Andy Calderwood is a Northern Irish gospel solo artist who appeared on the BBC programme 'Lonesome' in 2019. His passion is singing and ministering to people of God's amazing grace. You can find out more about Andy on his website, and watch his full story on Youtube.
"I thought I was living in the fast lane by getting into the clubbing and the party scene"
When I was a child I was dragged out by the collar on Sundays to Sunday School and different things like that. I absolutely hated Sunday. But it did give me some foundation of knowledge of the Word of God, even though at the time I had no interest in it.
After I left school I was involved in a serious motorcycle accident and then soon after a bad car accident. It shook me up but I was young and I just wanted to get out there and try all the things in the world.
I loved going out clubbing with my mates and would push myself to the max.
As the years went on there was a big effect on my health and my mind. My good upbringing went out the window, I became a stranger to my family and friends. I was very bitter and angry, I was addicted to alcohol, drugs, cigarettes and the clubbing scene. It had such a grip on my life.
As I continued on every single weekend killing myself with this lifestyle, I got to breaking point. I'd go out partying and I'd feel good, but I'd come home and be by myself and feel so depressed. I had a real yearning for something more from life.
A persistent invitation...
It was when I was really struggling that my sister asked me to a Christianity Explored course in a local village. And I thought... 'Christianity? No, no way.' After all those years I wouldn't have set foot in a church.
My sister kept at me asking me to the course. I felt that I had tried everything in life and was still not happy or content and I didn't have peace. None of the guys around me at the time spoke a word of sense, and my heart was so weary with the burden of my sinful lifestyle.
So I eventually agreed to go to Christianity Explored. I thought the course would just be a lot of Christians just sitting looking at me and judging me. But the people there came from all sorts of backgrounds and the free meal appealed to my stomach (the man who did the meals was actually a really good chef!).
I went along thinking I would just go once, but I ended up going for the whole 10 weeks.
Three weeks in, the Lord really started to work in my life. I started asking questions - I didn't care how stupid the questions were, but I just started asking and seeking the Lord. "How do I know the Bible is real? How do you know Jesus is real? How do you have faith in something you can't see?" Nobody could get a word in!
"Lord, come into my life"
As I left Christianity Explored one night I felt so weighed down and was thinking to myself about what would happen if I died and had to face a holy, mighty and righteous God. I knew I didn't have a leg to stand on with my past and my sin.
I sat on my bed and found my Bible and was looking for a verse to help me. I read "Christ died for the ungodly" - I thought to myself, that has to be me. All of a sudden I realised that Christ has died for me, he's paid the price. I don't have to try and clean myself up and do a whole load of things before I came to Christ, I could come to him as I was.
I prayed "Lord, come into my life" and I meant it to the bottom of my heart.
The next morning when I got up I had no desire to pick up a cigarette or to listen to the rave music I listened to that fuelled my life and went hand in hand with drug use. It was the strangest thing, I just didn't have any of desire for it.
Life didn't immediately become easier being a Christian, and I still struggled with the effects of the drugs and depression but I felt a peace I hadn't known before.
I want to encourage you that if you don't know the Lord Jesus Christ, it's not about church attendance, or what you wear, giving money, giving to charity. That will not save you. It's the blood of Christ who died on the cross and gave his life. Come to him and he will never leave you or forsake you, he will change your life and give you a peace you never experienced before.
Christianity Explored is an informal and relaxed seven-week course. It's for anyone who wants to think about the meaning of life. It's run by ordinary people local to you and is completely free. You don't need to know anything about the Bible and you won't be asked to pray or sing. You can ask any question you like or you can just sit and listen.
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