Part One of my Story.
A kid on a mission.
I grew up in a fully Christian family who regularly went to church and did bible studies together. Now should this story start and end there? Well, no. As a young kid, you take a lot of what your parents taught you for granted, and you just believe it without questioning. Eventually I would get to the age where I ‘decided’ I believed in Jesus. But first, when I was around 6 years old, I ‘prayed the prayer’ to ask Jesus into my heart. If you are/were Christian, you will know what I’m talking about. I believed at that moment then, that I was saved and a child of God. Our family moved to a YWAM (Youth With a Mission) camp for several months, and we ended up going to some tropical island to do missionary work there. Ah naive me, thinking we were going for a holiday. To be fair, I was quite young so I didn’t have to participate in many of the adult activities, except for singing Christian songs to the locals and going to church. Much of the time I just wondered around by myself or with my siblings, exploring the various villages we stayed in, so… not too bad I guess? While I definitely believed in God then, I was pretty young so wasn’t at an age where I could really question much.
Becoming a ‘new person’ in my teenage years.
While I prayed that prayer as a kid, I didn’t really do much about it for a long time after. Sure I went to church and (sometimes) read my bible… but most of this was because I was in a Christian family, and we were expected to do these things. I did genuinely enjoy the youth group I went to at this Baptist church though. We had plenty of fun and I made a few friends there, plus going to youth group didn’t feel ‘religious’ like church and ‘Sunday school’ did. One time, our youth group went to this special youth service at another church. A fairly well known youth preacher spoke there with more fiery passion than I had ever heard anyone speak. I can’t remember too much about his sermon now, but he spoke about his experiences becoming a Christian and being healed by God of a terminal disease. I felt inspired by him. At the end of the service, they started playing emotional piano music and did an ‘altar call’. This is where they ask people if they would like to make a commitment to Jesus and go up the front, so I did. I remember my youth leader praying for me, praying that I would not just make a commitment today, but that tomorrow, and every day I would commit to being a follower of Jesus.
I felt goosebumps all over and was sweaty.
I felt charged.
I was different.
I remembered from that point on wanting to be a real Christian and make a difference. Not just a ‘Sunday Christian’.
At this point, I started going to church regularly on my own accord. My parents switched churches but I was still happy going to my old Baptist church. At one stage, I remember being called up by the pastor asking me if I was considering getting baptized at some point, I happily obliged. It was at a public swimming pool and I remember ALOT of people coming to watch it, most of whom I didn’t know (except some friends and my extended family). Various people quoted bible verses for me, some prayers were said and then I was dunked under water! I came out feeling like a Super Saiyan. I was a phoenix reborn, a new person.
The opiate of religion.
I remember at this point feeling much different than I ever had before. I just wanted to please God and be at peace with others. Other things just didn’t seem so important to me or as enjoyable. Why play video games or read books when I can be doing things which glorify God? Furthermore, things which previously had bothered me at school, just didn’t seem to bother me so much anymore. I felt cleansed and like a new person. These feelings lasted for several months as far as I can remember. For a long time I couldn’t explain it – the mind is a powerful thing. I always assumed these feelings were the Holy Spirit inside of me. Praising God at church and listening to my pastor speak was my favourite part of the week. At this point, I remember wanting to be a Christian missionary. In my head, I wanted to go overseas to preach the gospel to and help non-Christians. That feeling faded after a while though, as I decided I would rather live at home. As a teenager the prospect of going to a third world country to preach did freak me out a little – but I did talk to all my non-Christian friends about Jesus.
Later on I considered going to a Bible College when I finished high school. I didn’t though, and instead went to a secular university to study earth science. To this day, I wonder how much different things would have been for me if I had done that. Would I still be a Christian now? After all, studying science at university taught me a lot of critical thinking which has strongly contributed to my disbelief… I will never truly know. My guess is that I would’ve still reached a point where I doubted in God, but it would’ve taken a bit longer than it otherwise did.
My family now and closing.
At the start of this post I briefly mentioned how my family is all Christian. Well now, things have radically changed. Only my mum is still Christian while everyone else has abandoned the faith. This has made it easy for me to talk to some of my family members about what I believe now (besides my mum). My friends are a different story though, most of them are Christian and won’t take it so well, but I’ll have to tell them eventually…
So that’s part one of my story – how I became a Christian. Stay tuned next week for part 2 where I talk about aspects of my life as a Christian.