Bryan Davies – my journey of faith

The story begins when I was born in Colwyn Bay, North Wales, although it nearly ended when I was three years old. I succumbed to diphtheria, a killer disease then, and was critically ill but, thankfully, through the prayers of my parents and their respective churches and the grace of God in answering, I survived without any major complications.

My schooldays were quite uneventful – fortunately as a family we were spared any tragedies during the 1939-45 war.

As a family we were regular attenders at a local non-conformist church which I used to enjoy. In the Summer, particularly, it would be filled with people on holiday, the hymn singing would be very inspiring and the ’big name’ visiting preachers could be very entertaining and often dramatic. Over the Winter months there would be quite a programme of weeknight social activities.

In my early teens the minister held some church membership classes which I attended. I was particularly struck by his reference to the cost of Christian discipleship but for me at the time this just meant following a religious moral code.

At the age of 18 I was fortunate to be accepted to study civil engineering at a college in London. I, of course, made a lot of new friends there but one in particular started to make an impression on me as he shared with us the story of his own ‘conversion’. Although he had had a largely non-church upbringing, through a hitch-hiking lift with a Christian evangelist he had come into a really dynamic faith in God. This challenged me to the poverty of my own faith and at one of the churches I was attending I purchased a book which I thought would help me.

One of the chapters was entitled ’The Almost Christian’ and as I read it was like a mirror in which I saw myself. In spite of all my family upbringing, my church attendance, my high moral standing, I suddenly saw myself as an ’almost’ Christian. The day following reading this, 23 February 1953 to be precise, I approached John, my friend, with my dilemma and sought his help. In the corner of the college refectory whilst having lunch together he took out his pocket Bible and shared several verses with me. Then he took me to a meeting of the college Christian Union where an Anglican minister was speaking and who said the same things as John.

That evening back in the quietness of my own study bedroom I prayed the first real prayer of my life – to become a ’real’ Christian. It was as if Christ was there in the room with me. He who had just been a moral teacher from past history became a living person in my life and experience.

As I started to read a little New Testament some friends from my home church had given me, I began to realise that Jesus’ death on the cross was for my sin, that I couldn’t ’earn’ my forgiveness but must accept it as a gift of grace from Him.

The words of hymns which I has sung so heartily over the years started to have a new significance for me. The Bible, which had formerly been largely unintelligible, now started to become a living message from a loving and caring God.

Well that was just the beginning of what has become a long 57 year journey. Much has happened to me over that time, there have been highlights and times of worry and concern but always there has been the sense of His continuing and faithful hand on my life.

I can firstly praise God that for 48 of these years He has given me a faithful and loving companion in Pauline who walks the path of faith in Christ with me and has transformed ’my’ journey into ’ours’. Yes, we have had our ups and downs in the relationship but His grace has kept us together and taught us many lessons, some easy some hard, in mutual respect and understanding.

Again and again we have valued very much the warmth of fellowship of the churches we have been associated with. It was, however, a big culture shock when in 1963 we moved from a large active 120+ member church in North London to one here in Rothwell which only had a small and ageing fellowship and was saddled with a very run down and dilapidated building.

There were times when we felt it was time to move on but in a way in which we can only describe as God directed we were shown that His place for us was to continue at the Baptist Church – how thankful we are that after so many years we can now be encouraged by the building refurbishment and development work we see progressing. We need little convincing that ’He who began a good work’ will continue to use the fellowship with its improved building in making known the wonderful richness and grace of His love to a needy area through His Son Jesus Christ.

Whilst a testimony usually looks back and recalls the past, we both have to face up to the realities of life as we trun 80. We praise God for the measure of physical and mental well being He has given us – our joints are getting a bit arthritic though and we do have ‘senior moments‘! – but we are confident we can trust Him to continue to guide, lead and keep us to the end of stage 1 of the journey whenever that might be and then on to stage 2 when we shall reach our ultimate goal to be with the Christ who started us off, has been with us all the way and who is Himself our final destination.

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