I was saved on the 19 July 1998 in the Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle Church Belfast, under the ministry of Pastor James McConnell a man that I have grown to respect and love over these years under his ministry.
My testimony did not begin on the night I was saved , when I look back to my youth I realize that if it had not been for GODS Grace through HIS beloved SON The LORD JESUS CHRIST I don't know where or what state I would have been in today .
As Christians we have two testimonies.
The first GODS Grace before we where saved, in that our previous life did not consume and destroy us before the glorious moment of our salvation through our SAVIOUR THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.
And secondly HIS keeping GRACE in that he has promised never to leave us nor forsake us, HIS HOLY Word tells us HE is the Alpha and Omega the Beginning and the End, our life in and through GODS SON our SAVIOUR THE LORD JESUS CHRIST is complete the very moment of our Salvation.
As a child I mostly grew up in a one parent family , my Dad had died at the age of only 28 I was only 3 and have no memories of him , I have often wondered what it would have been like to have my earthly father about but this was never to be .
As a child and into my teenage years I was terrified by nightmares afraid to go asleep and wakening up in the night terrified.
Up to the age of 8 me and my Mum and older sister lived with my Gran and Granada.
About this age my Mum had met another man who seemed at the time to be nice, one thing led to another and me and my Mum moved with this man to the Donegall road in Belfast, it was decided that my older sister would stay and live with my Gran and Granada.
I remember the day when I moved to Belfast we moved into a 2 bedroom terrace house with no hot water no bathroom and an outside toilet , this set the scene for the years to come , after moving to Belfast I started to attend Blythefield primary school in Sandyrow , from the outset I was bullied in the forms of physical and verbal abuse this continued in and out off school , once in primary school I thought I had got the better of another boy and challenged him to a fight after school only to find that most who would watch at one stage would join in needless to say I came out the worst .
At home after moving to Belfast things where fine at the start , and then after a time I don’t remember exactly when , my Mums partner became violent towards her , one instant I will always remember , my mums partner had become violent and my mum had locked him out of the house he then proceeded to smash the front door window and when he could not get in he went around to the back of the house kicked down the entry door and then thumped on the back door me and my mum where on the kitchen floor hiding in fear he eventually managed to break down the door and then violently attacked my mother I would have been only 8 or 9 years old at this time , these attacks on my mother continued until he eventually left leaving me and my Mum and one younger sister with another baby on the way , this man had left us in severe poverty in a house that should have been condemned due to the condition and state this man had left it in .
Coming into my teenage years after eating food I would cause myself to vomit looking back what started out looking for attention turned into something I could not control it became a compulsive action , my mum took me to the doctors and I would have told lies to make it look like it was some other type of illness , at one stage I would have been down to 4 or 5 stone in weight , the doctor sent me for a series of tests and I was even admitted to hospital , during this time in hospital I seen others with real illnesses two in particular one with severe eczema and the other with a type of cancer , even though I seen those with an illness that was real an illness they did not deserve I could not stop the charade that I had started , during this time in hospital the doctors carried out an endoscopy where they place a camera down the throat and into the stomach the results of course was that everything was normal , for many years I could not resist the compulsion to purge my stomach of things I had eaten this is now known as bulimia , this vomiting in later years eventually caused damage to the diaphragm just above my stomach where the stomach pushes through the diaphragm causing a hiatus hernia , the results of this is severe acid reflux where stomach acid travels from the stomach into the throat causing a severe burning sensation that without medicine would be intolerable .
During my teenage years bulling was always an issue in one form or another, one instance I never forget happened one day on the way home from high school I was in my 2nd year at Kelvin High school , I had started to walk up Rodent street when some younger boys where challenging me to a fight on a piece of waste ground at the corner of Roden street and Lemberg street , very soon a crowd had gathered and where taunting I remember lifting a large brick or concrete block above my head with both of my hands threatening to throw it at anyone who came near , this then changed with the brick still above my head I found myself saying that I would kill myself if anyone came near , the taunting continued I then started to hit my head with the brick continually until in a daze I fell to the ground , someone from the school came and lifted me up and led me through the crowd with a sense of concern asking me if I was all right , still dazed I walked home not telling my Mum or anyone what had happened , and at school this just gave more reasons to be bullied and verbally taunted .
