Becoming a Christian wasn’t exactly top of my list of things I expected to gain from going to university. Whilst I had grown up in a family with Christian roots, I had very little understanding of big words like ‘salvation’, ‘sin’ and ‘grace’ and it wasn’t until entering first year that I was challenged by the friends I met through Pollock Halls to investigate a bit deeper. It was through frequent debates in the JMCC and outside of class that I realised how little I understood the contents of the Bible, and how much my thinking was prejudiced by what I had read on the news or heard from friends.
Over a coffee, the root of all deep conversation, one of my good friends, Paul, took me through a book called ‘The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus’, it’s a book aimed at conveying the foundations of Christianity in a concise manner. Don’t let me fool you, by the end of it I still had no idea what was going on (for reasoning still oblivious to me, we started at chapter fourteen), and I essentially sat like a polite nodding-dog for an hour, but I promised Paul I’d read it when I found time. Thankfully, I was to spend that summer interrailing in the USA and knowing that I’d have a lot of very, very long train journeys to deal with (the longest was thirty-six hours!) I decided I’d take the book with me and read it for Paul’s sake and with the ulterior motive that a deeper understanding would equip me to better put across my atheist beliefs.
God had other plans though and by chapter five I was glued to the pages with more questions than I had before I started the book. I finished it while we were still in New York, the first city on our little adventure and with so many more questions I just had to buy another book. After-all, I still had plenty of train journeys to fill and adult colouring-in is only fun for the first ten hours! Having found a nearby Barnes and Noble bookshop (which blows Blackwell’s out of the water quite frankly) I picked up a copy of ‘The Case for Christ’ written by Lee Strobel, which was made into a film last year if you’re afraid of books.
Lee Strobel’s book was so valuable to me as it looked at whether the Bible should be believed with a very objective, evidence-based narrative. Strobel approaches the topic as an atheist and a lawyer, presenting a case that the Bible should be believed in the style that a lawyer might use in a trial – and incidentally while carrying out his initial research for the book, Strobel became a Christian.
After finishing the two books, I found myself completely blown away. There was a small part of me reluctant to accept that I had changed my mind (I will not deny that I am a very stubborn person), but it was overcome by this incredible sense of freedom, of liberation. I knew Jesus Christ was my saviour.
The first thing I had to do was tell everyone, and so I did. I told the people I was travelling with; I told my friends back home; I told my friends from university; I told my family; and I wrote Paul the longest WhatsApp message I’ve ever sent. I wanted everyone to know that there is Something More and I had found it. Naturally people were surprised at first, my family the most, but one thing I found especially encouraging this Christmas was a gift from my parents. In fact, the best Christmas present I received this Christmas was not expensive, nor rare, it was a pocket Bible my parents gave me, to which I attach huge sentimental value as a token of my family’s acceptance of my beliefs.
One of my favourite analogies given by the pastor of the church I go to is that as Christians ‘we are all beggars, trying to show other beggars where the food is’. We do not seek personal gain from sharing this Good News with you, we simply want to show you the love that God has for us. A love so strong that He gave up his only son so that we might live with Him forever and be free from all our sins. You may have your reservations about coming to a CU events week, I know I did! But the way I see it you have everything to gain and nothing to lose.