I was born in a place Ilkeston in the middle of England, a town that used to have a big reputation for its nightlife, revelry and trouble. My parents at the time didn’t follow any faith. Church was only attended for Christenings, weddings and funerals as a form of religious custom. Although I was sent to Sunday school a handful of times, it was more for the purpose of giving my parents a break on a Sunday morning! I considered myself a Christian as in formal and custom purposes, but there was certainly no relationship with Jesus. I’d simply accepted the religiousness of it, and by the time I was into my teenage years, my heart was full of lust of the eyes, flesh and pride, I simply followed the crowd, and fit the mould of what I termed as “normal” behaviour amongst everyone I knew from my town, working hard and playing hard. But the more life disappointments I encountered, the more reckless I became. In fact, my parents claimed that my lifestyle had actually driven them towards seeking God and they became “born again” believers when I was in my late twenties, which was strange to see my parents embrace a form of Christianity that I didn’t understand, having seen it just as old buildings full of formalities and hypocrites. But little did I know, that they were on a mission to introduce me to Jesus and make me like them!
They were intent on getting me to a church Alpha introductory course, planting leaflets and books around my home and, eventually, they choose their moment, during another one of my life’s disappointments, to increase the pressure and, under the strain, I left England and headed for Thailand to continue my continuing decline into self-destruction, but there was no escaping God. Would you believe it, that whilst there, I even got accosted by some ladies, who turned out to be Christian missionaries, on the same mission to get me to a church Alpha course! There was no escaping this church course! So asI couldn’t get away from it, I eventually enlisted on it, at my parents’ church, back in England.
I have to say, I actually enjoyed the fellowship, food and debates, and even became quite comfortable with the religious head knowledge; In fact, I never had a problem until it got spiritual and, when they started to pray for people to receive God’s Holy Spirit, what I witnessed defied the natural boundaries of my understanding. There was now no doubt in my mind of the existence of God. My problem was that, if He was real, then everything I thought, everything I dreamed of and everything I enjoyed doing was wrong, and I enjoyed being in control of my own life!
Well, years passed by with my head in the sand doing it my way, doing everything my heart desired and stuffing myself with my short-term happiness fixes of material spending, eating, drinking, smoking and the like, as I tried to appease the disappointments and disaster that followed every decision I made, and ultimately. over time, my short-term happiness fixes became my addictions. I’d only myself to blame for how my life had turned out and I started questioning what my life would have looked like if I’d had let the Holy Spirit take over my life years previously. Looking at what I’d done by own strength, God’s plan had got to be better than my achievement! I attended another Alpha course and, when it came to the Holy Spirit day, I actually came to the realization that there was nothing good in me and there was nothing I could give God to repay Him for a lifetime of sin except my repentance, love and my body as a living sacrifice and, if the Lord could do something with this broken vessel, then He could have it! As Jesus died for me and paid my penalty, I crucified “my way” that He may live through me His way, thus giving me a brand new start in life, to be born again by His Spirit.
Three days the Spirit was inside me before I experienced, for the very first time in my whole life, what I can only describe as the consciousness of God, just as I awoke in the morning as I was laying at the side of my girlfriend, and He spoke straight into my soul, He said, “Son, I have plans for your life and if you want to go where I want to take you, you must separate yourself from your girlfriend. This is not what was intended for you and not an example of love, but if you are going to carry on sleeping together then you must marry her.” This was my first conviction by the Holy Spirit and I yielded, which was really difficult for her to understand that I’d sooner have an intimate relationship with Jesus! And although we’d done the Alpha course together, she just didn’t get it; she actually thought that I’d lost my mind.
Well, the following evening, I came home from work with a takeaway and a couple of bottles of wine, because this was my “normal”. I poured myself a pint as usual, but when I took my first sip, to my shock it tasted foul! I instantly knew that there was something different and then I was overcome by an immense joy, so much that I couldn’t contain my laughter, and for the first time in years, I realised that I didn’t need to get drunk anymore to make me happy, and I was actually eager to go to bed early because of the hunger inside me to read my Bible! The following morning, I lit my cigarette up and when I put it in my mouth it made me feel sick and I burst out laughing again, and by the end of the week I’d also stopped swearing too! Not one of these addictions could I have conquered by trying and striving but only by yielding to the Holy Spirit, and it was easy.
I then started receiving amazing dreams explaining some of the roots behind my behavioural mind-sets, He showed me that, in my times of hurt, I’d placed a man-made self protection mechanism around my heart. And as He showed me my heart, there was actually so much damage that it looked like a patchwork quilt made out of plasters! And, as my journey continued by yielding to the Spirit, He gave me deeper understanding and, piece-by-piece, they started to be removed.
My relationship with Jesus had a big effect on my work too. At that time, I was doing building work and working as a taxi driver, but it soon became extremely challenging to keep my ethics and continue my style of working. Previously, I’d majored in ruthlessness and corruption in the pursuit of material wealth and lying to the company, speeding and stealing from work rivals had always made me a good living, but this became a “grey area” and, as I continued to yield to the convictions of the Holy Spirit, my wages dropped drastically. To be honest, all the chatter on the taxi radio was also getting in the way of my “taxi evangelism”, as this was a great opportunity to reach out to people. So, on a leap of faith, I jacked in with the company! I took out the taxi radio and pulled off the company logos, and then sat in the taxi rank praying for work. I just knew that if leaving the company meant I hadn’t compromised my being who I was called to be, then I was completely trusting God’s new plan for my life, and at the end of that first evening of stepping out by faith, I actually made the same money than if I’d worked for the company! And so, armed with a stack of Bibles and testimonies on DVDs, I could now evangelise without any compromise or interruptions, living solely by trusting God to meet my needs by faith.
