Fortieth Anniversary: Geoff

  • Real lives at CCD

Having grown up in church and having now been a church officer for over 35 years, Geoff is well-familiar with the Christian life, but it wasn’t his knowledge that changed him. As a boy, he was faithfully brought to all things church – Sunday school, youth group, etc – by his Mum. His father wasn’t a believer at that time so his Mum was the driving force behind his spiritual upbringing. Although he was christened in the Presbyterian church as an infant, the family moved from that church when Geoff was a young teen. Together with a number of church members (including the pastor) they formed an independent church.

Geoff always believed in God and that Jesus was His Son. He had good head knowledge of Bible stories and doctrine. When he was about 14 years old, he made a profession of faith, but he said it was more of an acknowledgement of the facts he knew than heart changing. God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice didn’t become real to him until much later in his life.

As a young adult, Geoff went to study in Wrexham, where he met his future wife, Yvonne. When they were married in the autumn of 1980, they moved to Deeside and attended the young church there. At that time, neither he nor Yvonne were Christians, but Yvonne began asking Geoff a lot of questions about the Bible and God. He could only answer her questions from his head, like dry academic quizzes, but these questions really made Geoff have to think. At times, he would talk to the pastor about those questions and his own. Those conversations were leading up to something, but he didn’t realise it until afterwards.

One day when Geoff was with his grandmother, she said to him: “God has really blessed you!” Those few words really struck home to Geoff. Over the next week, they kept coming back to him again and again. A growing certainty was dawning on him: God really had blessed him. And not just with family and a home and health, but with much more than that. God had sent His Son to die in Geoff’s place. Jesus took all the punishment Geoff deserved and gave Geoff everlasting life instead. He gave Geoff peace with God. At last, the ‘penny dropped’. The many conversations with his wife and pastor, his grandmother’s words, and his Christian upbringing had led up to this turning point in his life. Geoff embraced Jesus as his personal Saviour. The things of God became REAL for the first time. And it changed his life.

It wasn’t long afterwards that Yvonne, too, trusted in Jesus as her Saviour and Lord. Less than six months after Geoff began to really follow Jesus, he and Yvonne were both baptised. All this in the first year of their marriage!

It was the beginning of June, exactly 40 years ago that Geoff was baptised. Looking back over his life with the Lord, he reflected on some of the continual growth that happens in Christian life. At some point after becoming a Christian, Geoff was reflecting about Paul’s writing in the Bible. Paul wrote about being the ‘chief of sinners’ (1 Timothy 1v15) and Geoff was struck that it was him, Geoff, who was the ‘chief of sinners’. God was showing Geoff more of his own failings, but that took Geoff deeper into God’s mercy, too. He is impressed repeatedly by how God keeps graciously coming and drawing him closer. Growth in God’s grace has come in waves and at different times of life, but God has always been there with him.

– by E.M. Harding