I’m really privileged to be a member of the Lawton family, even though we would hardly ever have dreamed of going to church.
When I was in school a few Christians played a big part in my life. In primary school a guy called Ray Tate would visit and tell us all something about God which I never forgot. A lot of his lessons really stuck with me and haven’t been forgotten.
In high school I received my Gideons’ New Testament and Psalms. Though I hadn’t become a Christian, I read through this book during the years I spent there and it did get me through some hard times when I was being bullied. I knew something was in this faith but it just didn’t seem to be for me.
In 2002 things started to move for me when a guy called Woody contacted me on the internet from America. I will never know how he managed to get in touch, but he spent a long time explaining to me about Jesus and what he had done on the cross for me. I just found this amazing – the Son of God willing to die for someone like Mark Lawton! Though I wasn’t a Christian at this point, Woody really encouraged me and in early 2005 I made the decision to accept Jesus into my life. I remember getting on my knees one night before going to bed and just saying a simple prayer admitting to God I was a sinner and that I needed Jesus in my life. It seems easy but it was really hard for me to do.
Then in April 2005 Woody suggested that I look for an Evangelical Church. I decided to go to Pendlebury! That first Sunday morning was hard and I was really scared because I didn’t really know what I was letting myself in for. I nearly turned back home so many times on that first walk to church.
That morning I was welcomed with open arms when I arrived, and I listened to Alan Garner talking about Jonah. The welcome was great, the music wasn’t old fashioned and was superb, and the bible talks that I had expected to be boring were really good. I was hooked on church.
In October 2008 I was baptised (by full immersion!) at church which again was a big moment for me as well and I do have so many people to thank for helping me to get to that point. Since then I have continued to grow in my faith. I have had problems in my own life since, but God has pulled me through and I do believe people’s prayers have helped me. It has been good to attend and help as a leader at our youth camp, Keswick Convention and Soul Survivor, and all these events have helped me take more responsibility in my faith. And now even though things can be difficult I still thank God for pulling me through.