Friday, 20 December 2013

News from Down Under!

Well as it's nearly Christmas, I thought it was the right time to write a short(ish) blog on how things are going here in Melbourne, Australia.

It's now been exactly 94 days since we landed in our new country and to be honest it's felt a lot longer than that. Before I go into more detail I just need to honour three very important people in my life. Firstly my children, Daisy and Dexter.

Moving country is probably one of the hardest things we have ever done. Not only is it the sheer distance we are away from people we know and love, it's the feeling of starting from scratch and dealing with all the emotions that goes with that. For our two children I can only begin to imagine how it's been for them, putting their trust in their mum and dad who have taken a huge step of faith without really knowing what the outcome will be. All we've been able to reassure them with is what we've know from the start - Jesus wants us in Australia.

In the time we've been here, Daisy and Dexter have had to get used to a new culture, make new friends and start new schools. They've also had to start going to a new church and if you know Daisy enough, you'll know this is a HUGE deal. To Daisy, her church in the UK meant everything and was one of the hardest things for her to let go of. But she has been incredible. She has shown strength that has surprised us beyond words. She has dealt with her emotions and although at times has felt very low, she has found strength through worshipping on her own in her room and has astounded us on a daily basis.

For Dexter the move has been a bit easier as he is extremely strong in character and young enough not to experience the emotions that Daisy has faced. However, there have been times that he has been down but one of his favourite ways to get out of this feeling is to ask for us to pray as a family. Because of his eagerness to pray and Daisy's knowledge that God gives her comfort that cannot be obtained from anywhere else, we have prayed as a family nearly every night since we landed. Our bond as a family has grown in strength and it, in my opinion, has been because our children have been so inspiring. They are incredible.

Secondly my wife, Catharine. Wow. She has been my rock in this last three months. When we got here, our house in the UK had not completed its sale and I was an utter nervous wreck as we had no means of income. But Catharine managed to conjure up an inner strength that I can only describe as supernatural. For her, family is the most important thing in the world (after her Saviour, Jesus Christ). Leaving her family was only possible because of how amazing she is at understanding that God's promises over her life will not be broken and when God says He will provide, He will provide, whatever the situation.

In the first few weeks I don't actually know what I'd have done without her constant encouragement and support. I am a very strong person when it comes to my faith but for whatever reason I was not sleeping and was becoming more and more stressed over all we had to do and achieve in such a short time. Catharine kept me going and she lifted me when I was low. She is the most amazing woman on this planet and I'm so grateful to God for providing me with a friend and wife like her. Catharine, you rock my world!

After landing we knew we only had a hotel for a week and after that nothing. We hired a car and looked around for a suitable rental property and within a day of looking we found the place we're in now. Apparently in this country, renting is quite difficult because you need suitable references and a clear history of paying rent before being accepted. However, once the landlord who is English found out that we were and English family, he said yes to us renting with no questions asked. Amazing. This was God's provision in action.

Then there was Daisy's new school. We knew Dexter's place at any school would be a simple procedure, but Daisy's needs are much more difficult to be met when it comes to picking a school. When we looked around Berendale School (still in the first week), we knew it was the right place for her and we were even told that Daisy would be offered a place BEFORE grants had been accepted or given. This doesn't happen in the real world in Melbourne. God's blessing was on Daisy and on us once again. House? Check! School for Daisy? Check!

It was during this first week we realised just how amazing it was that we'd been given permanent residency within seven months of applying for our visa. According to the locals, this just does not happen. Most people have said, "wow, you guys must be here for a reason!" We are under no illusions that this visa was a miracle but to hear others who did not know our story say the same thing has been like confirmation after confirmation that this is God's ultimate plan for a lives. Such a good thing to know when trying to adjust to a new culture.

On our first Sunday we attended Bayside Church. It's local to where we live and while we were there we met a few great people and one told us about Moorabbin Primary School. he said that it'd be perfect for Dexter and when we looked to see where it was, we realised it was on route to Daisy's school and only a 10 minute walk from our house. We made an appointment and Dexter was offered a place right there and then. School for Dexter? Check.

That following week we then went crazy, driving around to as many 'op shops' (charity shops) as possible to buy the basic things we needed for our house. Our money was still tied up in the UK in the house but because of the amazing generosity displayed by friends in the UK we were able to buy the basics to make our empty house feel like a home. During this week I also signed up to a building agency to get some work, but in order to be paid correctly here you need a tax file number so we had to go to the city to get one. It was a bit of a pain, but we got what we needed.

The next thing was me finding a good job. As much as we knew we had a permanent visa and it was sponsored on the basis that I was a carpenter, we had arrived assuming there'd be loads of work for me. However, we were wrong. After to speaking to several carpentry firms, they'd all said that they didn't have enough work to take on anyone new. The agency I'd signed up with had gone quiet and so that only gave me one option and that was to phone a contact I'd made in the UK. You see, not only were there not many jobs around, my tools still hadn't arrive from the UK and our house STILL had not completed its sale which meant I had no funds to buy any tools.

So I phoned this guy who'd been the only one who responded from my barrage of emails I'd sent several weeks before we landed. He was very genuine on the phone and invited my to work for him the following week on a two day job. It was just the lifeline we needed because this has since led me to working for one of his contacts who owns a very high-end company in one of the richest parts of the city. But loads of patience was required in the build-up to this full time position.

Back at home we were still trying to understand exactly what God had us here for. Our local church was fine but we'd been visiting another church in the city called Planetshakers which was exactly where we were at spiritually but much further away for us to travel and both Catharine and myself have always had a heart to serve the local church. Planetshakers wasn't local and yet it felt familiar.

A few weeks later we finally had the news from the UK that our house had at last settled. The funds were transferred and we were able to pay off all of the debt which had accumulated from the visa, moving of furniture from the UK and everything we'd bought so far to make our house a home. It felt so good to be debt free for what was for me the first time in years. Although our bank balance was low, we owed nothing to no-one and felt as free as anything. It was such a great moment.

