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My Testimony

" I tell you the truth, whoever listens to my words, and puts his trust in him, who sent me, enjoys eternal life. That person will not be judged guilty, but has already passed from death to life. " John 5:24



I grew up in a Roman Catholic family. I went to a catholic school. I was baptised, took first communion and confirmed a catholic. But I was too young to really understand what sacraments meant. At the age of seven, I prepared for the day when I would receive the Eucharist for the first time. My Teachers explained to me that when I received the "Host", I was in fact receiving the complete Body, Blood, Soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, and although it would look like bread, taste like bread, and even smell like bread, the priest had changed the substance of bread into Jesus Christ, during the sacrifice of the Mass.

It was a great disappointment to me when the "great" day of life was over, although it had been full of excitement and anticipation. The church service was a magnificent display of pomp and ceremony. I Had not received the blessing which I had been promised. For over a year the teacher had been building up our hopes and my desires, telling me the great change I would experience when I received Jesus. Yet when I had returned to my seat in the church and had consumed the host. It had no more effect than a slice of bread.

My mum sent us (me and my sister) to church until I was 12. I had no interest to keep going. There was no singing or music that would even grab my attention. We just rhymed off the words on a sheet. I would day dream and gaze at the lights and statues. It was a lovely old building, very large but cold. God seemed so far away. I never heard a message about salvation, eternal life or the devil. I never appreciated, or was really told to appreciate that Jesus died for me!

Sometimes during the summer, I went to Cssm with some friends, and I really enjoyed hearing bible stories and singing about Jesus. Jesus really felt close and like a friend.

When I was a teenager, I was very rarely thinking of Jesus. Only in Religious Education at school, when I was in trouble, or If I wanted something. The only important thing in my life was football and the weekends. As I got older it changed to girls, beer and discos. After my G.C.S.E ‘s .I changed school. I went to a Protestant school, because my best friend Johnny went there. He lived beside me. Wellington College.

The school had a big Christian group called Scripture Union, and for the first time I had Christian friends. I would always argue with them. Sometimes joke about them, (not drinking or watching t.v etc.) and I would never admit to loosing an argument. (Jo-Anne can vouch for that!) and I felt special being one of the few Catholics in the school. I always thought I was a Christian, I always thought that if I died, I would go to heaven, and off course pass through purgatory on the way. I used to pray to Mary. I often thought of her as my heavenly mother, like God is our father. I knew what sin was. I confessed my sins to a priest, but only made up things just to pass the time, while in the confession box. I thought I was Ok, Just as long as I didn’t kill anyone or do something really serious. "Yes, I'll be in Heaven" I thought everyone would be in heaven, except for really evil people. I thought my grandparents were in heaven, and I talked to them. I used to think Jesus lived in the tabernacle of the church. I thought the teachings of the church of Rome were correct and that Protestism was false. I never read the bible, except in RE class or in the readings at church. But I never read or studied the Bible, and was never encouraged to do so. I took for granted the stories I was told (catholic traditions) were all in the Bible. Especially stories about saints and Mary. I always knew there was a God. I didn't think he would think I was so important, I thought I was a Christian, and going to heaven when I died. I had never heard the real gospel. I never really appreciated that Jesus died for me. He died for me!, and not just the people who lived at that time.

I was invited to various meetings and services, and I heard testimonies of Catholics and ex-terrorist, drunks and druggies who had come to know the Lord. I enjoyed going to church, and had started going to a Baptist church with a friend from school called Jo-Anne. I liked the music and the singing. Everyone was so friendly and different. They had a certain glow.. I was given a tape and book by Keith Green, a Christian singer song writer who died in a plane crash with two of his children. After a couple of weeks I realised that when I was talking to non-Christian friends, I was bible bashing them about drink and drugs, I had started to have a new conscience, I began to feel guilty for my actions. My friend asked me if I was a Christian. My heart stopped...and I said Yes!. That day I asked Jesus into my heart, and asked him to help me. I recognised I was a sinner, and that I needed Jesus to save me. Jesus died for me!. Since then I have had a personal relationship with Jesus. I repented my sins and asked Jesus to take control of my life. “I hope you find out before it's too late, that there's really nobody else. You know you’re breaken his heart the longer you wait. Cause you've been only been lying to yourself. Nobody believes a word you say. Not even You! You know your going find out that he's the way. No matter which way you choose...But I pray you find out by his love for you!” Keith Green

A Christian friend told me that it's the best discision you'll ever make. And you know something it is. God does love me, and I am important to him. So are You! He went looking for me like a shepherd who cares for his lambs.

