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Testimony - Richard

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Picture of the Rector, Richard Coleman
 

Lewis Carroll once said, Begin at the beginning and keep going until you reach the end, then stop.

With that in mind, this is my story …

I was born into a Christian family, both my parents were very active in the church and as I grew up they encouraged me to be active also. I was an altar boy, read the lessons and sung in the choir. Being confirmed at the age of eleven seemed a natural progression within the church. Life was good, I was doing well at school, lots of friends and a girl I fancied. When I was thirteen my father went into the ministry, but I had no idea what lay in store.
At the age of fifteen my father became a clergyman. At the age of fifteen I hated life, school, parents, church, everything. At the age of fifteen I moved. Friends, school, the girl I fancied, church, home all left behind. I turned my back on God, but God had a plan. From the age of fifteen to twenty-six I went the way of the world, no interest in God or religion. For ten years life was fun, life was good. I had a good job, paid well, had a few girlfriends, partied a bit.
Gradually, however, boredom set in. My job became boring, earning money lost it’s appeal, girlfriends and parties became tedious. I don’t know when it started; that’s the problem when something starts small, occasionally, but slowly over time it gradually builds up, becomes more frequent, more noticeable. For two years I couldn’t figure it out. It never occurred to me that God might even remotely stop the rot.
Then at the age of twenty-seven at an Open University summer school that boredom disappeared. Over breakfast I met the woman who was to become my wife. This woman came and sat at my breakfast table and we chatted, as you do. Actually, I don’t remember the conversation, all I remember is saying “Yes” and “No” in all the right places, nursing a hangover from the night before! I wasn’t paying much attention, but as she walked away to get ready for her lectures I just somehow knew that she was the woman I was going to marry. At meal times I looked eagerly for her every day so that I could get to know her, and by the end of the week we had exchanged addresses.
Over the following months, by letter and phone, this woman encouraged me to find out about Christianity. She was a Christian, and I thought that I was too. After all I had been baptised and confirmed, I even still believed in Jesus and God and what he had done for us on the cross. But through her urging, I met up with a group of Christians in Cardiff, where I lived at the time, who showed me how to be a Christian. They helped me to understand some of the basics of the Christian faith.

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (James 2:26)

I had faith, but it was a dead faith. I believed but I didn’t know how to put that faith into action. But these Christians showed me how to live as a Christian. They modelled the Christian life and helped me to be a Christian. As I walked home one night after discussing what the Bible teaches about sin and repentance I thought about all the wrong I had done. As I walked I cried. As I cried I said sorry, and asked Jesus into my life. I didn’t understand all that meant then, but I did know that I could not continue living in a way that God was not happy about. And I knew I could not make the necessary changes without God’s help.

Nine months after we first met, my wife and I were engaged. Four months after that we were married. We’ve been married for fifteen years and it certainly hasn’t been a bed of roses. We’ve had our differences but with Jesus as the focus of our life together, we never stay annoyed for long. With my wrongs forgiven, my life given to Jesus I look forward to what the future has in store, watching the rest of God’s plan unfold in my life. I’m now the Rector of these five churches and seeking to model the Christian life to others in the churches and in the villages as I continue to learn more about what it means to have Jesus as the leader of my life.
As Christians when we get it wrong we don’t get hung up on it; we have a solution. We can confess our wrong thoughts and deeds and words to God, and because of Jesus’ death on the cross we have the assurance that we are forgiven — no matter what we have done, when we ask Jesus to be the leader of our lives.
This is the end of my testimony, but it’s not the end of my story. The problems and hassles don’t go away but they are easier to handle and we don’t get stuck in a rut. We can put it behind us and move on together with Jesus, writing the rest of our story as we go.