So we were now debt free, I had the promise of work, our kids had places in schools and we were beginning to find our feet in the area we were living in. But there was still the issue of where our church home would be.

I have been part of a church movement called New Frontiers all of my life and Catharine has been part of it since 1998 but in terms of church life that's all she's known, too. We were very secure in its doctrine and had never thought for a moment that God may have other plans for us, in another church, in a different movement. Melbourne has no New Frontiers church and although we knew this before we left the UK, we didn't feel as a couple we'd have the time or the energy to start something new with no-one around us. God had spoken to us loads about resting and how this was a time for us to rest in Him. But inside we were battling with where we should be going to church and what covering we were under. It was pretty unsettling.

One Sunday we went to Bayside and it just didn't feel right. This is not and in no way a slight on the church itself, they had been very supportive in terms of people lending us heaters and blankets for our home and someone taking my wife out grocery shopping one Sunday afternoon after finding out we didn't have much money. Our kids had been saying that they liked Bayside more than Planetshakers but we just knew that as a family we are just not meant to be doing 'nice church' without being used in some capacity.

So we stood in the kitchen, Cats and I, and prayed. We prayed and asked God to show us what we should be doing. In just one small moment it became clear. At Planetshakers we could relax and rest, while at Bayside we'd struggle to get comfortable and would find it hard work. God spoke about rest, didn't He? That night we went to Planetshakers and just sat there and breathed in goodness - this was the rest that God had spoken about. It was such an amazing feeling.

Since then, we've been going every week and having got involved with a local church group and spoken to the leadership a couple of times, we know this is where God wants us for now. The church's foundations are built on the values of honour, authenticity and identity - all these Cats and I hold very highly as our own values having been part of Bedford's King's Arms Church's Training for Supernatural Ministries course. God is so kind in giving us this and we feel so privileged to be a part of Planetshakers' movement.

These days, now we're coming up to Christmas, things have really fallen into place. We are seeing God's amazing provision in terms of finance from work, we have a small selection of local friends which is growing, we have an amazing church where we feel God will really use us and our kids are happy in their new schools.

All this, however, would not have been possible without God's provision and strength. We have had times of real soul searching in terms of what we're meant to be doing here, we've been learning at breakneck speed a whole new culture, we have been missing our families and friends in the UK and there have been moments when we've literally had 2 cents in the bank but have not gone hungry.

God has carried us through some very difficult moments and we're not naive to think the struggles are over. But we know this: God has fulfilled His promises and have delivered everything He said He would. We have rest in our hearts, we have the provision of finance and we have a new circle of friends both at church and in the local area.

It has been one heck of a journey so far but we feel so at home. Melbourne is the most amazing city and we know that this journey the Father has us on will be one that sees us growing in Him beyond our wildest dreams. My next blog will be about what the Father has been saying to us as a family but until then, have an amazing Christmas and may God bless all of you!

Thursday, 12 September 2013


So here we are. One week away from a dream God gave us nearly ten years ago. What started as a whisper from the Holy Spirit into my wife's ears during a prayer meeting in 2004, is now a ferocious roar from the Father saying IT'S TIME TO GO! In exactly five days from now, we'll be heading to Heathrow Airport to start our journey to Melbourne and to step into what God called us into back then, before we were married.

In 2004 my wife Catharine was at a lady's prayer morning. Just a normal morning praying and waiting on God and out of nowhere she heard the words: SYDNEY SYDNEY SYDNEY, over and over again. Although it didn't make much sense, my wife knew it was from God and knew He had placed a seed of faith inside her. She then shared it with me and I said I'd go away and pray about it.

One morning on the way to work I asked Jesus to prove to me in a simple way that this was His vision for us. I actually remember saying, 'Lord, you know my sense of humour, show me in a simple way that I know it's from You.' Twenty minutes later I arrived at work and my dad asked me to make a cup of tea. I went to the draining board to fetch a mug and I remember looking at the draining board and thinking, 'mate, there are so many cups here. I'll just pick one from the middle.' As I picked up the cup I noticed a picture of a young girl with a backpack on and to me she looked like Daisy, my daughter. I smiled and turned the cup around and the word SYDNEY was written on it. Tingles went from head to toe and I knew Jesus had answered me.

This simple gesture then started off a whole journey of prayer for us as a couple. Praying into something we didn't really know about or what God wanted us to do about it. For me at the time I had just laid down my journalism career to support my new wife and daughter by stepping into the family trade of carpentry. This was a move I didn't want at the time and one day was praying with my church leader about it and asking God why on earth He was taking me away from my love of writing. He simply said: "Well Adam, My Son was a carpenter." Talk about humble pie. I knew in a moment that I had to change.

So that was faith step number one. You're going to read many more of these in this blog. For us as a couple, one of the first things we did after being given this vision from God was to hand it back to Him and said; 'if you want us there, Jesus, you have to move us'. Ha, be careful what you ask God for, you may just get it!

From this moment things started to take shape and we felt more and more that this was totally God's plan for us. Just in our everyday lives we were stumbling into conversations about Sydney, adverts about Australia, Wanted Down Under, walking past random people in the street only to overhear their conversations at the split second they said the word 'Australia' or 'Sydney'. This went on for years and is still happening now.

So after a couple of months I had to look into the visa process to see if we'd qualify. In my initial visa questionnaire to see what points I'd get (pass mark of 120 points is needed) I put down that I was a journalist. I don't actually know why but the points came back as 110. Not enough. On my second attempt I put carpentry. 135 points. Ah, I see. God changed my career path to suit His plans... LIGHT BULB!

