Grace Ndabananiye

Many of those here, who know me, will know that I have been coming to this church all my life.  I have always loved my time at Whetstone, especially getting up at the front and going to Sunday school.  

 

When I was younger, I knew everything about Jesus, I always brought my Bible and answered every question that was asked.  However, despite this enthusiasm I don’t think I ever fully believed, or understood what it meant to believe.  And, as I got older and interacted with kids who didn’t believe, I got doubts and my belief got weaker.   Then at roughly the age of ten whatever I had believed was lost.  Up until this point I never knew that anyone could not believe in God as I had always assumed that everyone did.  It was a shock for me to meet anyone who wasn’t a Christian and meeting and talking with them made me think that maybe God wasn’t real.

 

I never really told these thoughts to anyone.  I kept everything to myself because I feared the disappointment it would give my family and people at the church.  This fear ate me up inside; I still attended church and Christian events, and pretended to be Christian.  Eventually, I ended up isolating myself, since I never told anyone about anything that happened in my life, even when I was having a really hard time at school.  I thought that telling someone would somehow allude to me not having a faith.  I also thought that I didn’t deserve any sympathy since I was lying to everyone.  It made me feel so alone, empty and depressed inside, yet I still suppressed it.

 

This cycle of isolating myself lasted, what for me felt like forever.  But it all changed when I first went to ‘Soul Survivor’ - a Christian event for young people - about three or four years ago.  I didn’t expect much at first, just wanting to go on a nice camping trip, although I didn’t like camping!  However, at one of the main sessions, something spoke to me.  I can’t quite remember the specifics, but the preacher, said something about releasing suppressed sadness.  About people that are depressed but haven’t told anyone.  After he said that, I started crying, and I couldn’t stop.  And everything came out.  He explained that God was releasing the sadness, and healing those who needed emotional healing.  It was then I realised that God had touched me; he had reached out to me.  

 

When I left the session I felt weird, changed, and teary.  The next person I saw was the church's Youth Worker , who gave me a very tight suffocating hug.  I was never much of a huggy person before then, but I really needed that hug!  It made me feel truly happy and relieved, for probably the first time in a very long time.  

 

I can’t say that everything changed just like that.  It was a very long process since it was much harder to change my life when I left ‘Soul Survivor’.  But I eventually came to realise how much I needed God in my life.  That the emptiness that I felt was because God wasn’t there.  The fact that God loved me and forgave me regardless of what I had done made me realise how stupid my fear was.  It had just gotten in the way of my faith.  Letting God into my life shrunk that fear, since God would always be there.  It was then that I thought about baptism although it took me a while to act on it.  I always had the excuse that I wasn’t ready, or should wait until I was older.  But the real problem was that I was still insecure, and I was really scared about giving my testimony.  It was at two of my friends baptisms that gave me the kick I needed.  When I saw them giving out their testimonies, it gave me the courage to give mine.  That is why I am here being baptised.

 

Grace Ndabananiye

March 2015