Testimony of Kevin O'K
I grew up outside of Cork City in a small village called Cullen. My father's occupation was that of a dairy farmer. It was quite a pleasant upbringing in many respects. We lived directly across the way from the local Catholic Church of the area, so like most youngsters I accepted many of it's doctrines without question. Besides this, My parents were the result of several generations of Catholics, and would not have tolerated any deviation from such a faith, in those early years.
It was couple weeks prior to my thirteenth birthday before I took my first alcoholic drink. From that first encounter, I knew that alcohol would play a major role in my life. I became a regular at many of the local pubs in our village like most of my school friends. After leaving school, I went to college to study Engineering in the town of Tralee. I liked the course for the most part, and it seemed like things were going well. I always seemed to be able to balance my study with a excessive alcoholic social life.
Emigration was quite common practice for my other brothers and sisters, so when I got the opportunity, I travelled to New York City. I was 21 years of age by this time and I would describe myself as more than a little rebellious. I loved music and lyrics that were not very popular and anything that was different from the mainstream of society. A particular singer/songwriter by the name of Bob Dylan played a major role in my life at that time. Looking back at it, I guess I was looking for someone that I could call my hero. I read nearly all the biography that were written about him and had every single album and bootleg that he recorded. From that point onward, I progressed down-hill into whatever Mr Dylan thought was morally right or wrong. So you see, my lifestyle mirrored his; drugs became common place combined with alcoholism.
I had always felt that there was something missing in my life. It seemed like nothing could ever fill that void. I remember feeling a heavy depression set in upon my life. My lifestyle seemed to be getting more and more heavily into sin. But I would reason and excuse this behaviour by seeing everybody else in the same manner. I figured that since I believed in a God that I had nothing to worry about. It was around this time that someone handed me a Gospel leaflet. It wasn't clear at first, but it seemed that there was something different about the Jesus of the Bible. I recall one night feeling so empty. I didn't even feel like alcohol or drugs could relieve that feeling of emptiness, that I began to flick through the radio channels just to hear anything different. I came across a preacher for the very first time speaking about Satan being the god of this world. It had never occurred to me that the Bible expressed such a view as this. The more I thought of it, the more it made sense. It seemed to be a crucial piece of the puzzle that gave validation to the Gospel message that I had heard previously.
This however, caused a even greater level of depression. It was around that time that I felt such hopelessness in ever aspect of life. I went out one Thursday night after work feeling so low. On a usual night I would combine drugs and Alcohol and would suffer memory loss for most of the time. This particular night I was going home in the early hours of the morning, that even in a drunken state, I felt so sick of everything in life. I remember leaning up against a wall, and for the first time in my life attempting to pray. The only words I could come up with were, "God help". The next morning I woke up hung over. I had forgotten everything about the night before and was more concerned about recovering than anything else. I had thought about purchasing a Bible many times previously but never had acted upon it, so I decided to make this the day. On my way to the book shop I came across a street Evangelist preaching the same message that I had heard previously. I remember agreeing with everything that He had to say, and when he gave a invitation to come and receive the Lord as my personal Saviour, I continued walking on down the street. But, praise be to the Lord, that preacher followed me. I am so thankful for his boldness. He approached me and asked some related questions. He showed me from Scripture that all of mankind had a sin problem, and that by Jesus shedding His blood on the cross, He made atonement for all my sin. And, the only thing I had to do was to receive Him by faith as my personal Saviour. Well, I didn't know how to pray, so he led me in a sinners prayer.
Now, it wasn't the words that were important, but rather, a heart that desired forgiveness. There will never be a day that will surpass that day, at least, on this side of eternity. More importantly, I know that I will never face judgement for my sins in the fires of Hell.
One of my life verses that reminds me of that salvation experience is found in Colossians 1:13,
"Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son"