Ollie's Story

Until I was about 13 I always had this big question of whether God exists. It never left and I used to pray and say, “Look if you’re here, why can’t I have a sign?  Just show me.” I knew about what Jesus said and did and I had read the Gospels. I knew the whole story and I knew all the facts but I just couldn’t accept it.  I needed to have this sign. 

I went on holiday last summer with a friend to visit another friend.  We drove down from Eastbourne to the South of France.

It’s about 13 hours.  It was amazing and I really needed it, just to be away from everything.  It was coming back that changed everything in my life.

Car Crash 

We had been at this music festival so I hadn’t really slept. I had to drive back on the last day and I had been up for 24 hours. We were going along the motorway in the middle of nowhere in France.  It was completely rural and pouring with rain. I couldn’t see anything at all and I was going pretty fast because I wanted to get home. Suddenly the car just spun out of control in the middle of the motorway.

I clipped the brake and it just spun out of control.  Me and my friend were screaming and all this water rushed up. The car was spinning madly, it was the most horrible thing I’ve ever been through in my life.  We ended up in this ditch on the side of the motorway. I was in shock and my friend was in shock and all these French drivers were driving past and they were seeing that we were all right because I put my hazard lights on.  We were fine and the car was fine.  We hadn’t hit anything.

Then a policeman drove past, he had a look at the car and said, “You guys are fine, you can go”.  Then for next seven hours, it was really horrible because I hadn’t slept and I get a bit delirious when I don’t sleep and I started hallucinating and having panic attacks. I was in the middle of nowhere, it was black all around on these country roads and I just had this thing in my head that I could have died and that could have been it. 

I had never had this feeling of being so out of control.  When you’re in a spinning car, there is literally nothing you can do so you’re on your own. It really scared me. I just wanted to break down in tears and ring my dad to come and pick me up or something but I thought, no, you’re in the middle of France and you need to go home.  I needed to get my friend home.

Praying

It was really scary so I just started praying.  I prayed that if you get me through this and if I get back to England, I’ll do the Alpha course.  If there’s a Guinness World Record for praying, I think I’ve got it because it was seven hours of non-stop praying. Then the car starts running out of petrol. The petrol light was on and I was in the middle of nowhere.  I’ve got this sat nav and it’s 50 miles so I was thinking what will I do?

So I just prayed again and said, “Look, I really need to find a petrol station.  I’m at the lowest of the low and I need some help”.  Then we got to this junction and this petrol station was opposite just like that.  It didn’t even show up on the sat nav which shows all the petrol stations.  It was awesome and we pulled up to this petrol station but it wouldn’t take my card. It just kept saying it was declined.  It wouldn’t take my mate’s card, saying hers was declined so I thought well this is good but it’s bad.  I’m wasting time, we’ve been here for 20 minutes what will we do?

Then about five minutes later, this car pulled round the corner so I went into the middle of the road and flagged it down. It was a French family who could speak English.  This was 3:00 am in the morning in the middle of nowhere and there’s a French family who can speak English.  I said, “We’re from England and we need to get back, we’re on a time limit and they won’t take our cards.  Could you fill our tank up with petrol, put it on your card and we’ll give you cash?”  They said, “Okay, give us a minute” and they drove into the petrol station and did it.  They filled us up with petrol and I said, “Thank you so much”.  We managed from there to drive home.

We actually got a train 15 minutes before we booked.

After that I thought that’s my answer and that’s my sign.  I went to the Alpha course after that.

Getting a flat

I didn’t have anywhere to live in London and I had been looking for a flat for weeks. Trying to find a flat in London is quite hard, especially September because you’ve got students.  So I just thought I needed to get a flat in the next week because I start uni and work so I need a flat.  I came up to London and I walked around all of the Estate Agents in Kings Cross, Angel and Farringdon.

I couldn’t find anywhere and I was walking around for about three hours. I went to Hammersmith and was walking around for another three hours and nothing anywhere.  I thought I need to get a flat today, so I just prayed again. It was like the same situation as in France, I don’t have anything and I need a flat, the instant I said that, I turned the corner and there was an Estate Agent. I had to get a train in about an hour, so I went into the Estate Agent and said, “Have you got a three bedroom flat for this amount?” and she said they did and I asked where and she said it was just around the corner.

I asked when we could move in and she said Friday and this was Monday.

We got a really nice flat and it was just around the corner from my drummer’s house who is in the band with me at the moment and I just got it straight after that prayer.  There was the whole thing in France and the flat I’m living in now and I just thought, well there’s my answer.  I definitely know that God exists but what do I do now?

Alpha

So that’s when I went on the Alpha course.

I just told myself I’m going to do this every week and I’m going to turn up no matter what.  I’m going to finish this because it’s been recommended, my dad’s done it. It seemed to me the only way because none of my friends were Christian.

