My name is Michael. I am New Zealand born and bred, 65, married with three children and four grandchildren some of whom are based here in Bangor.

Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s I pushed the boundaries of my Catholic upbringing and embraced the alternative lifestyle of drugs, alcohol and the rest. But eventually feeling disillusioned I started to ask questions. In a nutshell, I was a lost soul and knew it.

In 1976 a friend of mine was heading up to India to find a guru but he got ship wrecked off the Australian coast and was rescued by some Christian missionaries who shared the good news of Jesus with him. He had found his guru and he didn’t have to go to India to find him.

When we met again the change in my friend was obvious. He was a new person full of the Holy Spirit. He invited me to an outreach meeting in a college hall one Saturday night. I didn’t know what to expect and was a bit nervous about being caught up in some sort of cult. There were a few weird ones around at that time when the Jesus movement and the Charismatic renewal were in full swing.

However it was so obvious that this meeting was something special. A wide range of people of all ages and backgrounds, including a group of nuns, were witnessing to being healed and delivered and forgiven. In spite of my fears I felt a strong urge to go up for prayer. I knelt down and an elderly man prayed in a strange language and suddenly I felt like I as being immersed in a warm bath. I know now that I was being filled with the Holy Spirit.

I felt love, forgiveness and freedom all at the same time. Jesus became real to me and not just an historical figure. He was alive and I was so grateful. I couldn’t stop smiling and hugging people. It was the best night of my life so far.

That was forty years ago this year. Over that time God has been my Father, Saviour, Redeemer, Counsellor and my true friend. He has shown me the way of sonship and encouraged me in His plan and purpose. I am still so grateful that He is all that He is to me as I have grown to love and trust him.

I can say with Paul, “for me to live is Christ”. In this exciting conscious awareness of being God’s child, I keep pushing onward and upward confident that He who began a good work in me will complete it. In all the fiery trials of my life I have never felt abandoned by Him. I am safe and secure in the hands of the creator of the universe who wants to transform me to be more like Him. Imagine that!

My destination is assured and one day this clay pot will fall away and the seed that was planted in it will have come to full fruition in the image of our great and wonderful Father. Gods statement of intent, “Let us make man in our image”. The rest as they say is history.

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