Ps Rob had a great message last night (as he always does). He told us about the demon-possessed man in Mark 5. You know the story? The one where a herd of pigs ran down a steep embankment and drowned after the demons left that man?
I’d never really given that story a great deal of thought before, other than it was a story of healing and release, but Ps Rob showed us how, in verses 18-20 he begs Jesus to go with him, and instead Jesus tells him to stay, go home and tell his family what the Lord has done for him.
The man takes it further than that and tells the whole of his region in Decapolis. He begins to tell his story and evangelise. A couple of chapters later Jesus returns to that area and performs a healing and also feeds the crowd of 4,000+. Without that man telling his story to the people in that region, Jesus wouldn’t have been readily accepted sometime later for more miracles to take place. When the first miracle happened (the removal of the demons) the people begged Jesus to go away, but when he came back (after that man had evangelised) the people wanted to hear more from Jesus and brought a man for healing. It was probably a few weeks or months later but what a difference!
Now I see those verses in an entirely different light. Ps Rob told us how important it is for us to tell our stories, because there will always be others that can relate.
So, I’m here to tell you my story of how I came to know Christ as my personal Saviour.
I grew up in the church. My parents aren’t Christians but they were going for awhile while I and my siblings were young. Once we were old enough to go on our own, mum and dad stopped going. I have no idea if something happened to stop them, or whether they saw it as an opportunity for time alone for a couple of hours a week, but the result was that my sisters, brother and I grew up in the church without our parents present. Once in our late teens, early 20s we all left for a period of time but I returned after a couple of years, and then my brother too. One of my sisters has since begun going to church again. I pray that God touches their lives in a way that they know what they have and that they are able to reach out to others too, to tell their stories.
And so I’ve always known who God is and who Jesus is, but it wasn’t till August 1972 that I made a personal commitment.
Standing in the assembly hall in high school, I was 14 years of age and surrounded by several hundred high school girls. We had been standing for the school anthem and then the visiting choral group followed with a song called “He is My Everything”.
It was in the days of Engelbert Humperdinck’s highlight years and the tune was his very well known song of an almost similar title. I had known of Jesus all of my life, having grown up in church and Sunday School but the song somehow brought it all very close to me – in fact inside my heart. As I listened to the words I had a sudden growing realisation that Jesus was very real and my attempt at prayers and conversation with Him in the past would no longer be a mechanisation, but was instantly made real and personal.
The other girls in the hall faded from view and suddenly I was in a room that had become white and bright and the only people in it were Jesus and me. A part of me knew that the rest of the assembly were still there, I could hear them coughing or sniffling in the background, and the choir was still singing, but somehow their sound was now angelic and something was happening inside of me.
Tears streamed down my cheeks unchecked as the knowledge of a real Jesus took hold within me. I pulled out a hanky to start blowing my nose and wipe my tears as I saw Jesus smile and nod at me and then fade away again as the current ‘real’ images began to reappear. I looked around and saw the occasional girl wiping tears away from her cheeks and I wondered if they saw the same vision I had. A personal encounter with my Jesus that has stayed with me now for well over thirty years.
A love for singing took hold and over the years I have sung in duets, trios, groups and choirs. It seems that whenever I am singing for Him I am singing my best. I feel it go through my entire body and when the harmonies are right a shiver moves through me and I break out in goose bumps. I can’t explain; it just does and I know the sound mix is right. I have written many songs about our Lord, and the very first was probably only a few short weeks after I accepted him as my Lord and Saviour back there in 1972.
The visiting choral group that came to my high school in those days will probably never know just how many people they brought to the Lord through their wonderful gift but I am eternally grateful for their music and their introduction to a personal Jesus. Just as I will never know how many people I’ve touched with my story or the things I’ve been doing since, but every now and then I get a hint of what has transpired when I get a note, an email, a phone call or something else from someone whose life has been touched. One day, in the future, when I’m called to be with my Lord, I know I will see lots of faces of people I’ve met through my life, but in whom I didn’t know a seed had been planted. What a wonderful day of celebration that will be!
I’d like to encourage you to tell your story and link back here in the comments. Let’s build a whole community of people telling their story for all to see. Your story might not be for everyone, but as Ps Rob told us last night, there will always be someone who relates to your story, so why not share it?