My name is Richard Jones. My Christianity journey has led me to free Bible training online at the Christian Leaders Institute (Learn more about online Bible classes, Click Here). I live in the south of the UK. My first church memories are as a young boy being taken to a church building, going to Sunday school, taking yearly scripture exams, and failing them every time. At that time, I had a Mum, Dad, and 2 older brothers, both of whom would pass the exams, and my parents got annoyed at me for getting it so wrong. I was a trouble maker. I played about instead of listening. Hearing things about Jesus and doing right, I heard nothing about the relationship I could have with him. However, back then, I wasn’t listening.
My school life wasn’t much different. I failed exams with usual reports from my teachers saying I talked too much. In my early teens, our family planned to move. However, after renting in a new town, my mum decided she couldn’t do it, so the move was canceled. This 6-week gap seemed to mean we no longer went back to the church. My dad had no interest, my brothers were doing their own thing, and it was the perfect way out of going for me.
New Direction: My Christianity Journey Begins
Time went by. My mum found a new church, of which my dad dipped in and out. He would commit and then fall by the wayside. My dad carried a lot of pain and issues from his life that followed him into adulthood. It was projected on to us children. He was easily angered, and there would be days of silence for wrongdoing. He was heavy on punishment, distant, and seemed disappointed in me daily.
One Sunday evening, my mum managed to talk me into going to church with her. I sat with my arms folded and a look of disinterest. Others noticed and mouthed to my mum, “He doesn’t want to be here, does he?” But then, the singing started, and a cool guitarist started playing and singing with a smile of joy. It caught me off guard. Further, I noticed the youth group and saw a couple of boys who went to my school there. However, I had never spoken to them before and thought I would wait until school to say hi. Sure enough, one of them invited me to the youth group meeting. I attended and made great friends there over the years. It also is where I gave my life to Jesus.
I left school with no grades to my name, but I recall being given a prophecy by a gentleman in the congregation. I remember him saying several things, but I distinctly remember him saying I would serve in the community. However, I threw it in the bin.
Distracted from My Christianity Journey
In 1993, I joined the Fire Service as a Fireman. I fell in love with a youth leader’s daughter, and at 25, I married her. We had two children together. Then everything changed in a way I was not prepared for. I took my eyes off of God, and I didn’t lead our home in a Godly way. My wife became everything to me. She was the only one who could meet all my needs. Church had long since become an occasional visit, and the ‘truth’ became my own ideas. God was my vending machine, whom I went to if I wanted or needed something.
A few years after I married, my dad left my mum. He had been secretly talking with another woman and planning to leave my mum. He left her after emptying all their bank accounts, leaving her with nothing. After 7 years of marriage, I found out my wife was talking online to other guys while I was on the night shift with the idea of leaving me for someone else. Sin had an open playing field in our home, with no defense. Needless to say, soon after, she did leave me for one of these guys. I was absolutely heartbroken.
Doing Things My Way
In my arrogance, I told God I was going to do things my way now as His way didn’t work (like I was actually walking His way). I looked for purpose and satisfaction in so many places. Then, I met a girl who I thought was interested in me. I had not had this kind of attention in so long. Before my divorce was final, I asked her to marry me. However, her secrets came out, and I had to walk away for the safety of my children.
I put on a face for everyone. I bumped into Christians and spoke “Christianese” to look like a great guy. Yet, I could also fit in at any party. I lived out expectations of others to be liked, drank too much, had an addiction to porn (a lifetime struggle), had meaningless sex, and had the foulest language. I was a huge fake with no identity.
In some ways, I was a good dad. I always put my children first, giving them all my attention and loving them with everything I had. We had holidays and the greatest of adventures together. We had such close bonds.
God Spoke to My Heart
In 2010, my life changed. I was having a conversation with my mum when she asked if I was okay. Knowing full well that I wasn’t, I replied, “No, not really.” “Do you need to see a doctor?” she asked. I replied quietly, “The One I need is way above a doctor.” She responded by inviting me to come to church the following Sunday.
The church gave me a warm welcome. God spoke straight to my heart. It was like a scene from “The Matrix” movie – “Make a choice Richard. Take the red or blue pill. One choice leads to coming with Me. I mean all in, no lukewarm sit on the fence, half in half out affair when I say with Me. Come, follow me, and we walk life together. Or the other choice is to carry on with how you want things – your choices, your way that will lead to destruction.”
