The short answer to this question, for those who do not have the time or inclination to read this blog, is the great message of the Gospel and Jesus Christ.
This blog is a summary of my personal journey to Christianity with consideration of some of the things that guided me along the way.
From a very young age, I was curious about the world. As far back as I can remember I’ve grappled with origin, purpose, morality, and destiny. I suppressed this curiosity in my early teens. It simply wasn’t cool to ponder the meaning of life. While straying too far from the popular norms got you decked. Sadly, this carried on for some 15-years. Coupled with a combination of poor life choices, ignoring the authentic me and excessive drinking – all left me in rather poor shape. I hit my mid-twenties without any real grasp of who I was or what life was all about. This was, however, partially masked by a thin veil of some academic achievement and the pursuit of material belongings, with neither offering little more than a temporary and superficial satisfaction.
I can trace the start of my journey to Christianity to around 2007, which is when I started studying at the University of Westminster. I’d largely cleaned up my act, started exercising and reduced drinking. Slowly my grey-matter started to recover and, with it, a hunger to satisfy my wandering-mind. Consequently, I started reading philosophy, sociology and psychology books to try to make sense of myself and the world around me. In doing so: I became increasingly convinced that the world we live in is not as it was intended to be. The violence, oppression, exploitation, inequality and largely self-serving way we live our lives, made this clear to me. Could this present world really be the purpose of human existence?
Being an atheist, I subscribed to the theory of human evolution and the big-bang being the origin of the Universe. However, the more I considered both of these theories the more I started to reject the premise that human life (and all it encompasses) was little more than a chance occurrence and that we are just the product of an unguided mutation of molecules.
Of course, I recognised that there were great things in this world (children, love, family, and friendship) and that there were genuinely kind and good people. Certainly, not everybody lived their lives to the extremes mentioned above. However, I’m pretty certain that everyone has done things that they’re not proud of, on one level or another, and no one could honestly say that the world was as it should be.
Throughout the noughties, Islam had never been far from the news and I wanted to expand upon my tabloid-understanding of it. If anything, this was so I could engage in some informed discussion on the subject. So when I finished my studies in 2012 I purchased a book called ‘Islam – An Introduction’ by the author Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood. Ironically this would be one of my first steps towards Christianity and coming to know Jesus Christ.
I started watching Islamic apologists on YouTube, read the Quran and a book on the life of Muhammad by an author called Tariq Ramadam. It was during this period of researching Islam that I first became aware of the names David Wood and Nabeel Quasheri, both of whom were Christian apologists. David Wood is an American evangelical missionary who, having been diagnosed as a Sociopath in early life, was saved from a violent and dysfunctional life by Jesus Christ. The late Nabeel Quasheri was a Muslim apologist who converted to Christianity while researching for arguments against it. It was while watching debates between David, Nabeel and Muslim apologists that I was first exposed to a detailed explanation of the message of the Gospel and the teachings of Jesus Christ.
At its simplest, the message of Christianity answers ‘why’ for me. The message, as far as I’m aware, is unique. That is: God loves us, wants to have a personal relationship with us and gave his only son so that we can be forgiven of our sins. The only thing expected of us in return is that we accept Jesus Christ as our personal saviour and repent of our sins. Yes, that really is it.
In respect to our sins. Nabeel Quasheri explained the problems of the world like this: “Sin has ravaged our souls and the entire world. There is no way for us to un-sin. We cannot simply do a few good deeds to unshatter our souls. There is nothing on earth that we can do. It would take a miracle, an act of God to restore us and save this world”.
Nabeel describes what I refer to as the ‘fallen state’ we’re living in. That is: we’ve fallen from God and how we and this world were intended to be. However, there is good news, which is also known as the Gospel. The ‘miracle’ needed to restore us and save this world is offered to us by the Grace of God and through salvation in Jesus Christ.
So what convinced me that all of this was true? Well, while researching the message of the Gospel and the teachings of Jesus Christ from some 2000 years ago (God’s grace, forgiveness, love, self-sacrifice, and service to others) I came to realise that these teachings were simply not of man. Such enduring-purity of message had to be evidence of Jesus’ deity.
THE DAY MY LIFE CHANGED
This then all culminated for me one Saturday evening in early December 2017. I said some simple words before going to bed along the lines of:
“Jesus I have lived a life of much sin. I am also not 100% sure that you’re listening to me now. But at this moment I believe in you and I want you to come into my life and fix me”.
The next morning I woke up and things just felt different. I felt the presence of Jesus. The physical sensation is hard to articulate and the only way I can describe it is as a feeling of being reassured and that everything was going to be OK. Later that morning I walked into Peacehaven Evangelical Free Church and it was as if my whole life had been building up to that moment. I was warmly welcomed at the door and some four-months later baptized at the church. Since my baptism, I’ve continued to research the teaching of Jesus and have grown in my faith with support and guidance from the Church. Yes, I have developed questions along the way, some very challenging, however, in doing so I’ve only reinforced to myself that Jesus Christ is the way and is the truth.
I want everyone to have an opportunity to develop a personal relationship with God and to have the blessing of Jesus Christ as their personal saviour. As mentioned at the beginning, this blog is a brief summary of my journey to Christianity. However, if any of it has struck a chord with you, or if you’d just like to discuss Jesus, Christianity or any element of the blog please do get in contact.
I may not have all the answers to your queries, but I’d certainly be able to point you in the right direction of some good people at my Church who would.