Attending chapel was a normal part of my childhood. We usefully learnt about right and wrong from Bible stories and teachings. I enjoyed mixing with some lovely people. In school I was capable enough to compete and be regarded as good. Out of school I thrived in scouting where first at Miskin then at Llantwit Fardre I developed a passion for outdoor pursuits. Many of my peers had little more than TV, space invaders and parties to get excited about. For me cycling, canoeing, climbing, pioneering and hill walking brought challenge and pleasure.
At the funeral of my godly old Sunday School teacher I saw that, for all his good, he was now buried and gone just like anyone else. Doubts about eternity drowned out belief but Dad insisted we attend a place of worship while living at home. Outdoor pursuits pulled more strongly and it was a joy to arrive home just too late for chapel. My elder brother becoming a Christian had some appeal as a lively group of young people and his thriving congregation challenged my view that chapel ways were outdated.
At University I was happy to mix with Christians but wanted nothing to do with their religion. I could be as good or better without it. It took a broken engagement in my final year to jolt me into seriously considering my ways. Earlier that year a Christian had insisted on putting on my shelf a gospel of John. He ignored my suggestion to file it in the bin or give it to someone who would want it. Now confronted by my failings I began to ponder deep thoughts about life. I read that gospel and was challenged by the account of Jesus’ life and stated purpose. He had said “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.” The cross now appeared not as a sad mistake but rather as the central point to which His amazing life led. Then there were claims of dying to save from sin and the astonishing resurrection. I soon shocked a group of Christians by asking if I could join them at their church that night. I attended several evening services before being challenged to talk my questions through with the preacher. He praised my honesty, talked me through Isaiah chapter 53 and prescribed Romans 1 to 8. There I read of man’s folly in rebellion and God’s way of salvation but I still could not make myself believe. Several Sundays later I was convicted by the clear faith of a fellow student who would neither live with boys nor fence on Sundays. That evening I returned to my room, jettisoned my Bible and went to join other friends at the bar. Yet within minutes I had to leave, overwhelmed by a sense that this was not where I belonged. Back in my room my search for God was desperate, ending in a prayer confessing my need and praying for mercy. The next morning my Christian friend sensed a change in me. Others noticed but said I would soon get over it.
By God’s grace my life continued to change. 30 years on I testify that God has graciously guided me through both blessings and trials in my career as a primary school teacher, as a husband and father raising four children. I thank God for the on-going spiritual home found at the Heath Church.