So how was this going to work? We didn't have much money and I later found out the in order to qualify for Australia as a carpenter I would need an Australian Assessment via a company called Vetassess but their requirements were that I needed four years worth of carpentry and I only had a few months. Plus there was the small matter of paying £1500 for the privilege. From what I was finding out, the Australian visa process was going to be nearly impossible. To make it more impossible we had to consider our daughter, Daisy, and her needs.

Faith step number two. You see, our beautiful girl Daisy has an intellectual learning disability which affects her ability to understand many things and along with a speech and language delay and hypermobility, she is quite a complex character. Her persona and smile is very infectious and she has brightened up my world in so many ways. But at this moment in time I was thinking, 'how on earth is this going to work for Daisy? Will our visa be refused right at the last moment?' You see, the Australian government does not grant permanent visas to those who would cost them money long term and so we needed to be assured that if we went through with this we would get through. We prayed. A lot.

So after four years I took my (I know this is all about my part, this is only because the visa can only go through one person - my wife was backing me the whole time in this through solid faith and prayer) Vetassess theory test to see if I would qualify for a practical. I did, but only just. The response from the assessor was very frank and not very nice to read. It said: "You may proceed to the practical but please be advised that we don't think, with your limited experience, you will pass. Proceed with caution." Nice.

The thing is, because this was a faith mission for us we didn't want to take matters into our own hands and pay for the practical on a credit card as we wanted God to demonstrate His favour on us by providing the money but we didn't know how He would do this. We just prayed and believed. Around this time, my brother-in-law Jim and his wife Dominique were wanting us to find out whether this Australian thing was ever going to work and suggested looking after our kids so we could go to Sydney and see it for ourselves. We agreed and prayed in the money.

If you are reading this and are not a Christian, praying in money might sound strange to you. You see, my God is a very rich God and loves to bless His kids with the desires of our hearts if we are faithful to Him. When we put our trust in Him for money it's one of life's biggest challenges and He loves us for it. We prayed for our flight money and it all came in within a week as cash gifts from those who love us but didn't know what we needed it for.

So in April 2008 we travelled to Sydney for a ten-day jaunt to see if this was the promised land. My wife, being a keen surfer was expecting big things from the mecca of surfing, and I was just expectant that God would say in a loud voice "THIS IS IT!"

When we arrived it was not what we were expecting. It was cloudy, raining and cold. We drove through Sydney absolutely shattered (although we'd somehow been upgraded to Business Class thanks to a very kind friend) and spend the next few days wandering around in a bit of a jet-lagged daze. Catharine didn't like it at all and I was struggling because I wasn't relaxing in the way I thought I would. We met up with friends on the last few days which took the pressure off a bit but still didn't really 'get it'.

On the final full day we took a drive to the coast and ended up in a place called Dee Why. As we rounded the corner we saw the beach, a parade of surfing shops and restaurants, and people walking along without a care in the world. At that moment we both looked at each other with tears in our eyes and said "this is it". We knew that at long last God had confirmed in us what we had been seeking Him for. It was an amazing feeling.

However, when we got back we slipped back into the norm and busyness of life and although we were getting regular reminders there was still a carpentry practical to take and all the rest of the visa process. More prayer was needed, but we were more hungry for stronger prophetic words from those who didn't know our situation to confirm it even more.

In June 2011 my wife went up to the King's Arms Church in Bedford for a conference called Heaven Touches Earth. She'd travelled up with a friend and on their way they gave each other a little faith test. My wife said; "if anyone mentions the word crocodile in their talks then I'm going to Australia." Sure enough during a seminar taken by Wendy Mann the word Crocodile was used and my wife knew that God had answered her little faith game. Afterwards she sought out Wendy and mentioned this to her. Wendy then said, "hang on, I wrote something at the top of my notes." On the top of her notes it said simply 'Family - Sydney'. WOW.

My wife then heard of a course called TSM which stands for Training For Supernatural Ministries and asked me if she could take two days a week away from home to do this. I had no hesitation as I knew God was in it and agreed. But in order for her to do this course it was going to cost £1000. It was a lot of money and we still had to pay for my carpentry practical which was about £1000 on top of this unexpected new financial hurdle. We prayed about it and left it to God. Cats then confirmed her place on the course as a step of faith.

But two weeks later we were involved in a car accident. This really shook up our kids and Cats and I ended up with whiplash injuries. We thought nothing of them but were asked by our insurance company to get the injuries treated. We did out of duty and then were involved in an insurance compensation battle which we really didn't want. However, when a cheque landed though our door for the amount we needed for Cats course and my carpentry application, we knew God (even through a strange experience) had provided for us.

So for a year Cats life was radically transformed and she began to journey into knowing more about her identity in Christ and also seeing heaven on earth. It was during the first part of the year on TSM another confirmation was going to come.

During one morning Cats was taking part in a game called Postcard Prophecies. This is where postcards are laid out on the floor face-down and you pick one up and others use the picture to speak into your life and what God is saying through the picture. Cats' postcard was full of road signs. She laughed because she felt it represented her busy life. Later on, she was walking across the room when one of the team members stopped her and said; "are you called to another country?" Cats, quite taken aback, said; "I don't know, am I?" At which point the guy said; "When I saw you all I had in my head was that song by Men at Work, 'I Come From The Land Downunder'. I think you're called to Australia!"

Well that was it for my wife. She knew in an instant that God had confirmed it for her. At the same time I had paid for my carpentry practical which was going to take place in January 2012. This was a big moment for me.

I am confident in my skills but when I received the information on what I was going to have to construct for my test I felt the pressure in an immense way. Everything was hanging on whether I'd pass this test because without a trade qualification we could not proceed with the visa. But what had God said? Faith goal number three. He said we were called to Australia. During this time my dad had been asked to build a small roof for someone and needed my help. I agreed to help as I thought it might give me what I needed to pass my test.

