintly) that something was wrong with her, I hovered around the top of the staircase to see if I could find out what was happening. A little while later she came back upstairs with a big smile on her face. I assumed it was because she seemed to have quite the bounty of goods in her hands, some books. (This was the eighties, we didn’t have cool stuff like PlayStation, so books were the currency of envy – think cigarettes in prison!)

From my enquiry she stated that her happiness was because she’d become a Christian rather than because of the books in her hands. I didn’t believe her.

And so, the following evening I decided to venture downstairs after dark (I assumed this must be ‘Christianity-o-clock’ based on my sister’s actions) to become a Christian so that I too could enjoy the bounty of books that seemed to be (the best) part of the transaction.

Creeping downstairs with anticipation, I arrived at the lounge door where I could hear my parents watching television within. As I slowly opened the door and peeked my head around, I instantly caught the gaze of my dad, who upon seeing the face of his son, lovingly responded,

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING OUT OF BED!?”

I say lovingly, but I hope the caps lock aggression conveys the shout that is still ringing in my ears thirty years later.

To be fair to my dad, I was a rascal, and if I was out of bed after dark it was likely for mischief rather than need. However, naively I hadn’t considered this accusatorial response and this, combined with being high on ‘I’m about to get free book’ fumes, resulted in me bursting into tears.

Embarrassed, I turned and ran back upstairs as fast as I could (which took longer than was ideal, as I had then, and still have today, frustratingly short legs for escaping awkwardness). As I climbed the stair summit of shame, I resolved to offer a parting shot and leave a wound of my own on my grumpy dad, employing the one weapon a child has against their parents – guilt.

I shouted back in the direction of my dad and all lovers of justice who might have been in earshot (probably with a few extra hyperventilated breaths for dramatic effect),

“I ONLY WANTED TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN!!”

Bullseye.

A couple of minutes later my dad came up to my room to see what was really going on. After he asked a few probing questions about some books, to which I put on my best nonplussed face (don’t bother kids, parents always know) he said that if I was serious then he was delighted, but it was a conversation best had in the morning. I weighed up playing the urgency card and asking what would happen if I didn’t wake up and he was to blame for me missing my moment and ending up in hell (man, I wanted those books) but thought better of it. (I mean, I wasn’t going to read the books that night even if I got them!)

Sure enough, the following morning we talked it through, and building on that clarifying breakfast conversation and all I had learned about Jesus through my life, I realised that I did actually want to trust in Jesus as Lord, seek his forgiveness and live for him. And so, I gave my life to Jesus in that moment.

However, by the time I got to high school, God became less of a priority and while my belief in God was always there, my devotion certainly wasn’t. My teenage years were… interesting (again, stories for another day).

By the time I was seventeen, my life was divided between churchy stuff like my youth group and the occasional mission trip, and the rest of my life, like my friendship group and the occasional hedonism trip.

One day, a Christian girl I knew at my college, (which was connected to my old school) came to me to say she had been asked to run a Christian Union for the 11-13–year- olds in the school by one of the teachers. She was going to do it, but she needed help, and knowing I went to church wondered if I was interested.

My first thought was: Sure, why not? It could be fun, and I’d heard rumours of free donuts being involved. Winner.

But then another thought struck me. How could I lead a bunch of younger students in learning about beliefs that I claimed, but didn’t actually live out? If someone had confronted me with this hypocritical reality directly, I suspect that all my rebellious instincts would’ve kicked in and I would’ve just shrugged it off. But here, the thought came as revelation rather than confrontation.

I started to think of the questions the students would ask and how I would answer them. Answers that needed to come not just from a place of knowledge but a place of love. If I was going to help disciple them, I needed to be a disciple. As I played these conversations out in my mind, I suddenly realised that God was using these young students I hadn’t even met yet, to disciple me.

I suddenly felt both convicted and compelled about my devotion to Jesus, and everything changed.

The following year I ended up deferring my university place to study film and instead joined Youth For Christ as a DJ evangelist, and life has never been the same. Who knows, maybe Advance wouldn’t exist in the way it does today if I hadn’t had a wonderful Christian home, a desire for some free books, and an invitation to eat donuts with some younger Christian kids. 

These are just a few of the things God has woven together in my life to bring me to an ever-growing faith in him.

How did I come to faith?

By the grace of God.

…by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8)