By David Young.
I recently returned to worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ after being in a backslidden condition for 34 years. Despite an illness that makes my memory very poor, there were two names the Lord has never let me forget. They were Sam and Anna Irons whom I met during my posting in 1981 to Palace Barracks Holywood.
In 1980 I was saved and baptised in an evangelical Baptist church whilst stationed in Germany. I arrived in Holywood as a 21 year old serving with the 3rd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. It was a difficult time for me as my mother had just passed away and on top of this there was the escalation of the Hunger Strikes and the subsequent riots to deal with.
During my stay at Palace Barracks I cannot remember what drew me to the Sandes Home but there was something special about it. Even though it was nothing you could see, you could feel and sense a real warmth like the abiding presence of the Lord. During this difficult time I found great comfort and inspiration in Sam and Anna’s strength in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Sadly my best friend in the Army died of cancer and others friends were killed or badly injured. In my weakness I fell into a relationship with a young woman when on leave in Germany. My shame led me to avoid all contact with other Christians when I returned to Palace Barracks and I sought refuge in the things of the world. I was backslidden and running away from God.
For 34 years I was in a spiritual wilderness but God was faithful. The conviction of the Holy Spirit started to work in my cold disobedient heart. I started to realise that God had never stopped loving me and would not allow me to forget that I was His. My sin and shame had come between us but as I repented and sought His forgiveness, I felt the burden lift once more. Praise God that in the midst of my current physical weakness the Lord has restored me spiritually.
Throughout my years in the wilderness I always knew that God was real because so often I had sensed His presence when I met to worship with Sam and Anna in Sandes and in other places around the Province. I have a lot of pain and illness now but still thought I should get in touch with Sam & Anna. I prayed about how I should write this message because I would simply like to thank them for their faithfulness in days past and to encourage them that all they have trusted to the Lord will bear fruit in due season. What a wonderful God.