I grew up in a strong Christian community surrounded by many friends from church. After coming to the UK I had to adjust to the new environment. I made lots of new friends however only a few of them would call themselves Christians. I wasn’t comfortable at first in Cambridge as I felt like I didn’t fit in. I tried to blend in more leading me to pick up on bad habits. I didn’t feel that God was involved in my life- I went to church because my parents went, I prayed just because I’ve gotten used to it. Many people thought I was a “good” child, which led me to think I was “good”. If people asked, I would’ve still said that I am a Christian.
In hindsight I was pushing God away without even thinking about it. But I feel that God kept me close to him through the little Christian friends I had. I met Justin very soon after starting secondary school. Through Justin I was introduced to Impact and GAP, and he also brought me to the CU at Chesterton. Because of this, even though I was pushing God away without thinking, I felt that God was keeping me close to him- He was keeping the door open for me to go through.
At the end of year 11, the church I was going to at the time organised a retreat. When I first heard, my initial reaction was that it would be good for me to go. However I was reluctant to speak up. Luckily the pastor at the time contacted me encouraging me to go, even offering to pay for the booking fee. And so I went- it was a great experience. It made me re-evaluate my own life- whether I am a Christian and whether or not my life reflects that.
During my first year of Sixth form, I started to investigate. I remember thinking about the reasons for what I am doing- my studies, my friends, my life- and I was shocked at how I was unable to find an answer. I didn’t know why I was alive, I didn’t have a meaning for my life. And so I came to God. I didn’t know why He created me. I prayed and tried to find answers and eventually I came to a very simple answer- Jesus. And so if Jesus is the meaning to my life, I wanted to find out for myself more about him. In the past I’ve read sections of the gospels but never the full book.
I was truly moved after reading the story of Jesus Christ. It’s difficult to put in words what I felt. The love of Jesus who would give himself up on the cross even though he did nothing wrong and everything right overwhelmed me. I thought about all the sins I’ve committed, all the times where I’ve placed other things above God. I knew that I was not “good” and I needed forgiveness that has been offered freely through Jesus and redemption that only Jesus could give through grace alone.
Of course I still had doubts. My main doubt was myself, whether or not I can trust in God. But God answered my prayers. As the end of my first year of sixth form was approaching, an opportunity to be a CU leader came up. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to learn how to trust God and I wanted to do it. However my doubts increased as I thought about it more: am I worthy of being a leader? Can I set a good example to other Christians around me? Do I have the competence to lead a small group? These questions made me very reluctant on attending the new leaders meeting.
Luckily Justin managed to convince me to go with him to the meeting and signed up to be a CU leader. Being a CU leader has strengthened my faith in Christ more than anything. It has been so obvious that God is at work. The CU at our college was the biggest it’s ever been, the small groups were also doing well. There were some great events organised- the most memorable one for me was the leader’s weekend away which was especially encouraging for me. Moreover I was challenged a lot more by tough apologetic questions that I didn’t know the answers to regarding the existence of God, suffering in the world, heaven and hell etc. Being able to defend my faith and strengthened my faith even more. God showed me that I can rely on Him and more importantly I should rely on Him.
Knowing that God is in control and being in full reliance on Him particularly helped me during times when I was applying for university. I was under a lot of stress during this time but relied on God. I remembered Matthew 11:28 where Jesus said “Come to me all those who are weary and I will give you rest”. And God was faithful- I managed to get only 1 offer out of 4 applications for the course I wanted to study, and it was my first choice.
Also knowing that I am doing my studies for the glory of God gave me more motivation to work during my exam period. Having a purpose for studying encouraged me to study harder. Although it was still stressful, I felt that God was with me through the whole process helping me and strengthening me.
The thing that has changed the most since coming to faith in Christ has been my prayers. My prayers have changed from being routine words that I say every night to my own words, my own thoughts. It feels more like I am talking to a caring Father in Heaven. I have also began to notice more and more of my prayers being answered in many different ways. I can see God being very active in my life and He is so good. I am truly grateful for what He has done for me and the blessings I’ve received through grace alone.
Now I aim to do all things for the glory of Christ. I was saved through the love of God who sent down his only Son to take away my sins. Through grace alone am I saved and so I do not deserve any of the things I have. So I aim to use the things He has given me- this life I received through Christ- to praise and glorify Him.