This week saw the start of my Churches ‘Alpha’ course, which is all about giving people the chance to ask questions about Christianity. After hearing Nicky Gumbel, the man behind Alpha, tell the room about his journey to becoming a Christian, it got me thinking about how powerful personal accounts of lives being transformed can be. I know when I’ve shared stories of my life in the past people have found it helpful, if not educational, so I wanted to share my testimony with you!
I, Nathaniel Josiah Alsop, was born on the 9th of May 1995 in Arrowe Park Hospital to my loving parents Nick and Karen Alsop. For the first few years of my life we lived in the town of Port Sunlight before moving to Rock Ferry when my brother was born, and then later on we moved to the current family home in Hoylake. As you might expect, I don’t remember much about my early years! I have though been told that I managed to fall off of the side of the couch onto the marble base of the fireplace and split my head open! Might explain the lack of memory at that age…
Something that I do know is that my parents were Christians,and so growing up I attended Church with my parents, but to me it was just a bit of a social thing, it didn’t mean much. It was a lovely community and everything, but I grew up thinking Church was just about trying to have a good time and doing your bit to help out. I thought there must have been more to life but didn’t know what it was.
Trying To Fill A Hole
This was something that defined my childhood, I always knew there was something more to life than what I knew, so that left a hole in my life. That hole was an insecurity, and so I started to feel unhappy, without much understanding of why, and what do you do with holes? You try and fill them, with three particular habits.
First of all, I tried to fill the hole by eating too much food. I found that I enjoyed eating, as we all should, and so when I was unhappy I would try to make myself happy by eating lots. I remember being about ten years old and coming home really sad after being bullied, so that night I proceeded to make my way through 10 bowls of cereal. Poor eating habits like this led to me becoming really unfit and even more unhappy, and at my peak I was approximately 21 stone in weight. Over eating has left a scar that I’m still overcoming.
Secondly, for a period I tried to control other people physically through bullying. I’ve always been a big guy, in height and width, and I found that I was stronger than most of those of the same age. Combine this with the hurt and pain I picked up from being bullied for many years, I tried to flip the tables and find comfort in making others feel bad. Incidents included kicking younger students and hitting a lad over the head with a pair of football boots, and as you can imagine this got me in some trouble! In year 6, I received my third suspension from school and I finally realised I needed to stop and grow up, so I started to try and control my anger better.
Thirdly, I tried to get comfort and acceptance from watching pornography. As I entered my teens, more and more of my friends started to talk about porn, and at first I ignored it. And then one night, when I was thirteen, I decided to see what all the fuss was about and, for many years, I was hooked. It led to really unhealthy ideas of what sex and relationships were. I started to see girls more as objects rather than human beings that were designed to be my friends, something I knew deep down was really wrong! I remember there was a period of about three months when I couldn’t look any girls in the eye because I was so ashamed of what I was doing.
But the funny thing was, none of these things seemed to fill the hole in my life… It was like only a certain something would fit the hole. It wasn’t till the age of 18 that I found the perfect fit for the hole in my life!
Fast forward to the start of university, I still went along to Church back home, but it was still just a social thing. In fact, it felt like I went because it was just what my family did, so I never really attempted to understand or wrestle with Christianity. I also still struggled with the previously mentioned habits to different degrees. Mix that with the raging hormones of 15,000 other teenagers and vast quantities of alcohol, there was a potential for me to go off the rails at uni…
Turns out, ‘He’ had other ideas!
Life Changing Revelations
On my first night out in the students union, I lost all of my new flat mates and so I wandered around aimlessly. During my walk, I stumbled upon a welcoming room called “Club Mission”. I was never a massive fan of loud music, so the peace of the room appealed to me and I went in. It turned out the room was put on by a local Church called Open Heaven, and I ended up talking to one of it’s leaders Joe for the rest of the night and he invited me to his church that week.
I decided to go along, and when I got there it was so different to my previous experiences of Church. The speakers talked of a personal relationship with God, that He created me, that He loved me, and that He wanted to be an active part of my life. Wow! This was revolutionary to me. Until then, I just saw God as this random thing that may or may not rule over our lives, basically a real life reflection of the 1998 film “The Truman Show”.
So over the next six months, I wrestled with this new information. At times I was elated with this new revelation of life, other times I wanted to stay well away from God because I felt hurt by my past insecurities.
Then, on Saturday the 8th of February 2014, at my first Open Heaven weekend away, I came to the conclusion that it was all true, God was God and He loved me unconditionally! John 3:16 finally sunk in: “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
For the first time, I believed that Jesus did die and then rise again for MY sins, and this changed my entire life. He died so that my past sins of abusing my body with food, hurting others with my actions, and perverting my mind with pornography, were ALL FORGIVEN!
I finally found that the hole I’d always felt in my life was in fact a God-shaped hole! That night it was filled forever by God! You see, God fulfils me like no amount of food ever could. Gods love is better than bullying ever made me feel. God shows me the ultimate relationship and intimacy I’m created for, that is nowhere to be seen in pornography.
So, from that day, I wanted to live differently, live for God. I got baptised a few months later to make a public statement that I had chosen to accept the free offer of love that Jesus offers us all, and I’ve not looked back since. It’s been a long journey, with moments of great joy, as well as moments of truly shattering despair. But I know that God is with me, present in my life for evermore. My relationship with God defines me, it is the driving passion in my life, and I can’t wait to see what that looks life for the rest of my life until the day I return to Him.
Thanks for reading the story of my life! If this has helped you in some way, or raised questions for you, then I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to leave a comment or message me sometime. Until the next blog, all the best!