“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them — what do you do? You leave the other ninety-nine sheep in the pasture and go looking for the one that got lost until you find it. When you find it, you are so happy that you put it on your soulders and carry it back home. Then you call your friends and neighbours together and say to them, ‘I am so happy I found my lost sheep. Let us celebrate!’ In the same way, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine respectable people who do not need to repent." Luke 15: 4-7
…and here I am: the proverbial lost sheep. If anyone had told me a year ago that I’d be standing here, I’d have fallen about laughing.
I did believe in a higher being but I had serious problems with the word “God”. In fact, I tended to shy away from Christians and Christianity in general.
It was only when my Aunt Wendy and Uncle Chris suggested that I join an Alpha course that a seed was sown. I didn’t act on it for a few months but I didn’t forget it either.
Around that time, I realised I needed a computer to enable me to improve my education/get a job etc. I asked Wendy if she could let me have the money but she advised that, although she was not in a position to do so, she would pray for me to be given one. The next day, two other friends (John and Julie) turned up on my doorstep, offered to buy me a laptop, and immediately took me to PC World. I witnessed first-hand the power of prayer!
I then met Gerry, who is a practising Christian, although it must be said she sings from a different song sheet to ours, whilst surrounded by smells and bells. I still avoided anything “churchy” but the seed was beginning to grow. I half-heartedly put my name down for an Alpha course in Colchester.
At the end of August, my home burned down and I lost everything but the clothes I was wearing. I was forced to reassess my values. I’d previously defined myself in terms of my material possessions and losing them left me feeling empty.
I moved to Chelmsford and joined half-way through the autumn Alpha course at CBC. I was defensive and argumentative and Paul [Beasley-Murray, the Senior Minister] will probably agree that I gave him a bit of a hard time but he, Nick [Tuohy, the Associate Minister], Emma and Amanda were always willing to answer my questions. Later, when Nick shared his experiences of coming to God, I began to shut up and take notice.
Nick said something to me which struck a chord and, having missed half of the first Alpha course, I signed up for the next one, starting in January of this year. I resolved to take it more seriously this time. Gerry did the course with me the second time and we were able to guide each other.
Since I began attending CBC last October, I have met many lovely, genuine people. I appreciate all the love and support I have received and continue to receive. At the same time I cannot forget those friends that have stuck with me through thick and thin, Linda, John and Julie.
Don’t get me wrong: I still have so much to learn about Christianity and everything else. I’ve wasted so much of my life but I’ve been given a second chance … today, here and now, I’m starting a new life with Jesus.
— Julian G. Wilkinson on the occasion of his baptism, 13th June 2010.
Central Baptist Church Chelmsford is a community church which is open seven days a week. We are a Bible-believing Baptist church with a multicultural and all-age congregation.
You can find out more about us here.