My earliest memory of being in a church was when I was about four years old. I attended a summer vacation Bible School in a church basement in the USA.
I remember an older woman in a dark dress, and she was leading us in singing the song: Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong, they are weak…
“Stop… Stop. Children… Let’s not sing it ‘THEY are weak’. Let’s sing it ‘WE are weak’,” she said. So, we all sang, ‘Little ones to him belong, we are weak, but he is strong.’
I can remember thinking: ‘That lady thinks she’s a little child that belongs to Jesus and I am the little one that belongs to Jesus too!’
I believe that was the day I first realised that Jesus called me to be his child. An old lady, whose name I don’t know, loved Jesus and told a little four-year-old girl about the one who loves her most.
Through my teen years and into my early twenties I wandered. I played around with drugs and eastern mysticism, Bahai, and other religions, thinking there surely must be many ways to God… but the Singer and his song kept calling me back.
Finally, one night, I prayed: “God, I really want to know who the true God is. If Jesus is really the only way, if he died on the cross for my sins, then yes, I surrender. Forgive me my sins. I want to be your child. But I need to know, so please show me what your truth is. I will give you two weeks. I will go to one of your churches and read your Bible for two weeks, but by then I need to know this is real and not just a mind game like so many others that I have looked into. Amen”
Looking back, that wasn’t a very respectful prayer, but God is gracious and he met that wandering soul right where she was.
It didn’t take two weeks to realise that Jesus was real and loved me. In a matter of a couple of days, as I read the Gospel of John and prayed, I knew I belonged to Jesus. I knew my sins were forgiven! I knew I had peace with God. I knew I was that little child that Jesus loves.
“Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.” ¶
As told to Pathways by Anita Saunders. Along with her husband and a fabulous team, Anita runs the JOY place – a monthly church service for adults with learning disabilities and their friends and families.