I would walk through the chapel doors, splash water on my forehead for some unknown reason and then enter the main sanctuary of the church. I’d sit on the cold pews beside people who did not acknowledge me, I’d listen to the priest lead the mass and count down the minutes until I was free again to talk, smile and laugh. This was common practice for me at Easter, Christmas and the Sundays we managed to get up in time for church. Growing up within the Roman Catholic Church in Bangor, Northern Ireland God seemed so distant from me. I knew he made the universe and for that I was thankful, but I did not know that he desired for me to have a living, personal relationship with him. I first heard the full glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ when I was around seven or eight when I started attending a local Christian organisation called ‘Campaigners’. It was there that I heard sin had put a barrier up between myself and God; no matter how hard I tried I could never know him the way he longed for me to…that was until Jesus came. I learned that God loved me so much that he sent his one and only Son Jesus to live a sinless life on earth, die on the cross to pay the price for my sin and rise again from the dead to show he is more powerful than anyone else in the world. My leader told me all I had to do was place my trust in Jesus, ask for forgiveness of my sin and follow him. They assured me that Jesus would forgive me, change me from the inside out and give me eternal life.
I’d love to say that I gave my life to Jesus there and then but I didn’t. I went on with my life the way I wanted to. I sailed through primary school but things changed when I started attending secondary school. When I was fourteen I began to long for everything Disney had taught me to believe; that I needed a prince charming. I so desperately wanted to be loved, I was loved deeply by my family and friends but I wanted the romantic love you see in the movies. I wasn’t the prettiest, skinniest, coolest or even remotely noticed girl in my year so I decided that the only way I would be loved was if I changed who I was. I changed the way I dressed, acted, things I was interested in and my sense of humour. On the outside I looked like I had it all together, I seemed confident and sure of myself but inside I wasn’t. It is exhausting trying to be someone you’re not. After about a year of being someone I wasn’t I reached breaking point one night. I sat on my bedroom floor and cried to God “I’m done, I can’t do this anymore!” and it was in that moment the Lord brought back to my memory everything I had heard as a child. He awakened my soul to the realisation that the love I was longing for was found only in Jesus! So that night, 26th August 2006, at 2am in the morning I surrendered my life to the Lord Jesus, gave him my heart and I have never looked back since!
I left the Roman Catholic Church and started attending Towerview Free Methodist church; God greatly used the people there to impact my life- they discipled, encouraged and challenged me in my faith. The Lord called me to go to Bible College after I had finished school and it was there that I completed a degree in Youth Ministry. Whilst studying for my degree in Youth Ministry I had the absolute privilege of being a Youth Worker in Towerview; it was during that time my heart was changed. God used the young people I served to make me more like Jesus. We shared trials, struggles, hurts, hope, happiness, fun and lots and lots of laughter. They helped me realise that love is not an option but love is a calling. We are called to love all people, not with a fake kind of love but with a real, personal, ‘I’m not going to give up on you’ type of love!
Throughout my time at Bible College I had visited Canada each summer and I got connected with the Faith Mission in Canada. Every time I left I felt like I was leaving behind a bit of my heart, I knew God had given me a passion for Canada but I was not sure why. Looking back now I realise it was God preparing me for the call he had placed upon my life. After I had completed my degree in June, I served with the Mission for the full summer instead of just the four weeks of camp I had done previously, and it was throughout that time that God called me to join The Faith Mission in Canada. I moved to Canada in April and I’m now living and working in Napanee, Ontario.
Jesus says in John 10:10b “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” and I am enjoying every single minute of living in all the fullness that He offers. He truly is a wonderful Saviour and I count it the greatest privilege to serve him!