Remembering how things changed

I’m preparing a talk for some young people about telling their friends about Jesus. The best way I can think of doing this is explaining how this happened to me, which leads me down old memory lanes of places, feelings and people.

I can remember where in the school lobby I sat with my mum, form tutor, and head of year to discuss how I wasn’t really enjoying my new school. The next day I was introduced to two boys in my class, Jonny and Tom, in the hope that we’d become friends. I remember how we would hang out in our classroom before school, arguing about sitting on the radiator, with me wishing that I had Doc Marten boots like they did, and wondering what this band Nirvana that they kept talking about actually sounded like. It was 1993, they lent me tapes. I don’t remember much about how their behaviour was different to other people, just that I knew that it was.

I remember being invited round after school to the home of one of them, and going along to a youth group event at their church where people put their hands on the shoulders of the people they were praying with, speaking in a language I didn’t understand but assumed was Hebrew. I know I was wearing one of my two ‘cool’ T-shirts underneath a German army shirt and that I chatted for a long part of the evening with one of the youth group leaders. I remember coming home more than a little freaked out, and watching Dino Baggio score for Italy in the World Cup. I didn’t go back for another year but they persevered with me. I’m not sure if it felt like that to them because we were friends.

I remember, when they managed to persuade me to come back to the youth group, feeling so welcomed by people I’d never met. I remember being at a weekend away at Letton Hall a few months later and having a picture in my mind of God inviting me to step closer to Him after He’d come over a chasm of distance to get close to me. I remember writing in an A5 notebook with a grey cover that Jesus had changed my life, whilst not being sure that He had.

Years later, after much more friendship and perseverance, I was leading the youth group on weekends away at Letton Hall. This year, they were two of the ushers at my wedding. It is not an exaggeration to say that God used Jon and Tom to change the course of my life, and that I’ll thank Him and them forever for that.