Pat Hogan"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1)
My name is Patrick Hogan born and reared in Tipperary town - actually, I grew up on a small farm outside the town, one of a family of ten. Like most others, I'm from a Roman Catholic background. I had a great hunger for God even as a very young person. I never doubted the existance of God. Having grown up on a farm, as I looked at nature, God was a reality to me. There was no other explanation for the world and for my life.
My hunger for God led me to try and listen to a radio station called AFM American Forces Network. On that station, there was a preacher of the Word of God. His name was Billy Graham. I liked his message - well, from what I could hear of it. Then, my dad caught me listening one evening and he 'hauled me over the coals' and told me I couldnt listen to him so I stopped.
But the hunger was still there. One of my greatest problems with what I was taught as a child was the confessional. Every confession I went to, I came out with one question hanging over it.
"How do I know that my sins are forgiven?"
When the priest would say "go in peace your sins are forgiven" my problem was there was no peace.
How do I know that when I die, all my sins were not waiting there for me and I will bear their punishement for them for eternity? My soul was in torment. I just felt that I had to get it right but how?
The years moved on and my life led me down different paths. I began to drink - even when I was drinking, I was looking for something - not all the time.
As the years went on, I saw all the sins I had to my credit. As I said, I wasn't thinking like this all the time, but I was aware that one day I must die and face god.
At this stage of my life, I had now reached the age of 30. I had a full time job and a few part time jobs. I was working in the local cinema. Also, I was bouncing (security man) at the local discos and dances. And in that capacity, I was a very rough person.
At the age of 33, I met and married a woman. We had one son. Then, after 3 years, her mother came to live with us and two and a half years later, I moved out. I'm not proud of that fact but at the time, it seemed the only thing to do .
About a year after that, all the old thoughts about dying without forgiveness returned. I looked at my situation and asked myself what had I left - my family was gone. All I thought I had in my life was gone I had nothing.
All that I was aware of now was that one day I will die and stand before God and give an a account of all I had done in my life. My case looked hopeless. Where could I go? I had a terror of dying because of what it involved. I was never able even as a child, to tell myself that it will be all right on that day . I had to know forgivness from God. I had to know that God loved me and that I was forgiven.
I put it out of my mind and got on with my life until some time later I met two young Christians who told me about a Jesus that I thought I knew, but now saw that I didn't. My soul was stirred to know more. So they came back the next week and we talked again. They did come back again to talk to me but I wasn't home.
Then some weeks later, a man came to where I was living and we started to study the Bible. Very soon after that, one evening in September - Wednsday night Nine O Clock at night the penny dropped. Glory to god - I saw who Jesus was - no longer was it a head knowledge. Now, it was a reality - Jesus was my Saviour. I will never forget that night when my sin burden lifted and my soul was free I was saved. No more terror, no more fear, of facing a judge who will judge and who will demand from me something I was unable to give. To get to heaven on my own merits, I would have had to keep his law - the fact that we all break his law - that is what makes us guilty before him.
Before I close, let me tell you about something that happened when I was working at the local Cinema here in Tipperary town. At the time there was this film doing its rounds - the name was the Late Great Planet Earth. As i was working the night it was on, someone came in and said there was someone outside handing out tracts. So I went out and asked the guy to move away. He put up a very small protest and did move away some bit.
Some years later that same man led me to Jesus and I worked for him for 14 years. I fellowship with him every Sunday at Tipperary Christian Fellowship. Bless him - what a lovely man.
For any one that may read my testimony, ask yourself how will you fare on that day - when you will be called to stand before God. What will you say to him? I will have nothing to say - I will be too busy praising him this is my testimony of how i came to know my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.