What do you think of when you hear the word church? Growing up in a small Kent village, church was what grandparents did on a Sunday where you dressed up smartly and behaved well.
And of course it was where you dressed up as a shepherd for the annual “live nativity”. Or a dinosaur. I believed in a higher being but wasn’t hugely bothered by it and anyway, there was sport, music and fun things to be doing, who needed this outdated church thing?
Fast forward to my final year of university and I met someone. They seemed normal, fun even(!), but I came to learn that they were into this Christianity business. I’d never taken it seriously but their whole life was centred around Jesus; they spoke so passionately about Him. But…they were my age and a normal, intelligent person?! I was baffled but intrigued. They exemplified a compelling logic – if you believe this story of Jesus, if you genuinely believe it’s true, then of course your whole life must be shaped by it!
I left university that year with a beginner’s insight into Jesus but also a whole heap of questions. What dominated my thoughts was not the plausibility of Jesus being resurrected – I was comfortable that a God could be miraculous – but my reluctance to believe some of the biblical teachings. I knew that I couldn’t believe Jesus had been resurrected but then pick and choose what else to believe. This was a big struggle for me.
Not wanting to dive straight into the world of work, I spent a year in Switzerland as an au pair. It’s amazing looking back and seeing God put people in my life. In Switzerland I met a couple who had made it part of their mission to provide a community for au pairs in the area…and teach anyone interested about Jesus! They provided me with a space to explore Christianity and ask all of my questions. But crucially they gave me clarity: ultimately, did I believe that Jesus was the Son of God, crucified, and then resurrected? If I trusted in that, then everything else was secondary and would flow from that.
During one Alpha course video, I was struck by the historical evidence of the Bible. Coming from a science degree, I needed a weight of evidence before trusting the Bible’s claims. After researching the reliability of the Bible and the evidence for the resurrection, I was there: ready to take much more of a ‘step’ of faith rather than a ‘leap’.
And that was it, I trusted in Jesus and began a life of putting Him before me. I took another year off (I know…) to work in South Africa, experiencing what it meant to others to have faith in God, and really grew in my faith. It wasn’t until I finally came back to London that I got stuck into church and studied the Bible regularly – what a joy it was!
I’ve been so fortunate to have had people praying for me and patiently leading me towards God. Those difficult Biblical teachings that I first struggled with are still hard and I’m still working through them. But learning to always turn to the Bible for answers has been so helpful. It’s a bizarre, miraculous journey looking back, and last year I got married to that very same person who showed me Jesus at university. It’s been such fun, although trying to put someone else first has highlighted my selfishness more than ever. So I praise God for the story He’s given me, and for His continued guidance, forgiveness and steadfast love.