Anyone reading my testimony that may have been there that day I say to you, what is done is done none of us can change the past, I hold no bitterness against you and if you are not already saved I hope and pray that you will come to a saving knowledge of GODS BELOVED SON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST my SAVIOUR and my REDEEMER.
Looking back at this now I cringe at what I done, and I am amazed that my skull did not break with the force and repetition that I struck my head with that brick, and that I did not succeed in what I had done in a moment of desperation, I believe that GODS Grace through HIS Beloved SON The LORD JESUS CHRIST spared me that day from severe head damage or even death that I could have caused.
I believe that life is not ours to give or take and that the life that we are given with its ups and downs is precious and that no matter how bad things get things will always get better.
And for me things did eventually get better , my last two years at high school where spent at Larkfield high school , Kelvin high school had closed down due to low numbers of pupils , the bulling still continued but it was more verbal than physical , during these last years at school I remember one instance that I very much regret , I had been in Belfast and had purchased some heavy metal music cassettes I was sitting in front of the city hall looking at the things I had bought when an old man in a long dark overcoat came and sat beside me the old man who was well spoken and very pleasant started a conversation with me asking me about the things I had bought , after showing the man the things I had bought he then showed me the error of the music I was listening to and shared the good news of the GOSPEL with me , that day to my shame I rejected in my heart the precious GOSPEL of my now LORD AND SAVIOUR THE LORD JESUS CHRIST , I now realize this was one of a few missed opportunities that each of us have in this life to get right with GOD our Heavenly FATHER through HIS Beloved Son The LORD JESUS CHRIST , it would be many years after this before GOD by HIS Mercy and Grace would Save me through HIS Beloved Son The LORD JESUS CHRIST .
I left school with very poor exam results and with no real prospects, I joined the army with foolish ideals and looking for direction, disillusioned I left after only 4 months on my return I quickly found new employment as a timber treatment technician and then as a fitters helper in steam boilers or as I would now put it a human flue brush, the work was extremely dirty but it was a job for which I was grateful.
Things started to change for the when I met my wife Sanya , we where married and had children quite young but this I have not regretted , yes over the years as all married couples have we have had our ups and downs but in my wife I found someone I could trust and love someone who is more than a friend more than a wife and more than mother of our children , from the start and even before we where saved I believe that GODS hand through HIS Beloved Son the LORD JESUS CHRIST was upon me and my wife and children , I can truly say that all that I am all that I have and all I will ever be is because of what GOD has done through his beloved Son the LORD JESUS CHRIST in my life .
Before our marriage me and my wife attended the Church of Ireland in Derraghy where we where married, the Minister was the Rev GE Graham a man who was good and kind to me and my wife and children a man who I have also great respect for.
Before our first daughter was born I was made redundant in the job I had as a fitters helper, in a way I was glad to get out of that job because of the unhealthy work it was, I remained out of work for just over a year after which I went on various work placement schemes over the period of 4 years , during which I studied to obtain qualifications in engineering and electronics at Southern Itec in Newry which took 3 years, during this time I started work placement with Sam Robinson Business Systems in Lisburn.
There are many people in this life that are less than willing to give someone a chance but then there are some that will give you a chance and Sam Robinson was one of those few, this was a man that not only gave me a chance but was good to me and after the period of work placement gave me a full time job in September 1997 where I was able to build experience upon the qualifications I had gained at Southern Itec,
Before going full time with Sam Robinson Business Systems a swelling started on my right knee , in the mornings every step I would take would be accompanied with an intense pain , through the day the knee joint would generally free up through walking , this swelling along a heat generated by the inflammation started to get worse , I had various tests including x-rays , isotope bone scans and at one stage where something more serious was suspected I was admitted to Musgrave park hospital where mri and ct scans where carried out along with a biopsy , I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis a condition that attacks joints in the body to a stage where mobility becomes impaired a condition for which there is currently no cure , I was around 23 years old when this started , this illness was managed through medication to reduce the inflammation in the affected joint .
While I was working for Sam Robinson Business Systems there was a work colleague named David Drysdale who was a Christian who at that time attended the Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle Belfast, at times David would witness to me about my need of Salvation and would lend me audio cassettes of sermons from Whitewell . One instance I remember we where both driving to a job together and as usual we got into a conversation about religion we had stopped at a petrol station on the knock dual carriageway in Belfast , still discussing religion David said to me why don't you get saved now ? , now its one thing discussing religion but when you are put in a position where you have to make a choice now that's completely different , there's a drawing in ones heart to make that decision but then for me came excuses , excuses that where more empty than needful .
