Megumi Aoki

Having grown up attending Sunday school and church, I’d always known what it was to become a Christian. I had never really doubted there was a God, but knew I wasn’t a Christian.

I grew up, living in a ‘Christian’ way, happy to go to church every week, and even talking to my friends about God. But I avoided conversations that led to where I stood before God. When I was about 11, after coming back from a Christian camp over the summer, my older sister had come back different. She had said that she’d repented of her sins and asked God into her life.

At this time, my Mum who had been seeking the Lord for some time had said she believed she was a Christian, and in due time, both of them were to be baptised. Prior to this, I had struggled myself with trying to reach out and have this personal saviour for myself in Christ Jesus, and sometimes called out to him to save me but every time, I’d feel nothing would change.

Growing up, I had been to many baptisms and they’re testimonies would always sound so sudden and dramatic-a change in a flash of light. I heard of people who had gone off the rails coming to God and breaking down in tears, humbled before Him and crying out for repentance in this one miraculous moment. I had no such experience and so for the most part, tried to push the niggling thoughts in my head away. Leading up to their testimonies, my Mum would ask me where I stood before God and I would just feel really uncomfortable and wanted to not think about it, but on the occasion, I would and would ask God to save me, but nothing would change.

At my Mum and sister’s baptism, a family friend who didn’t usually come to our church, came up to me and as she was speaking with me, she asked why I wasn’t up there getting baptised with them. I couldn’t give her a response, but knew in my heart that I didn’t know Christ as my saviour. This resonated with me, and again, I went home and asked God’s forgiveness.

Though I felt a sense relief at the time, the next day I continued as normal, feeling no great change had happened. This happened a few times as I struggled to know if I had been saved or not. One evening, my Mum again asked me where I stood before God and I told her I honestly didn’t know-that I felt I was trying but not succeeding.

I then went to talk to my pastor about this. I explained to him that I had asked for forgiveness, that I believed Christ had died for those who believe on Him- but felt no great change every time. As I was sat there explaining my dilemma to him, I realised though I had been seeking forgiveness from the Lord, I wasn’t trusting in Him to forgive my sins. I didn’t leave it in His hands to deal with it, but in some sense, tried to rely on what I did in calling out to Him.

I reflected over the past few months and realised though I had not had one particular moment of great change, changes had begun to happen. I wanted to read the Bible more, wanting to pray more. After realising that there was nothing in myself that could change me, but a working of God’s grace- and only that, I went home and called out to Him once more.

I thanked the Lord Jesus Christ for dying on the cross, and for HIS working in me, and not my own, and repented of not trusting in Him, but still asked for assurance. Instead of a huge dramatic moment that I had heard from so many others when they were saved, I found a moment of quiet; a peace with the Lord. The following day, I went to school and I remember lining up waiting to go into a lesson when a couple of people came up to me and pointed out that something was different about me and they couldn’t quite put their finger on it. That for me, was God answering my prayer and by His compassion, giving me the assurance that I had prayed for.

Since then, though I have had some up and downs, I know that I can trust in God to keep me, and rely on the sacrifice Jesus made. God has answered so many prayers, and continues to- in regards to my future and present things. Having no idea what I wanted to do after school, not knowing where I should go, the Lord led me to Bristol to study music.

He has led me to a place where I’ve made good friends, met so many other Christians, and got to be part of a CU and church where I am taught and encouraged so much. I feel His loving hand upon me daily – though I still don’t know where my life is leading, I feel Him gently guiding the path before me.

‘Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.’ Proverbs 3:5-6.