Hello lovely people. I’m so excited about this blog post! To be fair, I’m excited about every blog post I write, but this one I’m especially excited about because I got to sit down with this guy Ryan, (pictured above with me) and talk about his journey with God.
I attend Trinity Baptist Church, where I met Ryan! Since then it has been the start of what I would call a blossoming friendship! Ryan plays for Crystal Palace FC combined with his genuine and hardworking persona. And I mean guys, look at that golden smile. I think the perfect verse to start this blog piece with is 1 Timothy 4:12: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
I hope that as you read this conversation, a part of it will speak to you.
Ryan and I firstly began by diving into his journey with God and how that process has been so far.
RB: “No I haven’t always been a Christian actually – not so long ago quite surprisingly, I got saved in October 2017. How it came about – I was about 12 and that’s when my down period started. I grew up quite a good boy throughout primary school, did my work, did my thing but then it came to secondary school and going into secondary school, I felt I had to keep up this bravado image, this type of hard character so that I could be liked by people. So from the start of year 7 till I got saved. But before that, it was a complete down slope and the person I was then, compared to the person I’am today is crazy.
I was out all the time with the wrong people, talked a lot about girls; just some of the negative things you can sometimes get up to as a teenager. The thing is, because of the person I was, – I was a very popular person with a certain attitude towards people – nobody was really brave enough to tell me that the things I was doing were wrong. I was the type of person who was committed to football but also tried to act like a gangster; just hanging around the wrong people. I was just living a double lifestyle and it wasn’t working. And so, this guy called Brandon came into my life; he was the one who planted the seed for me to eventually become saved.
So, still when I moved to a new school nobody really wanted to tell me what I was doing was wrong. But one day in my science class, I sat next to Brandon. My type of typical conversation when I’m new to the school and I’m trying to be all “bros” and that, is to bring up the topic of girls and I was talking very negatively of girls. Usually people would just go along but he was the type of guy who ending up telling me, “no I don’t agree with this, this is wrong.” And from there, I took interest in what he was saying. He was telling me about Christ and from there, everything just skyrocketed.”
Hearing how Ryan came to Christ was very interesting and we talked more about how he has felt since he made that life-changing decision!
RB: “I love the person I’am now! The main positive of being saved is that you have a foundation. You wake up each morning knowing you have a purpose. I have a purpose to go out there and do what I can to share the word whether that is through progressing in my profession or becoming more known in the world by sharing the word of God. There’s so many opportunities and pathways when you give your life to Christ. I have a better foundation now.”
The main positive of being saved is that you have a foundation.
Everyone has grown up differently and have come from different backgrounds. So Ryan and I then went on to discuss his childhood and growing up and whether that had influence on his faith.
RB: “I didn’t grow into a Christian family. It was the situation where, you heard of God and that but, it wasn’t at all enforced on me. I grew up with my mum, my nan, my grandad mainly and I went through a period where I didn’t talk to my dad but that was just my ‘bad boy’ days. That was part of the whole act; I was being someone I didn’t want to be and it was just part of the act thinking, “oh, you don’t need to speak to your father.” That’s what I look back on and see that is something Christ has helped me with; to rekindle my relationship with my father. But yeah, I didn’t grow up in a Christian family. However now, my sister has been saved and she comes to church with me. But it’s still a work in progress and something I pray will happen to all in my family. But it’s by God’s grace that I had the will to push through and seek Him.”
Ryan is the busiest 14 year old I know. He plays football for Crystal Palace FC; an amazing achievement. He gave me an insight into his busy schedule and how he manages it.
RB: “Well, I have the standard school routine Monday to Friday. But outside of that; Mondays, I come to Alpha course. Tuesdays, after school I travel to training because I play for Crystal Palace. Wednesdays are actually my only free day with nothing after school but I’m trying to get that space filled up so I can keep occupied; keep myself within the church. Thursdays; I have training again and Fridays I go to prayer meeting after school in the evening. Saturdays I usually go to football training or I have match and then I have some leisure time normally on a Saturday afternoon/evening, when I can just chill or go out with friends. Finally, Sundays; Sabbath day. I give that day to God of course and I go home and just chill. It’s the only day of the week where I just chill and do nothing but I like staying active.”
