Charlie came to faith in the second semester of his third year studying Computer Science at the University of Southampton. He came to faith in February 2022, after years of prayer and perseverance from his best friend Alfie. Charlie and Alfie caught up with Tim - the student worker at Highfield Church - to talk about his journey and how he has found hope in Jesus and home in his local church at uni.
Alfie and Charlie met on their first day in halls, their rooms were opposite each other and they got to know their corridor together. Even from their first grocery run, the banter was there from the start! Having found a way to ‘finesse the system’, Charlie and Alfie got free meals on campus every day; eating together would continue to be a theme of their friendship and Charlie’s journey to faith.
Alfie dreamed that his friends would come to faith and have what he had with Jesus. As Charlie was his best friend at uni from day one, he was always on the list of people to pray for. God encouraged Alfie as he prayed, giving him the confidence to invite Charlie, and other friends to church.
Alfie committed to Highfield early in first year, and Charlie knew that he was a Christian from Freshers Week onwards. As Highfield held meals before the evening service to welcome students, Charlie adopted an eat-and-run approach, leaving before church started. However, the meals did offer him an insight into the strength and authenticity of church community. Once the welcome meals had stopped, Charlie let Alfie get on with church life without him.
Alfie and Charlie lived together - with a big group of other mates - in their second year, and Alfie continued to pray for his friends. For his birthday he invited his housemates to church, and they all came, which saw Charlie first come to a church service at uni. He wouldn’t come again in second year, but the following summer saw him explore his spirituality. Much of that exploration took the form of meditation and psychedelic drugs. God did not turn away from Charlie because of these decisions, in fact it was through one particular experience that Charlie first encountered God’s presence in power. After that trip, he didn’t take any more drugs and approached his third year with a different perspective on church. He wanted to try church that summer, but had no links with a church like he did when he was with Alfie at uni.
Once again, Highfield held welcome meals, and once again Charlie took full advantage! But his motivation had changed, and it was the service rather than the food which proved the real attraction for him. Charlie started coming to church regularly. He quickly engaged with prayer ministry, trusting Alfie to pray for him in services and asking the Holy Spirit to move through them. Those encounters were not just restricted to church, as the student community took prayer out onto their campus and Charlie discovered that he could encounter God in a place as ordinary as outside the university library where he met Tim and Alfie on their prayer walk, and was prayed for.
Charlie became a Christian during a prayer walk on a Thursday afternoon, and was baptised that Sunday.
He learned that there was a difference between believing in God, which he had done since the psychedelic trip the summer before, and faithfully trusting in Him. That faith and trust was strengthened and encouraged by those he befriended at church, as Charlie learned the importance of committing his life to Jesus.
Alfie’s example of kind and forgiving Christian living was another encouragement for Charlie, especially when they lived together through lockdown. Alfie was also encouraged to carry on seeking to grow in his faith by the transformation he saw in Charlie, who became much more open-minded across the third year of uni.
Charlie became a Christian during a prayer walk on a Thursday afternoon, and was baptised that Sunday. When he saw Alfie and other people from church prayer walking on Thursday, it was obvious to him that the Holy Spirit was present with them. After praying with them and feeling his mid-week grogginess leave him, Charlie felt ready to give his life to Jesus! He was buzzing for the rest of the week, with just a small amount of nervousness about sharing his testimony. In the end this was a great experience, Charlie loved encouraging and impacting those who had supported him in his journey.
Six months after coming to faith, Charlie now recognises that psychedelic drugs are not a healthy way to exercise his spirituality, Galatians 5 can be read as placing them under the same category as witchcraft (Greek: Pharmakeia – like Pharmacy), which the Bible says leads to death. He sees the Holy Spirit as the God-made way, life-giving to encounter the spiritual realm, and is thankful that God redeemed the risky psychedelic trip from the summer before for his good. If he wants to know God and live a healthy spiritual life, he knows that the Holy Spirit is the way.
With one more year of university left, Charlie is excited to continue investing in church and his relationship with Jesus. While Alfie is leaving Southampton, they will continue to be close and encourage one another, and Charlie can now find his home with Highfield and the new friends he has made.