'It was the hippy era ... and I was full of questions'
Mark’s story | Nothing can snatch us from God’s hand
“My mother died the day I was born, in a little bush hospital in western Victoria. As a result, my older brother and I went to live with my paternal grandparents, who brought us up to be ‘respectable.’
We never attended church, but we heard stories about Jesus from an old picture bible that my grandmother owned. I remember I’d often come home at nights and find both my grandparents kneeling by their bed, praying. I had a great childhood in a loving home!
In 1968, when I was 15, I left the innocence of school and family, and I began an apprenticeship as an electrical fitter in Melbourne. It was an exciting time, in a new, adult world … that I wasn’t really ready for!
It was the hippy era, and drugs were being passed around. I wasn’t used to all the swearing. I went from being relatively sheltered to being able to do whatever I wanted. I remember looking around me and listening to all the views of the adults around me, which led to a lot of questions: Why are we here? Who am I? Is God real, or is he a myth? What about evolution?
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The good news
In March 1969, I read that Billy Graham was conducting a Christian Crusade in Melbourne. I hadn’t heard of Billy. I didn’t even know what an evangelistic crusade was. But I thought it had something to do with religion, so I thought I might go and get some answers to my questions.
“My heart was pounding as I listened.”
I asked my grandparents to come with me, and they jumped at the chance. I found myself with 85,000 people at the MCG. The music was pretty good!
Then I heard Billy say that I was a sinner, because like everyone else I had broken God’s commandments. And there was a price to pay, which was spiritual death and eternal separation from God.
But there was good news!
God loved me so much that he sent his only Son Jesus Christ, to die on a cross in my place. And if by faith I would trust Jesus as my Lord and Saviour, then I would be forgiven of all my sins – past, present and future.
My heart was pounding as I listened. I knew I needed this Jesus. I looked at my grandmother, and she nodded. I went forward, and the counsellors prayed with me, and gave me a copy of the New Testament to read.
“I now see that God had me in his sights well before I was born!”
God’s patient plans
From that day on my life changed! I found I had a hunger to read my Bible; I couldn’t put it down. The following week, when people at work asked what I’d done the previous weekend, I told them I went to a crusade and met Jesus Christ.
Straight away, a target was put on my back. I was mocked and stirred by my workmates. They made jokes in front of me. But that didn’t matter; it only made me more determined to seek after God and share my understanding of the Gospel.
I look back now and I’m glad for God’s patience in those early days with me. I had zeal, but not a lot of knowledge!
This week, I’m turning 70. I stayed in the electrical trade. I married my wife, and we moved to Tasmania. Looking back, I now see that God had me in his sights well before I was born!
As far as I know, my mother was not a Christian. If she had lived, I wouldn’t have gone to live with my grandparents … and I wouldn’t have heard about Jesus. If I’d asked my father to take me to the crusade, he would have told me to wake up to myself! If it wasn’t for the Holy Spirit at work in my life, I would be lost today!
My favourite verse is John 10:27: “My sheep listen to my voice: I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
No matter what happens, I know we are in God’s hands, and nothing can snatch us away. When I look back and consider all these things, I think it’s incredible!”
Mark’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click to read more Faith Stories.