'I talked about my faith with everyone! I didn't hide it'
Alan’s story | How Jesus finally got his attention
“My father was killed in a quarry accident when I was 14. He was leaning over the mudguard attending to the engine of his 5-tonne tip-truck when another vehicle, carelessly driven, crushed his body, his spine and ribs. He suffered for four hours and then he died. I only saw him briefly. I remember my mother sobbing. Whilst I knew my dad loved me, he never displayed affection, no touching. I’d had a row with him the previous night. I felt guilt for a long time.”
“I was the eldest of five children, and the youngest was only 13 months old, so I left school and I got an apprenticeship. I had a couple of breakdowns. As an adult, I started drinking heavily, to escape the pain. Alcoholics can be private people. I didn’t want anyone to know about the drinking, so I would sneak it in and hide it in the garage. But I think my daughter knew. She could hear it or smelt it.
“Along the way I probably heard about Jesus, but I didn’t pay any attention. My wife was a Christian, and we went to church, but nothing stuck for me. I felt like I was hiding, not just the alcohol, but the fact that I wasn’t a Christian.
“Then, when I was 52, a pastor came to our house and he tried to do Christianity Explained with me. I still didn’t pay attention. I had my mind elsewhere. But the following week, the assistant pastor came to our house and he prayed with me a few times. And while he was praying, something happened. The penny suddenly dropped. I felt Christ’s presence. I knew it was true! I felt Jesus smiling at me. I knew that he was a real person and he died for my sins. I’d been fighting it the whole time, but it was true. Everything fell into place. I can’t explain it to you except that the Lord did something in me.
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“Giving up drinking and smoking is never easy. For me, though, it was a complete change, virtually overnight. It was like I’d walked through the wardrobe into Narnia. I gave up drinking straight away. I knew that I was forgiven. Jesus gave his life for me. I’d been forgiven by him, so I could forgive my father, and I could even forgive myself. It was instant relief. I suddenly realised that Jesus suffered far more than I did. It says in 1 Peter 3:18, ‘For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.’ It meant that, for me, I didn’t have to carry the weight of sadness and guilt anymore. Jesus had taken it for me.
“Straight away, I started going to Bible study. I talked about my faith with everyone I met. I didn’t hide it! I still talk to everyone I meet and I tell them what Jesus has done for me, even if I meet them in a lift, or at the podiatrist.
“And here is a prayer that I like by Roy T. Bennett: ‘Lord, there are countless things in my life that are inexcusable. There are things unaccountable, things unacceptable. There are things irrefutable, things irresponsible. But it comes to me with unutterable relief that because of your amazing love and grace, nothing in my life is unforgivable.’”