This is a testimony of a life changed by Jesus Christ and his atoning work on the cross. I have tried to not flinch from details and possibly give more information than is required. My prayer for this page is that people will read it and show it to some folks that are going through similar issues. If someone can learn from my mistakes then that is truly a blessing.
When I look at people’s testimonies of Jesus Christ I am often surprised that the story ends at conversion. Whilst that is the end of an “Old life” it is only the beginning of your story and journey with Jesus Christ. I plan to give both sides both the non-Christian and the new life in Christ. As you read through this account, you will see that the fact I am typing this to you at present is a miracle from God.
Early life and childhood
I was born to two loving parents, in the last few days of the year of our LORD nineteen hundred and seventy seven. I was a preemie baby, not such a big deal now, but in 1977 it was. Within the first few days and weeks of my life, my massively underweight body had gone through several medical procedures including blood transfusions and quite a few efforts to keep me alive.
Being the second child with a 12 and a half year gap between myself and my brother Andrew, it’s fair to say that I was a surprise. My parents, whilst not being religious, had people pray over me from the local Presbyterian Church, Catholic Church, Brethren gospel hall & Apostolic church (Which my paternal grandfather was a member of!) I read in the word that “…The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much…” (James 5:16)
Needless to say, on my own I should never have survived. I believe in my heart of hearts that God had compassion on my parents and heard the prayers of these dear saints and preserved my life beyond those fragile first few days. I would say without doubt – I SHOULDN’T BE HERE!
I lived in a small town and an even smaller satellite village within that town, I was the sensitive loner and had a few close friends but did not “run with a pack” my childhood was spent playing soccer, rugby, tennis and whatever sport was on the TV is usually what we played outside.
My parents, despite not going to church themselves or walking with the LORD (at this time of their lives) they sent me to the local Brethren Gospel Hall from the age of 5 onwards. These guys were awesome, it was a family run church and the family who were old enough to drive used to go all over the village and pick up the kids from their homes and ferry them to “Sunday school” or “Bible class” dependent on age. These guys were instrumental in giving me a foundation in the LORD.
I went to High School and was a part of the Scripture Union group. Around the age of 12 I went to the 1991 Mission Scotland event at Celtic Park, in the east end of Glasgow by evangelist Billy Graham. Something stirred within my heart and I went forward at that event, however I never followed up with any discipleship plan and my fledging faith withered, real “parable of the sower” stuff (Matthew, Mark, Luke)
I became involved in ministry but I was really an empty vessel at this point. I served for Youth for Christ in Scotland and with Lanarkshire Christian Union helping out at events and being the guy who you call if you needed stewarding, taping down sound equipment and that idea.
As you would expect, without a solid biblical relationship with Jesus Christ, I started to “church hop” and look for experiences that would satisfy what was missing in my day to day walk with Jesus. At that time, in no particular order, I was attending services at Baptist, Presbyterian, Reformed Presbyterian, Non-denominatial, Charasmatic, Pentecostal, Espiscopal, Anglican, Calvary Chapel, sometimes I was at 4-5 different services a week, at different churches, not building relationships, not plugged in anywhere and I was the quiet guy at the back who barely spoke to anyone, (How times have changed) sat in the back row and slinked in as the service was starting and left as soon as it was over.
I will give you an example of my desire to please so many churches. I was going from where I worked in Hamilton to an Anglican church in the West End of Glasgow called “St Silas” (About 20 miles of a distance) to practice for their “Christmas by Candlelight” service in 2000, As I was driving and about to leave Hamilton in South Lanarkshire going through a T junction just shy of the Hamilton Park Racecourse, driving my motorcycle a vehicle drove straight through me.
I was told by the Ambulance people and by people who attended my in Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride that I was “lucky” – I don’t buy that! I do agree that where the vehicle hit me and my reaction to go over the vehicle rather than under it saved me from horrific injuries and I have a scar to this day on my left leg that is a reminder to me how God looked after me that night. I was off work for 3 weeks total! Need I say it again – I SHOULDN’T BE HERE!
When faced with my demons – I clothe them and feed them!
By the time I was 18-26, I had found the bar scene in the town I lived in very alluring. I decided to swap my “Church-ianity” for going out and living my life for myself and slid away from Jesus. I was somewhat bitter against the churches I had attended that no-one came looking for me, but as stated before, I was a drifter and did not really have any friends there; I just attended to throw a shovelful of sand in my grand canyon of spiritual void.
As time went on the drinking got worse and I went from social drinker to binge drinker to fully fledged alcoholic. I tried to balance the church services with the ever more frequent visits to the bars, but eventually something had to go. No prizes for guessing that I felt more of a community in the bars than I did in the churches.
