He was just a callow youth with many insecurities. His god was sport, all kinds but especially if it involved a ball. But in some remarkable ways, strange things were happening in his life. There was a restlessness and a questioning about eternal issues. So during the summer, he started reading a Gideons New Testament he had been given a few years before in school. Then when Sunday rolled around he would go for a summer walk and deliberately pass by a local evangelical church – a church with a reputation for attracting many young people - people of his own age. He would stand across the road under the awning of the local shops and watch the many young people who were arriving for the 6.30 service. That was strange he thought – why would they want to be there on a summer evening? He would walk for an hour or so and then arrive back past the church as they were leaving. Taking up the vantage point across the road, he would watch with fascination as they poured out. What was going on in that place?
So it was that he ended up going to that church on Sunday evenings and meeting some of those young people. He listened attentively for a few end of summer Sundays as the summer gave way to the autumn and each week heard a message he had never heard before. It centred on Jesus and his love – a love so great that it took him to a cross, and there he sacrificed his life for people like this young man.
He wanted to do something about it, to talk to someone but the pastor was always busy and surrounded by the crowds. But he jumped at the chance one Sunday night to go with some of his new found friends to a local area, where they were going to engage in open air witness. He had come to understand enough of this message to know it had to be shared, but not enough to personally grasp it for himself. But that all changed as they stood at the side of the road as the sun sank and he realised what Jesus had done for him. Sitting in the back of the car, he came to Christ – willingly, gratefully and totally. It was 8th September 1974. 40 years ago today.
Now that young man is late middle aged and the pastor of Newtownbreda Baptist Church. For that was me. This is my story and for 40 years I have tried hard to follow that Jesus I first met 4 decades ago. It may be a tired cliché to say “I have failed him many times; but he has never failed me”. But cliché or not, it is still true. To God be the Glory, Great things He has done.