RIVERSIDE BLOG

Post Author: Riverside Church

At Riverside we are on a journey to help people get to know Jesus and grow as his followers across Birmingham and beyond. Whoever you are, whatever you believe, you're so welcome in this community.
March 13, 2023
A Riverside Story | Steven Jack

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I grew up in East London. I’ve lived there all my life. I grew up in the Church. My mom became a Christian when she was twenty seven. I was four years old at the time. She started taking me to Church, Sunday school. She was still young in her faith. It was nice because we were growing together. Her as a single parent at the time, it was just really nice for her to have that support and I suppose childcare as well, if you might like, which was really cool. But there came a point when I was about 12 years old when I decided I didn’t really want to go to Church anymore. A lot of my friends had left at that time and I was one of the only guys my age going. I just thought, right, I found athletics, track and field, and I thought, I’m going to pursue a career in track and field. And that’s my get out of Church clause as well, because it was on six days a week. So that’s when I was training. I was training right the way through and on Sunday as well while Church was going on.

I hadn’t gone to Church from when I was twelve to when I was twenty one. So quite a long period. My mum was a bit of a prayer warrior when I wasn’t going to Church. She was basically praying nearly every day for then nine years for me to come to know Jesus. I owe a lot to her and thankful to her and my friends for being so faithful and just really not forgetting me or just not just giving up. I was still not following Jesus when I was 20. So I’d finished school and I was working in sales at the time, wanting to become an owner of a sales company. But when I was going through that process, the lure of money and wealth and being rich and going on holiday, nice trips away and all of these nice things. The things that you aspire to have in the world’s eyes. It didn’t really satisfy at all. And it just felt, I don’t know, really just empty.

I remember my mum just saying to me, “Would you like to travel?” I was always saying, “Well, maybe when I’m rich, when I’ve made it” sort of thing. And yeah, she kept on saying, Oh, just dropping it in there. Why don’t you travel? It came to a point where I was just like, I remember just being in the middle of this road, it wasn’t busy. It was like a cul de sac. I stopped knocking on doors and I was just like, Do you know what? I don’t even want to really do this anymore. Why am I even doing this? What’s it all for? What does it all lead to? I just remember I was in a suit. I remember just sitting on the curb just thinking like, Yeah, I really don’t want this. I felt like probably the emptiest I’ve ever felt before. And I couldn’t really explain why because I’ve been sold this dream and it seemed amazing. So while sitting on this curb, I’ve called up my mum and I said, Mum, I’ll go. And she was like, What? I was like, Yeah, I’ll go. Like how you said, to go traveling and to go and visit maybe another Church somewhere else. Because she mentioned that it might be a Church thing. And I was like, Yeah, I’ll just go.

Two to three weeks later, I was on the plane on my way to South Africa. I remember getting there. It was on a Sunday and the program started on the Monday. I got there Sunday evening, early evening, and they said, “it’s time for Church”. I was like, “What do you mean? Isn’t Church in the morning?” They were like, “yeah, we have two services”. I was like, “Whoa, two services? Isn’t that a bit much?” But I went along with it and it was a bit surreal. I hadn’t slept on the plane, so I was a bit tired and cranky and I was thinking, why are all these weird people coming up to me and hugging me? South Africans are very friendly people as well. They’re big huggers! I did appreciate the friendliness and the welcome that I received.

I remember one particular significant moment after doing this internship already for two months that one of the pastors said, “We want to pray for you to receive the Holy Spirit.” I was a bit like, ah, no!, not this again. I don’t know. I’ve heard about this Holy Spirit business. I’m not so sure about that. But like I said, God had been paving the way in my heart. And this time I was a bit more open to it. I was like, Okay, God, if you’re really there, if the Holy Spirit is real, and this is really a thing, then I’m open to it. I remember the pastor just praying for each one of us. I remember just having this peace and this calm presence surround me and probably the best hug I’ve ever had, even though I’m not a big hugger. It was very enjoyable. I could sense straight away that it was God that was there, a tangible presence that I could physically feel. I remember having a slight headache because we had a busy day and even that just went in an instant. I just remember feeling so peaceful and it all became so clear from that moment that God was real. All of these pieces of the puzzle was put together. The Holy Spirit was real. Jesus had truly died and rose again for each one of us and for me at that moment. I truly believed it. I remember feeling very much changed after that moment. And coming out of that, I remember calling up my Mum and being like, basically, in a short version, “Mum, you’re not crazy! What you’ve believed all this time is actually true! and it’s actually real! I’ve experienced for myself. I’ve experienced God’s love and who he is for myself. It’s just amazing!”

I just remember saying, “I have to get baptized!” I’m feeling this real urgency. I’ve heard it, we’ve read it. Baptism as a part of it, coming into being in relationship with Christ and into the Church with the rest of the family. I was really excited for that. A little while later after that, I got baptized. I remember just life being so different after that. The blinkers had been taken off and I could actually see properly. It was just amazing.

Resources

At Riverside we reguarly celebrate with those who have made the decision to get baptised. These wonderful baptism services are a highlight of the year for everyone who is part of the Riverside Church family.

If you would like to know more about Baptism, we would love to discuss this further with you. We encourage you to contact our Associate Pastor Judy Moore: judym@riverside-church.org.uk or you can visit the contact us page of this website. 

Our next Baptism Celebrations will be on Sunday 2 April 2023 and Sunday 2 July 2023.

Next Baptism Service: Sunday 2 April

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Riverside is a church made up of people from a diversity of backgrounds and experiences all with one thing in common, our discovery of God and his amazing love. 

We are on a journey together to ‘help people get to know Jesus and grow as his followers’. 

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