I couldn’t believe that I’d gone to chapel all my life but I wasn’t a Christian
My family have lived in Rhydypandy for more than 100 years, and we occupy six of the thirty or so houses in the village. As a child we attended Salem, the local Welsh Baptist chapel, which was such a big part of my life. We had such pride over the place because the chapel was built in 1777. My father played the organ and our whole family loved singing. I went to the services, Sunday School, and Band of Hope but I especially enjoyed the quarterly meetings.
At sixteen, when I started to earn money, they asked me, ‘Do you believe in Jesus?’ and I said ‘Of course, I do!’ because I did – after all, I had been to Salem all my life. So I was baptised and became a member. The problem was I believed in a Jesus that I didn’t really know. The only thing I knew of Jesus was that he was a good man who did miracles.
Then a young minister came to Salem and from the Bible he told us that Jesus died on a cross, and he had shed his blood so that my sin could be forgiven. As I listened I gradually started to realise just who Jesus was and what he had done.
He said it was like there was a big wall between us and God but Jesus breaks through that wall, forgiving us of our sin and making a way for us to reach God – he was preaching things I had never heard before and this really worried me. Every night that week I was crying, saying ‘What will happen now?’ I just couldn’t believe that I’d gone to chapel all my life but I didn’t know the Bible and I was not a Christian.
Over time I accepted what the Bible was saying so I confessed to God that I was a sinner and came to know that there was no hope without him. I felt such a relief. And the older I get the more I realise how totally undeserving I am of all that God has done for me. That is what it’s all about, all I had was religion but it’s not about religion, it’s about really knowing God.