What brings you to life?
What do you love most about Durham?
To be honest it reminds me a lot of home. It’s a small place where everyone seems to know each other in some way. I love this most because there’s a great sense of community. Also, it’s not a boring place, there’s always loads of stuff going on, so I like the buzz.
What’s the most important thing to you?
I hold my faith and relationship with God as the most important thing to me, but also I think that that community of friends and family is so important, as they are the people you do life with and learn a lot from.
What’s your story?
So I was brought up in a Christian family in Belfast. I was taken to church and taught about God, however, I never really paid that much attention and my time in church was mostly devoted to mucking about with my mates.
When I became a teenager I was kind of just a typical teenage boy, I didn’t really care too much about anything but just wanted to play football and have a good time with my mates. At the end of my first year in high school I went to a talk in my church where a guy shared his testimony, some of the things he spoke about, like competing for popularity and never being sure of friendships really stuck with me and I ended up becoming what I thought to be a ‘proper’ Christian after this by praying a prayer that God would enter into my life.
However, my immaturity levels as I continued through the teenager years did not really decrease and that had an effect on my faith in God. In all honesty I didn’t really care that much about him, I was having a good time with him at the side of things, and that was fine for me. Our world nowadays tells us to ‘stay forever young’ as we strive to ‘never grow up’ but this attitude, in fact, masks immaturity, and I became a classic case of this.
Then when I was about 16/17 I found myself getting in more serious trouble in, again, silly attempts to try and impress others, and found myself not even really caring about my own reputation and future. On one occasion I got in pretty serious trouble and this time it not only had an effect on me, but on my family. My family have only ever shown love towards me, so this time it actually really hit me hard because I had hurt people that I loved, all because I was so immature, even to the point to which they questioned if they even knew me that well. I take this scary and difficult time in my life as a real ‘kick up the arse’ from God as he was basically saying to me ‘you need to take me seriously and grow up!’ I thank God and my family for the grace and forgiveness they both showed me and fundamentally this experience made me mature both as a man and spiritually.
Since then, like everyone’s, my walk in faith has had its ups and downs but I’ve been massively spurred on by amazing and honestly, fairly abnormal acts of God I’ve witnessed. In church we often hear about people being physically healed. But for me it was something that happened to other people and to be honest, I was fairly sceptical about it being a real thing.
Then one day my sister FaceTimed home after she had finished a trip called ‘Escape and Pray’. She was sent to Milan for a few days with no plan, only prayer and two of her friends. They had loads of stories of God’s power and provision for them while out there, but the story that stuck with me was that they found a man in a train station who had badly damaged his leg and was howling in pain. My sister went over and asked if she could pray for his leg. He let her pray and after she had prayed he was up and dancing around the train station as his leg was now absolutely fine! For me this was the first real close contact that I’d had with anything like this. It was my sister who did it. I knew she wouldn’t lie about something like that. It actually happened. I remember thinking that this was awesome, scary, and exciting all at once.
Since then, any opportunity I have had to pray for healing I’ve taken it. I can honestly say to you now I’ve seen physical healings in the name of Jesus with my own eyes. For example, I prayed for a guy who had something wrong with the arch in his foot, which meant he couldn’t walk properly and it was really hindering him. I prayed and the next day he came back to me saying he had been on a long walk with his family that morning and it felt absolutely fine, there was no pain at all.
I’m as much of a sceptic as anyone, I don’t believe we should naively believe in God, and I know some people will argue the placebo effect was at play in this healing, however, I met the same guy a year later and the first question I asked him was ‘How is the foot?’ and he hasn’t had problems with it since.
In periods where I have doubted God’s character and even his existence, it is the examples of his power that I’ve seen, lives completely turned around, that point me towards the fact that God is there, that He loves us, and that His way is perfect.
So for me if life comes down to just partying, getting rich, having kids and then dying, that doesn’t really excite me to be honest. I think to myself, I’ve seen the power of God in reality, so therefore I don’t care how confused my mind gets about things, He is there and He is powerful.