When the day of the test came I was extremely nervous and prayed in the car on the way to London. I said a bit of a strange prayer which went something like; "Yeah Jesus, I just pray that you are somehow in the room with me today. I don't know how you are going to do that but I just need you to show me what to do." My nerves went and I arrived at the college.

After being shown to our classroom and workshops, two men who were going to be our examiners walked in. One was short and fat with a bald head and the other was tall, skinny with a beard and long hair. Just as I began to realise that this bloke looked like the typical Jesus of Nazareth in those terrible old films, a guy in front of me whispered to his mate, 'blimey, Jesus is here!' I nearly laughed out loud. At this moment, the tall skinny guy said; "Hello. I'm here to help you pass your exam today." Ha. My God has a very good sense of humour.

The practical went really well. We were asked to build a mono-pitch roof which is what I'd built only a week before my exam so I knew what to do. However there was a shock. At this moment I was asked to go into another room and answer a 47-page exam paper on all aspects of building and construction. THIS WAS NOT IN THE SCRIPT. I couldn't believe it. My heart sank because I failed nearly every exam at school because I am terrible in an exam environment. We were then told we'd be expected to answer maths questions. I failed maths GCSE at school. This had all gone wrong.

When I turned to the first page and saw the first two questions I could have cried. But then this very gentle Australian man walked in and said; "What question are you on? Do you need a calculator? Here, use my phone." WHAT?

I finished the exam and answered every question as best as I could but then had the agonising wait of 14 days for my result. It came in at 12:30am on Monday February 13th, 2012. I had passed! Not only had I passed but I had passed 100 percent of the modules! For me, this was the moment when I knew God REALLY wanted us in Australia.

However, in our hearts we still knew there were huge mountains we'd not yet climbed over. The first was how were we going to get Daisy into Australia and the second was what kind of education is on offer in Sydney? As a family we felt that the best thing for us would be to find out by means of me travelling to Sydney on my own to do a bit of a reccy and find out what. I had been in contact with a couple of schools and it all seemed like Daisy would fit in. We weren't worried about things too much but still needed some confirmation that this was the right thing to do as Daisy was very settled in her school.

So we booked up the flights and on the Thursday before I travelled to Sydney I went with Cats to her TSM course in Bedford and bumped into an old friend whom I hadn't seen in about 20 years. He was going to be taking the seminar on the attributes of God but right at the start of the meeting said: "I'm going to prophecy over Adam James!" And this is what he said:

"I could see you in like a red pick-up truck, like a van, but you're getting out of the van and getting into an amber truck. I feel like God has got you in a season where He's preparing you for some big change. I feel like you feel like you've been in a red truck that represents a kind of stop light, you almost feel like you've hit a ceiling and you've been praying for breakthrough, you've even been praying about whether you should change profession or change companies, or change direction. And it's like you've been driving in a red truck that's at this stop light.

"I think you're in a season now where God is preparing you for big change, He's actually been preparing both of your hearts for change. I feel like even the last two years or so God has been stirring the pot in your hearts and rekindling some dreams of old, rekindling some passions of old and it's almost like things that used to be fresh have become stale for you in the recent past and actually God says He didn't design you to live that way. And that's why you have felt discontent because He's actually designed you to be firestarters, He's designed you to be Pioneers and that's how He made you and that's why you've felt a bit bored.

"I feel like in regard to your church connection you've just lost a bit of passion for the church. But I feel like God says He's going to reconnect you with a strong passion for the people of God but also for the outbreak of the Kingdom around you. I feel like God's going to begin to give you some Kingdom ideas, even in terms of moneymaking opportunities. It seems like He's going to open doors actually you you two to be who God has really made you to be. I feel like there's a mould you are yet to find that really fits you but God says this amber season in one of you finding the mould that fits you.

"I feel like God's instruction to you is you need to shape your life around His prophetic promises. And this is a time to do that. I feel like you have a window of opportunity to shape your life according to prophecy and prophetic promises and not according to circumstances.

"I feel like God says His provision is going to follow you as you follow His prophetic promises. And that's His provocation to you. There's a step of faith for you to take in which you'll see God provide. And so He wants to almost assure you of that today. That as you take a step forward His provision will follow.

"And I feel like in terms of, I don't know if you have children, but I feel like God almost wants to reasure you about your children and give you a tremendous sense of peace about them. You are to see actually that their health is connected to your ability to radically obey God and actually they are going to be healthier when they see you radically obeying Jesus in this season. And that actually is going to be the best medicine for them, seeing their parents take radical steps of obedience.

"So I feel like the Father says stop worrying about your children, you don't need to be in any anxiety about them. I feel like, I don't know if any of them have any special learning issues, but again, I feel like the Father says you are not to worry about that either. God is going to put specialists in your life and put those who have the ability to teach in particularly areas where it's going to connect to your kids learning styles, that He's going to provide for you perfectly.

"And so I feel like the Father wants you to know He is on you in this season. He loves you so much and He designed you for such a season as this."

WOW! To say that I went to Sydney with high expectations after that would be a gross understatement! We knew that taking a giant step of faith was exactly what God wanted us to do. So I flew to Australia.

My time there was pretty frantic and in the space of a few days I had the promise of a full time job along with a sponsored 457 visa and had visited two schools which were fantastic. It was like God had laid out the red carpet for me and all the doom and gloom of the last trip to Sydney had vanished. However, during my visit to the last school i was told this; 'there has never been a case that we've heard or where a child with a disability has EVER been granted a permanent visa'.

Flying home with that ringing in my ears was a sober thought. What if we do go through this process and can't get in? What did God say? Breathe in and carry on, was my conclusion because God never goes back on His words.

As soon as I was home I looked into the visa process. Firstly I would have to wait for the employer to get back to me with the visa application and and in the meantime I found out that I'd have to take and ENGLISH exam. What? To get into an English speaking country, I'd have to take an English exam - even though I was English... and spoke English. The cost? £120. What a joke.

