Within my Christian walk there are many stories I could tell of God’s power and love, this testimony gives the first story of many.
The first story is of a change, from knowing of Jesus (through scripture) to knowing Him personally. I was brought up in an Anglican church and can’t remember a time when I didn’t go, starting as a young boy in Sunday School and later maturing to ‘proper’ church services. I was confirmed at eleven years of age. I’d always believed that Jesus was God’s Son, so getting confirmed was a natural step. I was becoming a member of the Anglican Church! After confirmation I helped as server in the sanctuary, cut the grass and stoked the boiler for the aged vicar – all jobs I enjoyed doing. I started playing piano at 14. A year later sat on the organ stool and was hooked! I became an organist and choirmaster at the age of 17.
The years passed, Pauline and I were married and later our sons were born. By the time our youngest was born I’d been asked to play for services at our parish church. Nothing much had changed over the years and at 32 I was searching. I was at the organ, ‘playing in’ the congregation, I looked down the nave and started asking myself the question, ‘where’s the joy, the love, the healings and miracles I read of in scripture – I don’t see them. Jesus said, “Greater things will you do when you go in my name.” I cried out (in my heart), ‘Lord, there’s something missing – there must be more!’ I carried on playing and forgot about the ‘arrow’ prayer. Thankfully – God had heard.
Two months later, walking up the church isle I heard, “Keith, there is more!” I looked around to see who has spoken – I was alone. God had spoken to me directly by His Holy Spirit. Sadly through 32 years of church life there had been no teaching on, or mention of the Holy Spirit. Not knowing any better, I said to myself, “How much more can there be, I’m on the PCC, the RDC, the mission committee and I’m the organist & choirmaster!” (Even writing it years later, I cringe) How arrogant and ignorant was I?
God, over the next two years, kept calling me. Every two months, on my own in church I’d hear, “Keith, there is more” & “Keith, I have more for you.” After the fourth time God reminded me of that arrow prayer, ‘God – there must be more.’ I’d worked out by this time that this was God’s Holy Spirit at work but because of the lack of teaching I was both scared and isolated, so said nothing to anyone.
Over the next 18 months I was to loose my best man to cancer at 37 and my mother in law, also to cancer, at 57. In their last months of life I could see, in their eyes, they had the ‘more’ that God was calling me to. I determined to seek this for myself.
On the first Saturday of November of the second year I had been given an invite to an Anglican Renewal Day, so off I went! I’d been a churchman for 34 years and I was seeing hands raised in praise and worship for the first time. The choruses were all new to me – I’d only been user to hymns A & M. I liked what I was hearing, fresh and heart-warming. The leader got up to pray. He asked us to remain standing, close our eyes and hold our hands out to receive – another first. The moment he started to pray I pictured him with a red telephone and a cable going up through the ceiling and directly to a second red phone in God’s hand. I had been used to prayers read from a book. I had never heard prayers prayed from the heart. My first thought was, “Waw! This guy really knows who he’s talking to.” The prayer continued and became more personal, “Those who have come today and want to know Jesus more fully in their lives, put your hand up.” Well, this was it, This was why I had come. “No turning back now, Evans” I said to myself and up went my hand.
A member of the ministry team was immediately at my shoulder praying (I wondered if I had a big sign over my head – ‘this one’s ripe!’) This was to be a day of firsts. First the raised hands, the new songs, the red telephone, the open hands – now tongues. I knew this was one of the spiritual gifts, and it sounded angelic. As the person prayed over me in tongues – Peace, peace that the world cannot give – this Godly peace flowed in waves through my body from head to feet, wave after wave after wave – then, to my horror sobs and tears. I sobbed for about 20 minutes while wave after wave of God’s peace cleansed and renewed me.
I had received the Holy Spirit and He had bathed me in the peace of God. I was a new creation, I had received the ‘more’ that God had been promising me for the past two years. Up until then I could not call myself a Christian, I was often asked in work but could never say yes. From that day on I know that I know that I know I am a Christian. This was the beginning of my walk with Jesus.