Football is a major part of Ryan’s life and so we then went on to discuss how he got into playing football and how his faith has changed the way he approaches his profession.
RB: “So how I came to play football. Well, I was 5 in the barber shop with my father and I remember the barber was called Dez and he was involved with this football team. The first time I went to go and get involved, I was too young. I remember going with my brother and my dad and I was declined. They said I couldn’t play because I was too young. Then I finally got to an age where I could play and I started developing in Sunday league club where most people start. Then I got to development stage in which I got into Fulham academy. They’re quite a good football academy but at that time I was quite overweight; from age 8-11 I was quite overweight.
Even though I played football, it wasn’t something I was serious about and I didn’t really enjoy it. It was just something that I did because all the other boys played football but not something I wanted to pursue. But it was at around age 11 or 12, I got released from Fulham because I was very injury prone and I believe that was because of me; I didn’t really know how to look after myself especially when I had injuries. Some people would see it as a setback but at the time it didn’t mean as much to me as it does now. So, I got on with it and eventually moved onto Crystal Palace and I got signed the first session I was there. But I have Vasovagal Syncope, a condition where it’s hard for blood to flow through your body. I would have a lot of blackouts occur and so for eight months to a year I stopped playing football completely and that ignited my rough phase, my down period. However, at the end of that year, that was when I gave my life to Christ.
The relationship between my faith and my football is crazy because the blessings I have received after giving my life to Christ in relation to my football and growing with God are amazing. I was playing up a year, excelling way above my level and that was all through prayer. I was asking God to bless me and it [football] became something I was really serious about and something I wanted to work hard in. I saw in the word that you’re supposed to work hard as a Christian and that is something that really influenced me to work hard. I’ve prospered a lot since I gave my life to God.”
There are many things that Ryan has learnt but there is one particular thing he stands on and advocates a lot for in Christianity….
RB: “Prayer is a massive thing for me. Whether it’s training, matches, wherever it is, prayer is key. One verse that sticks with me is Proverbs 3:5-6 which says; “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and he will make your paths straight.” So, when it comes to my profession and what I do, I remember God in everything I do; on the pitch, preparing before the match. I feel like it’s always important to ask God to strengthen you because we do all things through Christ and you should acknowledge that before doing anything.”
At 14, there will be an array of things that could be important to you. But the most important things that Ryan considered to be in his life, where eye opening and inspiring
RB: “Firstly, God obviously because I wouldn’t be where I’am now without God. You can hear it as many times as you want but it’s true! I wouldn’t be where I’am now, today, without God. I wouldn’t be the person I’am, I wouldn’t have the morals and values I have, I wouldn’t have the foundation I have now. But yes, definitely the Lord comes first. You have to give thanks and put Him first. Matthew 6:33 says; “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Secondly, I believe saving people that I love. Some people may say family but for me it extends a lot more than that because within your family I think there’s only so many you can reach but for me the people that I love, the people around me, I truly want all of them to be saved. And I’m believing by the end of my life, all the people I prayed for and all the people I love, I believe will be saved and that’s showing true love for someone I think. I believe that this is the way to living the best possible life one can and I want the person I love to know that or at least hear that. So that’s how I share my love.
Thirdly, I believe my career, my future. Right now, its football which I’m now so passionate about. Where I’ve come from and where I’am now, it’s just a testimony because it’s something I love doing and I dedicate a lot of my time to it and I revolve much of my time around football. When I eat, how much sleep I get, etc. So, for me to dedicate myself to all that, playing football and having that dream, it must be one of my priorities.”
Society is a vortex if not navigated right; let’s be real. So I wanted to know how Ryan stays so committed in this day and age.
RB: “I used to be a sheep and there were a lot of people around me that I wanted to follow and be like. Since I’ve come to Christ though, I’ve realised that is not the way forward and I believe we need to be ourselves in everything you do. From the clothes you wear, to the music you listen to, who you surround yourself with it can feed your mind in a negative or positive wear and it’s a subconscious thing. So, surrounding myself with the things of God and having that Godly influence. Secondly, through prayer. Prayer is the answer and with me, I feel God has got me, he’s got me by the hand and he’s kept me strong in faith. To be only saved for a year and how much spiritual wisdom I feel God has given me is amazing. It’s something I’ve prayed about a lot; I’ve asked for spiritual wisdom, to grow in the church. I believe you can never ask too much of God. You can ask the wrong things but you can never ask too much of God. So, I continue to ask God for spiritual wisdom and to just get closer.
