It is always difficult to know where to start these things so I will start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. I was not brought up in a Christian home. I was christened as a toddler and vaguely remember being given a small posy of flowers but that is my only recollection or contact with church for years. My father was a rather unpleasant sort of chap and was quite violent. My mother and father divorced when I was 11 and my mother remarried a wonderful man who has been more of a father and a dad to me than my real one ever was (for future reference, when I mention my parents, it is to them I am referring).
At primary school, I did start going to a Scripture Union club one lunchtime before my mother found out. “It’s all brainwashing,” she said as she forbade me to go again.
At secondary school, I joined several of the choirs and discovered I enjoyed singing, so my singing teacher suggested I join one of the local church choirs to get more experience. The next youngest person in the choir had a son my age, but I really enjoyed singing more complex pieces than we had in the school choir and the opportunities to sing solo.
Once I had been there for a short time, a couple of the older ladies (one of whom, who was absolutely tiny, had apparently been an orthopaedic surgeon in her younger days) encouraged me to read the Bible and to attend the membership classes at the church. I did, more because that is “what you do when you go to church”. I however was amazed to read the Bible, to learn about who Jesus really was, who I was in relation to him, and what he had done for me. There were no flashes of light - I can only describe it as it all making sense. It was so clear, so obvious.
One of the biggest issues was the bitterness and anger that had built up because of our difficult childhood. I realised a couple of things: God was the perfect Father who loved and cared for me and that I had to give all my bitterness and anger to him. Through Jesus, my sins were forgiven, but I also had to be willing to forgive the sins committed against me. It was such a wonderful realisation that I could give this all to God, knowing that the hate in my heart was only harming me and keeping me from a right relationship with God. I could be freed from all of that.
I’m not sure when I became a Christian, although it was probably during my first year of university. I have to steal the description of a wonderful old man whom I met while working in the Outer Hebrides. He described his conversion as like the dawn. He knew when it had been dark and then when it was light, but couldn’t tell when it had all begun.
As I read more of the Bible, however, different problems arose. I was increasingly confused by the minister’s preaching and was always going up to him after a service wondering “why is this the case when the Bible says..?”
“Ah, Kerrie, you must remember that the Bible is two thousand years old, it is written for a different culture and context, and some of it is just stories to help us live better lives,” he would tell me, and I would be pacified a little - after all, ministers are supposed to know these things, aren’t they? But I wasn’t settled for long - I couldn’t see that only some bits of the Bible were true or how you knew which bits you were supposed to listen to and which were not supposed to be relevant for now.
God answered my prayers for guidance in a wonderful way. A friend invited me to her own church one Sunday evening. I can still vividly remember that service - I was so blown away by how focused everything was on God and on his praise and worship. They sang to God, prayed to God, read God’s word, listened to a sermon explaining God’s word (which was clearly recognised to be true and faithful in every part), sang to God, prayed to God, then went home! It was all so focused on him.
I started attending that church, which had the most wonderful influence on my life. There I met gracious generous Christians who gently took me under their wing as I worked through my now very dodgy theology and who taught me what it was to live my whole life for Christ. Around the same time, the Lord was working in the lives of my parents who have also become Christians which has been such a delight and a blessing.
I know I don’t do it very well but I try in God’s grace to live every day for him. It makes life so exciting and so peace-filled all at the same time to know that God has a plan for me and I can trust in him. Even in standing here today, the friends who are visiting me will be able to testify that this time last year I had NO intention of leaving Scotland. The Lord however had a different plan and it was a far better one than I could have designed myself or could have imagined.