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Psalm 86:5 But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.
I was brought up just outside the village of Maghaberry. I am thankful to God that I was raised by parents who loved and cared for me, but it saddens me to say that it was a home without Christ.
My parents attended the local Church of Ireland, and up until my mid teens, I was faithfully sent along to the regular church services, the Sunday School and the Church Lads Brigade. Even though I attended church regularly I can never recollect hearing about my need to be saved. I do remember vainly reciting prayers and creeds each week from the prayer book and through this I had a certain head knowledge that I was a sinner before a Holy God and needed forgiveness of sin through the Lord Jesus Christ. But that's all it was...a head knowledge. I did not believe in my heart that these things were true. The church I grew up in as a child was a place of dead religion where there was virtually no Gospel light. I do not believe that any of my ministers or Sunday School teachers were saved but only the Lord truly knows the heart.
When I was sixteen years old I was invited by a school friend to a Methodist church youth club. Each Friday night, after a time of recreation, a different speaker would come along and give an epilogue. Week after week the way of life was clearly set before me at the youth club.
One Friday night in May 1991, an American evangelist was preaching on the dangers of rock music. I remember going home from the youth club that night under conviction of my sin. I realized that if I didn't get right with the Lord, and died in my sin, my soul would be lost in hell forever.
2Th 1:8 ... them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
2Th 1:9 ... shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
That night I leant by my bedside and in faith and with a repentant heart accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour. The burden of my sins was immediately taken away and I had peace with God.
1Pe 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.
Shortly after I was saved I left the Church of Ireland and started attending the Methodist church. After a while I was invited to become a leader in the youth club that had been instrumental in pointing me to Christ.
I wish I could say that after I got saved I grew in grace, and in the knowledge of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ...but this was not the case. Although I was saved, Christ was not at the centre of my life. I made many life changing decisions in my late teens and early twenties without seeking the will of the Lord through prayer and in the study of His Word. As a young believer this was a sure recipe for disaster.
After graduating from university, I accepted a job with a construction firm in England. Away from home and away from any Godly influence in my life it wasn't long before I started to backslide and walk in the ways of the world. I became miserable in my sin and I lost the peace with God I once had. I forgot and lost the wonder of the Cross - the manner in which I was cleansed from my sin. I had forsaken the things of God and I had ruined my testimony. These feelings of guilt and shame intensified when I was at home on my own therefore I tried to bury myself in my work, but I could not escape my sin or flee from God.
The Psalmist says:
Psa 139:8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
The Lord eventually brought me to a point where I realized it was futile trying to run away from Him. I needed to run back to Him and seek His forgiveness if I ever was going to experience true happiness again.
In the Spring of 2005 I left my job in England, and moved back to Northern Ireland. I began to re-immerse myself in the youth work of the Methodist church but it was not long before I became uneasy about the ways in which the church was trying to reach the lost with the Gospel. I was particularly uncomfortable with how the church employed worldly music to lure the young people into the youth club.
The Lord spoke repeatedly to me through:
1Co 14:8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
There are professing Christians who will tell you if you're going to reach the world you have to use the world's means. That's not what the bible tells me. The bible says:
1Co 1:21 ...it pleases God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
The Word of God clearly sets forth that preaching is the most singularly blessed means by which we are to evangelize the lost. The Devil subtly tries to lure Christians away from the preaching of the Gospel and tells them that they can reach the lost through worldly means. The Devil is a liar! He is trying to promote an uncertain message; a message of confusion.
The stand I took for the Lord on this matter resulted in me leaving the Methodist church. It was a very distressing time for me. I wasn't very popular among my closest friends. There was a lot of hurt caused from the fallout, but I'm thankful that God cannot lie and keeps his promises.
For He told me in:
1Sa 2:30 for them that honour me I will honour.
In the Spring of 2006 the Lord led me to Lisburn Free Presbyterian Church. There, I've been tremendously blessed under the ministry of Dr John Douglas and Rev Thomas Martin. I count it an honour to serve the Lord in whatever little way I can in the church. On Tuesday nights I assist the outreach team on the doors around Lisburn and I also serve on the committee of the senior youth fellowship. I've been privileged to help out as a leader on the Annual Youth Council Camps to Scotland in 2007 and Armagh in 2008. Recently the Lord has led me into the work of the Youth Council where I now serve as committee secretary. I have also had opportunities to participate in short term mission work in the Philippines, China & Vietnam.
I am grateful to God for His grace and mercy to me. I'm thankful that the Lord never forsook me, even when I forsook Him.
1Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Maybe you do not know Christ as your Saviour. You maybe feel you're without hope. I urge you to come and...
Jn 1:29 ... Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
O Christ, in Thee my soul hath found,
And found in Thee alone,
The peace, the joy I sought so long,
The bliss till now unknown.
Now none but Christ can satisfy,
None other name for me;
There's love, and life, and lasting joy,
Lord Jesus, found in Thee.
My name is George Hanna and I am a member of Rasharkin Free Presbyterian Church and a committee member of the Youth Council. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you how the Lord saved me and has kept me.
I had the privilege of being born into a Christian home but this privilege in itself was not sufficient to secure salvation. After all, the Bible says in Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God". The Bible also tells us in -
2nd Timothy 3:15 "And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus"
...and I can say that this is true of my life, for I was faithfully taught the way of salvation at home and by faithful Sunday School teachers and ministers.
In September 1984, aged 9, the Lord convicted me of my sin, I saw my need of salvation, repented of my sin and asked the Lord to save me.
I can testify to the fact that all through my life the Lord has kept me, helped me, guided me and given me many opportunities to serve Him and on many occasions I have proved:
Proverbs 3:5 & 6 "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths".
I trust this short word of testimony has been a blessing to you and if you don't know the Lord Jesus Christ as your own and personal Saviour I would encourage you to come to Him today just as Paul encouraged the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:31 "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved".