My spiritual awakening
When I was 10 years old I went to the C of E Sunday School, which I enjoyed in every respect, especially the outings and treats. My best friend went to the local evangelical chapel, so I combined the two and got double treats! My teacher at the chapel, Mr. Clarke, was convinced that all the prophetised signs for Christ’s return had been met and that we should be vigilantly seeking for Him – this was firmly implanted in my subconscious mind.
At Woolwich Polytechnic I was secretary of our Student Christian Movement, arranging talks and discussions. I was perplexed: only one Christ? Which is really His Church?
In 1949 I was conscripted into the Colonial Service and posted to Tanganyika and served a 2 year tour in Dar-es-Salaam. I now met devout Hindus and Muslims. I then reconsidered – if I had been born in India, I would probably now be a Hindu, or Muslim if born in the Middle East! I took no part in any religious activity whilst there.
Mary (my wife) and I returned to Africa for a second tour and were posted to the Lake Victoria area well upcountry and were temporarily housed in a dilapidated Rest House. Trying to arrange for better accommodation I arranged a railway trip back to Dar-es-Salaam, and what a coincidence that Philip Hainsworth took the same train and chose the table that I was sitting at alone, in the dining car on this long journey. He asked if he could join me for the evening meal; this was about 6pm. To make small talk I asked what he was doing in Africa? He started by saying that he was bringing a new Faith to the Africans from Persia. I was truly amazed at his answers to all my questions. We talked until 1 am when he detrained at Dodoma to motor north to Kampala to meet the other pioneers. I was confused with so many Persian names but convinced that at last I had found what I had given up looking for – when I wasn’t searching! Philip did send literature to me and I had no idea how to pronounce the names. I was an isolated believer and ‘declared’ when back in England in 1953.
John Firman, 2013
Editor’s note: John passed away on 10 March 2013.