An interview with Shane
Shane is in his final year of undergraduate study in English and education at Aberystwyth University. Meeting him and seeing just a snippet of his journey has been an utter privilege and I’m delighted to ask him a couple of questions about how he came to faith in Jesus Christ whilst studying in this tiny seaside town.
Tell us about your background
I was born in the West Midlands and moved to Tywyn when I was 10 years old. My parents separated when I was 11 and I then became a young carer for my mum as she suffers from diabetes, arthritis, epilepsy and anaemia. As I grew up it meant that I missed school a fair bit and that I didn’t have much time to see my friends. My mum took me to church when I was very young but when her mum passed away we stopped going to church. I went along to youth group between the ages of 13 and 16 though. I found myself listening to what was being said but I thought it wasn’t for me. I carried on going because it was somewhere I could socialise with people.
The summer before coming to University in Aberystwyth I attended a summer school here. Whilst at the summer school I met a girl who said that she went to church; it made me think at the time, but I went back to college and didn’t give it much thought after that.
Why did you become interested in Christianity?
It was in my second year of university that same friend who I had met at the summer school told me that I was close to becoming a Christian. I didn’t really know why she said it but thought that if I spoke to someone about it then I might find out why she thought that. She introduced me to a friend of hers and I was able to ask him all the questions I had. He seemed different to other people I had met. He was easy to talk to. He didn’t judge me for my background and he seemed understanding. He suggested that we read through Uncover (John’s gospel). It was then that I found out that there’s historical evidence for what is in the Bible and that it’s not just stories plucked out of thin air.
Alongside reading Uncover I went along to events that were being held by the Christian Union (CU). My friends invited me along to the Christmas carol service. I enjoyed the carols but the talk really struck a chord. It was there I started to grapple with sin and try to figure out what it really meant for me. I found myself looking up YouTube videos about Christianity over Christmas.
After Christmas I started to look more intentionally at Christianity. February rolled around and the CU held its annual events week packed with opportunities to ask questions and hear talks about Jesus. I was worried about asking questions because I knew there would be lots of Christians at these events but I went along anyway because I wanted to hear what the speakers had to say. Hearing what they had to say completely changed my perspective on life. Seeing that Christianity offered a different way of thinking and living prompted me to make a decision that week. I wanted to live for Christ. I saw that I was sinning in the way I worshiped my family and realised that I needed to be worshiping Jesus first. I realised the very life I have is given to me by God himself.
After the events week and becoming a Christian I continued doing Bible studies with my friend and also went along to a new believer’s Bible study run by the CU.
When looking at the Bible after becoming a Christian I saw it in a new light. I believed I was reading the Word of God and wanted to learn more about my new found faith and what the Bible has to say about my everyday life. I was thirsty to hear what preachers had to say in church and to apply those truths.
How has knowing Jesus changed your life?
I’ve been a Christian for 15 months now and I view living completely differently. I used to have nightmares about dying and just not existing. It felt like there was no meaning to life before I met Jesus. Now I’m seeing that there is hope; I know now why I am made the way I am and I know that Jesus is in control of my life. I know that I can trust him with my future and that he is guiding me. I don’t have to tread through life alone; I have the Creator of the universe by my side. Each day is filled with finding out something new about God through reading the Bible and various books. I’m learning to give reasoned answers to people for the hope that I have in Jesus and as I do so I’m also learning that there are answers to people’s questions, even if I don’t know the answers myself, there are Christian brothers and sisters around me who do know those answers. I am confident knowing I’m not standing alone as I tell people about Jesus and how he has changed my life.
This summer I graduate and go on to do a PGCE. Looking back to when I started university I had a plan, though I didn’t much like the plan I had. I was going to go into publishing. But when I got to know Jesus I started to pray about my future. God began to point me in the direction of teaching and I found I had a passion for what he was calling me towards. I didn’t expect my future to change that quickly. But realising it’s God’s plan means he knows what he’s doing and I can trust in him.
I’m grateful to God for directing me towards my friends and the CU’s events. I know it was the right thing for me to come to Aberystwyth. I’ve met people that will be friends for life and I’ve met God who has given me eternal life.
What the CU does is essential and different to church in a way. It gives people opportunities to get to know Christians in a non-daunting way. I’ve seen God use the CU’s creative ideas. I’ve come to know Jesus as a result. We need CU’s to continue tackling hard questions that students on campus have. I hope the CU will continue to reach out to people, come up with new ideas and run events where people can hear the gospel. Even if it’s for just one person, that one person could go on to take the gospel to a million people.