Jonathan - A gradual awakening
As a child, growing up in the village of St Mellons, Jonathan attended church regularly. In fact, he didn't have much of a choice - his father, Russell, was pastor of St Mellons Baptist Church!
I was taken to church on a Sunday morning, followed by Sunday School shortly afterwards. There was also Friday Club on Friday evenings; great fun!
At about the age of seven and after much pleading with my parents(!), I was allowed to go to church on a Sunday evening too. I had thought that it was highly unfair that my brother (who was, admittedly, seven years older than me) was allowed to go on a Sunday evening and I was not! It was during one of these Sunday evening services that I remember Dad preaching on John chapter 3, verse 36, ‘Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.’ When we went home from church that evening I told my parents that even though I knew lots of Bible stories from church and Sunday School, I didn’t feel that I was ‘right’ with God. I wanted to know exactly how I could be ‘right’ with God, just like all those people in the Bible stories I had been taught.
They explained to me again that by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, by saying sorry to him for the wrong things I had done in my life (what the Bible calls ‘sin’) and by trusting my life to him, I would be ‘right’ with God.
Some people have said to me that being brought up in a Christian home, going to church every Sunday from the day you were born and having a father who was the pastor of the local church, I haven’t known any different… surely I’m bound to believe all these things and be a ‘religious’ person.
Well, to be honest, if you ask anyone who has been brought up in a Christian home and been taken along to church as a child, it doesn’t work like that. The Bible tells us that we all need a personal relationship with God; not just to know about him or to be able to recall stories that we’ve learned as children. As I grew up, I faced the same challenges as many of my friends. I was confronted with the same troubles and the same temptations. I had the same difficulties in school and the same choices to make regarding my future. The difference was that I had a personal relationship with God; he was present with me through all of those things. I had committed my life to him and, as we are told in Psalm 46, ‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.’
I’m a teacher now in a primary school in Cardiff, but anyone who knew me during my early twenties will tell you that I was adamant there was no way I was ever going to teach! I came to realise God had a different plan for my life. He opened doors and made it quite clear to me that I should be teaching in this particular school. Since then, I have been given many opportunities in school to share my faith in Jesus Christ; it really is amazing how God works things out. I also met my wife through teaching there; God really is so good! Now we, along with our four children, continue to worship the living God at St Mellons Baptist Church.