When the light broke in for Bas Rodwell

Bas Rodwell, 22, is a missionary with Youth For Christ. He tells Anne Lim how an encounter with God prompted him to question all he’d been led to believe and set him on a journey to faith in Christ.

I grew up in a non-Christian household in Brisbane. I wanted to be a professional cricketer since I was four years old. I went to a Christian school so I heard about Jesus. At times, I would have believed there might be a God and other times, I would have called myself an atheist.

When I was 15 years old, I had an encounter with God that changed my perspective. It was Christmas Eve and I was sitting on my bed watching YouTube when suddenly this bright light appeared in the middle of my room. I was terrified because I didn’t really believe in God, so I thought it was a ghost and I was freaking out. The light lasted for about 10 to 15 seconds, and then it went away. I then checked my phone, and it was midnight Christmas Day on the dot. That started my journey of discovering God and Jesus for myself.

Previously, I thought science and the existence of aliens disproved God. But I did a lot of research and I found out that science actually supports God more than disproves God. I was so confused – how had I been told the lie my whole life that science means God is not real?

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At 16 years old, I moved out of home and that started a series of events that changed my life …

I joined a Bible study group at my high school at the end of grade 10, almost a year after I had that experience. When I was in grade 11 at 16 years old, I moved out of home and that started a series of events that changed my life. That night, I had a party and the girl who I thought I loved broke things off with me. I was crushed.

The next weekend, I had a tournament to make the under-16 national cricket team. I wanted to be a professional cricketer, and making this team was the pathway in. But I played the worst week of cricket I had ever played in my life, and I didn’t make the national team. So, I was so crushed. I felt like I lost everything in the span of a week – my life’s purpose, this girl and I had no family around me.

Then it was school holidays, so I isolated myself and spiralled into really bad depression. I always struggle with stress and anxiety, but that heightened and I developed insomnia. I kept going to Bible study, but I was really struggling for a long time that year. Then I met another girl whose best friend was a Christian and went to church with some people I knew. This friend invited me to church, and I started going.

Towards the end of that year, my Bible study teacher said to me, “Hey, Bas, if you want to be free from the things you’re living in and truly know God, you need to repent of your sin, give your life to Jesus and be baptised and filled with the Holy Spirit.” But I said, “No,” because I didn’t want to give up sleeping with my girlfriend at the time, as the only security and identity I had was in that relationship.

I realised in that moment – wow – only Jesus can satisfy me, only God can really fulfil my life.

But then, after I turned 17, I was in grade 12 and my conviction level was rising. I knew the way I was living was wrong, but I kept justifying it with excuses while feeling a bit of shame and guilt. Then, one time, I remember just walking out of my bedroom and an overwhelming presence of love fell over me; God’s presence fell over me, and I began to cry. I realised in that moment – wow – only Jesus can satisfy me, only God can really fulfil my life. I repented and gave my life to Jesus.

I was baptised a couple of weeks later. I was completely set free from all signs of anxiety, depression and insomnia, and my life totally changed. That was five years ago now and since then I’ve been running with Jesus, having a great time – a total transformation of my life. I’m so very thankful because, all glory to God, I haven’t scrubbed up my life – he’s helped me with that. I reconciled my relationship with my mum and about a year after I gave my life to Jesus. Mum asked, “What’s happened to you? You are just so different?” So, I got to share the gospel of Jesus with her. And she decided to become a Christian as well.

My prayer ever since I gave my life to Jesus was always, “Okay, God, I don’t care what I do with my life. I just want to impact your kingdom the most. I just want to bring people to Jesus and I want people to know you.” I got a job at a local gym and I was sharing Jesus with my colleagues and people at the gym, getting to pray for people and share the gospel. I was loving it, having a great time around people. Then, at the start of 2021, I joined up with Youth for Christ and started running Bible studies in schools. I ran an outreach group with young people in the Valley in Brisbane. Then, the door opened to work at a church with the youth and young adults. I did that while working part-time with Youth for Christ, and had a great time, but at the start of 2023, I felt God saying, “I want you to put together a ministry team and go around training and equipping the church with how to share the gospel in simple ways and to know their identity in Christ.”

So that’s what I’ve been doing as a Youth for Christ missionary – a lot of discipleship training and outreach events like Schoolies Week. We had seven team members in the Queensland missions and ministry team last year, and now we’ve just expanded to 13. We’re travelling around Queensland and Australia, sharing the gospel and equipping churches. My fiancée Anna and I are running discipleship groups to equip young people to reach their friends. We want to make disciples where we are and equip other believing friends for the mission that we’re called to – the great commission, to make disciples of all the nations.

Read about Bas’ miraculous night during schoolies week.