I grew up in a non-Christian environment and we were a very unconventional family. The word Jesus was just a swear word to us as we grew up. My mother used it, my father, everybody used it. So it was a norm for me.
My custom was to finish work and go to the hotel pub. It was a six o'clock swill those days. You know, you gobble it down and go home. I stumbled home many times but that was the norm, you see? My father did it, my brothers did it, and I saw my friends do it, so I thought that was the norm.
It all started way back when my sister got herself into serious trouble with the law. It was a wise judge who ordered her to get involved with a church group: "I'll put you on probation rather than put you in a borstal." With that, she was put under the care of a young teenage girl from the church, who later came around to our house and met the family.
Well, I was just a young lad at the time and saw this young lass. "A bit all right," I thought. Yes, she was quite nice. We got on well together, we just seemed to click. I plucked up the courage to ask her to come out with me and to my surprise she agreed. We went to the pictures in Riccarton at that time, but after seeing the pictures when we were walking home, she said to me, "Listen Roger, don't get too serious with me because I'm never going to marry a boy that's not a Christian. I like you, you're a nice boy and I see good qualities in you." This encouraged me a wee bit. With that, she invited me to go to church. Well, I made every excuse I could but she always had the answer.
I went along to this church on the Sunday night. I don't know from that day to this what was preached, what was said, or what convinced me. But when the appeal was made, I knew I had a palpitation in my stomach, my whole inside was just reacting. I knew I should go up to the front. Unfortunately, I didn't go up. All that week I couldn't wait till the next Sunday night came along.
Sunday night came along, I dressed up and went to church with her again. The salvation message was preached and an appeal was made but I still didn't respond. All that day I was, not tormented, but I couldn't understand what was happening to me. I couldn't work out if I was going mental? Or was something else happening? The strange thing was that when I got home, I paid my sister 10 shillings, which was a lot of money in those days. Then I said to her, "You go and make an appointment over with the minister and see what time I could go and speak to him." She duly went, then came back, told me and I went across to him.
When I arrived at the manse next door to the church the minister greeted me. He took me inside and gave me the gospel message. I prayed the sinner's prayer. There were no flashing lights, there was just nothing, and I didn't feel any change, it was natural. I walked out the door as I walked in.
I noticed when I got up the next day that the sun was shining brightly. I've never felt or seen the sun shine so brightly, and the trees were green! I've never seen leaves so green. Everything was different. I asked the Lord, "Lord, I don't like this. I don't want this drinking business. I don't like the taste of it anyway." That's why I drank it so quickly, to get rid of the taste. "Lord, next time I go to the hotel pub and pick up a glass of beer, make it so vile that I will never drink it again."
That's just what happened. I took a sip and it was vile! From that day onwards I never touched another drop. I knew that I had a great salvation. I knew that I carried that with me and I still carry it today.
My transformation was a tremendous transformation. I changed from a foul-mouthed, God-curser to a God-praising, quiet and gentle spirit. Christ means the world to me and still does. Even to my dying day I will have a relationship with God, a personal relationship.
He's my buddy. God changed me in and out. Changed me, radically changed me. I even married that girl, that beautiful girl. We had four children, one boy and three daughters and I've been a Christian ever since. That's my story of my salvation.