God is on the move and we feel called to keep an account of how He is touching lives in this place, at this time. We hope these stories of what God has been doing will inspire you to draw near to Him in faith, enjoying the full and abundant life Jesus promised.
Andy has lived in Ashington for 10 years and is now spending the year on the Chanctonbury church staff team, employed as an intern.
Growing up, I knew nothing about God. No one in my family were Christians. My mind was heavy, filled with stress, anxiety and fear. Throughout school, I was both a people-pleaser and socially competitive to a toxic degree – always trying to better my friends in one way or another. I was prideful, stoic and stubborn, caring way too much about my reputation.
At college I met Tom – a Christian – who, although I had almost verged on bullying him earlier in school; had continually pursued a friendship with me. Spending more time with Tom and his family, I was drawn in by their love, witnessing a new way of living and interacting with people with such kindness. With hindsight I can now say, seeing Jesus alive in them was so attractive.
Through our conversations, I was intrigued to go to a Church service or Youth event, but time after time I made up excuses; I bailed every time. My stubbornness persisted – I was afraid of change. It wasn’t until another invitation (to the Kingdom Come Conference) loomed; I felt like I was standing on the edge of a cliff and just needed to jump. In a moment of overriding my pride and tendency to make an excuse, I went.
That evening I received prayer – for what felt like an eternity – but when it stopped, I felt like I was in a daze. I had been woken up to something, feeling this powerful electricity running through my body and a burning sensation in my chest. Friends would then tell me that was the Holy Spirit alive in me. Not knowing anything about prayer, I was overwhelmingly compelled to go and pray for others! From that evening, there were no excuses good enough to keep me away from going to church.
I had been holding on to a lot of hurt and frustration from relationships, yet my stoic demeanour wouldn’t allow me to show it; it was eating me up on the inside. One evening I sat in my room, looked myself in the mirror and asked God why I was feeling what I felt… ‘God, if you’re real, take away the hurt and frustration’. I was then filled with what I can only describe as complete peace and intense joy so strong I couldn’t help but crack up laughing! I knew, more than ever before, that God was real and His presence was with me.
I was on a ‘jet-pack’ journey with God. He was saving me through removing parts of my life; It was hard. Sharing these difficulties and praying through them with some friends, they asked, “Do you want to give your life to Him? I think God wants to wash all that pain clean, once and for all.”
There has been a real 180° turnaround in my life; not just in the choices of attending University or not, but in my mind. I no longer see the invisible social hierarchies that consumed me. Every day I’m excited to wake up and live my life with God because I was stuck in a hole. My safety was in all the things that hurt me – now my safety is in God alone, learning every day what it means to be me. I’ve had an encounter with God. Now I’m ready to keep growing in the truth of who God says I am.