I was brought up in a loving family but my parents were atheists and had no interest in teaching me about God, the Bible or Jesus. I learnt some of the Bible stories at school and remember coming home from school one of these days and asking my parents
“Do you believe in God?”.
When they replied that they didn’t I proudly responded
I don’t think I really knew what it all meant but I was convinced there was a God even at this young age. I must have been about 6 at the time. My parents were not angry and told me it was okay to believe in God, it’s just that they didn’t. My Dad even bought me a book called “Bible stories and prayers for children”. I didn’t really understand prayer but I used to repeat the written prayers to God because I felt it was the right thing to do. However, not having any background in Biblical teachings, it never progressed further than a basic belief in a deity and a feeling that I was right.
When I was 8 years old my parents moved from Hertfordshire, England to Lancashire, England. My southern accent did not go down well in a northern school. Despite being from a normal working class background I was considered posh and a snob, just because I spoke differently. I was clever too, which also did not go down well. Now I was a swot and a snob. I struggled for years to find friends at school. When I thought I had made a friend, they would always turn their back on me eventually.
I went to Brownies and to Girl Guides, where I attended the monthly church parades, which I found dull, boring and non informative. When I joined the Guides I remember the leader asking me about my parents’ church and being surprised when I told them they didn’t believe in God. I didn’t understand the surprise. They were my Mum and Dad and that is the way they always were. It never struck me as unusual.
At secondary school I had the same struggle. I never truly fitted in and was always lonely. One day, I sat down at a different table in the class, simply because no one else wanted me at their table. Expecting nothing but another temporary friendship from the girls, it struck me how these people were somehow different. They may have thought the same as the others but did not seem to judge me for my accent or my abilities. They didn’t try to push me away. They just seemed different. I found out that they were Christians. I decided that I wanted to be a Christian too, although I had no idea what this actually meant.
They took me to the school Christian Union and the teacher that was there asked me if I had given my life to Jesus. I didn’t know what she meant so she explained it in different ways. Being shy and unsure I just said yes, but that night at home, I remember very clearly being in the bath and praying for Jesus to come into my life. I did not know what it meant, just that I should do it.
I declared myself a Christian to my parents and started to go to church with one of the girls, Jayne, on a regular basis. Her church was lively and interesting, not like the churches I had been to before. I enjoyed it.
Sadly my Dad was not impressed. Although he never discouraged me and he was the one that drove me to church on Sundays, he could not understand that I believed in something he considered non-existent and that I believed what he considered to be fairy stories of the Bible. He would question me about miracles, asking how they could happen as it was just impossible. These were questions I simply could not answer as I did not have the background to support my newly found faith. I believed in Jesus but could not explain how he walked on water or how a virgin could be pregnant. I had to admit to him that he was right, it was not possible for these things to happen and that I didn’t know why I believed in the Bible. Gradually I drifted away from going to church and talking about God.
I left school at 16 and went to college to do A-levels. A few things happened simultaneously which brought me back to thinking about God again and eventually to understanding what I failed to understand before about Christianity.
I started to date a boy who was a Christian. He took me to his church, which was a Brethren church. He was old enough to drive so didn’t have to bother my Dad for lifts any more, which meant a lot of our post-church debates didn’t happen anymore. The afternoon Sunday school was very good and I started to re-learn Bible stories but this time with depth and meaning behind it. I started to understand the true character of God.
My boyfriend’s best friend attended the church and his brother, Leon, was at the same college as me. I used to wait to see my boyfriend between getting off the bus and lessons in the morning. Leon saw me once and started to come and talk to me while I was waiting. He talked to me passionately about the Bible and brought me magazines and literature and tracts. I was confused by some things but he was always willing to talk to me and try and explain.
I attended a talk in a church next to the college run by one of the creation ministries. This was a huge eye-opener for me. I was studying the sciences and therefore evolution was a big stepping stone. I could not believe in creation because everyone knew evolution was true. It was a question my Dad used to bring up a lot and I couldn’t explain it. The talk amazed me. There was actually evidence for creation and evolution was not as perfect as I had been led to believe. They also spoke about how you cannot doubt one or two parts of the Bible and believe what you choose. This challenged me, as I still believed in God and Jesus but had chosen to ignore the bits I didn’t understand or couldn’t explain.
My sister had started college a year after me and was studying geology. We had many a heated debate at home as she and my Dad thought my beliefs ridiculous. My Dad thought I was brainwashed for a time, or at least he said he that!
Jayne also attended the same college and we both joined the college choir (I have a hopeless voice, but it was something I did in college as I did at school). I used to see her regularly although we were not in the same classes.
I went away on a church camping weekend. Jayne was also there despite being in a different church and she was in my group. I loved the praise and the study there. I loved the atmosphere and sense of finally fitting in. But I still didn’t quite get it.
Back in the choir at college we were learning a piece of music called “Stainer’s Crucifixion”, a choral work about the crucifixion of Christ. We practiced it for months, over and over before finally having the dress rehearsal in Blackburn cathedral. During this dress rehearsal, the words from one song that I had been singing for months suddenly jumped out and made sense. It was the words from John 3 v 16:
“God so loved the world,
that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whoso believeth in him should not perish,
but have everlasting life.”
I don’t know how I hadn’t realised it before, but in that moment, I suddenly knew why Jesus went to the cross and died and I suddenly knew that’s why I could be so confident of heaven.
I took Jayne to one side after the practice and asked her if I was right. She could see this newly found enthusiasm but I had lots of questions I still didn’t fully understand. Through her church she asked me if I would like to do a series of Bible studies called “Let the Son shine in”. So every Thursday lunch time at college we worked through this set of 10 Bible studies. Having a personal teacher, a friend and a basis to work from, suddenly all my questions were answered. I finally understood who God was and why miracles could be. I understood what sin was and why we need forgiveness, Sin and miracles were alien concepts to me before but now it just made so much sense. Although I had said it in bits many times during my journey, during one of the studies I said “the prayer” again and this time knew what I was asking and what it all meant.
At church they studied baptism one day and I went back and told Jayne in one of the studies that I wanted to be baptised. We jumped to the number 10 study on baptism. It was something I was so certain I had to do. I had believed, then denied, believed then denied, scorned, then loved Jesus for so long in so many circles during my teenage years that I felt that this was the point of no return. Never again would I deny Jesus and never again would I just give up and back away. My baptism was confirmation of that. I think I was 18 years old. My mother came to the service and was very proud. My Dad refused.
I am still a Christian but my family have never followed me in that journey. However My sister, mother and father still do not believe but they have come to accept that I do. We rarely argue about it anymore but it is sad they have no interest in finding out more. We are still a very close and loving family. I can thank God for that blessing.
I also thank God for my soul mate. Andy is a believer and we are happily married.
I also marvel still at the wonder of God’s creation in my day job as a veterinarian.
I do not know why God chose me, but I am eternally grateful for it. Kim Thompson
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