Looking back, I can’t really remember what it was like not to have faith in Jesus. I grew up in Antrim Methodist Church, attended Bible Class, Youth Fellowship, played my guitar in church and, in fact, my life outside of school centred around the church. It feels as if I’ve always believed and Jesus always had a place in my life. I guess as a child I just believed what I was told in church – my options were heaven and hell; and believing and trusting that Jesus died for me was the route to heaven. As a child no one ever gave me a believable alternative view.
When I was a teenager I went through a rebellious phase when the church and everyone in it made me angry. However, my friends and leaders in the church stood by me and by God’s grace I came out the other side with my faith intact. My minister and his wife, Brian and Margaret Turnbull, were a huge influence on me. They told me about Jesus but also helped me to understand that how I live mattered. They provided opportunities for me to serve in the church at a young age, such as allowing me to help lead Youth Fellowship. They also encouraged me to live out my faith by helping to run youth clubs and telling the kids there about Jesus.
As far back as I can remember I always wanted to do some sort of full-time ministry. I was given my first Bible in Sunday School – a black leather Good News Bible – and I couldn’t wait to show it off to my granny. A couple of significant people in my life suggested that God was going to work through me and that thought never left me. I applied for several ministry positions and wasn’t accepted but those applications, rather than putting me off, led me along the path to apply for ministry within the Presbyterian church.
During my training at Union Theological College my faith matured. I came to a greater understanding of God’s call to me as a Christian. It was amazing to realise that God chose me to be His before the world ever began (Ephesians 1 v 4), I didn’t choose Him. And to realise that it’s only by the gift of God’s grace, the undeserved love that he lavished on me through Jesus death on the cross, that I am saved through faith (Ephesians 2 v 8-9)