'I had to decide whether to make that leap of faith to really follow Jesus'
Mark's life changed when he volunteered at a Christian summer camp ...
As part of Church Army’s ONE series, Mark shares his story with us – how his perceptions of the “fire and brimstone” church of his youth changed and, more importantly, how his views on life changed when he volunteered at a Christian summer camp …
“I’m just the other end of 50 now. I’m a husband. I’ve got a fantastic wife and three great kids. I’m very proud of them, what they’ve achieved and how they’ve grown in their faith. I’ve been in my job as a civil engineer for 25 years, working with my current company.
“I must admit I did go to church when I was younger, but I didn’t like it at all, because basically what was taught was very ‘fire and brimstone’. It was actually quite frightening.
“I first met Graham Nunn, who is a Church Army Evangelist, through my kids. They were going to the activities that he ran at church and were always coming back really thrilled at being there and thought it was really fun. They also came back with a few questions about faith which I found quite interesting. Of course, when they asked questions, I needed to try and answer them and so I began to find out more about Christianity.
“I always thought that church was a bit dour and dreary, but Graham gave it a fun element – that’s why the kids went there, you know. They played games and sang songs … it was a modern form of worship I hadn’t been exposed to before. I saw the enjoyment everyone was having and I was drawn in.
“Each year Graham leads a Christian summer camp for teenagers and he asked me if I would be interested in coming along as a volunteer. He said he’d have other volunteers in the dorms who would lead the scripture and faith side of things. I just needed to be there as a senior person who would help with sorting the kids out – he knew I worked with children as a football coach.
“I felt that since he was spending time with my children and leading them down a really nice path, I wanted to give something back. It all just started from there, really.
“I had a defining moment at the summer camp; I think it was quite emotional really. After the meeting one evening, I decided to go for a walk and Graham caught hold of me and asked: ‘Are you all right?’ I thought, ‘I don’t know really.’ And then we had a man-to-man chat and he said I was here for a reason.
“I had to decide whether to take the next step and make that leap of faith to really follow Jesus. I think as the week went on it was becoming clearer and clearer what decision I should be making and that I wanted to become a Christian.
“I think what faith teaches you is to really appreciate what you’ve got, as opposed to being dragged into the image you have to portray in your job or show to your friends. Having faith and being spiritual makes you see things in a slightly different light.
“Because when you get drawn into the faith you see so many different things – people that are suffering and what you have and how you can help other people. That’s what Jesus did at the end of the day. He was there, he was kind, he was caring and he changes people’s lives. That’s what Graham certainly does and I’d like to feel that I can have that kind of influence as well.”
Mark is now involved in his local church where he helps to lead a men’s group and sings in the worship band. And thanks to our ongoing work with children and families nationwide, thousands of other people are hearing the Gospel through after-school clubs, school assemblies, holiday clubs and summer camps.
Bringing people to a living faith in Jesus Christ is at the heart of our ONE series, as we celebrate how God is impacting people throughout this nation and share their stories.
Will you help us sow and grow these Gospel seeds so that more people can come to know Jesus?
To donate to Church Army's ONE appeal, please visit www.churcharmy.org.uk/appeal where you can also watch a film about Mark. Alternatively, call the fundraising team on (UK) 0300 123 2113.
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