My testimony – Tom Keenan

I was brought up in a non-Christian family, but a really loving one at that! One summer when I was 15, I met a girl who suggested I come along to a youth group, after hearing it was about God I mentioned, “I don’t believe in God, but if you’re going I’ll be there!”

That summer I became curious about faith after the particular girl I was interested in lost interest in the youth group – people there were “living for God”, a God I thought had died and existed only 2000 years ago.

I went to Soul Survivor the next year, with many questions but with the desire to just have a laugh camping with my friends. On the first day we heard the Gospel, and after hearing from the guy in a poncho at the front that they were going to do “healing” my ears pricked up. Seriously? Healing? Have a laugh, I thought. The week beforehand I had been surfing in France and picked up a nasty ear infection – foolishly I had forgotten to finish my cycle of antibiotics and the pain had come back on arrival at Soul Survivor. As the preacher began to “hear from God” he pointed out different specific ailments he sensed people around the room had – “A 25 year old male with tennis elbow” – people were standing up and being prayed for.

He then went on to call on someone who “had no expectations of the week, but had an aching right ear” that he felt God wanted to heal. Knowing this was me, I timidly looked around the room. Nobody stood up. He called it again. Still, nobody. I caught my sister’s eye (who knew my condition), and she encouraged me to stand up.

I was prayed for and healed (after several denials of me being able to feel anything, I then felt way better).

The week was great, but I didn’t want to be caught up in the bubble that was a week away from home, without the parents, and without distractions of my world back at home, so I decided on “trying out” faith at home.

The first night I came home I closed my door and prayed to God. I said something along the lines of “God, if you’re real, you’re going to have to make it pretty clear to me, cos’ this could change everything”. That evening I had a dream of God telling me to sit a particular way and that he’d speak to me through it. The next evening I decided to try this. Immediately I began receiving words (I had no idea this was the Holy Spirit, and that I was welcoming him). Bewildered I wrote them down, with a particular phrase “Pass the baton” coming to mind.

With questions buzzing around my head, I told my youth worker what I’d done and what I’d heard, hoping she could shed some light on it. She told me what I had done, and the word I received was the church vision for the next year that the leadership team had come up with the previous weekend (and had kept it under wraps to announce at the end of the year!).

Here I knew God was real, that he wanted a relationship with me and to encourage me to “pass the baton” too.

When I became 18 I would’ve called myself a Christian, but wasn’t the best example. I recall a significant moment when I had to make a real choice. I was in a club in Madrid at 5am feeling worse for wear. Dancing around like a moron, a friend came up to me and asked if I wanted another drink – everything around me went in slow motion, and I felt the Holy Spirit say, it’s up to you, either go that way or actually pursue me and all I have for you.

The next year I got baptized, and have been following Jesus since.