The first week I went I hated it.  When I turned up it was all about meeting people for the first time and I thought it was really hard and how am I going to sit this out?  It seemed like everyone had a lot more money than me, everyone had really nice settled jobs.  One guy was working for Sony and everyone has got it made and here I am looking for answers.  I can remember being in the pub afterwards and I just thought right, I’m not going to do it any more and I got really bitter and angry about it.

But on the train home I can remember one of the speakers - Charlie Mackesy saying, “You’re going to feel bitter and angry and you’ll not want to come back but ... just stay, stay and do the whole thing.”

I thought, well that’s the answer and I’m just going to stay and I did and it got better and better and the next few weeks were amazing and what I heard was just amazing. 

I think because I switched my head on, I really think when you go in you need to just ignore what’s going on behind you and just really pay attention to what’s being said, That’s what I did and I think the “Who is Jesus” talk just blew me away because I didn’t know any of it and I didn’t know that information and I didn’t even really know that Jesus was a real person.

I’ve been to all these Sunday Schools and I didn’t really know this and I didn’t know all the evidence and I didn’t know that 500 people saw him when he was resurrected. The next week was “Why did Jesus die?” and I think that was the turning point.

Weekend away

I went to the weekend away and it was just incredible.  We got there on the Friday, there was all this food and it was really nice, by the sea and it was sunny.  On the Saturday the talks throughout the day were just amazing.

I just couldn’t have got angry on that weekend or bitter because it was so peaceful and you could just really feel something was at work.  When I was coming back on the Sunday I was worn out, I was exhausted and it was like I had actually been through something.

Everything opened up, just the whole of life opened up and I look back at where I was before and all I can see is darkness.  I look back and think how completely different I was and how disgusted I was with myself because that wasn’t me. It’s amazing because you have a completely different outlook in life now you have God and I met my girlfriend on the Alpha course as well.

I really wanted to meet something again and wipe clean all that horrible stuff I had done and I met this girl on the Alpha course which was really amazing.

Being reset

I feel like I have been completely reset. It’s a very strange feeling to try and explain it but it’s like everything’s been wiped away and I’m at the bottom.  I thought I was at the top before, thinking I’ve got my music, I’m pretty good on the piano, we’re getting places.  Being in the Alpha course has reset that.

I found out the truth that God’s number one... I was trying to get my music out to people and I was trying to get everyone to listen to my music because I thought it was new and refreshing.  I want to do that with God now, I want to get God out to people so I’ve been reset to the bottom and I’m working my way up.  It’s amazing and really exciting and you just know it’s going to end well because it’s promised.

How could you not accept it?  When I look back I think how did I not accept this.

Jesus like Father Christmas

Before Alpha I thought Jesus was almost like a Father Christmas.  I was brought up with Jesus as a child and it was this nice idea, he is nice and teaches love and Christmas and Easter are based around this guy.  I just thought he was this fictional, happy character to make everyone feel better – a bit like Father Christmas and like the story of Robin Hood, a bit of a myth and nobody knows if it’s real or not.

I read the Gospels and I thought what he said was spot on but still I just got this image of this nice, loving Father Christmas type character, so not real and who hasn’t really done anything for me, he is just there and people dig him and that’s fair enough really. 

It was that Alpha talk that Jesus was real and he really died and this is how many people saw him when he came back to life and this is the hard evidence.

I think the biggest thing is that he was real, he was a real man that really died and I believe that he really came back to life and he has set people free.

Nicky Gumbel said this top Professor became a Christian because he believed the Disciples couldn’t have gone through all the persecution or the death and horrible things that happened to them if Jesus wasn’t real, if they hadn’t believed that he was a real person who really came back to life and I really like that point.  It’s just real, it’s there and it’s real.  That really hit me.

Before the Alpha course and before I became a Christian I used to pray all the time, but I only used to pray for what I needed and I used to pray for God to reveal himself.  Those were the two things.  If I needed something I would pray and I would pray for God to reveal himself.  That happened with the whole France thing and then the Alpha course.

Now I pray for guidance and how I can do His will. Before it was very demanding and now it’s a two way thing I pray for my relationship and it’s very gentle and I listen back as well.  Before it was like, “bam, bam, bam, Amen.” Result and now it’s more I pray and then just wait. I just wait for it to come and it’s a lot more gentle. When you realise you’re in a relationship it makes prayer really fun and exciting and a lot better really because you feel you’re saying the right things now.

I only read three Gospels before Alpha – Matthew, Mark and Luke and that was it. Now I’ve started reading it again and it’s taking me quite a while, I’m not going to lie, but now I’ve read all the Gospels and I’m onto Romans and I try to read two chapters a day. I used to love Jesus’ teachings and I used to think it was really amazing what this guy was saying but then I’d shut the book and that was it. Now I really take it in and try to apply it to my life.