Mel

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Dull, unemotional and monotonous

I guess I should start at the very beginning

As a child I was christened into the Anglican Church where I remember going to Sunday school and being a member of the Church choir. My early memory of Church life is sitting on a cold wooden bench near the Alter, where I dared not move or speak. I recall the cold environment of the church; sombre people in the congregation, the vicar and the elder members looking so serious and insensitive. The Choirmaster instructed us to speak only when we were spoken to, sing at the top of our  voices and we lived in fear of singing out of tune.

The services were so formal; every week a hymn, a prayer and then a Bible reading, from the large open leather bound Bible resting on a gigantic golden eagle. A man would read a chapter which I could not begin to understand; everyone was so silent whilst listening to this dull, unemotional, monotonous voice. A hymn or Psalm would then be sung before another man, dressed in a long, flowing robe with a white collar worn back to front around his neck would slowly move towards a large stone stairway, leading to a box high above us. It felt as if he was on the ceiling looking down in judgement.

He would stand there for what seemed to a small boy like an eternity, addressing the congregation below. I would be sitting silently on that hard wooden seat listening to the slow dull voice of the ‘man on the ceiling.’ He spoke of a God that would strike down anyone who had done wrong or who did not believe in him. After the sermon we would kneel in prayer on a strange looking cushion with hands held together, fingers pointing towards the ceiling; during this time my thoughts would wander to how many biscuits I could eat in the Church Hall afterwards. As time went on I felt that I needed to find out who I was, which proved a far greater challenge than dutifully attending this cold, unwelcoming brick building every Sunday, to listen to something I did not understand.

I felt a presence protecting me

In spite of these cold childhood experiences, I always felt a form of presence was protecting me.   In my adult life I often went to Church on special occasions -  Easter, Christmas, weddings and funerals; occasionally I would go to a local Sunday Service. I don’t know why but I was just drawn there by a strange longing to go there, I would again listen but not understand. I suppose this reflected back to my earlier years.

Jesus said: 'The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.  I give them eternal life; they will never be lost and no one will ever steal them from me.  The Father who gave them to me is greater than anyone, and no one can steal from the Father. (John 10:27-30)

 

About three and a half years ago ...

my wife Cathy and I came to Victoria one Sunday by invitation from Ros White, Cathy’s friend from work.  I sat there and listened intently. After the service I had a lot of questions which I wanted answers to, but did not know who to turn to as I was new. Cathy suggested I asked Ros’ husband, Ian who mentioned the Alpha Course.

I felt it was time for me to learn more about Jesus so Cathy and I decided to attend. During these evenings there were still a lot of questions I wanted answering; I spoke about my life experiences to others and I listened to what was being said. I prayed with the group and read the Bible at home but in truth I still found it very difficult to believe that one person could change the lives of so many; I guess that part of me was feeling that I had joined a book club, it was like reading a ‘highway code’ in order to live my life better. I could not at times grasp the deeper meaning of what was being said.

Something changed within me

The most inspiring part of the course, which was a life changing experience for me, was the weekend away when we spoke about grace and the Holy Spirit. I don’t know what it was but something changed within me; I felt so close to Jesus it was incredible. I asked Ian to pray with me and it was only then that I felt His grace and His presence around and within me. For the first time in my life I cried with real tears I felt so warm inside, so loved and so blessed; my whole body trembled, not in fear but I honestly believe that Jesus touched me during this special prayer time.

After Alpha I was so enthusiastic for more information, more prayers, more words and more teaching that within twelve months I was baptised, the greatest event in my life. Standing up in front of my Church family and reading my testimony and being blessed was life changing. The whole day was awe inspiring; the power from our Lord was unknown to me until that day, when I was submerged below the water, signifying the washing away of all my sin. I can now live a Christian life.

I believe with sincerity that our Lord gave me a purpose on this earth as one of his soldiers to protect, help and support those that are weak, persecuted, bullied and alone. The Lord showed that He is there for me and gave this sign to come to Victoria in order that I should learn of His love, blessing and grace. Since becoming a Christian and praying with others I have witnessed our Lord at work within me, I have seen his work. I have been blessed with so much love from my Church family and friends, with special love from Ian + Ros, David + Pat, Margaret, Ken and  Rose to name just a few. 

Mel

 

Youth and Children