written by Ben Hartnett
For those of you who don’t already know me, my name is Ben. I’m just going to take a few minutes to share my testimony. I’m hoping that it will really inspire and encourage you on your walk with Christ, and if you’re not currently a believer I want to reassure you that God is real, He loves you and if you give Him a chance He will reveal Himself to you. Jesus said,
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him. (Revelations 3:20)
One thing I find so amazing about the Bible is how the stories, lessons, and parables taught, apply to so many peoples lives in so many different situations. They inspire us, comfort us during times of suffering, give us hope for the future and teach us how to live truly fulfilled lives in relationship with God. The Bible is a personal love letter authored by God and addressed to you.
So my testimony is a classic example of the story of the prodigal son. That is a parable in the Bible about a man who has two sons, one of which leaves to go on a journey just after receiving his inheritance. He goes out on an adventure to explore and to see the world, but ends up wasting all he was given and as a result comes running home to his father to ask for forgiveness and support. On the son’s return his father greets him with joy and actually runs to hug him saying:
For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. (Luke 15:24)
I was raised in a good Christian family and always believed in God as a child and growing up, but my faith started to suffer in my later teens and early twenties. During that time, I had a few discussions with some non-Christian friends of mine, and they challenged me with some difficult questions, which actually caused me to start reconsidering what I was brought up to believe. I never actually agreed with the their atheistic worldview and still believed in God at this point, but the discussions certainly did plant the seeds of doubt that made me start to question everything about the Christian worldview.
A few years down the track I went to university and completed a double major in mathematics and computer science. During my studies I became extremely interested in learning, and would spend hours studying various topics in my free time, mostly on the sciences, philosophy and religion. I was driven by a passionate desire to find the truth about history, creation of the world and whether or not a spiritual reality truly existed, like the one that was spoken about in the Bible. After a period of time I realized that I didn’t have any personal or experiential evidence for the existence of God so I decide that I was an agnostic.
At some point I started reading about Buddhism, metaphysics and other spiritual philosophies. These ideas and belief systems appealed to me at the time because they claimed that you can know that God and the spirit world are real by experiencing them personally through Meditation. So I gave it a try, not realizing what I was getting myself into, and after a while I had a few experiences that confirmed for me that the spirit world was indeed real. After a period of experimenting with this stuff, I started to notice negative side effects in my life. I noticed that I was becoming more introverted and occasionally experienced anxiety and irrational fear for no particular reason. I didn’t know about the dangers of meditation at the time, but in hindsight I believe myself to be lucky that I never experienced anything worse than this, because I’ve heard stories of people going through all sorts of mental and spiritual issues as a result of dabbling in this area. The Bible tells us to meditate on the word of God day and night, but this is very different from Buddhist mediation which is about clearing your mind of thoughts and I would warn anyone interested in this stuff to stay away.
Through this whole period I was in a long term relationship that wasn’t working out and was just getting more difficult over time. God used this period of my life to break me down to the point where I had no choice but to realize that I was lost and that I needed something more to truly satisfy me. I also started to realize that there really is so much suffering in the world, of which I was only experiencing a small part, and that this suffering just can’t be normal and really is the result of the sin-cursed world we now live in. So I was starting to see the reality of sin in the world and how true the Bible really is because it explains the world we live it so well.
I later went to visit my parents in Adelaide for a short holiday and during my time there, my mum showed me some really inspiring testimonies on YouTube. I was really moved by some of the stories and my heart started to change and soften to the gospel message. I started to realize that I absolutely needed God in my life and that nothing in the world would truly make me happy or satisfy me in the long run except Him. Only God can provide the faith, hope and love that we all need in this world and in the life to come.
When I got home from that trip to Adelaide I continued watching testimonies on YouTube about dramatic conversions to Christ, and I became convinced once again that the Bible was indeed the true Word of God and that I truly was a sinner desperately in need of a Saviour. So one night I just broke down into tears and decide to give my life to Christ, prayed the sinner’s prayer and immediately felt a great peace come over me, which I now know the Bible calls the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.
After all this happened, I was still with my girlfriend who wasn’t a believer. I told her all about my conversion and new found faith in Christ but she didn’t think much of it and just thought I was going a bit crazy. This just had the effect of pushing us further apart and it wasn’t long after this that we broke up for good. It was sad and difficult for both of us but I believe it was for the best because God had something better in store.
Not long after, I started going to a church and started to grow in my faith as I read more of the gospel each week. Although this was a good church, I didn’t feel that it was the right place for me long term so one day I was having a conversation with my uncle, and I told him that I was looking for a new church.
He highly recommended one and my first impression was that it was great and it wasn’t long before I realized that this was the church that God wanted me to be involved in. With a bit of encouragement from Adam and Josh, it wasn’t long before I was playing guitar in the worship team and I’ve been enjoying it immensely ever since. This church feels like an extended family to me, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what the rest of the year will bring and what God has in store.
I’d just like to finish by reading one of my favorite verses. Romans 8:37-39 says,
….we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Ben’s testimony in Challenge The Good News paper: Aware of real spirit world