My name is Nick Williamson. I live in Manchester, England.
I'd like to tell you about my life so far, and about the changes that have taken place since I became a Christian 9 years ago.
To cut a long story short, I'll just say that by my late teens I was in a real mess. I'd been unpopular at school and I'd always had difficulty making friends, and even more difficulty finding girlfriends! I felt very lonely, and had a strong addiction to pornography.
I remember once spending 50 pounds on pornographic magazines at a time when my take-home pay was only 65 pounds a week - that's how addicted I was.
I got a job as a computer programmer for a software house, which I found very stressful. The stress would just build and build, and I had no way of dealing with it other than getting drunk. Although I was shy and fearful, I became aggressive and abusive towards my parents and to this day I still remember one occasion when I came home from work, got drunk on vodka and got into a terrible state - down on the floor, crying my eyes out and screaming obscenities at Mum and Dad.
They were the only people who came anywhere near understanding or caring about me, but they were also the only people who I dared to take my anger out on. I felt worse than I can describe, and often thought of killing myself.
At that time, a friend from my college days became a Christian. I remembered him as having been a decent enough person, but obsessed with getting rich - he's from a rich family and he was always trying to make money for himself. Anyway, he turned up on my doorstep one day grinning from ear to ear, and announced that he'd found "true happiness"!
I was cynical to say the least (having decided that there couldn't possibly be a god, given all the suffering in the world) but he kept on calling on me and asking me to go with him to services, concerts, meals and so on.
Eventually I gave in - just so that he'd shut up and leave me alone! I went with him to a dinner organised by his church, followed by a speaker.
As the speaker talked about his life, I began to realise that he'd experienced many of the hurtful things which I had, and as he went on to talk about how Jesus had helped him through, my cynicism began to melt - for the first time I began to think that there could be a way out of all the rejection, loneliness and insecurity which had built up in my life, and that night I prayed with some people from the church and became a Christian.
For some people, there's a massive change for the better straight away when they become Christians. As for me - I lost my job and my girlfriend! I was unemployed for over six months and although it was rough at the time, it taught me a couple of very important lessons - firstly that my security is in God and not the things around me, and secondly that I should really draw close to God in the tough times and look to him for the answers.
I'm so grateful for the way the folks at the church looked after during that time - they showed so much genuine love and concern that it made the whole thing bearable.
There was little chance of a decent job for me in my home town (Carlisle) and I left home to find work. I soon got a job in Cheshire which involved moving around quite a lot and whenever I moved to a new town, I got involved in a local church.
There were always plenty of good people in the churches and I found it easy to make friends - what a change! After a couple of years my job relocated to Manchester and I started to attend a church there.
One of the wonderful things about being a Christian is that you never stop learning, and the stuff you learn as the years go by is so practical and so useful - it's not a case of memorising doctrine, trying to be good and so on - it's about getting to know Jesus and letting him do what he wants to do in our lives - beating our fears, setting us free from bad stuff in the past and "giving us a hope and a future" as the bible puts it.
I met and married my wife Lizzie in that church. God's been so good to me - he's changed me from an insecure, introverted, depressed youth into a guy who loves life, has no fear for what the day holds, and is totally at peace.
I felt I was unloveable - God gave me a wonderful wife who loves me dearly.
I was lonely - God gave me great friends.
I was at war with my family - now I have a wonderful relationship with them.
I was a loser - now I hold down a good job.
I can't begin to describe what God has done for me. The career and all those other things are great, but the best thing of all is knowing Jesus. When you learn that God isn't in the habit of beating you with a big stick when you foul up, and that his love never ever fails, and that he's on your side no matter what, you can't help but feel good about life!
I can honestly say that becoming a Christian is the best decision I've ever made, and I've never regretted it. It frees you up to enjoy life to the full, sets you free from your past and totally changes your ability to deal with things - but don't think you need to have a background like mine before you need Jesus - YOU NEED HIM NOW.
I have met doctors, draughtsmen, company directors and many more who love the Lord. I have also met ex-terrorists, heroin addicts and alcoholics who love him. Every time, the story is the same - "he set me free, he gave me a new heart, he's never failed me, life is better than I ever imagined".
So why waste any more time fouling things up?
Let Jesus give you a hope and a future.
Nick Williamson - Manchester, UK