I was brought up in a stable home. My mum was Roman Catholic and my dad was Church of Ireland. Because my dad was not attending church, I was baptised as a baby into the Roman Catholic Church. I went to First Holy Communion, confessions and Confirmation when growing up as all the kids from my school did. I was never encouraged to read the bible and just took it for granted that because I wasn’t a really bad person that I would go to heaven and that was it, I had no relationship with Jesus and had no interest in having a relationship with someone who may or may not exist as far as I was concerned.
When I was 16 years of age I started to experiment with alcohol and drugs. This became a regular occurrence for the weekend and the drugs progressed from a bit of cannabis to e’s and eventually cocaine. These all produced a false love and feeling of security. It wasn’t unusual for my group of friends and I to drink five times a week, but there was nothing I loved more than a Saturday night at a nightclub with plenty of drugs and alcohol! I was working full time and had a car and so thought I was ok, perfectly normal but if the truth were told I was spiralling out of control slowly but surely. By the age of 20 I was dealing drugs to my friends, not to make a profit but I really thought I was doing them a favour because I thought I had found out what life was all about. I hadn’t! Not long after God would reveal what life was really all about! Hebrews 11 v 25 tells us “He (Moses) chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.” Here the bible tells us sin is pleasurable, but it is also saying it is fleeting or short-lived, the pleasure will soon run out and then you are just left with sin.
I met Neil when I was 20. I was working in Massereene Golf Club where he was the Assistant Golf Professional. We were friends and he knew very well what my life consisted of. He had been brought up in a born again Christian home but had been backslidden for a number of years. We went out with each other for a year and it was a miracle we stayed together as it was very rocky relationship as you can imagine with my lifestyle. One day I asked Neil if he thought I was going to heaven, he replied “No!” I went mad!! Then I asked him why. He said I had no relationship with Jesus, sin was sin in God’s eyes and there was nothing to make me different to anyone who had committed adultery or murder. I didn’t like this, but as Romans 3 v 23 tells us “all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.”
We broke up not long after due to the fact that Neil knew he couldn’t marry a non-Christian and be unequally yoked as the bible says. Now this didn’t mean Catholic and Protestant as I first thought, it meant a Born Again Believer in Jesus Christ and a Non-Believer. I was devastated. I didn’t know it at the time but God was beginning a mighty work in my life and after speaking to a Christian friend I became very curious about salvation through Jesus Christ who had died on a cross to bear away my sin. A few weeks later Neil rang me out of the blue and asked me to go to Whitewell on Sunday 11 January 2004. I went and Pastor McConnell was speaking on Samson and Delia being unequally yoked, little did I know that I was there by divine appointment! When the Pastor made the appeal I felt that he was standing in front of me on the balcony telling me and only me that I needed to asked God to forgive me of my sin and get right with Him and then I could be sure I was going to heaven. Romans 10 v 9 says “If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved.” I raised my hand that night and got saved and began the life God wanted me to have.
Since then I have been alcohol and drug free, but more than that, I have had my sins forgiven and have the assurance that I will have a place in heaven when Jesus comes again. The Lord has changed me and moulded me and at times it has been tough going but Romans 8 v 28 assures us “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His purpose.”
Neil and I are now married and are involved in Teen Challenge Belfast in the hope that God will use us to reach the lost, as I was, and fulfil the perfect will of God for our lives.
“’For I know the plans I have for you’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’.” Jeremiah 29 v 11