But I did it and passed with flying colours and we then thought we were ready to go. Nope. For five months we heard nothing from my 'new employer'. September was looming and we were thinking; 'do we take the kids out of school? There must be something I can do to speed up the process?

However there wasn't much we could do. On July 1st, 2012 all rules on immigration were changed and I found out we'd have to go through something called Skills Select. This is a lottery based scheme were only the 'select few' get chosen to apply for a visa and it would also mean that I'd have to fill out a very long application and wait to find out if I had enough points. Not only that, I still had not heard back from Sydney and noticed that the state of New South Wales had closed ALL doors on sponsorship.

What did all this mean? Well, I would soon find out. In August I filled out my Skills Select application and submitted it to the Australian Government to wait for the result. I then found out that my 'new employer' had decided NOT to sponsor me any more. He said the risk was too great and if things didn't work out we'd have to fly home at HIS expense. Plus we would not qualify for any benefits or funding for schools.

This was an absolute disaster. It was such a big pill to swallow after everything had looked so good for us. On top of this my Skills Select Application came back to say I had NOT got enough points and asked me to read through and make sure I had answered all the questions correctly. AAGGHHH!

When I read back though, feeling extremely low, I noticed that under the question; 'Have you any Higher Education diplomas etc?' I had put nothing. This was a carpentry application and the only diploma I had was in media when I was a journalist. So I added it anyway, just in case. Sure enough a day later it said YOU QUALIFY!

What? So I have enough points but what about Sydney? If we can't get into New South Wales, how do we do this?

Well, literally the next day I was searching on Google (what would we do without it?) for sponsored visas for Australia and the very first entry which came up read; 'Skilled Carpenters Required for Victoria - Apply here for a Permanent Sponsored Visa.' Eh? So I clicked on the link and sure enough it was true. The government of Victoria was doing a trade drive to sponsor carpenters on a permanent basis through SKILLS SELECT. The information had a small link on it asking people who'd been successful through Skills Select to apply. Only those with exceptional circumstances would be accepted.

I applied.

Three weeks later on my up to Bedford to start my TSM course (I applied in August 2012 after finding out we weren't going to Sydney - and why not?) I received an email. 'Congratulations your application to receive a permanent sponsored visa for the state of Victoria has been successful!'

WHAT ON EARTH WAS GOING ON? Why was God now moving us to Melbourne? What was there? Is there a church? What about Daisy? So many questions amid the delight of being accepted.

I feel at this point in this long story I should say that this was by no means over and a done deal. We still had a visa application to submit which is a very lengthy and painful process and a medical to get through which would highlight ALL of Daisy's health issues. This was going to take EVERY ounce of faith we had. All we could think of was to keep going back to all the promises that God had made to us. We felt we should keep praying a believing God would in fact do the impossible. Remember; no-one with a disability had ever been granted a permanent visa.

So on September 22nd, 2012, we submitted our visa application and in October we had our medical. The medical was horrendous. Such a horrible experience because we were so conscious of Daisy's needs and this was picked up very quickly. They wanted us to provide pages and pages of information to say what was wrong and how it affects her life and ours. We sent everything they asked for and then started the anxious wait.

After four months of waiting without any news, we finally received an email from the Medical Officer of the Commonwealth (MOC) in Sydney to say that they wanted more information on Daisy. What they were asking for in NHS terms would take months but they wanted it ALL in 28 days.

There was no apology for taking so long to get to that result. Just a very cold shoulder and no other communication.

Fourteen days then went by and we had not had any appointments booked for Daisy as no one really knew how to answer what the MOC was asking. But finally we had a breakthrough and ALL of the information we needed came through on the very last day of the deadline. It was such a relief to hand it all in but had highlighted even more our gravest concerns that we might not actually get the visa, due to the information we'd received. The reason for this is because in the Australian visa process if one person does not meet the health requirements, everybody fails.

With all of this going on it was a relief to get away to Bedford for a couple of days and attend the Prophetic Forum conference which is put on once a year. On the way up, we'd prayed that this would just be a time for soaking and receiving as we were both worn out from everything that was happening around us. We actually prayed that we didn't want to focus on Australia but on Jesus.

In the morning of the second day we were having a coffee break and I'd sat down next to an old friend, who asked me how things were going. Cats was in another room and I really wasn't up for having a conversation but I mentioned that things were a bit crazy. It was at this moment that a lady who I've never met in my life then interrupted the conversation and said; "Are you called to another country?"

A bit taken aback I thought about it for a moment and then had a check from the Holy Spirit that this lady knew in her heart where we were called to. So I said; "Yes we are. And you know where we are called to, don't you?" She laughed and said that she did so I then suggested that if I told her which country, she'd have to tell me which city. When I said the country was Australia, she jumped up in the air from her seat (in quite spectacular fashion) and shouted "I knew it!" I said; "Which city do you have?" And at this moment she paused and clenched her fists. It was like she was worried that she was going to get it wrong. I reassured her and said that it didn't matter if it was wrong because this was already all a bit strange anyway.

Finally, after a few moments she stood up and said; "It's Melbourne!" What? Did I hear her correctly? Yes I did. Then she said this, which is the part of the story I won't ever forget; "I saw two city names. The first was Melbourne in huge letters and then behind it Sydney in smaller letters. Like God had them in some sort of priority. I think He's switched cities!"

WOW, wow and wow!

At this moment I ran back to Cats and told her about what had happened. She was so excited but said she wanted to see if this lady was actually a real person by talking to her and asking if she had any prophetic words for her. Cats said that she was NOT going to reveal that she was my wife, just to see if the words lined up.

A bit later on Cats grabbed this lady (we still to this day have no idea who she is) and asked her to prophecy over her. Pausing for a while, she then said this; "I see you are going to be a prophet to the nations and I see you will be getting on a plane very soon!" It was at this point my wife told this lady that she was married to me. Everyone then went a bit nuts.