To give you an idea of the level of drinking involved. I would think nothing of drinking 12-14 UK pints (6816-7952ml equivalent to 15.49-18.07 pints US) so it was vast quantities of alcohol in those sittings. Sometimes I would mix drinks and show off by doing “turbo” drinks such as chasers in pint glasses mixed with beer and other crazy concoctions. I was still looking for what was going to fill that gap in my soul.
I joined the Royal Engineers, (British Army) again trying to fill a gap, whilst I learned many valuable skills. I did not learn about what I needed to fill the vacuum in my soul.
I tried to fill that gap with sports, playing football, (soccer) rugby, gave Gaelic football and American football a try also, when my lifestyle made me unable to play anymore I started watching the sports, again American Football, Rugby and Football I watched and also had beers before and after also. I thought life was great but something was still missing.
I started having “regular bars” in different cities in Scotland (Maybe I was trying to hide how much time I was spending there) But I was well known in bars in Motherwell, Wishaw, Bellshill, Hamilton, Airdrie, Bathgate, Cumbernauld, Coatbridge, Stirling, Falkirk, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen. (Quite a circuit huh?) But something was missing, I missed having something clean in my life and felt like I couldn’t go back to church. So I gave the Mormons a try! After a few months I started to see holes in the LDS doctrine and left disgruntled. I went back to the drinking! Given my destructive lifestyle and the untold damage that I did to my body – I SHOULDN’T BE HERE!
God sent a woman to rescue me
I stopped playing regular sports, didn’t eat right, drank too much, didn’t chose good relationships, didn’t make good choices and essentially lived for myself until I found the woman who eventually I would marry. I met my now wife online on a Christian dating website. (I, in my mind still viewed myself as one, but had no real relationship to speak of)
If you were to ask me whether “missionary dating” is a good idea, I would say no. The reason we worked was my wife was way more understanding than she should have been. She loved more than I deserved and certainly put up with more than she should have. My wife is a special person and certainly deserved better than she got.
She still lived in California, I lived in Scotland. In March 2005, I proposed to her at the top of the Empire State building. We were married legally in August 2005 and had a wedding for family and friends in November 2005. We then went to live in Glasgow for the first two years of our marriage.
She showed me Jesus, and it was a Jesus that I had missed during my church hopping days. She helped me get plugged into a church in Glasgow called Calvary Glasgow. The relationships that I built there really helped me as I re-committed my life back to Christ. Calvary Glasgow was a mission’s plant church, so I discipled with the Pastor, taught bible studies, mentored and helped out and served on a weekly basis. In a small church setting there are always needs and always opportunities to bless others and help out.
New life in Christ
In 2006 I was baptized in Loch Lomond. (I am jealous of you Californians who got to do it in a heated pool) and this was a turning point for me. Chelsea and I moved to be geographically closer to our church family and we invested as co-laborers in the work and tried to reach more and help out when new folks came in.
The investing in time with others, pouring out and receiving in. (And intensive inductive Bible study training) This led to a new boldness in the LORD. My wife and I set our sights on sharing Christ with my parents. We had an awesome experience at York Minster where they got to see religion in its truest form in a “Eucharist” service on a Saturday evening. Dad was turned off by this and I was really unhappy, when they agreed to come to Calvary York the following day, we were greeted by the Pastor Dave Sylvester. he was ill so had one of his Bible College teachers teach a message on the difference between a relationship with Christ and “religion”. I was praising God in my heart, this made for a lively journey home with Dad having questions.
In 2007, we returned to California thinking that Dad would “never be saved as we had left!” How wrong we were, Dad started attending Calvary Glasgow a few months after we left and he got saved the following year. I was blessed to be witness to his baptism in 2010 and proclamation of his new life in Christ.
Serving in California
We joined a Calvary Chapel in 2007 and served in a small city in the Central Valley. We have served in various capacities working with youth, counseling and follow up ministry, children’s ministry, young adults, church set up, ushering, social media ministry & teaching small group bible studies for new believers. ( I am sure there are other things but those are the ones I remember off the top of my head) In addition my wife had been in women’s leadership, worship leading and has written a book called “Keeper of his Home”
In 2009 we were blessed by the birth of our little princess. We now are tasked with molding and forming her in the faith that we hold dear! She is an awesome kid who is the cutest thing you ever did see. (I am biased because she is “daddy’s girl”) I am astounded by how smart she is and how much she is like us.
Hopes for the future
I hope for the following (God willing of course) I am doing well, but could we not all do a little better?
Hoping to be the husband that Chelsea deserves, getting better but still not there yet!
Be the Godly father that my daughter needs
Opportunities in ministry
Opportunities to use gifts such as teaching
Grow in the LORD and be filled on a regular basis as a family
God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.