As I journeyed, I started to get a bit frustrated at why I wasn’t seeing the level of anointing demonstrated by the early church. I had the faith and was trying my best at being obedient and working so hard for Him; it just felt that His voice was getting fainter or I was somehow letting too much interference get in the way! It’s amazing how much religious clutter you pick up along the way. It had taken a lifetime to get both feet on the right path and somehow one foot seemed to be wandering off into some religious mind-sets. Through an encounter with the Lord one night, He showed me that I had to stop trying to work for Him and allow Him to work through me, and led me to a particular minister who specialised in getting rid of the religious mind-sets, that were stopping me from moving in the Spirit. Funny how every now and again we need a virus scan to keep the clutter we pick up from distorting the truth, and so after I’d allowed the Holy Spirit to filter out the head knowledge, my relationship with God grew much deeper and shared how He planned to use me, showing me visions of speaking and ministering in churches. At the time, these things seemed impossible, as I was just a mere God hungry builder/ taxi driver.
One evening the Lord gave me a powerful dream, showing me a rainbow being poured into a particular place, that I just had a knowing that I needed to go wherever that place was, because I was going to receive a gift there. And sure enough through a series of events, I found the place, which was holding a conference there, and travelled there by faith. And when the minister started with the impartation, I was so expectant; I knew that this was going to be as the Lord said. I watched in anticipation as the minister came down the line praying for people, and when it came to my turn, I had to smile, it was like the minister themselves was shocked. They placed oil upon me and declared that there was a commissioning upon my life, and told me that I’d just been given a scroll, and at that exact moment, my hand just froze, as though a scroll had been placed in my hand, and as they began to pray, I just sparked out and didn’t wake up until about an hour and a half later, by someone trying to vacuum up round me in a now empty church! As it so happened, my parents were waiting for me to help me stagger back to the hotel! It was such an amazing experience; I so believed that I’d really be witnessing so much more of the power of God in my walk. How could you not after that!
Well, I travelled to India a few weeks later for the first time on a mission, expecting to see major signs wonders and miracles but, to be honest, it was a great experience but I didn’t witness the anointing I expected to see, by any means. And about three months passed by and I began to wonder “when, Lord? I don’t understand”. Well, I’d been asked to help out in praying for people to receive the Holy Spirit during an Alpha course, and on this particular day things really didn’t seem to be going the way that I thought they should; in fact, I was so focused on my own trials that I hadn’t even been listening to half the talk in this particular Alpha meeting. Just then, a man asked me to pray for someone. Well, in my mind, I was thinking, “God, You can’t possibly use me today!’ I laid my hand on their shoulder and, by the time I’d finished saying “In the name of Jesus”, the person was on the floor rolling around in the Holy Spirit! And then so did the next twenty or so people. The anointing was so powerful that people were all over the floor rolling about laughing or crying. Then someone from church came up to me and asked if I could “tone it down” because they said it was frightening some people! “Tone it down?” I had to laugh; I don’t think they realized that it wasn’t me doing it! But there was no doubt in my mind that, regardless of how I felt in my emotions, God had moved through me, and this taught me another lesson, that the anointing isn’t affected by how we might feel, and this caused me to pray, by faith, in the discernment led by the Spirit, rather than just making the assumption of things led by my emotions. The more I moved by the Spirit, the more I understood the sonship with the heavenly Father and also witnessed the anointing manifest in many signs, wonders and miracles.
But getting into the anointing was one thing, and keeping in it was something else! I think the best way to describe the journey is how He showed me in a vision once, where there were many different shapes and sizes of water slides that represented people’s journeys and, when it came to my turn to choose a slide, I asked how much they cost. And the reply was that the cheapest slide wasn’t much of a journey at all, but the best journey costs your entire life! And this journey with God through ups and downs and twists and turns is so much more than I could have ever dreamed it would be.
That move of God in that Alpha meeting was just the very beginning, I started to witness the most incredible healings and deliverances, and nearly all of them were outside of church as such, just by people asking me to go and minister to different people in their homes; it actually got to the point where people were turning up to the church I attended just for prayer from me. I can’t tell you how much trouble this caused. The prayer team fell out with me, and complained that I was being used more than them! So when I asked if they would consider me for the prayer team, they refused! Another church, the pastor there actually asked to speak to me, concerned that he might lose people to the church that I attended, because of the healings. I just was slammed by so much religion, I had to smile: my only role within church was making the tea and coffee!
The Lord led me to move house, to an old large Victorian town house, and turn it into a Christian homestead, renting out the rooms to other Christians, bringing the opportunity for fellowship, home group, prayer ministry and to be able to walk with people through deliverance, who were moving in and out the house, and the opportunities grew. Next came invitations to home groups, sharing, encouraging and building people up in Christ, then small church meetings; next came churches in different countries!
In fact in one meeting in Australia, someone asked me where I was from, as he had previously lived in the UK, and when I told him the town I came from, he laughed, and said, “Can anything good come from Ilkeston?” Well God can use anyone; I prove it. If you are broken, then you qualify for a brand new life; the Lord is just looking for people who are obedient, who He can move through.
The continuing transformation is the journey, and using His gifts through His revelations to build up the body of His church is the journey, He will bring people into your life, He will take people out of your life; all you have to do is be obedient to His voice and enjoy the journey and you will see and experience the super-natural realm of His glory.
I’ve had the honour of witnessing many great signs, wonders and miracles in many different countries, physical healings and spiritual healings throughout meetings and personal ministry too, and He never ceases to amaze me or change my thinking and opinions because He wants us to be vessels that fulfil His design and purpose, to be filled and pour out His Glory, as we follow His perfect plan and will for our lives, and so may it continue.