One thing I remember saying to Stephen very soon afterwards was, ‘When can I be baptised?’ I don’t remember anyone preaching about it. But everywhere I read in the Bible about people being saved they were always baptised straightaway. Stephen didn’t give me a quick answer and I would have to wait a little while before I got to follow my Saviour by going into the water!
It would be nice to say that from then on it was plain sailing. Sadly, in many ways, things got worse. When I told my girlfriend what had happened she was upset. The next Sunday she was very out of sorts during the morning meeting and spoke to Stephen straight afterwards. She too prayed to God and said she was saved. It seemed that God had answered my secret wish for both of us to be saved together. (I had understood early on that a Christian should only marry another Christian.) We weren’t engaged but in many ways our relationship had continued on as before. This proved to be a battleground over the following months.
I’m not sure what kind of impact my new life made on those around me. I had been working in McGahon and O’Neill’s TV shop for a couple of years. Of course I had already told them that I was a Christian (when I wasn’t really) so I don’t know if they really took any notice of what I said about all this. My family and friends, understandably, saw yet another passing craze, I suppose!
Plans were made for us to be baptised. There was a Baptist church in Newry whose building had a newly installed indoor baptismal tank. Big enough to immerse us in the proper Biblical fashion. We went to the Newry Baptist Centre in November. Originally I had been asked to say a few words to those attending about my conversion but at the last moment I chickened out because of nerves and settled for a simple ‘questions and answers’ with Stephen.
One of the visitors who came along was my dad. I don’t remember if I invited my sisters or if I even told them. But I was so delighted that my dad was there. This was one of the greatest days of my life and I wanted him to share it with me, even if he couldn’t understand very much about it. I had already begun to pray that God would save him too. That became a prayer which really tested my faith in God.