On the 19th July 1998 me and my wife agreed to go a Sunday night service at Whitewell , on that Sunday morning there was a desire my heart to go to Whitewell up to this point there was always reasons or should I say excuses not to go , it was a day that I will never forget , when I arrived was amazed by the size of Whitewell and then by the size of the choir and congregation that night we sat in the balcony and listened to the service , at the end of the sermon by Pastor McConnell the Pastor gave an appeal for those who wanted to be saved and give there heart and life to the LORD JESUS CHRIST , during the appeal something came over me for which I was not prepared for nor did I expect , I was quite relaxed at the start listening to and thinking about the appeal given by Pastor McConnell and my need and want of salvation , and then my heart started beat so hard as though it was about to jump out of my chest and an uncontrollable trembling came over me , I was physically shaking from head to foot in physical and mental turmoil knowing I had a choice to make about my salvation trying to think trying to reason within myself knowing I needed to surrender and raise my hand , the congregation was singing just as I am without one plea , with so much going through my mind the most simplest gesture like the raising of a hand seemed the hardest thing to do , there had been around 20 decisions during the appeal when I surrendered and gave my heart and life to my SAVIOUR THE LORD JESUS CHRIST .
Driving home after the service that night I remember the sense of release I felt, it was as if something within me had died and there was no sorrow or remorse at its passing, I had an awareness of forgiveness and a new beginning.
I felt that all that that had happened to me in the past was in the past, and it was as if all that had happened had happened to someone else yes the memories remained but it was as if they where the memories of someone else.
That night as I lay in bed something happened to me that was so vivid I don't know if I was dreaming or awake , during the night I saw a hand holding a silver sword or dagger , the hand that held the dagger struck the right side of my right knee joint piercing it with the dagger , naturally I yelled with the pain of this and awakened my wife telling her that I had been stabbed in my knee trying to explain what had happened , I believe that night I was healed from the disease of arthritis , after this happened I began to stop taking the medication needed to reduce the inflammation and effects of arthritis .
About 7 years after I was healed of arthritis something started systematically attacking joints in my body , first my ankles then my knees the my shoulder , I knew that I had been healed of arthritis and I had told many people that I had been healed , once again I was referred to a rheumatologist for tests and on my first appointment explained that I had been healed of arthritis after I was saved , during this time I prayed , I would not take any arthritis medication , and what I experienced was that whatever was attacking my joints could not take hold , as one joint was infected it would recover and so would the next joint and the next until whatever it was that had happened to me had gone leaving no permanent damage to my joints .
On my last appointment when I was discharged from the rheumatology clinic I was able to tell the consultant I had been able to hike to the top of Slieve Donard in Newcastle one of Northern Irelands highest mountains with no joint problems, and since this I have climbed Slieve Donard again along with many other mountain trails, something before I was saved would have been very hard to complete.
After I was saved and over the course of the first year I was saved and after listening to various sermons , I felt an inward conviction to what I was hearing , I would raise my hand during the appeal at various meetings over that time , I know that I was saved that first night when I gave my life and heart to my SAVIOUR The LORD JESUS CHRIST , I had not backslid and I was going on in my Christian walk , but the night I was saved I was changed inside my heart , and after I was saved I was convicted within by the sermons I was hearing , I did not know how to respond to what I was hearing or what I was feeling so with my head bowed I would raise my hand surrendering to the conviction I was feeling , I now realize that my heart had been softened and I was now sensitive to GODS Holy Word .
My Wife was saved within a month after I was saved and we where both baptized some months later.
As a young Christian I had many questions , I was reading GODS Word and attending meetings at Whitewell , I also attended the new converts class at Whitewell once a month for 3 years , I found this class a great blessing and encouragement during those first years I was saved , the class was taken by Ian a man who must have a great lot of patience for I would sometimes have asked many questions , the questions I asked where not questions of debate or strife for I knew so little about the different areas of the Christian faith , there was many things I did not understand , and there was so many different opinions and views about GODS WORD and about being a Christian which was very confusing to a new convert like me , in this class the foundation was GODS Word not mans opinion and it was taught in a way that I could understand , and questions about the various subjects was encouraged for a clearer understanding of what was being taught , at the end of each class those who attended where given notes to keep for further study which I myself found very helpful .
within my heart there was and still is a want to clearly understand GODS Word, for so often we can misunderstand and misrepresent what and who we are as born again Christians, when we are saved we are not given all the answers all at once but there is a process that that each of us must go through a process similar to that of a new born child, and a process that I am still going through.
