Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Testimony of Paul Rankin

"I was brought up knowing the Gospel from a young age. My mum's side were Presbyterian and my Dad's side Reformed Presbyterian (Covenantors)! We attended Dromara RP Church and I was sent religiously to Sunday School and also Midweek Brethren meetings in Garvaghy Orange Hall.
But I wasn't saved. I even rhymed off prayers before bed at night and read Christian literature, but I wasn't saved.
At High School I attended Scripture Union and hung around with some Christians, but I also got into trouble plenty and if there was mischief, I wasn't far away!
My Christianity was all in my head. I knew it all, but I didn't know Him (Jesus) personally. If one asked me if I was a Christian, I would have said 'Yes', but in my heart I knew I was a fraud and a fake.
At the age of 16 I attended a Christian Youth weekend in Portrush. I only went for the craic and the girls! I even brought along my heavy metal tapes, which I was dabbling in.
The theme of the weekend was the Lord's second coming. A few weeks previous during a stormy night, a clap of thunder shook me out of my sleep and rattled my bedroom window and I rushed to see if Jesus had returned and taken my parents and left me behind! So underneath, deep down, God was already working on me.
At the youth weekend God used a complete stranger to answer some questions in a conversation (where did Cain get his wife and did The Lord Jesus die for all my sin including future sins?). The Lord spoke to me during that conversation and the death of Christ for me became real. The words of Jesus came to mind, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do..." ...I saw myself as the one hammering the nails in the Saviours hands and feet, it was my sin put Him there. Jesus spoke into my heart that night and dealt with me. That night I slipped away into the most private place I could find (the toilet) and called upon the Name of The Lord. I asked Him to forgive all my sin (past, present and future sin), to save me and to help me to tell others He was returning soon. I felt the burden of sin lift and my heart was overwhelmed by His love for me (for the first time). I knew there had been a change in my heart and life.
 The first thing God dealt with was the heavy metal tapes...I destroyed them that same night!
That was 23 years ago! The Lord has been with me ever since. Don't get me wrong, I have failed so many times that I have lost count and I have broke His heart on many occasions through sin and disobedience. But He has remained Faithful and drew me back when I have strayed and grown cold. I am an imperfect child of a perfect awesome Creator and Saviour.
I have experienced many trials and testing times (but nothing compared to Christians suffering in countries such as Syria etc. I couldn't lace their shoes) none more testing than when my Dad took his own life. he suffered an illness, deep depression and I am grateful that my last memories of him were ones of reconciliation, because we did not have an intimate father-son relationship, mainly due to his illness. My last conversation with him was about Gods word and I trust I will see him one day at Christ's return.
I have also experienced illness. When I was 30 (9 years ago) I was diagnosed with type one diabetes and placed on insulin injections. After two years on the injections and a lot of weight loss, my pancreas started working properly again and I was eventually given the all-clear by the medical experts! I believe God assisted in my health recovery and I give Him all the glory. The medical experts said I was 'odd', but I knew God had turned things around for me.
The Lord Guided me to the Metropolitan Tabernacle Church in Belfast (where I have attended for 21 years and where I got baptised) and where I got involved in helping various outreach works, (such as tracking in Dublin) although I am certainly no preacher! It is at the Tabernacle that I met my wife Cheri. We were married 14years ago and she deserves a medal for putting up with me!
I have been blessed with a loving wife (Cheri), a home and employment (I have been a local elected Councillor for almost 16 years).
God has been Faithful and good to me, despite all my personal weaknesses, imperfections, struggles with sin, the flesh, the Devil and all the temptations that the world offers.
 I look forward to Christ's return and seek with His help to warn others to be prepared.
I believe He is coming soon and my prayer is, 'Lord help me to be faithful, help me to be ready, watching and waiting, trusting in you, in your righteousness alone, when you return and help me to tell others".

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