Before I want to really start to tell you a little more about myself and my journey to faith I want to say thank you for coming to you all, particularly my family who have come all the way from Germany, and lots of friends too. I am grateful you are here!
My journey to faith
As some of you might know, I am German and I grew up near Heidelberg in Southern Germany. Since both my Dad and my Mum have always been involved in our village church and my Grandpa was a pastor, both my sister Leslie and I grew up in Christian surroundings, with going to Sunday school and later accompanying my parents to church on Sundays. I was baptised as a baby - actually by my Grandpa - and confirmed at the age of 14.
However, when I think back to the days of my youth and actually the time before I became a Christian, my view of God was quite different from what is now: Although I believed and knew He existed and was a person, He seemed to be fairly evasive and mingle very little with humans. It did not occur to me that maybe I was mingling very little with Him! Who Jesus really was remained a bit of a mystery too! That Christianity had something to do with Jesus Christ was obvious, but I did not ascribe any more attributes to Him than being a wise moral teacher having led a really good life. Therefore, being a Christian had to mean just trying to be good and that would get you into heaven. Whether He was really the Son of God or what the His death on the cross meant I did not understand but also did not feel bothered by.
Even during confirmation classes when we studied the Bible and talked about Jesus and God, my views did not change and stayed the same basically until about 2 years ago.
During my second year at Cambridge, I went home over Christmas to see my family as usual. We were chatting the evening before Christmas Eve when all of a sudden my sister Leslie, who was then studying in Cardiff, fell quiet and said she had to share something with us. We all looked puzzled when she said she had become a Christian. A Christian? Wasn’t that what we all were anyway? Leslie explained that after her view of God had always been similar to mine, she had now finally grasped Jesus' true significance and the real contents of the Gospel! I was totally puzzled by what my little sister told me. What was she going on about? Was there something that had been right under my nose and I had not seen it or rather chosen to ignore?
We talked late and went to church Christmas day. Since we did not have a regular pastor at that time, someone from the neighbouring village was preaching. Totally unexpectedly, I heard the most challenging sermon I had ever heard. For the first time, I heard the whole gospel message clearly and what enormous consequences it ought to have for everyone and ME! I realised that even I was in fact a sinner, like everyone else, whether a good church-goer or a thief and that just trying to be nice was not enough! Like all of us I preferred to run my own life and turn my back on Him who loved and made me. And that wasn’t good and in fact there was NOTHING we could really do to get out of trouble. But there was hope: because of His great love, God sent His Son Jesus to bear all OUR blame and to deal with OUR sin! By doing so, Jesus opened a way to be reconciled to God, start over and get to know and love Him.
I was highly intrigued but I still had my doubts and didn’t really want to change my life and attitudes just yet. That night, I started to pray though, asking that God would let me grasp the reality of Jesus' life, death and resurrection for my life! I also decided I needed to read the Bible to check things out for myself: Being a scientist I knew that the Bible which tells us all about Jesus, had to convince me as watertight and conclusive if I were to believe all this.
I started reading the New Testament and began to realise that it read pretty much like history: references to real names and places, everyday details meticulously recorded. Not a propaganda paper written by some first century AD fanatics. Some of the minor inconsistencies rather added to my realisation of this also not being a smoothed up and glossy advertisement for Christianity but a historical document. My conclusion was that the Bible was true and conclusive, and that I could trust every bit of it.
Through further reading the Bible and other books such as C.S. Lewis‘ book “Mere Christianity”, I slowly started to figure out who Jesus was. I realised that Jesus’ “wise words”, which even most non-Christians appreciate, and His outrageous claim to be the Son of God could only make sense together if He was really saying the truth. I accepted that He did and was in fact the Son of God who was able to forgive my sins and put me right with God.
Since then God has shown me that faith in Him is not only conclusive in theory but that He is real and I can get to know Him here and now! In the way He challenged or reassured me through chats with my sister or friends, such as Tony Lloyd or Alister and many others here at Eden, even non-Christians, and through meeting other Christians or listening to sermons, I have come to realise that God is working in my life and I can be in a living relationship with Him. To testify to that and express my desire to grow in this relationship I would like to be baptised today.
After He had been at my side all my life without me noticing or caring, I have finally come to see Him more clearly. I am very grateful for this realisation and that Jesus died for me and my sin. That’s why I want to ask God for forgiveness and start a new life with Him at the centre and Jesus as my Lord and Saviour.
When I look into the future, I sincerely wish to carry on living this new life with Jesus' help and to serve and please Him. Since I am still a sinner I know I will be stumbling a lot and He will shake His head over me often. However, I know that He is going to forgive me always and is going to keep me on His track through His Holy Spirit. I am excited to have this new life and to be on a quest to become more like Jesus. Thank you for saving me, Jesus!