When I was asked to write a few words about my experience of St Stephen’s, I knew it is not an easy task. Memories and emotions are mixed together that words will probably fail to express. But I want to write something. In fact, I feel that I must.
My name is Guangzhi, also known as John and I am from China. I attended St Stephen in 1995-2000 while I was a student and researcher. At St Stephen I was introduced to Bible study, Alpha course, baptized, and married. Quite a few events of my life took place there, among which the most remarkable was the invitation from people at the church to study Luke’s gospel in their homes; at the time, it was not the gospel but their friendships that amazed me.
Why do they befriend me, a sensitive and narrow-minded youngster from a foreign country? Why do they welcome me to their homes, take me on trips, and help me in many ways? What have I done to deserve it?
After some time, I started to seriously think about the messages in the gospel. Mind opened, messages soaked in, the blind began to see, and a wreck was saved by accepting the most remarkable gift – Jesus – in my heart; his touch is gentle, and his friendship true. This sounds rather sentimental, but I hope you know what I am talking about.
In 2000 I moved to Belfast, and from there to Perth in Western Australia. Twenty years have passed since I left St Stephen’s. As I get older, the sense of gratefulness grows stronger. Those people at St Stephen’s were kind to me because God loves them. God loves me. And He loves you too.