16th April 2023

Niamh Angelos Testimony

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Automatically Generated Transcript

So, thank you all for coming along to start with. It means a lot to me that you're here, and it makes me feel very loved and supported for those who've come out who haven't come before. So, I'll just share a bit about my journey to God.

My journey to God has been all over the place, filled with lots of little moments rather than one big one. I started off without much of a concept of God, then got invited to youth group by a good friend for games nights, and I loved it. The people were something different. They were so kind and joyful, and loving in a way that I hadn't seen before.

Initially, my thoughts on Christianity were that it was full of rules and good people who always did the right thing and were really boring. It conjured images of pretty white lace and sunshine and grassy fields. I really had no idea what was actually in the Bible, but I didn't think it could be anything good. It was surely ancient and outdated and a bit scary to read.

But within the first few weeks of going to youth group, my assumptions of the people were proven wrong. They weren't perfect, goody-two-shoes people, but they had something different about them. It was here in youth group that I was first introduced to Jesus, not as just an abstract idea, but as a real man who walked the earth a couple of thousand years ago. It was also the first place I can remember where I spent time properly in the Bible.

At first, I wasn't really interested, but over time, it surprised me. I read all about this Jesus guy who I thought I knew, but I really didn't. A guy who really impressed me in how He spoke and cared for people, every single person He interacted with in a way that I never could. I was impressed by His wisdom about the world and people, the way He was both just and loving. He called people to a higher standard of living. He spoke for things, spoke up for others, and called out wrongs when He saw them. He was genuinely generous, and His loving others was different from what I had seen. He loved people where they were at. He put their needs above His own and had big plans for people, for what they could do and what they could be.

So, over time at youth group, I gained an understanding of what the gospel was, how Jesus died, and why that should matter to me, how He saw my imperfections, the way I had wronged others and Him, and how I sent Jesus to pay the punishment for those choices.

But for a while, I was back and forth on it. I was looking at videos about questions that stopped Christians in their tracks or why Christianity couldn't be true because I didn't want it to be true. I also knew how Christians could be viewed and wasn't super enthusiastic to be associated with what I saw in the news.

I decided, though, that a lot of the factors playing into my decision of whether to become a Christian or not, and commit to Jesus or not, were about how others would perceive me or how I thought it meant I had to live rather than seeking truth alone.

So, I looked into the evidence and was again surprised by what I found. Historical accounts of Jesus outside the Bible. Archaeologists digging up the cities and relics of the Bible, how thorough the Bible was in its consistency across the different accounts and different authors from different places, and the way my life changed for the better when I started really reading it and really getting to know Jesus. The joy it brought me to read the accounts of Him and what He did, or of the wisdom and forgiveness He freely gives.

Forgiveness that I didn't think I needed. I wasn't such a bad person and usually tried to do the right thing. I thought God would understand that. But there was one night at the end of a tiring and stressful week where I felt I'd been wronged by some friends. And being tired and by myself at this stage, I was stripped of all my polite filters and niceties that you give when other people are around and I got so mad, like I hadn't for a long time. I sat there plotting the things I could do to make them feel as bad as I felt.

It was such an ugly side to myself that I hadn't seen for such a long time, but I had convinced myself it wasn't there. And it was then that I thought of Jesus, who had truly been wronged by His own people. Betrayed, beaten unfairly, and handed over to be killed for our sake. His response, very different to my own, was, "Forgive them, Father, for they do not know what they are doing."

And it was shortly after that, that I had this assurance and understanding that it was true. I wasn't a perfect person and my good intentions weren't going to hold up against the wrong I had done against others and against God. And that I needed to trust Jesus on the cross had taken the punishment for me. Soon after that, I made my commitment to follow and trust Jesus with my life.

And I've been blessed with so many things and have much to be thankful for. The beautiful community He has surrounded me with, who encourage me, who are so generous, and full of wisdom and who spur me on. The housemates who have been like family and supported me and encouraged me more than they know. The purpose He has given me and the opportunities He opens up for me where I hadn't even thought to look.

The way He lovingly grows me to be better and helps and forgives me every time I fail. The wonderful family I was born into who have loved me and cared for me from the start, even when I was maybe harder to love. His wisdom I can read when I spend time in the Bible that has given me a way to live that looks at the bigger picture.

It was really important that I get something new out of every time I read it over and over. That comes back to me and comforts me in times of stress or uncertainty. I am imperfect and would say I am more aware of that than almost anyone else. My family is at a close second, but He knows all of that. He sees me and He loves me all the more.

I don't have to be perfect because Jesus is perfect for me, and He loved me before I knew who He was. He loved me enough that He took the punishment for me walking away so I could freely return blameless.

Although knowing Jesus has blessed me in many ways, it hasn't made my life perfect. There is still uncertainty, and confusing and hard times, and I am still very imperfect. But through faith in God, I get through these hard times a lot easier now.

I'm excited to spend the rest of my life following Jesus, learning to love Him and the people around me more and more. Thank you.

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