I was blessed to be born into a Christian home, and as such I always knew the things of God. At the time, my parents were members of the Presbyterian Church of Ireland, and four years later we transferred our membership to the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland, where we remained for the next sixteen years. As a child, had you asked me whether I was a Christian, I would have undoubtedly told you “yes”. I think I knew that I was a sinner, and that I needed to believe in Jesus to save me. To that end, maybe I was a Christian, or maybe I was not yet saved – only God can answer that. However, my defining moment occurred in the summer of 2009.
One Sunday evening, I was particularly convicted by the combination of a sermon preached that morning in church, something I had read in my devotional that day, and a conversation I had with my parents. I realised that living as a Christian was far more than simply believing certain things about myself or about Christ. It involved having Him as King over my entire life, and living that life accordingly with God’s help. So, that evening, I fully committed my life to the Lord.
Christianity is more than just a belief system, more even than just an identity – it’s about living my entire life in thankfulness and obedience to God because he saved me from my sins. God isn’t just something that I think about on a Sunday, or when I pray – every area of my life has to belong to God, no exceptions. Therefore I can say confidently that I have been a Christian since then.
Over the next few years I grew in my faith. Aged sixteen, I entered into full membership of the Reformed Presbyterian Church and took Communion for the first time in February 2012. About that time, I also started serving within my congregation and becoming more integrated into the wider church family. In sixth form, then, I was asked to be on the committee of the Christian Union in school, and in my Upper Sixth year I became President. This was a time of huge spiritual growth for me because I suddenly became very aware of my witness in the school as a public representative of Christianity. Of course, my conduct was by no means flawless, but God used that time to show me just how much people notice the tiniest details of one’s witness as a Christian, and the importance of consistency.
In October 2014, I came up to Cambridge for the first time as an undergraduate medical student, and I started attending Eden from my first week. I strived to integrate myself fully into the student community and into the wider church family. So, I served on the PA team for three years, and just recently I began serving on the music team and student team.
During my time in Eden, I have benefitted so much from the teaching of Julian, Steve and lately Matt, and I really appreciate the level of pastoral support that they provide alongside the rest of the student team. One-to-ones in particular (or one-to-twos in my case) have been wonderful in providing a firm foundation for my faith and a measure of accountability during the transition to university life.
In closing, then, Matt has asked me to share a little bit of my more recent journey as a Christian. My years at university so far have been a mixed bag, to say the least. First and second year brought many emotional trials and tribulations, including the sudden passing of my grandmother to be with the Lord and the completely unexpected illness of a very dear friend. I struggled psychologically to cope with it all, and the thought of dropping out crossed my mind almost weekly. I think God was using this time to show me the sheer futility of trying to go it alone on my own strength, and to draw me to closer reliance on him.
Third year, by God’s grace, wasn’t as dramatic as all that, but I still needed constant reminders that all of my strength and abilities come from God and so I need to rely on him to get me through. I’ve been blessed with the love and support of some very good friends, and my girlfriend Kate has been gently helping me to live for Christ even more fervently.
Over the past year, the Lord has also been working in me to give me a different view on baptism. When I was born, my parents were convinced of infant baptism, but now I believe that baptism is something for believers, and therefore in obedience to that command I stand before you today to publicly declare what God has done in my life. Most recently of all, though, God has been working in me to help me delight in Him more and to find my ultimate joy in Him. That then is my current prayer, and with this I finish, that God would bring me into a more joyful relationship with him. Thank you very much.