In Northern Ireland though, Religion has become a political concept. Religion is a political statement and no longer a faith. If you are one Religion you are stereotyped to have a political view "United Ireland" etc. So when I became a Christian, my catholic friends thought my political views had changed, and my Protestant friends said I was one of them now. I've never had any political views really, I also took a neutral view. I used to tell both sets of friends "I am neither a Protestant or a catholic, I just have a personal relationship with Jesus. I don’t think a Christian should take any worldly view on matters of our country. Paul says that when we become that when we become a Christian, fundamental changes begin to take place. This is one of them. “From now on we regard no-one from a worldly point of view.” That means we see things in a new way. Our whole value system changes, and many of the things which we once thought important are now seen to be superficial. The criteria which the world uses to value people, no longer applies to us. In the world’s value system, the rich are more important than the poor. The successful are more important than those who didn’t make it. The young are more important than the old, the healthy more important than the sick, and the fit more important than the mentally and physically disabled. When God saves us, Paul says, “We become new creatures.” The Holy Spirit dwells within us, and begins a job which will last our whole life. That job is to make us more like Jesus. And Jesus regards no-one from a worldly point of view. If he did, then he would only be interested in only the rich and powerful and the young and the healthy and the gifted. He would have no time for the rest of us. Those of us with little talent or influence. He wouldn’t have bothered with the blind beggars and the lepers and the tax collectors and the crucified criminals and the loose women who had no place in the world’s value system. We need to teach people that a person’s value is not determined by the name on his trainers or the motif on his shirt. That the life lost in the parched deserts of Ethiopia and the Sudan is as valuable as the life lost on a 12 million pound yacht. “So, from now on, we regard no-one from a worldly point of view”

Since I have become a Christian, I am amazed how much my life has changed. Although my mum says my bedroom is still untidy. When God saves us, he changes our name. Previously we may have been a Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic or Baptist or even none of them. You can be any of these things and not be a Christian. You can be a Christian and none of those things. What you can’t do is regard any of them, and Christians as the same thing. So just because I was a Catholic makes no difference, I could have been an Anglican or Baptist. When we call ourselves “Christian” we are declaring ourselves to be grafted onto the very name of Christ. That’s a big responsibility when we realise how seriously God regards his own name. Out of only Ten Commandments which god gave to Moses, one of them uses a warning not to treat his name lightly or disrespectfully.

So I want to make sure that I live up to the name God has graciously allowed each of us to use. Because remember, that name is meant to say something about us. If somebody asks me, why I call myself a Christian, them either my life or my name must be inappropriate. I began to study the bible, it began to make sense, I also began to study the Catholic church doctrines, and was amazed in what I found. I thought the bible was just so amazing, and I was surprised in what I found. I found that the Catholic doctrines totally contradicted the bible, and the bible proved them wrong. I received a thirst for knowledge in the bible. I’m now a student at Queens University, Computer Science and work part time in Wellworths/Supervalue. Although I am a Christian, I’m not perfect, far from it. I still sin, and fall short of the Glory of Jesus. But Jesus died for me and forgave my sins. I am a new creation and the Holy spirit dwells within me, his job is to make me more like Jesus. I'm also going to get baptized at the next baptismal service. It isn’t easy being a Christian, my parents and sister are not Christians. It was difficult at first, but gradually they have began to accept it and respect it. But I have to keep praying, stay positive and keep witnessing. During the summer, I took part in a scripture Union organization called CSSM, which is for children aged 4-16. I really enjoyed it, and grew as a christian. I also started a christian newsletter via email at University, and send it around the world. And I also have a web page as you can see!

Please pray for my country, my church and my family.

Thanks

Andrew Donaldson



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