I didn't come from a Christian home. My only experience of church was fighting over the red jelly babies with my brother in the choir during summer. Consequently we both got banned. My bro was sent to apologise and ended up back in the choir and for some reason and to my joy my parents said I was too young to apologise and I was spared the return. I did attend Sunday School for a small time but then that was it.
After teenage years in a boarding school and in the middle of the Hippy era I fell right in to the drug scene while attending University of Leeds. I made some lovely friends and still keep in touch but although unaware of it my general condition was deteriorating - especially after I started taking LSD.
I left University after two years and took on various jobs around the country. On returning to Leeds I met up with old friends Helen and Mike. They, along with good friend Drossos had become Christians. My initial reaction was one of horror! I guess instinctively I knew that to become a Christian I would have my life turned upside down - deep down I was afraid. Thanks to the perseverance of my friends I finally prayed a simple prayer. I cannot remember the prayer and to this day question its sincerity but in coming to God I was simply accepted without any strings attached. I was accepted even with my insincerity.
My first discovery was that Jesus was not just a person of history but a present reality.
My second discovery was that still having not been to church my experience of God was such that it did not seem important. Formalities and external rituals were secondary to the change of heart promised in the New Testament.
My third discovery was to me the most important. I realised that I was accepted by God simply on the basis of love. I thus reasoned with God I would still be able to smoke marijuana. Funnily enough as much as I could understand God I felt no reproof or threat. So I lit up a 'joint' took one more smoke and realised I didn't want it anymore and threw it all on the fire. That was the last time I have had any more to do with drugs but more importantly I realised what being a Christian is. It was as if God was trusting divine love to transform me on the inside rather than use censure and external threats to keep me in line. Being a Christian is about being loved.
I did start going to church and reading my Bible and still do but I only do that because I love being with people of faith and also worship and thanks is a good thing. The Bible though a difficult book to understand tells me about God and Jesus.
Above all what has never left me is the power of Divine love in my heart. It is a great joy to me to feel and know that the very love that God showed through Jesus when he cried forgiveness for those who were crucifying him is the very same as the love that is within. It knows no bounds, it is expansive, all embracing, always hoping and as St Paul says when all things have passed away it is love that remains!
This is the reason I with others started FISS - not to make children religious or even get them to go to church. It’s about love. What does love mean? In some way I hope I can help young people and children to learn at an early age this love of God I and many others have discovered. I hope my teaching reflects this.