As if this wasn't enough, on the same day I head received a prophetic word from a friend to say God was going to put 'dog tags' in my hand and on them He had engraved the words Honour, Love and Worship. I hadn't seen dog tags for years and it was a funny word as it was so unusual. But I was looking forward to seeing what God was going to do with it and received it into my heart.

Coming back home we slipped back into the real world and got back into our 'when are we going to hear?' mindset. It was at this point I'd began to work for my brother again on a loft (attic) conversion and was just trying to process all that had happened the weekend before. I'd even looked up 'dog tags' on Amazon but found a bunch of novelty ones and nothing nice to look at.

A couple of days went past and my work colleague and I were carrying out of the house sheets of chipboard flooring to be thrown away. This is a normal process of clearing out a loft in order to start the construction. It was about 3pm on a Tuesday when this very strange thing happened. My colleague said; "Hang on Ad, there's something hanging from your sheet of flooring, it looks like DOG TAGS." What? How can anything 'hang' off a sheet of chipboard that's smooth on both sides. Sure enough, my colleague then handed me a set of dog tags and written on them was the word LAUNCHPAD. I laughed and laughed and laughed. This was God speaking in a very clear way - again.

Calming down after the hilarity of the dog tags we then entered another month of painfully waiting for a decision. To be honest, despite all the words and encouragements this whole process was now doing our heads in a bit as it's hard to remain in faith when you don't hear a thing for months on end. But after a few more weeks it was then time for another conference in Bedford and this time it was the Spiritual Leadership conference. Cats felt it would be good for me to go on my own.

Although I don't like going to things like this on my own, somehow we felt as a couple it would be pivotal for us and that whatever I received it would benefit us as a couple. It was now June. There was now only four months to go until our deadline for entering Australia (if we were granted the visa) would run out. We hadn't put the house on the market and time was rushing past.

So on Friday 14th June, I travelled up to Bedford (again) and settled into what was an amazing time. My first task was to sit in what is called a Prophetic Booth. It's a small room where two people pray and prophesy over you for about half an hour. The thing is, because of my wife and myself's involvement with the King's Arms church over the last two years, I was worried that I'd know the people who were going to be speaking and prophesying over me. I was hungry for God to speak clearly about what it was He had for us.

When I got into the booth I was relieved to see that the couple who were going to pray were not those whom I knew. So I just sat there and waited to hear what they had to say. This is a short excerpt from what they said:

"The first thing I see, well, the first thing I felt God say was that you were called to something of a new generation, a new movement – there is a new generation and a new movement emerging and you are called to be on the forefront of that. God's giving you a gift, I see a speaking gift and a teaching gift and there's a theological kind of gift, I don't know if any of this resonates with you, but there's something of explaining biblical concepts to a new generation, teaching to a new generation, and you being sort of hip, that might not be the right word, but you are just being very cool and very relevant and very rooted in God. There's just something of a real gift on you to be able to do that.

"I see roads, I feel like there's going to be some travel for you, I see you not having bags, I see you just travelling and the things that you carry with you are things of the heart – yeah, like in the Bible, the disciples were told not to take anything with them and they just went out and spoke to people and were given everything they needed. I just felt that you were going to be travelling and speaking and not needing to take anything with you. Please hear me I don't know if God means the spiritual or the practical, but I felt that God was going to bring things into your path, provision into your path and bring people into your path and fill the gaps that you need."

WOW again! It's probably at this point I should mention that when the prophetic voice gets louder and more frequent, that's normally a sign the God's about to do something big. I left the room feeling somewhat dazed and happy, but there was something nagging me. I knew my brother and sister-in-law were both at the conference with me but they are also my church leaders. They were clearly wanting God to break into our situation but still not wanting us to leave as moving to the other side of the world means massive separation for everyone.

During the next worship time I felt that God was wanting me to approach Jim, my brother-in-law and say that it was time to let us go in there hearts. God was speaking clearly and saying that they needed to release us from their spirits as this was what was helping to keep us home. We prayed about it together and it felt good to know that even in the pain of separation, God is in control.

On Monday June 17th I woke up to this email:

We are pleased to advise you that your application for a permanent sponsored visa for Australia and New Zealand HAS BEEN GRANTED!

I read this sentence over and over again. It was about 5:30am and my wife was fast asleep. I carried on reading down the page, my heart pumping so head I thought I was going to burst. I then got to the part where it mentions each person individually and what conditions have been placed on the visa. I looked at Daisy's bit: CONDITIONS - ZERO.

I cried a lot in this moment.

God had somehow managed to allow us a condition free, permanent visa for Australia. This is not only an impossibility in terms of legislation laid down by the Australian government themselves but it was a complete green light by our Father in heaven that this WAS the right thing for us to be doing. Even to this day (with five days to go until we fly) I cannot understand what went on in the immigration department to make that decision but it will live with us forever. Nothing short of the biggest victory in prayer we've had.

Since this moment we have been brought closer and closer as a family. We know that the heartbreaking reality of leaving friends and family has arrived but we also know that this is our time to seize all the God has for us. This is an opportunity to live in the vey palm of God's hand as He will provide everything we need. We still don't have a house to live in when we get to Melbourne but have this overwhelming sense of peace that God knows exactly where we're going to live.

This whole journey from 2004 until now has only really ever been about one thing: God spoke and we trusted Him. It has not been easy. We have not had everything go our way and we have had times of tears and anguish. But through it all we trusted God that He is always faithful and will always keep His word.

This last weekend we feel as a family we've received the applause of heaven as we take a new step into the unknown. We had the mother of all send-offs last Saturday and it was a truly humbling experience to know that there were so many people behind us. We have been blown away my people's financial generosity as well as emotional support - it truly is the most incredible feeling.

