I was blessed to grow up in a Christian family. From a young age I was aware of Christianity and I benefited from the support of an amazing church family. But for most of my childhood, that was it. I liked the stories, and when I was a little older I enjoyed working out the ideas behind the stories, how they all connected together. But it was all very academic; I enjoyed piecing together Christianity’s worldview, but it didn’t really impact my life much beyond that.
I was always very hesitant. It wasn’t that I had anything against Christianity. But when I saw Christians being visible and vocal in their faith, talking about why Jesus was important to them personally, and worse, why other people should care personally too, I almost used to feel embarrassed. Being Christian was good and fine if you just kept it to yourself, but these people were taking it way too seriously. These people were weird, and I didn’t want anything to do with them.
The turning point came when I was 16 or so, and my parents suggested I go on a Scripture Union summer camp. I didn’t really want to, but I didn’t have an excuse, so I went.
Soon I noticed that the people I was hanging out with had something I didn’t. It started at a worship session. We were singing hymns and I realised people were crying. It seemed bizarre – but it opened my eyes. From then on, I kept noticing moments where people had a reaction to the Gospel I didn’t, and gradually I realised that their conception of God was emotional and personal in a way mine wasn’t. They didn’t just have a theoretical God who had a neat philosophy of how to live your life. They had a God who knew them and loved them and had a relationship with them. And He seemed a lot more real than my God. Realising this, little by little, I began listening differently, reading my Bible, praying, talking to people, and I came to know the truth: God sent Jesus to die for me, personally, so that all my very personal faults and failures could be made right. And that required a personal commitment that I hadn’t been willing to make before – I had to allow God into my life as my top priority, and let him change the things that weren’t right, let him change me. I prayed that God would do that, and He’s been doing so ever since.
Being Christian at university has been challenging, but I’m confident in the knowledge that, whatever happens, I have a God who loves me, personally. Whatever life might throw at me, from essay crises to what-do-I-do-with-my-life crises to I-can’t-do-this crises, I know that with God at the centre of my life in more than just an academic way, I’m safe and secure. My God – a loving, personal God – is a powerful God, and He has a plan for my life, a plan more glorious and beautiful than anything else on this earth.