I was brought up going to church. That’s to say ever since I can remember, every Sunday I would go to church with my family. Whilst in primary school I enjoyed going to church but mainly to see my friends and play games with them during the service (if there was no Sunday School)! Hangman and noughts and crosses were just two of our favourite games! At Sunday School I learnt about different Bible characters and their stories, but to be honest I don’t remember any story or character particularly impacting me back then. I knew that “Jesus died on a cross for my sins so that I can have eternal life”. Again, to be honest I didn’t realise the impact of this, let alone what it meant though I knew it had to be important since people go to church and worship Jesus.
When I was 13 years old, I went on a family trip to Nigeria where my parents originally come from. My cousin who is a pastor, and his wife took me on a shopping trip and whilst standing in the shopping mall car park, I remember my cousin’s wife asking me whether I knew Jesus Christ and whether I was “born again”. I remember being unsure whether I actually knew Jesus or not despite being brought up going to church. I think I was now at an age where I had a little more understanding and could decide for myself. I think I told her that I wasn’t too sure, then she asked whether I wanted to know Jesus, to which I replied yes. She then prayed with me; we prayed for the forgiveness of my sins and for Jesus to enter my life. I must say, after this prayer, there was no magical feeling! However, I had definitely been reconciled with God and Jesus had entered my heart - as the clearly Bible states.
Some years later, from year eight onwards, I started to attend a different church with my family because we moved house. Again, I enjoyed going and I attended Sunday School group where we would discuss various topics whilst learning Biblical principles. At the time, I was seriously suffering from low self-esteem and having absolutely no self-confidence. I was always feeling super negative about myself, comparing myself to others and generally feeling fearful about life. I really didn’t know what the source of these feelings was, but in retrospect, I think some events from my childhood might have contributed to them. I remember feeling trapped; I couldn’t shake it off and no matter how much I forced myself to think positively, nothing would make these feelings go away. I even got myself into some bad habits that I knew for sure were not right. I had my good and bad days, but these issues continued to linger. I was my own worst enemy.
I was still having these issue even up until I reached sixth form, but for years I used to pray and pray that Jesus would help me to permanently get rid of these feelings and habits. The feelings did not magically disappear one day and I sometimes felt frustrated. But looking back, I can see how God was slowly transforming my life over the years, and taking His time to deal with my issues at the very core, and He still is in the business of doing this actually. I can definitely say that I am a completely new person now. I am extremely grateful that when I was going through these tricky times growing up that I knew about God and prayer. Had I not been brought up in church, I don’t know who I would have turned to! Jesus Christ had forgiven all of my sins and He had given me the power to actually overcome sin in my life. The closer I got to Jesus, the more my old habits and old ways of thinking started to drop off of me.
I now have an identity in Jesus Christ, I know who I am and that Jesus loves me. I know what God thinks and says about me, and that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I was not created to beat myself up or put myself down. I have also noticed that I have much more peace in my heart nowadays - I don’t worry as much as I used to. Throughout my journey with God for the past ten years, I have seen through experience that God answers prayer and that He is always present, even when it doesn’t seem that He is. I have also learnt that God is for me and He is interested in even the finest details of my life. He is totally faithful and trustworthy. Walking with God has allowed me to take leaps of faith also. God wants to be in relationship with us all and He wants us to enjoy the gift of life! What I love most about God is that He is constant and does not change – unlike humans and all earthly things!