I didn’t really think much of Christianity until I was a teenager and a young pastor moved onto our estate in Kent. He was a great charismatic guy, having just qualified as an Elim Pentecostal pastor, and he started to get to know me and my mates from the area. Through the football or cricket games he organised on the estate, we got to know him really well and he started to share about Jesus and the difference he can make in our lives. Over time my mates and I started going along to church and gave our lives to Jesus. I remember how that first decision made a real impact on my life at the time.
When I was 14, my mum got seriously ill with a major heart condition which she ended up dying from. I just didn’t really understand where God was in it, or how God could let this happen to me as a teenager – it really affected me and broke me. The pain and loss made me turn my back on God and just do my own thing. I started drinking, doing drugs – being a fool really – and in that time I just became really angry against God.
Around the age of 18 I started to notice God revealing himself to me in ways that were profound. For example, one night I just couldn’t get to sleep and as I lay there I powerfully felt the presence of God on me like never before and something just told me that there was someone who was praying for me. I wondered if it was my mate Graham who was a Christian and lived just a few doors down from me so the next day I asked him if he’d been praying for me, and he said he was! I asked if he’d been praying for me the night before, and it turns out he’d been praying for me at midnight exactly when I’d been awake and couldn’t sleep! I remember being blown away by this knowing that every time I couldn’t sleep it was when Graham was praying for me and in those moments I just knew God was on my case and wouldn’t let me go. I felt so encouraged to know that someone had been praying for me through all the difficulties and that God wanted to know me and have a relationship with me despite me turning my back on him for a number of years.
When I realised this, I began to feel the love of God again like never before, and I started going along to church again where I decided to give my life to God once and for all. The deal was done and there was no turning back!
I’ve now known God over many years, through some hard times and good times, but the Holy Spirit has always been there for me and walked with me. I’ve known that he is always with me and never against me. I’ve got the assurance of eternity, not only that we are going to enter heaven one day, but we can have heaven here today as well and so can experience the good of who god is and have the peace of God with me.
Written by Chipper Betts, The Message Trust East Midlands Hub Manager