I asked Ryan what advice he’d give to people out there his age or just to anyone who is trying to seek Christ or struggling in staying committed to Him.
RB: Some advice I’d give is just Matthew 6:33. God will not work with you if you put Him second. If you put something like your career first or your image first, it’s not going to work. You have to make Him your foundation and revolve your life primarily around Him. You also have to realise the chains that are on you. For different people, there are different chains and the way the enemy works is he will not present it in a way you can realise it. The chain can be a certain sin that’s blocking their vision and blocking their true destiny. I hang around a lot of teenage boys obviously and one thing a lot of teenage boys struggle with is lust and it’s so normalised in our society and it’s a chain a lot of people should break because sin separates you from God. So, once you repent and give your life to Christ, that’s another door that opens.”
God will not work with you if you put Him second.
Ryan and I went on to discuss the value that God adds to a life. Sometimes we hear statements such as, “my life is going fine, so why would I need God?” Ryan gave his perspective on a viewpoint such as this.
RB: “Yeah, we hear statements like that a lot and I was speaking about something related to this in an Alpha session. People can have good lives and do good things and live life okay, but the feeling I believe you receive inside of you once you know God’s love is a foundation in your life you can only be grateful for. But I think people need to step out of their comfort zone and that’s one thing I believe blocks us in getting to know Christ. We all have a comfort zone and to step out of that zone, we need a lot of bravery. In situations where we are fearful of something, we sometimes think, “why would I step out? I’m very comfortable here.” But remember, we are only on this earth for a short amount of time and some people say, “my life is going fine, I don’t need God” but it’s not just about our lives. Life may be going fine but how about eternity? Once we leave this earth is it fine? So, I believe people need to be notified of the fact that it’s not just on this earth. Yes, we can live a good life and live an alright life but is that enough?”
“I just have to emphasise that amazing feeling of being a follower of Christ. Even when you walk into church and you hear the gospel and you can just truly close your eyes and praise God.”
We all have future goals and aspirations so it was great to talk to Ryan about some of his!
RB: “Well in 5 years’ time I’ll be 19 [laughs] so let’s talk in 10 years when I’ll be 24. Whatever I want to do, which is football and which I hope to do to a professional level, it would be to make myself known in it. I don’t want to make myself known for the fame but so that God’s work can be known. There are a lot of famous people who I think, don’t use their fame in the right way and I want to use my fame in the right way; to share God’s word and for people to see Christ in me and his love.”
Being a follower of Christ means different things to everyone and Ryan makes it clearly exactly what it means to him.
RB:“Firstly, it means being his disciple. I feel I have a duty to share who he is and take it one day and one soul at a time. If you try to overload yourself with saving souls, you’re going to get in a pickle [laughs] so sharing God’s word most definitely. It can be hard because there are some people you really want God to save but it just might not be the right time. But there is always someone out there crying out silently for help so we need to be open for God to work through us. Another thing is eternity; heaven. I believe I want to live my life in such a great way unto God that when it comes to judgement day, I get to heaven. When it comes to the end of my life and I’m on my death bed looking back, I want to be able to say, I’m proud of myself. I’ve saved X amount of people and I’ve done what God has commanded me to do. I can look back on my life and say that was a good life.”
Coming to the end of our conversation, I asked Ryan to sum up in one word, what being a Christian was like and it was just a perfect way to round up the awesome conversation we had.
RB: “Satisfied. I want to think of a better word [laughs] but satisfied will do it. I’ll say why. The feeling you get when you share God’s word and you walk into church and you feel God’s presence, you just know that there is truly nothing else you need. You’re completely satisfied and content in where you’re at knowing that God is going to guide your path and keep that path straight. I believe that the satisfaction you get from that is amazing. It’s a deep satisfaction I wish for all.”
The feeling you get when you share God’s word and you walk into church and you feel God’s presence, you just know that there is truly nothing else you need.
It was truly a wonderful conversation I had with Ryan. It was one of those testimonies you sit down and hear and come away thinking that life is so much bigger than we think. There is a bigger picture at play and we truly serve a higher purpose.