I write the following for the church magazine of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Swansea ……
This September I’ll be 40 years old and I lived in Swansea until I was 18. As a family we attended Ebenezer and the influence of the church family on me has been incalculable. The church went through some difficult times when I was about 10, but I was blissfully unaware. I grew up in a church that loved sound doctrine, had a high view of preaching, where people loved one another, where you were in each other’s homes a lot. It was a welcoming church family that saw students from all parts of the world come along and there was an army of strong Godly men who led their homes and modelled what it means to follow the Lord Jesus. I distinctly remember a great love for Banner of Truth books. It was a privilege in so many ways to grow up in the church.
As for my testimony, I can never remember a time when I didn’t know about the Lord. I was taught his Word and we prayed together as a family and church was something I always loved. As a teenager there was a period where I deliberately chose to go away from God but, even then, the Lord was gracious . One of the things I remember from this time was the concern and care of the church family, older men who spoke to me pastorally with great affection. Even though I was not wanting the things of God I was never in any doubt that the church cared for me and prayed for us as young people.
When I was 17 I went to camp and heard a testimony from Allan Rees who is now the minister of Townhill Baptist, but at the time he was the schools worker. I realised as Allan spoke in his own inimitable way that God demanded ‘my soul, my life and my all’. I found it hard going back to 6th form and seeking to live a consistent Christian life. I went off to University in Cardiff and that struggle continued. University didn’t last long but it was through that that God humbled me and I began to live for him wholeheartedly in work.
I was in Cardiff for 4 years and part of Emmanuel Baptist under the ministry of Andrew Bowden. Andrew was very patient with me and gave me opportunities to speak. We met each week together to study the Bible and I owe him a great debt. It was during this time I began to think and pray about whether I should go into the Christian ministry. My brother Steve had heard Dick Lucas preach and thought I should consider going to the Cornhill Training Course in London which is a 1 year course for preachers. The church at Emmanuel sent me to Cornhill and I was placed at Grove Chapel, Camberwell. I thoroughly enjoyed my time getting into God’s word and beginning to preach. At the end of Cornhill I married Claire who is from Northern Ireland (we’d met in Cardiff) and Grove asked me stay on as the Assistant and do my theological training alongside working in the church. This was a wonderful time of learning from Mark Johnston who was the minister and a church family that were gracious and kind to a young preacher.
In 2003 I was asked to become the minister of the International Presbyterian Church, Ealing (I’d become a Presbyterian by this time but I think it’s probably best I don’t go into that here – think of me as a missionary to Presbyterians). For 3 years I continued to study alongside being Pastor at IPC. It’s hard to believe that is now 13 years ago. We’ve seen growth and so many encouragements. There have been lots of heartaches too but I’m so thankful for the congregation here and the elders I serve alongside. I was only 26 when I became the Pastor and the church have been very patient with me although I have not always been so patient with them. We’ve just sent 25 people to church plant in Brentford which has been a great encouragement and this autumn we hope God willing to begin our building project which has been long in the planning.
One of the joys has been that, for the past 3 years, we’ve been able to bring our young people to have ‘camp’ in Ebenezer. We love coming; it means that we can run camp cheaply and so young people from non-Christian homes can come. Your welcome is always so warm and what better place to be for a week than High Street, Swansea!! Thank-you very much for your hospitality.
Claire and I have 3 children. Noah who is 7, Ellie who is 4 and Phoebe who is 18 months. Phoebe is Down’s Syndrome and that was a great shock to us. Her early days weren’t easy and she still has many health concerns. We have learnt much of the kindness and faithfulness of God in this and how the church at large have prayed for us. I’m so thankful for people in Ebenezer’s love and concern. Phoebe is doing well and she is a delight to all who meet her.
Please do pray for us….
Pray for the church building project – for the raising of the necessary finance but also that the project will go well and church ministries can continue throughout
Pray as we seek to train additional elders this year – as the church has grown this has become a real need
Pray for new people to commit wholeheartedly to church life and not stay on the fringe.
Pray for the young people that come to stay in Ebenezer each that they would love Christ and his church and live all their lives for him.