My Testimony

An Interview With Helene Parry

What was your background, spiritually?

My Mam went to the local Anglican church out of tradition. Her mother had been a genuine Christian who brought up her family to go to church. So I went along too, and enjoyed reading Bible stories. When I was a teenager, I got confirmed, still out of tradition. I didn't realise what Jesus' resurrection had to do with us, today. But I used to pray, especially when I got myself into a jam.

What got you interested in the Christian faith?

At 18 I went off to university in Cardiff, and had a bad first year there. I was depressed and no longer took any interest in my studies.

That summer, my family moved house. While packing, Mam found a Gospel of Mark and gave it to me. I shoved it into a drawer with my (pristine) Bible and other religious books I'd acquired on my confirmation. Among these books was a Daily Bread brochure with notes on the Gospel of Mark. So, since I had the explanatory notes, I started reading this Gospel. (Obviously, it would be too hard to understand on its own!)

While reading the Gospel, I realised that I wasn't such a good person. OK, I hadn' killed anyone, but I'd had plenty of bad thoughts and held grudges. One Sunday I went to church, but left after five minutes, because I felt too bad to be there. But I didn't know how to get rid of my guilt.

Getting ready to go back to university, the first item I packed was my Bible. I decided to join the university Christian Union despite the fact that one of its leading lights was a particularly arrogant bully I'd known at school!

Was there anything that held you back from exploring the faith?

I was worried that if I started going to Bible studies and things like that, I wouldn't be allowed to listen to rock music any more. Also, I have two brothers I'm close to, and I was worried that if I got into Christian stuff, it would drive a wedge between us.

In my first week back, I did join the Christian Union and to my surprise, found that most of the people there were nice, not smug, uber-cool types. That first week, the Christian Union had arranged a Saturday night Bible Study. I wasn't planning to go  - until I saw a poster announcing that the study was on The Gospel of Mark!

The speaker that night was an elder from a Cardiff church. He is well-known now  - his name was Rob Parsons. He explained the Gospel and I finally saw what the crucifixion had to do with us, how Jesus had taken our sins upon himself and been punished instead of us.

That night I told God: "From now on, I'm going to go your way." Not the most spiritual prayer ever, but I don't think God gives extra points for flowery language.

At the same time, a voice in my head urged me: "No, don't do that." But, being stubborn, I said: "Yes, I will." As soon as I said that, I felt I was being filled up with a warm golden liquid, starting with my feet and moving up through my body to the top of my head. (Don't ask me how I knew it was golden  -  I just did.) That's never happened before, or since. That was the moment I was born again.

Does becoming a Christian make life easier or harder?

From the start I had problems with some of my friends, who didn't understand that I had a different focus in life now. Some thought I'd just adopted a stricter moral code. I tried to explain that being a Christian wasn't about keeping to a list of rules.

Then there was my family. The parents were worried that I'd joined a sect. My brothers were pleased for me, but didn't take much interest in spiritual things, and still don't.

Can you give an example of how knowing Jesus has changed you?

I used to be a champion grudge-holder. Still working on this, but with help from the Lord, I've got it down to hours instead of years.

So is everything fine now that you're a Christian?

No, I've got the same weaknesses as ever, but now I turn to God, and to other Christians for prayer over these issues. I'll probably have to be careful in these areas for the rest of my life, but you can ask God for help with anything, and He doesn't leave you to flounder, however many times you've got it wrong before.

And finally?

My rock CD collection came in handy when we needed background music for the Alpha course suppers!