“How did you ever become a Christian? You were never ‘religious’!” said my sister-in-law. My father was even more dramatic, announcing to my sister, “She’s going to be a missionary!” (I guess he equated being a Christian with being a missionary). How did it all begin?
It began in early childhood.
My siblings were going to an Anglican school and the Bible was part of their syllabus. I went to a secular school where mother was teaching and it was more convenient for me, the youngest, to be schooled there. I was an avid reader, poring through everything I could find, and one day, I found the New Testament.
When I opened the pages to the Gospel of Matthew, a supernatural calm fell on me. The Presence and Person of God was rising through the words in this holy book, and I was at peace. My first encounter with God was through the Word.
Almost immediately after, my mind was attacked by weird thoughts. “That was strange,” I thought.
Days later, I went back to the Gospel, and there was again, that wonderful peace and calmness of Jesus coming through the words. And shortly after, the attack on my mind came again.
That was my first experience of spiritual warfare. And it did work on me, a child. I associated cause and effect, and didn’t continue with the Word.
When I was 11, my second brother died suddenly in an accident. He was only 16. The vicar in that school and his wife, New Zealanders, comforted my parents during that time of grief and loss, and invited us to church. My parents went.
My first time in church, I marveled at the atmosphere of peace in the midst of all the activity, and looked forward to the breakfast of hot tea with milk, biscuits, cheese or egg cucumber sandwiches served in small rectangles of white bread piled neatly together. Church was food, drink and fellowship.
I was put in Sunday School and the vicar’s wife looked for me in that class. I don’t recall what I was doing, perhaps colouring, but when I looked up, I saw the bluest eyes I had ever seen looking back at me. I was totally mesmerised, drawn in by the depth and clarity of her eyes. Jesus was looking at me through her eyes. Church was care, compassion and the love of Jesus.
Some months later, the vicar and his wife returned to New Zealand and my parents didn’t like their replacements. So, we never went back to church either.
But I never forgot Him.