My testimony

john cropley
  • 'In sin and iniquity did my mother conceive me' Psa 51v5

    With Bonzo the 'dog'

  • 'Train a child in the way he should go and he won't depart from it' Prov 22v6

    4th from right bottom row

  • Singapore in the RN

I was brought up to attend a Primitive Methodist chapel in the Fens of Lincolnshire. My mother played the organ and my father was an Atheist. I had a Christian Sunday School teacher who was very patient with my erratic behaviour. I had no faith in God at all and at the age of 15 joined the Royal Navy as a Telegraphist. I sailed around the world and spent most of my time drunk and doing the things sailors do. However throughout this I had a deep sense of wrong, a sense of judgement. 

It is hard to describe my feelings at this time. I was rational, I was not odd in anyway, but I just couldn't escape the deep sense of being wrong. I studied Greek Mythology and also read a bible - I was so confused. I tried to be good, I tried to be bad, i tried to be religious...but deep within a sense of being unworthy increased.  I didn't know what was happening then, but I do now. God was at work. He was showing me that I was lost and helpless and worthless before Him.

I was scared. I was honest with myself. I wanted to know God but was afraid that He didn't want me and would never accept me. I prayed, I read but no peace with God was forthcoming..once I banged on church buildings and shouted for God..but no one answered me.I was alone and lost.

Of course no one knew about these feelings as they were deep within me..I kept drinking, laughing, fornicating just as if all was ok. But it was not. I was alone, lost and God seemed silent.

One night at HMS Mercury the Signal School, whilst I was waiting to join a new ship, I met a man who spoke with me about how God knew I was like this and that He, God had made a provision.

This man spoke about Jesus Christ, Who is the Son of God and came to die to take away my guilt and sin (for it was this condition that was keeping me away from God). He told me that this Jesus was pure, perfect and lovely in every way and that He had deliberately and personally given Himself for me as an offering to God. He literally took my place. He died instead of me. This death was accepted by God by raising Jesus from the dead and now He is alive - really alive and able to offer and to give me the faith to believe and granting me the ability to repent and turn away from my sinful condition.

He gave me a new life, a new nature and a new love to replace my old dreadful nature. I gave Him myself, He gave me Himself. I cannot be any clearer than that. That is what happened.

I gave my life to Him and He imputed His life to me and I was free from guilt and the penalty of my sinful nature. I began to learn to love Him, although throughout the years I have made a mess of things and it cannot be said that I showed my love for Him, which should be ordinarily seen in obeying Him. My old sinful nature is strong, my prayers fluctuate, my speaking of Him is more of a stutter. I have preached much with a deep sense of personal failure but utter dependence on Him and have always preached with dependence upon the Spirit to preach with any dependence upon myself would end in complete disaster and not bring any honour to Lord.  I am not the best example of a Christian...I am not what I should be, not what I ought to be, not what I could be..but thanks to Him I AM NOT WHAT I WAS.

All this was down to Him. To His Sovereign Mercy and Grace. He didn't have to do this - but He did. Why me? I don't know. Why did He pass by millions and come to me? For sure there wasn't and isn't anything in me to attract Him to me, in fact most people were far better than me... But He is God and can do what He wants, when He wants and where He wants - if He couldn't then He would not be God. I am deeply greatful to Him for changing my life.

Our 'prayer card' as Missionaries to the RN

Jesus, lover of my soul

Jesus, Lover of my soul,
let me to thy bosom fly,
while the nearer waters roll,
while the tempest still is high:
hide me, O my Savior, hide,
till the storm of life be past;
safe into the haven guide,
O receive my soul at last.

Other refuge have I none,
hangs my helpless soul on thee;
leave, ah! leave me not alone,
still support and comfort me!
All my trust on thee is stayed;
all my help from thee I bring;
cover my defenseless head
with the shadow of thy wing.

Thou, O Christ, art all I want;
mor than all in thee I find;
raise the fallen, cheer the faint,
heal the sick, and lead the blind.
Just and holy is thy Name;
I am all unrighteousness;
vile and full of sin I am;
thou art full of truth and grace.

Plenteous grace with thee is found,
grace to cover all my sin;
let the healing streams abound,
make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art,
freely let me take of thee:
spring thou up within my heart,
rise to all eternity.

Charles Wesley, 1740