I’m so grateful to God that in less than 30 hours time, I’ll celebrate an anniversary – of God sustaining this once very shy and insecure East End of London boy (still shy and somewhat insecure, if I’m honest) through 40 years of ministry, From when I was born until I was six, I was very ill, seemed the docs couldn’t get to the bottom of what it was (all sorts of diseases, including leukaemia), other than to advise mum and dad to move out of the London environment, to the coast. I spent a lot of my first six years in and out of Whipps Cross Hospital, which wasn’t a lot of fun!
It was years before I realised the sacrifice that they made for me: dad had a good job as an accountant with Leyton Council: but to keep me alive and get me well, the moved to a village close to Eastbourne (East Dean), I was diagnosed as celiac, and for some years, mum had to make a lot of my food as there weren’t ‘gluten-free’ sections in supermarkets in the late 1950’s- early1960’s. All my friend’s parents were ‘warned’ what I could and couldn’t eat if I went to their house for tea: until one day, when I was about 13, I was fed sausages, beans, and chips (mum obviously hadn’t got to that friend’s parents!) – and I didn’t die or wasn’t even ill. So I ‘forgot’ to tell mum, until, after about six visits and the same meal, I thought I’d better tell her! It seems, after being tested at the hospital, I was no longer celiac. Was that the beginning of God’s plan for my life – being healed in 1965, when healing was even whispered in church? I was also born with a small hole in my spine, a millimetre away from being spina bifida I was told: when I was 18, after a lifetime up until then of severe back problems (though I still managed to play rugby and football (proper football, soccer for American readers, not your sort of corrupted rugby!), God healed me through a man – George Tarleton – the first time any of us in our youth group had seen ‘leg-lengthening!). Maybe it’s no surprise after two massive healings I’ve ended up in this life of 40 years that I’ve ended up praying for the sick! Most of my family were sick with a variety of diseases, unusual ones, too, like acromegaly and Sjogren’s disease. Dad died when I was 12: wrongly diagnosed and treated when he could have lived with the right diagnosis. I loved dad dearly, and his death had a massive emotional and psychological effect on me.
So did being caned (yes, really!) four times a day for four years at junior school simply for being left-handed! So by 18, I was sort of a wreck, but quite good at Rugby: couldn’t go to University as mum couldn’t afford it as a single parent, so I worked in a bank (boring…dreadful!) for 9½ years. I’d got saved at 18 through the discerning and irresistible ministry of Clive Calver, and the desire to work alongside was great, but not greater than a regular salary and a pretty good career opening up in front of me! I argued with God for 5 years before realising that it was a pointless exercise, and worked for Youth for Christ for four years.
When I finally gave in, God said very clearly, ‘Trust me, for your home, security, and income’. Sounds easy when you read it: not so easy in reality! To go from a salary to no salary overnight, when you’ve got a family and mortgage, was er…. interesting! Three weeks after starting this new life, the engine on my delightful Austin Maxi – changing gear was lie trying to stir congealed porridge with a bent straw! – blew up (was it the worst car ever made – along with the Morris Marina and Austin Allegro?), when my job involved covering a lot of East Sussex. Thank you, God, thank you very much! BUT – a wonderful Brethren Evangelist heard from God and heard about my plight. He battled with God for a week, before finally giving in – and giving me his nearly new Chrysler Alpine – so I’d survived a month salary-less, wasn’t starving, AND got a new car. God was proving that his words were true.
A lot of people say to me that they’d love to do what I do. I tell them, ‘Do it! Why wait? But be prepared for the cost’. My job, career, and salary had gone, but what God did through the local Youth for Christ was wonderful. Then came the biggest shock. ‘Go to Roffey Place Ministry Training Centre. The whole family’. I asked God why: though I knew, just didn’t want to: and asked God how he was going to pay for it. ‘I’m not, you are’ was his answer. How? I had no money, no savings, no income – and Roffey wasn’t cheap for 5 of us. Well, the answer was easy, to God, it seemed! ‘Sell the house!’ People told me I was mad to even consider it, to keep the house and rent it out for a year so we had something to come back to.
One of the major things I’ve learned about God is that once you’ve made the initial leap of faith, there IS NO GOING BACK! The house went up for sale 3 days before Christmas – the worst possible time to sell, but Roffey’s course began on 7 January. Estate Agents said they’d put it on the market in February, so I put a small-ad in the local freebie give-away newspaper. The house was sold by 8 a.m. the morning the paper came out! Arrgghh! I was hoping for a ‘stay of execution’ but God repeated ‘Trust me for your home, your security, and your income’. About 6 weeks from the end of the Roffey course, God seemed to be struggling with providing a home for the end of the course, so I tried to help him out and began house hunting. Another thing I’ve learned is that God doesn’t need my help! We ended up with my mum for some weeks, when, ‘out of the blue’, God provided a home through a lovely businessman near Worthing. It was an amazing house, about four times the size of what we’d sold, for six months, and then rent-free…. We were there six years, then the same man offered another house, even bigger, for four years, just down the road. Then came the house next door to that one – a beautiful house with manicured gardens! God keeps his promises through people who are willing to respond to him, to people who are willing to respond to him.
Time passed: three years in the USA living in a house purchased by that same businessman so I could live in it, rent-free. After the USA, came nine years in Northern Ireland – not rent free – but God provided enough for that, and I’d been travelling the world, based on nine prophetic words, praying for the sick, for 30+ years. I argued with eight of those prophecies, before giving in, with me still trying to help God out by telling him I’d go anywhere except Africa or India. I also thought it would take him a while to sort out locations for me as I knew no one overseas, as my family was very parochially English! Within 12 hours, I’d had six invitations to go to other countries – the first one being Ghana…. thank you, God, thank you very much! God provided the fare despite my arguments: and reluctantly I went – and fell in love with Ghana very quickly. I went 22 times in 11 years….
So, here I am today – still in the ministry: with prophetic words that are saying there’s going to be a significant increase in what God does in 2019. 109 countries, many of them many times – Colombia (my first love) 89 times, Mexico 30, France over 100, many African nations from Egypt and Tunisia to Zimbabwe and Mozambique (how I love Zimbabwe!), thousands of healings, countless miracles, including three people raised from the dead, a leg growing from nothing to a foot in no time at all in India, a ‘vertically changed’ (is it not p.c. to say ‘dwarf’ these days?) double in height (though a great man, James Maloney, was far more ‘responsible’ for that one, but I was there, praying!) – I could go on and on…. it’s been a mind-blowing ‘journey’ of millions of miles and seeing God in action. Seeing people I take with me released into ministries they never dreamed they could ‘do’… I love that as much as anything! Social projects for street kids to the very elderly completed… God has certainly kept his word.
And now, after 13 years away, I’m moving back to England, to be with a church that I know will ‘feed’ me – and hopefully use me – Eastgate, Gravesend, Kent: with another leap of faith coming next week, with hugely increased rent (150%), council tax (300%), water bills (free in Ireland), etc., but God’s been faithful so far, I pray he’ll keep being even MORE faithful! The cost? Job, career, pension, home ownership went, family, comfort, and much more…. but would I swap it? Not for all the tea in China!! But God did speak nearly 4 years ago, that I’d have my own home again….but that’s unimportant compared to seeing God’s kingdom come and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Here’s to the next 40 years…..