TESTIMONY - BEN SHARPE, OCTOBER 2010
My parents have always been Christians so for as long as I can remember I’ve always been dragged out of bed to go to church. I got to a point in high school, around year 9, where I decided church wasn’t for me and I wanted to go my own way. I also realised quickly that church was not the ‘in thing’ at school and because I depended a lot on people’s approval of me, I stopped going to church so I would ‘fit in’.
It was half way through year 11 when I was asked to play saxophone in the musical ‘Pilgrims Progress’ at PCF. I had never heard of PCF before and never really gave any thought to it being at a church. I just jumped at the opportunity of playing the sax in a musical! I had no idea about the things God had in store for me. I now realise that from that point on, that I was on a life-changing journey and was attending a church where amazing things happen, everybody is loved, and no matter how great or not so great your life is, all things will work out for good for those who love God.
When I was at PCF for the very first time, I clearly remember people being nice to me for no reason! At school you had to be a certain type of person to fit in with the crowd you wanted to be with. Everything you did, had done, and everything you own is judged by everybody. What your parents do for a job, what car your parents have, the clothes you wear, how much money you have. Also, whether or not you go to church etc etc. It’s decided by everyone and that determines how popular you are, who your friends are, and almost shapes what kind of person you’ll grow into.
However, at PCF I found it to be the opposite. People accept you for who you are. Everyone is interested in you and what you do. People even remember who you are the following week and keep up-to-date with your life! However cheesy this sounds, I don’t care. I instantly felt this unconditional love that I now realise can only come from one source – God. God has a love so strong for me I can’t even understand it.
So after ‘Pilgrims Progress’ I had this hunger (I guess you can call it) to keep coming back to PCF. Even though I found the worship a bit weird and I didn’t understand a lot of things that were talked about, and it took me about 6 months to distinguish who was Matt Williamson and who was Matt (Will) Williamson, I loved being here.
Over the months, I learnt more and more about who God is, who Jesus is and who the Holy Spirit is. And honestly, I loved it. I still couldn’t quite get my head round some stuff but I knew, and still know today, that this Christian life is real.
After one evening service I was so fascinated I Googled how many Christians there are in the world today and it came up with just over 2 billion active Christians. That’s 2 billion people who personally know Jesus and see the miraculous works of God in their lives, and all sorts amazing things. It made me think - you could probably brain wash a few million people, maybe even 500 million people, but can you really brain wash 2 billion people from all different cultures, backgrounds and intellects around the world, simultaneously?
And this has lasted for over 2000 years and with all the scrutiny the Bible and Christianity and God has been under, God has always come out on top, and won. Jesus has proven to be the Way, the Truth, and without a doubt, the Life. No one can beat Him or bring Him down. This was a life-changing revelation to me, and by this point I was practically dancing in my bedroom knowing that in my heart all I wanted to do is get to know Jesus and receive the Holy Spirit so that I can live an extraordinary, abundant, loving, secure life, with no condemnation, and no worries about where I’m going in life, because God has it all planned out for me. That’s how amazing my God is and how much He loves me!
I would love to say that because I am a born-again Christian I live a perfect, sinless, pure, holy life. Unfortunately I am far, far, far from it. I really do make a real hash of things, daily. So thank God that He sent His one and only beloved Son down for me, so that when I accepted Him as my Lord and Saviour, God forgave me for all my sins (and still does). And because of the suffering Jesus went through for me, God sees me as a new creation. That’s mind blowing!
So, I’m not brain washed! I’m not a desperate, insecure person who needs some religion to hold onto to get me through life. I have an active, real, personal relationship with my Lord, Saviour and best friend, Jesus Christ. Even when life gets tough, He is right with me, every step I go.
You may have noticed I have called church PCF so far. That’s because for a while this building was known to me as PCF. But now it’s not a building to me. This church is made up of Jesus-loving people who have a heart for God and I am proud to call it my church.
So I am standing here today to proclaim my love of Jesus and to say that for every single day of my life, I will follow Him and do everything I possibly can to glorify Him. The massive Almighty God of the universe has done so much for me, even when I didn’t know it; He still does now, and will continue to do so for the rest of my life because of His unconditional love for me. He is even preparing me a place in heaven, as it says in the Bible. Because my incredible God does all these incredible things for me – I’m going to spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to serve Him.