I was born in Reigate, in Surrey, my parents were not regular churchgoers and I grew up without any real understanding of God or Jesus other than through RE lessons at school.
When I was 13 I was sent to Confirmation Classes held by the local vicar at a church in Reigate close to where we lived. I do not remember any detail of these classes other than that I learnt The Lords Prayer by heart and that the vicar handed out Polo mints. My grandmother, a wonderful lady who I learnt much later had been praying for me, gave me a bible. After Confirmation I did not attend church.
When I was 16 a school friend took me to a youth club called Spearhead at St.Mary’s, Reigate Parish Church. St.Mary’s is a thriving church across the age spectrum having at that time, and even more so now, a lively youth ministry.
It was there that I first learnt about Jesus in a personal way as Gods son, who loved and cared for me.
I had left school at 16 and was working in London before starting training as an Architect, subsequently changing to Building Surveying and I went to the lunch time services held at St. Helens, Bishopsgate where the preaching of Dick Lucas and later, David Macinnes, helped grow my faith and when I was 18 I accepted Jesus as my saviour, I remember kneeling down in the lodgings of Harold Harland who was a curate at St. Marys.
I met my wife Leslie at the Spearhead youth club and after we were married in 1969 we joined fully in the life of St. Mary’s as our family grew to four children and as the ministry there developed into the large multi faceted church it is today. Home groups, outreach events even, horrors, PCC responsibilities followed.
My faith journey has not been seamless. I turned my back on God for periods as I concentrated on building my Practice and failed to live in accordance with the standards Jesus expects of his followers. But God has been patient with me.
We retired to Flushing in 2008, not knowing anyone here and the area only through holidays, trusting God that we would find a Church and fellowship. He found us a home, not the place here to recount the backstory of that, also our local village church. Three of our immediate neighbours turned out to be Christians.
Since moving to Cornwall two of my closest friends from the Reigate days have moved to Flushing and Penryn and we meet weekly to pray and encourage each other in our spiritual journey, I do not find it easy to be a solitary Christian and these times are vital for me.
When I had prostate cancer in 2010 I was upheld by God’s presence and had real peace when the outcome was uncertain. This verse from Romans 15 was important to me then and still is.
“ I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit ”
I don’t know what my future holds but I know that God does and I hope that in some small way I can help grow his church with new Disciples of Jesus here in Cornwall.
Bishop Tim asked if I had a prayer I wanted to share. This is well known and written by Sir Francis Drake in 1577 and speaks to me and I would like to share it with you. He was a bit of a pirate, but I quite like that. It speaks of the positives of being disturbed and of being bold.
“ Disturb us Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess, we have lost our thirst for the waters of life.
Having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity, and in our efforts to build a new earth we have allowed our vision of the new heaven to dim.
Disturb us Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wilder seas where storms will show your mastery. Where losing sight of land we shall find the stars.
We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes; and to push back the future in strength, courage, hope and love.
This we ask in the name of our Captain, who is Jesus Christ. “ Amen