I started to see I wasn’t the nice guy I thought I was

There were some jobs going in the Swansea clerical office. I’d just left school so thought I’d apply as I always wanted a job where I could help people in the community.

My time in the pensions and benefits department lasted thirty-one years. I wasn’t due to retire, but things started to slowly change in the civil service. I wanted to leave and they offered me early retirement. I was looking forward to a few holidays and I was thinking of changing my car. I’d been working for a long time so the opportunity for early retirement seemed to make sense.

On my first day of retirement I did absolutely nothing! But it was kind of like that for a little while. I did start to think back to my working days – how long those thirty-one years had been. And I asked myself what I had to show for all that time. I felt something was missing.

I’d sometimes be driving in my car and pass various churches in Clydach. I missed spending time with people and thought I’d find some sort of community in a church. I knew the time the service at Bethel Church started but I was quite nervous about going by myself. Eventually, when I did go, it was quite reassuring. There were even people on the front door to welcome me.

Listening to the preacher came as a bit of a shock though. He said no-one was good enough to go to heaven but that God sent Jesus to save us. I thought that as long as your good deeds are more than your bad you’ll be fine and go to heaven but this wasn’t what God said in the Bible. I was terrified that because of my sin I was God’s enemy.

I was no longer enjoying my retirement as I started to see I wasn’t the nice guy I thought I was. God was on my mind more than ever and I knew I needed him so I started to go to Bethel regularly. I’d always assumed I was going to heaven but I realised this was a fairy story – I had to come to God. I often thought about the wrong things I’d done in my life and wondered if God really wanted me.

As I carried on going to church I came to understand that if I was sorry before God for the way I’d lived and put my trust in the death of Jesus to forgive me, then I could be God’s friend. I asked God to forgive me and then I knew I was going to heaven. I had peace in my life for the first time. God’s forgiveness is what everyone needs – I want my family and others in Clydach to know this too.

I’m still retired and life is not free from problems especially with my health, but I know that God helps me to face the issues and I’m looking forward to heaven where God promises there will be no more suffering.’