Saturday, 17 May 2008

Belfast Telegraph: To love, honour ... and convert?

Rev Larry Power (55) was brought up a Catholic and is now a Free Presbyterian minister. Married with four daughters, he says that real conversion is not merely from one denomination to another:

The conversion of Peter Phillips's fiancĂ© is of little or no consequence — both of them need real conversion, which is to Christ and not merely to a denomination.

Protestantism as such cannot save anybody, a denomination cannot save. The greatest need for everyone today, whether Catholic or Protestant, is that they read the Word of God. It has the answer to life today. Christ is the answer.

I grew up in Co Laoise and lived with my grandfather and aunt. My parents lived nearby in Co Kilkenny. I was baptised in the Catholic Church, attended a Catholic school, received first communion and was confirmed.

Well into my teens I believed wholeheartedly in the Catholic faith and it being the one, true Church. When I left school at 14, I went to work for a farmer who was a Christian man with a Church of Ireland background. He was the first person who revealed to me my need of salvation and a personal faith in Christ.

The area was unique because there were a number of evangelical Protestants with a Faith Mission background. The vast majority were converted through the Faith Mission and a prayer meeting took place every Friday night. The farmer explained to me his testimony and how the Lord saved him, which had a great influence on me.

After living for a while in England, I returned and it was through the testimony of a young man in my home village, who'd been an alcoholic and was converted, that I came to a personal faith in Christ. But back then if you didn't go to church or if you left your faith for whatever reason it was really frowned upon. I was in my early 20s when I came as a sinner before the Lord and called upon Him for mercy and forgiveness, and I believe that at that moment I was saved. It was a turning point in my life.

I started to attend the Faith Mission prayer meetings in Lugacurren village and shortly after that I left the Catholic Church. There was a lot of opposition, among neighbours, in my own home, my own family and friends, and eventually I had to leave the district altogether. The people saw it as the Protestant people being to blame.

They held to the teaching that if you left the Church there was no redemption. My grandfather was very concerned and said to me: 'Where are you going when you die? There's no salvation for you, there's no redemption outside the one true faith.'

But I had assurance that the Lord had truly saved me, and I left to study at the Faith Mission Bible College in Edinburgh. I met my wife, who is from Liverpool, at that time and after working for the Faith Mission for some time, and then at independent work, I eventually entered the Free Presbyterian Church. I was minister in Kesh, Co Fermanagh, for 18 years, and recently took up a post at Coragarry Free Presbyterian Church, Co Monaghan. Read more

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