So lastly, before I write my next blog from the other side of the globe, I just wanted to express out heartfelt thanks to all those at The King's Church Mid Sussex and The King's Arms in Bedford. Without your close support in these last two years we would have felt completely isolated in this huge decision. You have all played a part, whether it be in intercession without us knowing or by giving time and finances. We are blown away by the family of God and want to say a big thank you.

I also want to express my undying love to my two amazing kids, Daisy and Dexter, for being so brave in all of this crazy thing. They have NEVER said that they don't want to go and they are doing this with such joy.

There's also my soul mate and wife Catharine to thank. She inspires me every day to press into God more and more and I know that it is because of her radical obedience to pursue God in complete sacrifice that I am able to do this with her. She is an amazing woman and I love her with every fibre of my being.

But ultimately this all comes down to one thing. His name is Jesus and this whole story is about Him. Without Him, we wouldn't be on this adventure. Without Him and the hope that He brings, we would be very confused and frustrated. But we are at complete peace. This is going to be one heck of an amazing time. So with that, myself and my family are just about to make our way to Heathrow and step on the Launchpad.

See you Downunder!

Saturday, 3 August 2013

God or Science?

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God." Mark 10 v 25.

OK. I am going to attempt to write about something that has been burning in me for a while. When you read this, please note that these are my opinions and although I've used certain quotes from different points of reference, the bulk of this article is around my own understanding of this topic; God or Science.

Also I just want to say that I have complete and utter respect for those out there who admire science and all that it's been to us in the last 200 years or so. Men and women have made great discoveries and many of the cures for diseases we have now is from the result of countless hours of research. So I am not criticising anyone who has a science-only viewpoint, in fact I think it's healthy for us as Christians to embrace the other points of view before we make our own views heard.

As for me, I have been a Christian all of my life. I have never known the world any differently than that of a world where God created everything, man completely screwed up and tried to walk away from God, He then sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross so that we could be in a perfect relationship with Him, and we can spend the rest of our lives in complete freedom because Jesus rose from the dead and that means we are also alive in Him for eternity.

Now, reading back this last paragraph with an introspective view there are loads of things that I could pull out of this and question - like this:

a) If I've only been a Christian then I am bias to one point of view?
b) Is there a God and then why doesn't it say anything about God in my science book?
c) We screwed up from what? How did we know right from wrong?
d) Was there really a man called Jesus who lived a perfect life? If there is no God then He died for no cause.
e) How are we alive in Jesus?

I've probably missed out a load of questions that you may be thinking of but if I have, ask yourselves those questions because the results are quite staggering.

But going back to my point about being a Christian all of my life, does this mean I do actually have a one sided view of the world? Could I, and many many hundreds of millions of people who believe in creation, actually have got it wrong? Well here's my honest view; I have questioned my Christianity many times and even tried to do my own thing, but every time I do it leads me back to one thing. My life is better because I believe in Jesus.

You might be now choking on your coffee but before you stop reading I just want to let you into my life and how I tick when no-one is around. Because I truly believe that when I describe my life in a little detail it may give you some insight as to why I believe in God.

I would say that I am a good person. I would say that I don't do horrible things to people and that I am kind and generous. I guess it's mostly from my upbringing and what was installed in me as a child. I didn't live in a rough neighbourhood and my parents weren't divorced and we went to church. Sound idyllic doesn't it?

But I have also faced huge battles. We lost our home twice when I was a kid, we had just about enough money to share one Mars bar between five of us. My brother and sister were terribly bullied for their Christianity at school (I was teased but used to punch back so I was left alone). I lost my best friend to meningitis. I broke all my morals by sleeping with girls before I was married. I was swallowed up in debt. But in all of this, I knew that somehow I was protected and that this protection was not of my own making.

These days my life is full on. I have an amazing wife and two glorious kids. I work full time as a carpenter and we serve our local church so much that most of the time we're busy and don't have much time to ourselves. Some days I am very grumpy and other days I am extremely happy. But in all of this, when I wake up I have a moment either praying or reading my bible. When I do, I get this instant feeling of electricity in my body. It's very hard to explain but it's like getting a super high. Now I could be bringing this upon myself but I don't even ask for it. It just happens.

My head is usually filled with all kinds of thoughts but sometimes in the day I will hear my own voice say things in my head that I definitely would not say to myself. Things like: "You never fail me." Or; "You are amazing." But sometimes I will hear lengthy thoughts like: "There is a shift in this nation taking place where I am calling people to Myself and the hard ground is beginning to crack." I've come to understand that this is God speaking into my life. Yes, he loves to talk to His children. After all, He is a Father of many sons and daughters.

Now it's fine if you think I'm mad. I sometimes think that. But what I'm trying to explain is there is something very other than myself going on in me most, if not all of the time and it is the most wonderful feeling. My question to you at this stage is, have you ever felt like that?

Another thing that happens on a constant basis is something that upsets me because it causes something inside of me to go 'OUCH!' In every day conversations or on the radio or the TV, people left, right and centre are saying; 'Oh, Jesus Christ!' Or; 'Oh my God!' Whenever someone uses these names as a swear word it hurts - it really hurts. It's a bit like someone criticising your mother or shouting at your child. You feel violated. All the time I'm thinking; 'I know this Jesus you've turned into a swear word!'

What is this? If God does not exist, then why do people use His name without realising it? No other name is ever used to swear by. The thing is is that Jesus himself said that His followers would suffer because of His Name, so I guess it is actually part of being a follower of Christ, you have to ride so much abuse and negativity. Even my work colleagues take it in turns to berate me because of my faith. Does it make me want to give it up? No, because once you know God, everything becomes clear and somehow you put up with suffering for Jesus. He really suffered for me.

