Out of Every Kindred, and Tongue, and People, and Nation: Northern Ireland

In 1955, I was born into a Christian home in Limavady, Co. Londonderry, N. Ireland. I was the youngest of a large family. It was our parents’ desire that all the family would be saved, so, from our earliest days, we attended all the assembly meetings and any neighbouring gospel meetings. We learned the truth, from the Word of God, that God had made us living souls, that we were bound for heaven or hell for all eternity, that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,”and, if we died in our sins, we would perish eternally. Often, as a young boy, I longed to be saved, but there was always a pull in another direction. I became a very rebellious and sinful little boy.

I became immersed in all the pleasures of this world, especially soccer and all that is associated with that. I turned my back on the truth I’d been taught and stopped attending meetings as soon as I could. I lived my life far away from God and from the Christians, but at the back of my mind, I always had a terrible fear of death. I knew I was not ready to meet God.

My father passed into the presence of the Lord in 1977 and my mother in 1987. The gospel was preached at both these funerals. Although I deeply felt the loss of my parents, I don’t remember having any thoughts about my own soul.

In 1989, while playing football, I had pains in my chest. Because of my great fear of death, this changed my attitude to life and diminished my interest in worldly pleasures. In January 1990, I was involved in a car accident. I believe on these occasions the Spirit of God was warning me about the brevity of life. I was beginning to wonder what life was all about. In July of that year, a godly uncle of mine died. I was very fond of him. Through the gospel presented at his wake, I decided to earnestly seek salvation.

A series of gospel meetings started about three miles from my home. I attended these meetings and longed to be saved. I made a profession of salvation at these meetings but later became very unsure of where I stood in light of eternity. I attended all the local assembly meetings and many gospel meetings. I was much distressed about my soul for many months. One day an evangelist called at our home and asked me if I had any thoughts about baptism and reception into assembly fellowship. I told him how I was thinking and feeling. He told me that I was too wrapped up in myself. He then told me to concentrate on and think of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and His sufferings, shed blood, death, burial, and resurrection. He prayed with me and left me. The following morning, 28th January 1992, I was confessing my sin before God when the words of a hymn, full of gospel truth, came to me,

“Down from the glory the Saviour came
Down to the cross and the death of shame
Gazing in wonder I there exclaim
Jesus died for me.

There I rested my all for eternity. It was so clear. I could see the holy, spotless Son of God, suffering on the cross at Calvary, all for a guilty, insignificant wretch like Ronnie Ussher. I knew I was saved because my salvation was in Christ.

In August that year, I was baptized and received into the Limavady assembly.