I grew up in a religious family. I thought I had to be very good for God to be pleased with me. During my teens I began searching for answers to life’s big questions. I read a lot of philosophy books but I didn’t find any answers. One day I was walking along the street and I saw a Bible verse on a poster. It said “By grace you have been saved through faith and that is not of yourselves. It is the gift of God – not as a result of works so that no-one should boast”. This made sense to me. Jesus had died for me, so I didn’t have to do it for myself. I decided to follow Jesus. He changed my heart so that I began to love him instead of being afraid of him. It was not like religion. It became a life of joy. This has continued for many years now, through ups and downs – getting married, getting sacked, getting promoted, having a family, and many other adventures. He continues to fill my life with joy. I look back and I think that was the day my life really started.

James Reilly

During the mid-90s while in my teenage years I did what many teenagers did – I began having a good time partying with my friends, getting involved in the musical rave scene, going to nightclubs and generally having a good time as I saw it. This also included experimenting with cigarettes, alcohol and what was known as “soft drugs” like cannabis and ecstasy. At that time I did not fully see the seriousness of this lifestyle. Yet, I was curious, and this curiosity led me to eventually taking heroin. From then on my life began spiralling downwards over a number of years. I lost everything. I ended up with a serious heroin addiction. I became homeless, living as a beggar on the streets of Dublin and serving time in prison. Eventually through desperation I left Ireland in the hope of finding help. I entered a programme run by Teen Challenge, a Christian rehabilitation centre. While in Teen Challenge I had an amazing and supernatural experience. I had a vision of Jesus Christ upon the cross where I saw how he died for me, for everyone, out of love, on Calvary’s cross. In that same vision the resurrected Christ spoke three words to me. He said “I love you”. Ever since that day I have believed in Jesus Christ and my life has been transformed by Him. I continue to follow and serve him freely today.

Alan Gavagan