Christians are, believe it or not, ordinary, normal people. Some will have been brought up in religious homes, others never entered a church til later in life. But one thing is constant: something happened in their lives, an encounter took place - and it changed them. In this section we will be regularly adding the stories of ordinary people for whom something extraordinary happened.
I come from a family that didn't really go to church but from an early age my parents sent me to the local Sunday school where I learnt a lot about the Bible. I got lots of awards and certificates by answering questions about the Bible but it didn't mean anything personal to me.
When I was about 15 a number of my friends became Christians through the work of the Christian Union in our school and I was invited to go on a Christian Adventure Holiday in Wales. I went with another friend with the intention of poking fun at everyone. As the week went on I came to see that Christians had a peace and confidence I didn't have and on the final night we were asked what we had learnt during the week. It was then that a bit of the Bible came back to me from Matthew 16 v 15 where Jesus says to one of his disciples called Peter 'who do you say that I am'.
I believe God was talking to me and challenging me about who I really thought Jesus was, and I had no other answer than Peter's 'you are the Son of God'. From that time on I started attending a weekly Bible study group run by the Christian teachers from school and the local church and 3 years later I left home to go to college and became very involved with the Christian Union there, where my faith grew and matured.
If I had to say one thing about the difference between my Christian faith and other world religions I would say it's all about a relationship, the joy and honour of knowing God for myself and the freedom to serve him rather than following a rigid set of rules to gain God's favour. I am a Christian not because of anything I have done or can do but purely and simply because of what Jesus has done for me.
I was brought up going to church as my parents were Christians. I enjoyed going to Sunday school and the church youth club where I had very good teaching. So I knew about God and Jesus and what being a Christian was but I gradually realised I wasn't one.
When I went to secondary school I was challenged in a new radical way by the RE teacher who read a book called the cross and the switchblade about drug addicts in New York becoming Christians and changing their lives because Gods Holy Spirit worked in their lives. I started to go to the Christian Union and learnt more about the bible and how you can have a living faith with God but I still didn't commit myself.
When I was about 13 I went through a very difficult time at school being bullied and sent to Coventry. I stuck things out for about 18 months but just before my 15th Birthday I cracked and couldn't face going to school any more. Of course my parents were really upset as I was the first child in the family who was expected to take A levels and go to University. My dad said I couldn't stay at home and do nothing so I went to work with him on his milk round. He was sure the early mornings would send me back to school. One of our customers were Christians. My dad had spoken to them about his concerns and they invited me to tea. Over tea the lady said we prayed for you at the prayer meeting. I was impressed that anyone should want to pray for ME!
After I had been at home for about 6 months two girls who were in the year above me who went to church came to see me. I hadn't been going to church and thought they were going to pressurise me to go so thought I would take them outside and show them around our smallholding. One of them said "Do you believe in God" I said "Look at the trees aren't they nice" pretending not to hear her. She said it again and this time it was like God speaking to me. He was saying "This is your opportunity to acknowledge me. Now is the time." I felt like it was now or never. I said "Yes" That's how I became a Christian.
I had lots of fears about life, my parents dying etc. The girls gave me a verse it was from Romans 8 vs. 28 and said "All things work together for good for those that love God." That I have found to be true. The good things, but also the not so good, God can use to teach us and help us grow to be more like him.
I became a Christian when I was 13 years old. I came from a family with a Christian influence. My mother and her family were Christians, and my father's family Hindus. My father was happy for us to go to Sunday school and be brought up as Christians.
From the age of six I attended Sunday school, but did not really gain any understanding about the fundamentals of the Christian message. I had no personal knowledge or relationship with God as I grew up. My mother seemed to have a friendship with God that I did not. She would talk to Him and we would see her prayers answered. I wanted what my mother had so one day I said in the quietness of my room,"God if you're out there, please show yourself to me". I know the passage in Luke (Chapter 11, verse 9 - "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find: knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks, finds and to him who knocks, the door will be opened"). I knew God existed and expected him to reply. I kept going to church, but no reply came. I waited for something to happen. By a year later, I was fed up. If there was a God out there, He's just not interested in me. May be, it was all made up. God's existence had been a cause for me to hope- a reason to be kind and good. Now He didn't exist, the whole point of life to me was in question and I began to see meaninglessness in the things I did. Entering now into my teens, life was not particularly rosy. I was made to go to church but in the back of my mind, hoped that God would still make himself known.
One Saturday Mum told us that we were going to Wembley stadium to see a preacher called Billy Graham. Reluctantly I went with my brother and mother to Wembley, which was packed full. In the middle of the pitch was a small stage. They started with some corny Christian music, poorly amplified but the sound of the crowd made up for it. Then Billy Graham spoke. And he spoke very simply. And this is the crux of what he said:
There is a God. And that God loves each and every one of you. He sent His only son Jesus to become a human, live amongst us and share our human pain, only to die on the cross. On that cross He suffered in order to pay the price for our wrong doings or sin. He was punished in our place, so that we can go free; not go to Hell away from God when we die, but to be friends with God now and live with Him when we die.
The rain started pouring; it was chucking it down, like I had never seen before. The penny dropped. There was a God after all. And for the first time in my life I understood what the point of Jesus was. He died so that He could take God's punishment for all of my lies, gossip, anger and hateful feelings towards people; every bad thing I had ever done. I was clean in God's eyes. I was beautiful in God's eyes because my bad deeds had already been paid for. It was Jesus who took the rap.
I suddenly felt sick. My heart was pounding. My legs turned to jelly. I was ashamed of my anger against God and was grateful to Jesus. I was so embarrassed before God, who I had doubted for all those months. Embarrassment came easily at the age of 13.
