I was born in England and for the first 4 years of my life lived at our family home in Biggin Hill near London. I had the privilege of being brought up in a Christian home with Christian parents and grandparents.
When I was 4 years old however, my world turned upside down – we moved to Wales! I actually enjoyed living in Pentyrch near Cardiff, it was out in the country and I had many happy times there, but it was quite an upheaval for a young boy and my behaviour deteriorated, especially in school.
By the time I was 9 I had quite a reputation. I was known as the ‘naughtiest boy in the school’ by my classmates and even the teachers! I remember one teacher telling me, “Timothy – by the time you are 18 you will be in prison if you do not change your behaviour”.
I lived a double life. At School I was a nightmare. At home, I was an ordinary active boy – I respected and obeyed my parents (most of the time). My parents were very confused by reports coming back to them from school as I was relatively well behaved at home.
Having a Christian upbringing meant we went to church at the Heath every Sunday and I went to Sunday school during the morning services. I was taken but never listened to the evening services, I found the experience boring and I went to sleep on my mother’s shoulder every week.
At this young age however, I was very, very aware of my sinfulness. Something was wrong and I knew that I was not right with God.
I remember saying to myself that I believed in Jesus and that he is the Son of God. I was taught at Sunday school John 3v16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”. This confused me. I believed in Jesus but I felt that I would perish because of my sin. I tried reading the Bible but the words never made any sense.
One Sunday morning when I was still aged 9, I made my way to sit at the front of the church. In those days, the children all sat at the very font pews during the first part of the service. There was a visiting preacher that day. As he opened in prayer I was amused by his accent, as he was Scottish. It was the Rev Douglas MacMillan. I can’t remember what his children’s message was about – It could have been shepherding, but I remember enjoying it. I said to myself that I would listen to him during the evening service.
For the first time ever in my life, I listened to the Word of God being preached in an evening service. I did not go to sleep as usual. I wanted to listen. Something was drawing me in.
Mr MacMillan preached on 1 John 1v9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” He went on to verse 10, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”
I was completely gripped by the service. I was on the edge of my seat taking in every word that was spoken. All the answers to my questions were there. It was like a veil was lifted and I understood the promises of God, the work of Christ on the cross who took the punishment for our sins and the cleansing power of forgiveness through confession and faith.
I knew I had to pour out my heart to God in confession, to bring this promise to Him and to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.
On the way back from church that evening I did not say a word. I wanted to go straight to bed and pray, and keep praying until God answered. I held everything Mr MacMillan said in my heart.
When we got home, I skipped supper and went straight upstairs, got into bed, opened my Bible to 1 John 1 v 9, reminded God of His promises and poured out my heart to God asking for His forgiveness with tears of repentance. I do not remember how long I was praying but I was interrupted by a voice, and He said, “Your sins are forgiven”.
Tears of sorrow turned to tears of joy. I was instantly uplifted. I felt justified. I was forgiven! The burden of my sin that was so heavy was instantly taken away as I trusted in Jesus and received the forgiveness of my sins. I felt a change in my heart and I had peace with God.
When Mr Higham preached the following Sunday evening, I wanted to listen. And I understood. Church was no longer boring. Whenever I read the Bible, the verses had real meaning and it was no longer impossible to understand – even John 3:16!
Throughout my Christian life there is a great deal I could testify and many experiences of Gods goodness and grace and I have often had to remind myself of my conversion verse. One thing I can say for certain is that the Lord has always been with me, Becky and our children, through times of joy as well as through difficulties and trials. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations. Psalm 100v5.