Blown away by God - literally

Shaun Benstead
Shaun Benstead - former agnostic and now convinced believer.

Autism, dyslexia, a lazy eye, no end of learning difficulties. Not surprisingly, school was a struggle from the get-go for Shaun Benstead, who battled depression on top of everything else.

Yet he persevered with schoolwork and succeeded in getting a good Honours degree in Biochemistry and a Masters Degree in Neurochemistry from the University of London.

He had battled numerous misdiagnoses during childhood and was thus never able to get the proper treatment or medication. It wasn't until he was 40 that a specialist was finally able to pin down his condition to Asperger's Syndrome, a kind of autism.

Shaun's laudable achievements masked a deep resentment towards God, who he blamed for his mountainous struggles.

"I rejected the idea of God and the Bible because I could not understand why He would let me suffer so much," Shaun, now 57, confessed.

Describing himself as a "militant agnostic" (someone who does not know whether there is a God), his objections ran the gamut of unbelief.

He believed there was no God, life on earth came out of nothing, Jesus Christ was a myth and the Bible could not possibly be accurate and really, why should the Christian religion be the right one? In fact, Shaun first heard about God in kindergarten but even then decided the priest had to be talking rubbish.

Then in February 1987, Shaun began to have difficulties breathing. Doctors could find nothing wrong with him, leaving him feeling anxious.

"On the last Friday evening of April that year, I met with three Christian friends to pray," he said. He was astonished when a young woman in the group said things about him which only he knew.

"I concluded there and then that there was a God and He knows absolutely everything about each of us."

As they were praying Shaun said he had an experience of Biblical proportions. "There was a violent rushing wind from above!" he said.

"It filled the entire room, penetrated my ears and filled my entire body but there was no wind outside and besides, the doors and windows were closed.

"Suddenly I could breathe properly again. It was like a scene out of Pentecost!" Pentecost is the Biblical account of the day the Holy Spirit (the unseen presence of God) fell upon believers, filling them with power and enabling them to speak in different languages. Read about it in Acts chapter 2 verse 2.

All of Shaun's clever objections crumbled like dust. "My experience proved to me that the whole Bible is true and that the Good News of Jesus Christ (the Gospel) is to be embraced and obeyed," he said.

"This convinced me that everything Jesus said and did was true. I committed my life to Him and Him alone shortly afterwards."

Shaun now sees a deeper meaning to his struggles and believes God was trying to make him aware he had a problem that needed to be addressed.

"God has helped me to deal with this by encouraging me to read and study the Bible, attend a Bible-believing church and have lots of social interactions," he explains.

"I have learned a lot from the Bible. I really believe that it is God speaking to us in a way that we can understand. The social interactions with a wide range of people have helped me relate to them and hence cope with the world around me. Both of these things have helped me communicate the Gospel to those who have not yet met Jesus."

His favourite verse - "except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God" (John 3:3) very accurately sums up how accepting Jesus into his life has opened Shaun's eyes to a whole new reality.

More than that, Shaun's personality has also undergone a dramatic change. "I've become more generous and caring, less arrogant and selfish," he says. "However, I find it hard to turn the other cheek," he says ruefully. "I'm a fighter."

His academic achievements blinded him for many years to the truth of the Bible and creation.

"But today in spite of what academic institutions teach, I realise now that we cannot possibly have evolved. Which came first: the chicken or the egg? How did the human eye and brain evolve? Certainly not from chemicals in the sea!

"The whole of nature with its diversity and intricate levels of control shouts Special Creation, loud and clear!"

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