I grew up in a family where God wasn't known. That's not to say love wasn't shown or I was neglected! Far from it. It's just the way it was.
We had no contact with any Christians or with the Church, apart from the usual births, deaths & marriages. All my life I was interested in physical things, spiritual stuff like religion was a waste of time. I wanted to be a scientist, to work with stuff I could measure, hold, use and do things with. At school I was quite bright but tended to hang about with kids who were interested in things other than learning and lessons. I was threatened with demotion at school a few times, but always managed to do enough to keep the status quo. My life as a teenager was easy going. Always out with friends, fishing, riding old motorbikes around gravel pits and the surrounding fields - stuff like that. My first direct contact with Christians came when I started going to a youth group they were running at a local junior school. We went because we wanted to 'have a laugh'. And we did, in our own peculiar way. Breaking into classrooms, letting off fire extinguishers, climbing on the canteen roof and throwing tiles in the swimming pool. That was our idea of a laugh.
And that was it for contact with Christians, until about 16 years later in 1993. I was living with the woman who was later to become my wife. We had 2 children by then and I had been unemployed for about 2 years (remember the recession in the UK of that time?). I'd always been a great fan of Cat Stevens. I think he was, and is, an awesome singer/songwriter. You may remember he gave up his music and songs and embraced Islam? Having time on my hands I thought I'd try to find out why. Well, I read some books about Cat and then read some books about Islam. Then I read a translation of the Koran. And it was interesting. All the biblical characters that we in the west grow up with yet know nothing about were in the Koran. Moses, Abraham, Jesus and others. And, yes, it was interesting. But that was all.
Still hungry for whatever I was being led to search for I went down the library and took out a Bible. And I read it from cover to cover, Genesis to Revelation. Yeah, ok, I did skip a few pages in Numbers and Deuteronomy, but I'm only human! And what I found in the Bible was really interesting. I read all I could about Christianity. And I got to a point where books weren't filling the hunger but feeding it. I had to find out more - but where? So I used to cycle round all the churches near to where I lived. Looked at their notice boards trying to get some idea of what they were like. After all, I didn't want to become ensnared in some sort of cult, did I? And in the end plumped for safety and went into the local Church of England church. I went in with the pretext of getting my children baptised. The curate I spoke to got wind that something was up when I asked him if he could explain the Trinity to me! And for good measure, was John the Baptist Elijah! I think he knew something was up. By coincidence (are there coincidences with God?) the church was just about to run it's first Alpha course. Perfect timing. I realised and accepted the sacrifice of God on my behalf and became one of the saints on that course.
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