My testimony – Naomi Smith

I have grown up in a Christian family. Being Christian was completely normal – mum and dad read us faith-based bedtime stories, we said Grace at mealtimes, I was always the annoying one to get the right answers at Sunday School. I had a strong sense that God loved us, but I never really told God that I loved him.

When I was 16, I went to a Youth Service at St Peter & St Paul, Lynsted. I listened to one of the talks and had an overwhelming feeling that I wanted to confirm to God that I wanted to follow him for the rest of my life. We sang

‘Father God, I wonder how I managed to exist

Without the knowledge of Your parenthood and Your loving care’

I had sung this since I was small – it had even annoyed me, because it was so familiar – but now the words completely expressed, were the epitome of how I was feeling. I learnt in that moment to mean the words I was singing – I realised ‘I get this song’. I think God had been waiting a long time for me – I had been confirmed at 13, and although there had been glimpses of understanding for a long time this was the first time that I had consciously given myself to God.

It made a massive difference to the way I lived and wanted to live my life. At that point – the specifics weren’t there but the detail that I wanted God to be in all my decisions was clear – boys, which job I did, my friends, university choice . . . From that point on it wasn’t about me – from the everyday to the big decisions in my life, it wasn’t in my hands anymore. And that brought an amazing sense of calm – whatever it was in my life I knew that if I’d prayed about it then the right thing would happen. There is now no constant ‘what if’ – I know that God’s got it.

Since then a major part of my faith journey has included a gap year with a visit to South Africa and preparation for drama school. I knew that I wanted to audition for drama school and which schools were available; and I knew that getting into drama school was very, very difficult. Whilst in South Africa I had a very significant dream – although I was conscious. In my dream I saw three very clear paths covering the next few years: Faversham; Guildford School of Acting (GSA); South Africa. Whilst I was looking, the South Africa path faded and the Guildford path got bigger, and I knew that the Faversham path was meant to lead to Guildford. This was a major thing for me, answering my questions to God – ‘Can you hear me? And can I hear you, God?’ At the two-day audition for GSA, I had an overwhelming sense of peace – I knew that I’d got the place. It’s ridiculous that I should get a place – it’s so difficult to get into drama school – this was a massive God thing.

At the end of my gap year I went to Soul Survivor. It was one of the first times that I’d experienced that kind of worship – it gave me the freedom to express myself to God in a way that I’d not known before, to worship in a more free way. And that has allowed God to do more in me – it’s not about me, it’s all about God.

At GSA I joined a church with an amazing house group. I started dating my now husband, Toby. Toby was at University College London, and worshipped at Holy Trinity Brompton. I enjoyed the style of worship there – it was a new experience for me. Over my three years at university I worked out the way I connect with God – that it’s not about me – and knowing that I can connect with God in many different places and ways.

Over the last two years I’ve learnt more and seen more. I now have a new job as a Children and Families Minister, which is completely new to me – and here I’m going to have to rely 100% on God – I’m going to need God quite a lot . . .