I chose God! Wow! The things I had tried in my own efforts in my life stopped there and then. I stopped my foul language, meaningless sex, and porn addiction. The Holy Spirit was immediately at work in me, changing my thinking. How could I do these things knowing what Christ did on the cross for me? How dare I count it as nothing and carry on in these things? Finally, I understood who I was and who I belonged to. I no longer cared to impress or be liked. I was the same person all the time. Now, I am forgiven not because I deserve anything, but because of God’s grace and mercy at work in me!
Christianity Journey Continued
As for my mum, God led her to a lovely Christian husband. They had many happy years together before he died of cancer. Not long after my salvation, my father passed away. I had the opportunity just before he died to ask if he knew Jesus as nothing else mattered. He responded by saying, “There is only one set of footprints in the sand, and they are not mine.”
Over time, I was offered dates with Christian women, but I always found a reason not to. I feared any bad influence on my children and myself. My heart had high walls that no woman was going to get over. I joined the worship group as a singer. Through God’s incredible timing, I learned to play the guitar, which led me to lead worship. My children were also attending church with me. They went to Sunday school and were having a blast. My son even came with me on two mission trips to The Dominican Republic and China. My passion and joy kept growing as I helped people fall in love with Jesus, the greatest joy I know.
A New Friend on My Christianity Journey
In 2013, a friend of mine had thought that I would get on well with another friend of hers. She proceeded to give me her friend’s Facebook details so we could connect. It turned out her friend Michelle was living in South Africa and working for the church there. My heart wall safely in place at this 6000-mile distance. I contacted Michelle. We became friends. During one of her visits back to the UK, we met up. We had a fun time, but neither of us was in a place for anything to progress yet. She went back to South Africa. However, while there, she became quite ill and asked me to pray for her. I sent her daily songs, encouragements, and prayers until she made a recovery.
I had a list of so high and far fetched qualities that surely God would never find me this woman. But, if God found one that met this list, then I would consider her. Michelle and I often texted and emailed. I didn’t see how this could ever work as Michelle lived so far away. However, suddenly, the church position closed, and Michelle came back to England. Again, we met up, but still, it seemed that neither of us was ready.
God Changed Our Relationship: Marriage in Christ
Michelle went to Malawi for a mission she runs there. At the same time, I went on a cruise with my kids and my mum. Still messaging from the boat, a change came. God breathed into both of our hearts. The whole tone of our messaging changed. Needless to say, God brought down walls. We dated on our return, and 9 months later, we married. Our marriage is Christ-centered. We pray together, worship together, learn together, and fight together (not with each other). We have had the joy of speaking into some broken marriages, seeing them come back together with Christ and for His glory. There is a purpose for us to be together. I do not look to Michelle to be my everything. It would be an impossible task that only God can do (Philippians 4:19).
God at Work in My Christianity Journey
My children have grown up. They now live with their mum. Sadly, neither of them walks with God, but they have tasted and seen the truth. Having tried the world myself, I know what it looks like with all its ideas and promises. I pray and believe a day will come where they have their appointment with God, and everything will change.
This story is not over yet, though. God leads. He is at work in me, changing what He desires changed. Sometimes, this takes a while. Sometimes, He leads me to do things bigger than I thought possible. I do not fear what He has for us.
My Christianity Journey: Calling and Spiritual Dream
Since 2010, various people have told me, “I had a dream you were a minister.” “You should be a Pastor.” “Have you thought about becoming a Minister?” “Are you a Minister?” Often, I questioned it. I could not go to Bible college despite a pastor’s offer of a reference once. I could not leave my children as a single dad or pay for the financial cost involved. Further, I did have the required grades to apply.
My spiritual dream is a new way of thinking about what I desire to do, and is it God’s desire for my life. In 3 years, I will retire from the Fire Service at 51 years old. I want to be a worship pastor or minister. The thought of this does make me gulp a bit, but I also know it excites me.
The Christian Leaders Institute is a great fit for me. I am learning the Bible free online as I answer God’s call on my life. The courses equip me well for my Christianity journey into the ministry. God makes all things possible!
I want to encourage, show the love of Christ, and sow seeds. I also want to inspire others, introduce people to Jesus, and see more people saved. To see people set free, healed, and new leaders to emerge is my dream. Joshua 24:15 is my motto, “As for me and my house, we will serve The Lord.”