Thursday, 12 April 2012

My Story.

My name is Colin Birnie and I am a 41 year old Christian. I gave my life over to the Lord Jesus on Thursday 26th January 2012.It was the best decision I ever made. I’m not saying it was easy because I’ve had many bad days when I’ve questioned myself whether I’m good enough or if I could really be the person God wants me to be.

I suppose I better start by telling you about my journey to where I am at the moment in my life.

I was born in East Belfast in 1970 and had what I believed to be a normal childhood. My parents brought me up to believe in god and from the age of 5 I was a member of the Robins. Then, as I got older I was elevated to the Boys Brigade in Cregagh Methodist Church. I would say that at about the age of 10 or 11 I started to realise that my parents were fighting a lot more than usual and I know that alcohol was the main reason for these arguments starting. I remember lying in bed with the pillow over my head and my cassette player on to try to drown out the raised voices and fights.

As time went on I realised my mum had a drink problem and ended up dying an alcoholic in 2005.

My mum turned to drink because my dad was a gambler and on too many occasions blew his wages in the Bookies.

I remember once when I was 14 mum and dad were fighting and my mum ran out of the house and something or someone told me to follow her. I found her lying on the Cregagh Road with cars driving around her. She ended up in Purdysburn (the first of a few visits there).

I started drinking around that time myself and gambling- playing cards, slot Machines etc. I suppose I was looking for a release or attention or something but it didn’t make me happy. I gradually started to need more money for my habits. I’ve done some low things in my life, but I think the lowest was stealing from my family. As I grew older my habits grew with me and I moved out of home at 22 and shared a house with two mates. They trusted me to pay the bills and gave me their share but mine never materialised. It was while I was living with them that I found myself in the bathroom with a razor blade in my hand and I slit my wrists. I blamed it on falling out with an ex girl friend. I was only kidding myself. It was my own life that was getting me down, my parents, my gambling and my drinking. I stumbled through my life for the next four years doing the same things until I met my partner Angela, what a God send as they say. Angela and I moved in together along with her two kids. We got along great but I was still gambling. Angela knew I did a bet but not the extent that I was really gambling. Angela caught me taking money from the house which wasn’t mine and I got the third degree. But I lied my way out of that one. As my gambling increased so did my ability to lie. I could tell some stories.

The next week Angela gave me some money to pay for a bill at the Bank but I walked straight passed the Bank and into the Bookies! I didn’t lose it all that day (around£200) but gradually it all went. The following week Angela phoned me at work to tell me it wasn’t paid. I lied through my teeth saying I would call at the Bank and see what was wrong. I spun Angela another yarn-they rolled off my tongue so easily. Angela said she would call into the Bank herself - and I let her go and get humiliated because I could not own up!

I was given an ultimatum to get help or get out. I want to G.A. but it did not stop me. Angela knew nothing of this and got deeper and deeper into the spiral of stealing, lying and borrowing. I couldn’t see a way out but that didn’t stop me.

I hit rock bottom in July 2009 when Angela had found out that I had lost £7000. Angela was minding the money for a friend and didn’t know I knew where the money was. I haven’t done a single bet since that day. Someone was helping me, Angela stuck by me and I’ve paid my debt-almost.

Was God helping me? Ask me then and I would say no. Now I say most definitely yes to finding God! I must be a bit slow to realise he was always with me. Angela gave herself to Jesus in November 2010. I was angry with her and God. I said that God was taking her away from me. Now I realise He was guiding me to Him through Angela. How selfish of me after all that Angela had put up with by my drinking and gambling. Oh I nearly forgot Christmas Eve night. On Christmas night in her sister’s house I was drunk as usual at those family ‘get togethers’. I told Rhoda ( Angela’s sister that I wanted to become a Christian, I wanted what those people in Church the night before – I was crying as I was telling her this!

Sorry , back to the plot. Angela was going great guns at this Christian lark and I was fighting against it big time. I told her I didn’t love her and some other horrible things just to hurt her and boy did I do that. Angela accepted my apology but told me that God was to be a big part in her life forever and that I should try going to church myself.

I then started going to church just to keep in her good books. But gradually I began to enjoy it. I was starting to have my favourite worship songs and singers. Still I was drinking and thought I had the best of both worlds. Keep Angela happy through going to church then going out for pints. But I wasn’t really happy. God was talking to me but I wasn’t prepared to listen. The church started AN Alpha course and I signed up. I really enjoyed it and would advise anyone to give it a go. I was taking steps to finding But every time I was getting closer to God I thought I was missing out so off I went and got wasted big time. What is it? Two steps forward –two miles backwards! I know now that the devil was attacking me. He didn’t to let God let me off for anything . All the bad things I was doing was making him the happy one. As a man I met handing out tracts in Belfast city centre told me’ the devil is wanting to send a messenger down to earth so he asks three of his angels what they would tell the people when they got there. The first one said he would tell the people that the Bible is all lies!. No said the devil ‘the Bible is well recorded back in history’. The second one says ‘ I will tell people that Jesus is a myth’. No, no says the devil ‘ everyone know that Jesus lived on the earth. The third one says ‘ I will tell people WHY become a Christian today? There’s plenty of time. You can do it tomorrow’.

The devil says the third! No one is guaranteed tomorrow. That story stuck with me for two weeks. I was at my work on the 26th January 2012 and constantly God was talking to me. When I got home at lunch time I just grabbed a pen and a piece of paper and this is what my heart told me to write.

‘Dear Lord heavenly Father. You have been speaking to me constantly this morning about myself to you. I have heard you Lord for a long time, but kept putting obstacles in the way of turning to Christ.

Please dear Lord forgive me of all my sins and take me as yours from this moment on and for the rest of my life.

Please dear Lord give me strength and courage to be [proud of what I’ve become your son. I ask this in your son’s name Jesus Christ. Amen

I said this prayer that night at the Life Group and my life has changed so much from then. I no longer feel I’m missing out on something. I feel complete. I feel loved. I no longer want to go to the pub and get drunk. I’m now reconciled with God. He is always there for me. I just never looked for Him. As the line in Amazing grace says: ‘To save a wretch like me’.

I was that soldier. When I look back at all I’ve done in my life and know that God forgives me. That Jesus died on the cross so that I can be forgiven.

How powerful is that!

God only gives to us what is good for us. If my story has helped anyone out thereget closer to God then In will rejoice along with the angels in heaven.

Thank you for reading this and God Bless.



  1. Great story Colin. Thankyou.

  2. go for it my friend.