Well, yes, I'm afraid so. But I intend to keep this one as a record of my journey with God. A record which I will not share with friends, but with strangers with whom I am unconnected.

Firstly though, I guess I better tell whoever is reading this - most likely just myself! - my testimony. How I got to be here, where I am now with Jesus.

I don't think I have much of a testimony. I wasn't brought up in a Christian family, although there were always bibles around, and we had assembly in school where we would pray and sing hymns. I completely believed in Jesus, with a child's wide-eyed trust that someone could truly rise from the dead and perform miracles - no questions asked. As I got older, the secular community got me out of my religious infant phase. Cynicism crept in, and it wasn't cool to believe in God. So my faith was left by the wayside, although I would have always called myself a Christian, because I still believed in a man called Jesus who was the son of God.

I got to sixth form college (I'm in England, and we do things like schooling slightly different), and all of a sudden, I made a lot of friends, many of whom were Christian and went to a Christian group. I didn't really see any Jesus Freaks though - they mostly kept their religion quiet and to themselves, and their actions never belied the fact they were Christian. In fact, one of my so-called-Christian friends hurt me by not loving me as a friend should and supporting me when I was going through a difficult time - he simply turned away. So much for me coming to Christianity through that route.

A couple of years passed, and I still hadn't accepted the LORD. I got to university, and suddenly, almost every friend I made was Christian. It wasn't my requirement at all, it just happened that way - something I found out about them later. A couple of girls and I went to the Christian Union meeting in our first week, and so I got involved, making friends there. One of the girls I met took me to some churches in the area. One of the churches totally freaked me out, talking about the blood of Jesus and shaking and trembling all over the place. The other church I was taken to was where I ended up though. It was wonderful - a family orientated, student friendly, multi-generational, modern church, with fantastic worship music which I loved! It got me hooked, and although no one else I knew went there regularly, I started going on my own, sitting in the back, contentedly observing the fellowship around me, without being part of it myself.

I continued in the church and the Christian Union. I realised that actually, I did believe in Jesus, and should therefore worship and honour him. I went to a few sessions of an Alpha course - free food, intellectual discussions, and some wonderful people. They gave me a bible on only my second session - a bible I have used and loved and treasured ever since. It was a youth study bible, and all of a sudden, here I was reading the bible - something I'd always considered to be a dowdy thing to do. I agreed with it though, it made sense - or at least some of it did! I was confirmed the same year, having decided that Jesus was starting to mean something to me personally, and although I didn't know what it would mean to have Him in my life, I wanted Him there. I wanted what my friends with the ever-ready smiles had.

Then of course, I went home for the summer. No church, no Christian friends to support me. I just let the whole thing slide, knowing that when I went on my year abroad to America in a couple of months, I could still end up going to church and continuing in my faith. Only, when I got to America, I had no Christian friends, and so I didn't want to go to church on my own again. So I didn't.

And that's when our God was like "Hey, hey, get back here!" and he starting chasing me. He sent me an amazing Christian friend, who took me to church, introduced me to almost all of my friends, and took me to his suite in university where anyone could and did hang out. Those anyones were mostly Christian, as all of the people in the suite were Christian, and they had a very welcoming policy in their suite! So I started going to church again, and growing with God and in fellowship. God took care of me when I was alone, with no family or friends. He provided those friends, and even better, he provided me with a Christian family over there - each friend truly became a brother or sister to me, and I wanted for nothing spiritually. I grew immensely, learning to pray aloud and not be worried; learning to talk about my faith; learning that it was ok to pray for your homework when it was going badly!

But now I've left that wonderful place. I've been visiting churches back home, but none of them compare, and I don't get fed any soul food there. All summer - for almost four months - I've been alone in my faith, relying on emails and phone conversations with my friends back in America for support, knowing that it will be at least a year and a half until I can see them again. My family don't support me in my turn about of faith. I now say grace before meals for example, which they don't understand - it's not something I've learnt from them. They see bibles and Christian books scattered over my room, hear my worship music, and see post-it notes for prayers on my walls. It's caused a huge row with my sister (who doesn't live with us) because she feels she's loosing me to religion.

Worse, I now know why missionaries aren't supposed to go out alone. I am alone, and relying on people thousands of miles away is difficult at best, impossible at worst. The longer I am away from America, the further away I seem from God. All I want is to get back there, and be with Him again. I don't feel near to Him now. I feel a LONG way from him. My prayers are disconnected and random thoughts distract me all too easily. I have been reading my bible, although not studying it, and even the reading is suffering now, because I barely see the point in it. I look at how much my views and opinions have changed, and they seem to have become very extreme, and I don't even recognise some of them. How is something that changes your core values so much good? It makes me nervous.

And so that's where I am now. Waiting, hoping. I've been two steps away from giving up on my faith all summer, although I've hung on in there somehow. There are two major things I hope for right now. I hope that I go back to university in a few weeks' time, that with fellowship and church, I might get back on track. The second is that I hope to go and live in America. I want to get there as soon as it's possible, get into a good church, and live in a place where Christianity is not frowned upon as it seems to be here.

I put my trust in God. But it's a tentative trust. It's a "I know you have the best in mind for me, but I don't see that right now, and so I'm going to be cautious about this."


(And if you've managed to read all that and not get bored, congratulations! I promise that my next blogs will not be as long winded!)