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Paul Harrington: My Conversion

By the time I got to university I was an agnostic or an atheist. I had no interest in whether God existed or not and was convinced that spirituality was a waste of time. Fun, sport and a law degree on the side occupied my life for the first three years on campus.

I had no interest in whether God existed. Fun, sport and a law degree occupied my life

In my third year at uni, the girl I was going out with became a Christian. At the time, I thought that her believing in a God who probably didn’t exist wasn’t going to affect things too much. Then a few weeks after her conversion she took me for a walk around campus and explained, in tears, that God wanted her to break off our relationship. I thought this was really weird. But it also pushed me to find out more—even if only to convince her it was a dumb thing to do.

There was a guy in the law school that I knew was serious about Christianity. We met in first year and had hung around together playing rugby and going to parties. He took second year off and travelled. While he was away he became a follower of Jesus and it radically changed his life. So I asked him if I could spend time with him working out what the Bible had to say about God. It was a process. I went from thinking Jesus was a fictional character on a par with the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy, to the point where I thought he was likely a real person who did the stuff that the New Testament recorded about him. But it still wasn’t compelling. So what if Jesus was a great philosopher, did supernatural things and even came back to life after he died? Impressive, but not necessarily life-changing.

I had a part time job at a supermarket stacking shelves after hours. One night while I was unpacking boxes, it was like I had a highlights reel of my life playing in my head. Actually it was more a ‘lowlights’ reel.All the ways I had ripped people off and lacked personal integrity were playing in my mind. It was a strange sad/happy experience. It was hard to see what I was like as a person. But on the other hand the stuff I had been reading about Jesus suddenly clicked into place. I understood that Jesus had died on the cross so I could be forgiven for the way I had failed as a human being and especially for giving God the cold shoulder. He rose from the dead so I could know he was the universal ruler that I should serve with my life. Shortly after that I became a follower of Jesus.

All the ways I had ripped people off were playing in my mind. The stuff I had been reading about Jesus suddenly clicked into place.

That change, when I was twenty years old, was without doubt the pivot point of my life. Almost immediately I began thinking about how I would spend the rest of my life. How could I best use the gifts and time I had to help people discover what I had found? It meant that I graduated and practised law for a few years before then heading off to Bible College to be better equipped to teach the Bible, do evangelism and train others. I loved working as a lawyer but, in the end, I just didn’t have enough time to squeeze in all the ministry opportunities that were arising away from my job.

You might be wondering about that girl who dropped me? Initially I didn’t tell her I had become a Christian. It just seemed smarter to keep it quiet and that way I could know I was becoming a disciple of Jesus with the right motivation. The guy who was reading the Bible with me told me off and said I should let her know what had happened. I did. We didn’t go out for about six months so I could get established as a believer. Then we started dating again and got married about six months later. We have been married partners in the gospel for 38 years. God is very kind.