Some people say, life is what you make it, and in a lot of ways this maybe true, but life can also be what it makes you, life from the moment we are born brings many challenges, it comes with its ups and downs, some things we can control and something’s are out of our control.
As a born again Christian I have been given a second chance , I am saved , I have been forgiven , I have been healed of arthritis and bulimia and above all I have been reconciled to GOD MY HEAVENLY FATHER THROUGH HIS BELOVED SON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST my SAVIOUR and my REDEEMER .
My testimony is only one of thousands at Whitewell and one of millions throughout the world who have been saved by the Precious Blood of our SAVIOUR THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, and if it was not for the testimony of our SAVIOUR THE LORD JESUS CHRIST I and no Christian would have a testimony to share and show others the Grace of GOD through HIS beloved SON the LORD JESUS CHRIST.
In Whitewell I have witnessed precious souls being saved week after week, I have witnessed healings, and I have witnessed Pastor McConnell a man with an anointing, with integrity, with a passion and a love to see precious souls brought to a saving knowledge of our LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST, and a man who loves and shows openly that he loves THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.
There is a testimony I would like to leave with those who would read this and it is the testimony of the Gospel of my LORD and SAVIOUR THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.
My testimony and other testimonies are an example of GODS Grace and mercy through HIS beloved SON our SAVIOUR THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, and it is only because of what our SAVIOUR THE LORD JESUS CHRIST has done for us that we have a testimony to share with others.
A man who I had been speaking to asked me what I had been saved from, I replied as many Christians would, I explained that my sins had been forgiven and that I was saved from an eternity in hell, he then repeated his question as if to look for a different answer, I returned the same answer but unable to satisfy the question I had been asked.
For some months from time to time I tried to reason the question I had been asked , the question what am I saved from , I did not doubt my salvation and I understood the price that my SAVIOUR THE LORD JESUS CHRIST had paid for my Salvation but this question bothered me .
Then one morning while I was traveling to work I found myself thinking about the same question what am I saved from , while I was reasoning this question in my mind a thought and the answer came into my mind , and the answer was that I am saved from eternal separation from GOD my HEAVENLY FATHER through HIS beloved SON the LORD JESUS CHRIST , yes I have been saved from hell the penalty of sin , yes my sins are forgiven but the love that GOD gave me and showed me in that he gave HIS ONLY SON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST my SAVIOUR to die for my sins at Calvary so that I would be reconciled to GOD my HEAVENLY FATHER for all eternity shows the greatness and magnitude of GODS GRACE LOVE AND MERCY in that HE is not willing that any should perish as we read in 2 Peter chapter 3 verse 9 ,
2Pe 3:9 ¶ The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Again in 2 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 18 - 19 we read that GOD is the author of our salvation through HIS Beloved SON our SAVIOUR THE LORD JESUS CHRIST,
2Co 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
2Co 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
It is only through GODS SON our SAVIOUR the LORD JESUS CHRIST that those who are saved are reconciled to GOD our HEAVENLY FATHER , our SAVIOUR The LORD JESUS tells us in John chapter 14 verse 6 ,
Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Again we read in the book of Acts chapter 4 verse 12.
Ac 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Inside each of us there is a longing for something , something that we feel that we cannot reach or grasp , we try and feed this hunger with things and interests that long-term do not satisfy the hunger that we feel , some people pour themselves into employment , some into sports , some feed this hunger with drugs and alcohol , some turn to various religions , and some even become a religious Christian but are never able to commit there life to our SAVIOUR THE LORD JESUS CHRIST and accept HIM into their heart as their own and personal SAVIOUR , so the hunger remains along with sense of being unfulfilled and the feeling of a lack of purpose and destiny .
