Life-Changing Love (AJ’s Story)

I want you to know that writing this post has been frustrating me for a while. What about my story, well God’s story in my life, can impact someone’s life? I don’t feel like my story is useless or unimpressive, but I do feel like I am unable to articulate it in such a way as to show you just what God has done for me.

My actual conversion story is pretty straightforward. I was saved at a young age once I understood the Gospel. But that was about 13 years ago, how have I gotten to the point where I am now in Bible college, writing for this blog and in several ministries?

When I was 14 years old, my parents had a life changing moment. My dad read a book about leading his family in their spiritual walks and he began to take his role very seriously. One of my parents’ many decisions at this time in their lives was that we needed to move churches. I was not very happy about this. We found a new church but my parents said it was my decision as to whether or not I joined the youth ministry at my new church or remained at the old one. I decided to stay with my old church’s youth ministry but reluctantly tagged along on Sunday mornings. Eventually I realised that God wanted me to move to the new church full time. I approached the leaders of both and informed them of my decision.

I have always been fairly outwardly compliant. I knew that both God and my parents desired that I attend this church; so I went. But inside I was thinking “I will go, but that doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it, talk to anyone, or embrace the new church”. Here I have to give my church credit, as moody as I was they accepted me with love and did their best to draw me in.

Soon my church advertised that there was going to be a Word of Life teen camp for one week during the December/summer holiday. Although I used to love that kind of thing, I didn’t want to go. I didn’t really know much about Word of Life, but I was scared of the representative at my church. But again my parents wanted me to do it and so again I did.

I arrived at the camp and there were a lot of people. The only person I knew was the representative, whom I was scared of, and even though I had been a Christian for several years, I thought these people were weird: they all loved each other just a little bit too much. Even the directors of the camp came to me, learned my name and told me they were so glad I was there. “Yeah, right,” I was thinking, “there are like a hundred people here, I am just part of a crowd and you will forget who I am in the next five minutes.”

To their credit, this did not happen. They remembered my name and checked up on me every day. In fact, all of the head counsellors learnt who I was, sought me out and made me feel so loved that I couldn’t keep up my attitude issues.

My attitude at this stage in my life was a sinful one and I knew that. Yet my leaders didn’t tell me to pull myself together, they didn’t Bible bash me, or make me out to be a terrible person. Instead they loved me, without care for whether I would ever love them back. They learned my name, they sat with me at lunch, they introduced me to people who are now good friends of mine, they gently got me to open up, and more. Note that all they did was love me and I am convinced it changed my life.

I think what I am trying to say is this: my life is different, not because of some great sermon or an amazing book, my life is changed because a group of people gave me unguarded love. A love that showed me who Christ really is.

If you get anything from my testimony I want it to be this: you can be the life changer in somebody’s life and it doesn’t require much, just love. We are all called to be Christ to the world and I hope that one day someone is able to say that God used you to change their life simply by showing His love to them.

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