The rain pounded on the metal roof of the stadium and Billy Graham had to shout to be heard. Then lightening struck across the pitch (not joking), not once but twice. What are the odds of that? Billy had no fancy lights or sound system, but God did it for him, God was in my heart and He was not going to go. Finally Billy said, "Whoever wants to now live to please God, because you're grateful for what He has done through Jesus; come now onto this pitch and say a prayer with me. Come and commit the rest of you life to honour and serve God." The butterflies in my stomach went wild at hearing this. I was a shy person. I was not going down in front of thousands of people and do the most profound thing of my life I'd just do it quietly later. But just as I was thinking this, my brother turned to me and said, "Sis, come on, aren't you coming?" and he led the way. By this time the pitch was water logged. Hundreds of people seemed to make their way down we weren't the only ones. We were ankle deep in water. The rain stopped just in time for Billy Graham to lead us in prayer. This is the prayer we said:-
"Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner. I believe you died for my sins. Right now, I turn from my sins and open the door of my heart and life. I receive you as my personal Lord and Saviour. Thank you for saving me now. Amen."
I was thoughtful and emotional. From that time I was different. I saw people differently. I knew God loved everyone. Life became meaningful and honourable. I felt free to be myself and enjoy life and was less worried about what people thought of me. I felt secure in God's love. He loved me enough to die for me.
Now 20 years later, I continue to walk with God, grow closer to Him and learn about Him. I am grateful that He blessed me with the knowledge of Him. It is the most precious thing I have. I hope reading this will encourage you to ask Him to "show Himself to you", as I did if you have not done so already.
I was born to non practising Orthodox Jewish parents and I first learnt that there is a living God when I went to RE lessons in the synagogue. There I was taught all about the old testament miracles, bible stories and Jewish festivals and dietary laws, as well as all the rules and regulations God expected me to keep, which if I didn't meant God wouldn't love me and as my parents didn't keep them, it was impossible for me to do. Once I began school I started to learn much more about the Old and New Testaments and also about Jesus and His life.
It was about this time that I developed a passion for books and films which had a biblical story. Eventually I married an Austrian Jew who didn't believe any faith, but I tried to keep the Ten Commandments and I always believed there is a God but He had nothing to do with my life. When the children were born they attended R.E classes at the synagogue mainly to know their background but eventually they too decided against any religion. When my husband retired we came to Cornwall and I made many Christian friends. During this time we went through some very traumatic times with my son and one night which was very stressful I had the strange experience of hearing a voice in my mind telling me all would be well, and it was and so life went on. Then my husband died very suddenly and everything crashed in on me. The vicar took the funeral service and afterwards prayed over me and I experienced a great warmth and calm cover me.
One evening, more for company than anything else I went to a very simple communion service at the local church and noticed many of the prayers were the same as in a Jewish service. I went to this communion service for about a year, (I didn't take communion of course). One day after attending a fund raising event at the chapel I was thinking as I went home how kind these people were, and I remembered some words my husband had said to me 6 months before he died "I think if I wasn't here you would become a Christian" and then these words rang in my head "isn't it about time". This made me really think seriously about the commitment it would be, but I found all the things which could be an obstacle were gone.
I already accepted Old Testament miracles and Orthodox Jews believe in Resurrection and the Virgin Birth was another miracle. As soon as I realised all this I asked Jesus to come into my life and the joy that welled up in me was amazing. I still had a great deal to understand, but like the early Christians I felt Jesus was saying 'come follow me'. I was converted in a Methodist chapel and then I read the Bible right through for the first time and I realised it was all about God's love. Jesus had fulfilled all of the prophesies in the Old Testament and was my Messiah and had taken all my sins past and present when He went to the cross. My life has and still is being changed and although I still have difficult times I am never alone because Jesus is helping me to cope and I can't thank Him enough.
My dad had no church background and made a Christian commitment when he was Medical Assistant serving in HMS Hermes so the family started to go to a local church. I remember very clearly the evening I became a Christian. It was in Plympton Gospel Hall and Mr Leonard (he ran the CLC bookshop in Plymouth) was preaching in the evening service. The one verse kept running through my mind 'Behold now is the accepted time, now is the day of Salvation' 2 Corinthians Chapter 6 verse 2.
When younger I had been convinced the Gospel was true but thought it was probably best to live a bit of life first (try some good sins!) then make a commitment when I was older but on that night I felt there was an urgent need to ask Jesus Christ into my life. I knew what to do and prayed for salvation. At the end of the service I turned to my mum and told her that I had become a Christian. My parents were very pleased and they told the preacher. He asked what had struck me from the message, when I told him about the verse it turned out that he had not used it or quoted from it in any way. He said it was a seed planted at some other time that had just burst into life. The date was 21st November 1965 and I was 10 years old. I am convinced that even young children can make a meaningful Christian commitment that will shape there whole lives. At 15 years old I was baptised by immersion at Saltash Gospel Hall.
I joined the Royal Navy as a technician apprentice in 1973 and within 6 months had learned to swear like a trooper(sailor) also drink and smoke. I managed to completely submerge my faith for the first 2 years in the RN. Then one day a guy who knew I had some Christian background came to find me and invited me to the Christian Fellowship on the base. I thought 'why not' as I was broke anyway and there might be some girls there! After going along for a few months I realised the futility of how I had been living and that I had found my real home again. I rededicated my live to Christ and over then next few years grew in faith and experience.
That was all a long time ago and the Lord has guided me ever since. Now I am married with four grown up children but still very much seeking to go on with this great adventure of the Christian life.