The enemy of our soul satan is quite happy for us to fill our life with empty things that do not satisfy the eternal hunger in our soul to be reconciled to GOD through the LORD JESUS CHRIST HIS SON, our enemy is quite happy for each of us to be lost and go into eternity lost without Salvation and without hope.
There is a parable that our SAVIOUR THE LORD JESUS CHRIST spoke of, it details the life of a rich man and a beggar, we read in Luke chapter 16 verses 19 – 31,
Luke 16:19 ¶ There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
Luke 16:20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
Luke 16:21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
Luke 16:22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
Luke 16:23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
Luke 16:24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
Luke 16:25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
Luke 16:26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
Luke 16:27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:
Luke 16:28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
Luke 16:29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
Luke 16:30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
Luke 16:31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
Note in this parable the rich man could see the beggar and Abraham but after the judgment and in the place of
torment he never seen the face of GOD OUR HEAVENLY FATHER again, this parable along with other parables our SAVIOUR THE LORD JESUS CHRIST told are clear warnings that after this life there is a final destination for both the saved and unsaved and an eternity that will be spent in the presence of GOD OUR HEAVENLY FATHER and our SAVIOUR THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, or an eternity of torment in hell separated forever from GOD OUR HEAVENLY FATHER and our SAVIOUR THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.
Christianity is not just a fire escape from the punishment of hell and its sufferings, Christianity is a new life and relationship with GOD OUR HEAVENLY FATHER in and through HIS beloved SON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST our SAVIOUR, GODS word tells us that HE is not willing that any should perish, and there is an invitation where GODS word tells us in Matthew chapter 11 verse 28.
Mt 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Again GODS word tells us in John chapter 6 verse 37.
Joh 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
To those who would read this especially those who are not saved , I ask you to listen to GODS Holy Word and receive it into your heart , let him change your life through HIS beloved SON the LORD JESUS CHRIST , don't listen to the lies of the enemy , don't listen to those who say there is no GOD no hope and no purpose to this life , for those who say there is no GOD and think in there heart that their is no GOD are deceived by the enemy of our souls , it says in 1 Peter chapter 5 verse 8 that our adversary the devil, as roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour .
Again we read in the LORD JESUS speaking says in John chapter 10 verse 10
Joh 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
In these two verses you can see the contrast, on the one hand you have sorrow and destruction and on the other, you have peace with GOD OUR HEAVENLY FATHER and life through GODS Beloved SON the LORD JESUS CHRIST, I ask you this question what have you chosen for there is so much more to life than each of us now experience, The days preceding the return of our SAVIOUR THE LORD are coming to an end, John the Baptist said in Matthew chapter 3 verse 2. Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
when our SAVIOUR the LORD JESUS CHRIST came to this earth the first time that was the begging of the last days of this world, and now over 2000 years later we are almost at the end of those last days, as Christians we do not know the day or the hour of the return of our SAVIOUR the LORD JESUS CHRIST but the signs are clearly there that it is soon, so as John the Baptist put it, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
I ask you who read this to take warning for time is short.
As Christians we are subject to the same trials and tribulations as the unsaved, but as Christians we have a SAVIOUR the LORD JESUS CHRIST who through GODS HOLY SPIRIT is sent to help us day by day, and is there for us in time of need, and as Christians we have a direction and a destination that one day we will arrive at.
I ask you to consider carefully where will you spend eternity and in whose presence will you spend it , will you spend eternity in hell with those whom you would join in torment ?, or will you except eternal life in the presence of GOD OUR HEAVENLY FATHER through HIS BELOVED SON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST , the choice is yours , and if GOD is dealing with your heart through HIS HOLY SPIRIT I urge you to surrender and accept GODS BELOVED SON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST into your heart as your own and personal SAVIOUR , ask HIM to come into your heart and save you , repent of your sins and ask the LORD JESUS to forgive you and trust in HIM to keep you , If you have come to HIM and accepted the LORD JESUS CHRIST into your heart as your own and personal SAVIOUR may I be the first to welcome you into GODS family the choice you have made is one choice in life you will never regret . Finally I would like to invite you to the Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle 837 - 869 Shore Road Belfast BT15 4HS , Or you can log onto www.whitewell.com Where you can also receive live broadcasts of our services on Sunday mornings at 11:00 am , Sunday evenings at 6:45 pm and Wednesday evenings at 8:00 pm , I hope to see you there GOD BLESS .