Having grown up with no claim to faith, I had almost no experience of church or God, until quite recently. It wasn’t until I met my best friend Ruth, who is a Christian, that my beliefs began to be challenged as she shared her faith with me at every opportunity. The year prior to my salvation was one of great struggle, pain and depression.
These feelings culminated on one particular day, when, while working at the National Railway Museum, and feeling utterly alone, helpless and buried, I prayed. I had prayed in the past, and had been reading the bible for a few weeks by that point, but I put everything I had into this prayer and placed all of my pain into God’s hands. I prayed for strength, and forgiveness and for the salvation that I so desperately sought. I wanted to change, but I didn’t know how. And then, at the end of this prayer, I prayed for something that I hadn’t before. I prayed, in no uncertain terms, that God give me a sign that he could hear me. That if what I had read in the bible by that point about His promise that I would find him if I sought for him with all of my heart, that he would show me.
Wasting no time, and with what was clearly a sense of humour, not two minutes after my prayer had ended, a vicar walked into the shop. Fairly stunned, yet still sceptical, I prayed again. True to form, and also to His promise, that very same vicar started talking to me. Bewildered, and slightly confused I endeavoured to go about my day. Still feeling crushed and lost, I prayed the prayer I had prayed twice before one final time. I put my heart and soul into this prayer and laid everything out, and, once again I ended by pleading for a sign that God was listening; that he could hear me and that I wasn’t alone.
The second I finished that prayer, a different vicar walked into my shop and as soon as she did, I felt overcome with a sense of peace. That night, I went home to skype my best friend Ruth in Canada, and told her what had happened, and, in exhaustion, I broke down and wept harder than I ever had before. That day changed me. Before, I had believed in the existence of God, but after, I knew Him. The God of the universe spoke to me personally.
Not long after that Ruth came back to visit York in August she brought me along to The 6 (The Belfrey's 6pm Sunday congregation) for the first time, the service to which she had been when she lived in York. During her visit she brought me twice to The 6, and after she returned to Canada, I continued to come by myself. After one particular service on the 30th of August, I amassed what little courage I could and introduced myself to Ben Doolan. We talked briefly about the service and he asked me if I was a Christian. I said that I wasn’t, to which he asked me ‘Would you like to be?’ I told him that I would. We prayed together and that evening, I gave my life to Christ.
I later found out that Ruth’s family had been faithfully praying for my salvation all along, the significance of which taught me the power of prayer. My salvation not only changed my life, but profoundly changed me.
After The 6, whilst overcome with guilt and shame, the wonderful people around me in my pews prayed from me. They prayed that God would forgive me and wash me clean of my past. After the service, the heavens opened and it rained harder than I had ever seen it rain in York before. Naturally, on this occasion without an umbrella I had to walk home. But what I considered bad luck, turned into one of the most amazing, freeing experiences I have ever had. Leaving the church, I only knew I had been forgiven, but by the time I got home, soaked through, and literally washed, I felt it. By God’s grace, I was made new; free from my past sin, and given the strength, love, security and forgiveness I had so desperately sought for so long.
"Leaving the church, I only knew I had been forgiven, but by the time I got home, soaked through, and literally washed, I felt it. By God’s grace, I was made new; free from my past sin, and given the strength, love, security and forgiveness I had so desperately sought for so long."
Blog post written by Sam Marsh. Since coming to know the love of Jesus, Sam has joinedBelfrey Postgrads, a Belfrey Group for postgraduate students in York where he is growing in his knowledge and love of God every day.