I don’t have the crazy miraculous story that some people have of finding Jesus – I’m not a murderer or drug addict or been brought back to life 7 times. However, the day I accepted God into my life changed me forever and I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for Him. However, it all ultimately came down to one simple question which I don’t know what might have happened if I’d answered differently.
I was brought up in a single parent household (my parents got divorced when I was 6) with my older brother and sister. I felt like I was dragged to the local Baptist church every Sunday in Cumbernauld, Scotland, the town where I grew up – often kicking and screaming. My Papa had previously led the church and whilst it was full of lovely people, I really struggled in enjoy it. Much of the congregation were very old, all the worship was traditional hymns with an organ and we all sat in pews. At the age of 8 it wasn’t for me and whilst I went every Sunday I wouldn’t have called myself a Christian.
That all changed for me when I was 11 years old. After school I was never allowed to go home because my older brother & sister were ‘studying’ (though not for a moment do I think they were actually studying) and had to be babysat by my Aunt Morag and my Uncle Fred (however, being a fireman, Uncle Fred was never around). Usually these times after school weren’t anything memorable, however there was one day which I’ll always remember – I was sat in the living room doing some drawings and randomly (for reasons I don’t remember) Uncle Fred was there. He came up to me and asked me a question that would change my life – “Jamie, do you like football?” Now, these days, the answer to that question would be a very swift YES! (I’m a huge Celtics fan) However, at 11 I’m ashamed to say I wasn’t particularly bothered. Yet, for some reason, I said yes.
He was asking me because my aunt and uncle headed up the kid’s ministry at their church and on Friday evenings they would gather for a bit of football, then afterwards everyone would come together, worship and then break out into ‘cell groups’ and study the bible.
I remember going on that first Friday night (and not just because Uncle Fred drove his car like he was driving a fire engine), and the atmosphere was so different to anything I’d experienced before. Growing up I was always very timid and no matter where I lived, I was always picked on, bullied and never fully accepted. But at this church gathering, I felt so loved and welcomed, people wanted to get to know me and be my friend – one of whom would later become my wife!
After a few months of being at these Friday gatherings, I can’t fully explain it, but I just felt like there was something speaking to me, telling me that I was loved and accepted and that I was being called into something important (Now I’m a Christian I of course realise that was Jesus). Then one night, I was lying in my bed and I closed my eyes, raised my hands, and just prayed a prayer of salvation.
And from that moment onwards my life totally changed, I was all about God and sharing about his good news. As you can imagine, the bullying in school didn’t stop – I’d gone from being a bit of an outsider to a bit of an outsider who spoke nonstop about Jesus – but it didn’t matter to me anymore. I became sold out for Jesus and was never the same.
1 Timothy 4:12 became a powerful piece of scripture for me in those early years, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity”. And the famous verse in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. These verses have become engrained on my heart and were such encouraging words of truth in those young years and through to this day.
There’s an old song by my favourite band, Hillsong United, called ‘Free’, and there’s a line which goes ‘if the world caved in around me, to you I still hold on’. And that’s how I choose to live my life – it doesn’t matter good or bad things get, I’m never going to leave Him and I’ll always find my way back to Him.
Written by Jamie Pearson
Jamie is the Development and Operations Manager for The Message Trust in Scotland. He is a passionate Scotsman, living on the outskirts of Glasgow with his wife of almost 9 years Hayley and their little Westie Millie. He loves God and loves his football.