Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Nehemiah 8:10 (NASB)
Today I am going to share something that has been on my heart to share for sometime, but I was waiting for His right time. God has shown me in my devotions that today is that time.
I was born and raised in a mining village to older parents than my peers. My mother was a daughter of God fearing parents of the Brethren, my father was the last in the Catholic line of his family who had been Irish imigrants. I never wanted for anything in the way of food or clothing, but it was obvious our family was different from my peers families. The main reason for this came from my father, he loved my mum but to me he was an abusive bully. My young life was filled with verbal, psychological and sometimes physical abuse. To me a Father was not someone who loved, yet I loved him and admired him greatly. But as I grew older my love became hatred and cynicism. When my dad died in 1986 rather than grief I had relief, followed by guilt. The years following this became a desperate strategy of personal survival, trying to rebuild my life from what I had.
I had heard the Gospel and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour in 1984, and tried desperately to lead a good life but my foundation was rotten. My past blocked me from understanding God my Heavenly Father, I did not really want another dad after my first experience. It took seven years of self preservation before a change happened, a miraculous one orchestrated by my Heavenly Father.
In 1993 through circumstances I found myself in Stockton-On-Tees in England, attending Lightfoot Grove Baptist Church. The pastor there was Rev. Tom Richters, a Godly man with a warm gentle heart. Meeting Christian men like Tom was part of my healing process, God was showing me there were good men who could be trusted. That year I was invited to join the fellowship in attending a Bible Camp in Malvern, Worcestershire. I was adopted for the event by the Evans family, Mark , Ali and their three kids.
The Good News Crusade camp was in the shadow of the great Malvern Hills, in the Three Counties Showground. The fields filled up quickly with tents and caravans of Christians from all over the UK. The main speaker that year was Derek Prince. It was here that God was to do a mighty work in three days within my broken life. The first stage came in the prayer tent one early morning, as we finished an older gentleman approached me and gave me the verse “…Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” telling me that God wanted me to know all was going to be well. I shared this tentatively with Mark and Ali with whom I had become close friends. The second stage came as I opened up to Mark and Ali about my past, and why it made it hard to receive the word of knowledge. They agreed to pray for me that day in their caravan whilst the kids were out playing, I remember that experience to this day. The Spirit descended on us as we prayed, I cried copiously as I surrendered my past to God. Then I was reminded of the word delivered to me in the prayer tent, at that moment I felt free for the first time in my life and began to laugh, praising God. That small caravan rocked as the three of us praised God that day, I was free!
The final stage in my transition from broken vessel to remoulded vessel came the next evening in the main service where to my surprise Derek Prince had quoted Nehemiah 8:10! At the appeal given by Derek Prince I felt that he was talking directly to me, I was aware that I was being called by God to dedicate my new healed life to Him. This was the first time I had surrendered all my life to God publicly, including my abuse and fears. That night as we praised God in the pavillion singing “All to Jesus I Surrender” my new life in Him was sealed by the Spirit and ready to begin.
Dear reader, I give my story not for my glory but for the Glory of Almighty God, my Father. His love is Holy and pure, covering all our pain and suffering. He wants us all to know Him as Father, one who truly loves His children and gives them good things. Through Him I have been blessed and shown how to be a father (and grandfather) myself. His hope is for each of His children to know these blessings through Him, despite the failings of birth parents. Finally, it is my sincere prayer that God will guide this story to those who need it, that He might heal them and bless them in His Love for them.