“I have vivid memories of being about eleven years old and standing in line with the rest of my school year to receive a Gideons New Testament and Psalms. We shuffled along under the watchful eye of our teach and politely received that little red book. I was unaware of the power of the Scriptures that I held in my hand! When I got home, out of curiosity, I flicked through its pages and put it away on my book shelf; and there is stayed for the next six to seven years.
As I entered my teenage years, I became more and more dissatisfied with my life; I transformed from a quiet, thoughtful child into an arrogant and rebellious adolescent. Frequently drunk, I began to experiment with illegal drugs like LSD, amphetamines and even abused household products; anything that would change my reality. I had become involved in the Occult and started to practice the Wiccan form of withcraft. My curiosity in spiritual things also drew me into Eastern Mysticisim, Transcendental Meditation and ISKCON (Hare Krishna movement.)
One day I phoned an old college friend of mine, to see if she would like to go out for a drink. Her reply both surprised me and intrigued me. She said that she didn’t go to pubs anymore, but if I liked, I could come to her church that Sunday. Out of the depths of my confusion, misery and desperation, I heard myself say, “yes!”
As I sat in the hard pew and considered the words that were prayed, preached and sung – I became aware of the presence of God. It was as if everybody in the whole building disappeared and there was just me and the Lord! I gave my heart to the Lord Jesus Christ that night and wept like a baby as “the burden of my heart was rolled away.”
When I returned home, I lay on my bed and allowed the enormity of what had just happened to sink in.
It was then that I remembered; wait a minute! I’ve got a Bible! After some routing around my book shelf I found the Gideon New Testament that I had been given at school. How I devoured that book! I read the whole of the New Testament in just over a day! It formed the framework of my Christian life and I have no doubt that God used it, even in those early days, to give me a hunger for the pure milk of the Word. The grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit have enabled me to teach and preach that Word to others and have set the course of my life and my subsequent call into the ministry. Thank you God, and thank you Gideons!”
Pastor Paul Jennings, Stockport Evangelical Church