So that's just a little taster of what it is like as a Christian. It is a very hard road to walk. I quoted Jesus at the start of this blog because I believe that He wasn't just talking about rich people in terms of money. I believe that we all display a natural resistance to God because we were born into a world that has forgotten Him. It is all about us and if someone asks us to give up everything and lay down ourselves to follow someone we've never seen, the natural reaction is to jump up and down and say NEVER! I have had so many people use the same phrase: "It's not for me, thank you."

So what about science? Firstly Albert Einstein said this: "Science without religion is lame, religion without science in blind." This statement is brilliant. For me he is saying you cannot have one without the other. The two go hand in hand. If you believe in science and science only without questioning whether God is real then you have no argument. If you live in a world where it is all about God and you never think that science solves anything, you are also being ignorant to many amazing people.

Science is one of those subjects I have actually not put too much effort into as I believe in this whole creation story and that God made everything. It has caused issues with my friends because they think I am blinkered to the world in which they live. One friend said: "You believe in a God who does nice things to people and gives you a nice life, but I believe in science and logic." Fair enough, I thought, that's a pretty sound statement. But when I think about science my brain goes into the whole 'evolution is wrong' mode and that scuppers every other thought.

In reality I have a lot to learn about science and I am willing to learn. I just think with the story of creation and the idea of this amazing world coming into being as the result of a big bang with no intent or purpose to begin with, is more puzzling than the idea of someone far greater than us making it and then wanting a relationship with the people He'd made.

As far as I understand it, science is all about hard evidence. People say to me; 'where is the evidence of God because if you don't have it I'm not likely to believe what you have to say, anyway.' The thing is, how did scientists of the eighteenth century come up with hard evidence that the world came from a big bang? Hadn't the world been around a lot longer than them? Plus we believe in a load of other things that don't require evidence. What evidence is out there for other gods that are worshipped by other religions? Do people question them? No, because it would be ludicrous to question a Muslim or Hindu. So why is the existence of my God and Saviour questioned over and over?

People say, how do you know Jesus was real. Where is the evidence? There is nothing but a bunch of old literature written about Him in a book that was compiled over thousands of years by a load of men. Admittedly some were eye witness accounts but HOW DO WE KNOW as we weren't there? Was Noah real and did he have an ark? Very true, indeed. But I could say, what about Henry VIII? Have you ever seen him? How do you know that all of those stories are true? Was data collecting in the 16th century better than in Roman times where every death was recorded? Also, what about Father Christmas, why do we tell our kids about a completely fictional character without feeling guilty that one day our kids will find out he isn't real?

I have other burning questions like: Who was there testing gases before the world exploded into being? Where did these seemingly amazing gasses come from if there was nothing before hand? How did they collide in a galaxy that didn't exist? In my Bible it says 'In the beginning God...' so at least someone was there to light the fuse! If He did light it, doesn't that mean He did create everything anyway? Isn't atheism a faith? It must be because it's more confusing to think that nothing became something, rather than something creating nothing into something. Anyway, I digress.

So I'm now going to quote from Professor A Cressy Morrison, former President of the New York Academy of Sciences. This guy says that the more we look into science the greater the chances are that we'll find God. Speaking of creation and the chances of a big bang he says this:

"Suppose you put ten pennies, marked from one to ten, into your pocket and give them a good shuffle. Now try to take them out in sequence from one to ten, putting back the coin each time and shaking them all again. Mathematically we know that your chance of first drawing number one is one in ten; of drawing one and two in succession, one in 100; of drawing one, two and three in succession, one in 1000, and so on; your chance of drawing them all, from number one to number ten in succession, would reach the unbelievable figure of one in ten billion.

"By the same reasoning, so many exacting conditions are necessary for life on the earth that they could not possibly exist in proper relationship by chance. The earth rotates on its axis 1000 miles an hour at the equator; if it turned at 100 miles an hour, our days and nights would be ten times as long as now, and the hot sun would likely burn up our vegetation each long day while in the long night any surviving sprout might well freeze.

Again the sun, source of our life, has a surface temperature of 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and our earth is just far enough away so that this "eternal life" warms us just enough and not too much ! If the sun gave off only one half its present radiation, we would freeze, and if it gave as much more, we would roast.

The slant of the earth, tilted at an angle of 23 degrees, gives us our seasons; if the earth had not been so tilted, vapors from the ocean would move north and south, piling up for us continents of ice. If our moon were, say, only 50,000 miles away instead of its actual distance, our tides might be so enormous that twice a day all continents would be submerged; even the mountains could soon be eroded away. If the crust of the earth had only been ten feet thicker, there would be no oxygen, without which animal life must die. Had the ocean been a few feet deeper, carbon dioxide and oxygen would have been absorbed and no vegetable life could exist.

It is apparent from these and a host of other examples that there is not one chance in billions that life on our planet is an accident."

He then went on to make this point when saying that man conceiving that the idea of God is proof in itself that He exists: "The conception of God rises from a divine faculty of man, unshared with the rest of our world - the faculty we call imagination. By its power, man and man alone can find the evidence of things unseen. The vista that power opens up is unbounded; indeed, as man's perfected imagination becomes a spiritual reality, he may discern in all the evidence of design and purpose the great truth that heaven is wherever and whatever; that God is everywhere and in everything that nowhere so close as in our hearts."

Please hear me once again. Questions about my faith and discussions about science and religion are healthy ones to have and I have had many debates in the past of these two defining issues. My own views on this subject are there because of situations that have happened which I cannot explain and therefore am left looking at God for answers. I am no scientist but I am fully aware that God is real. Not because I've seen Him but because He makes me feel complete. I am not searching for answers any more because God has given me His reassurance. I never feel like I am missing something else as He is all I need. I have prayed for money when I've had none and bunches of cash have fallen through the letter box. I have had my back healed after 16 years of pain. The doctors cannot explain how I am pain free and how my disc is now normal.

The biggest evidence that God is real in my life has been recently when I discovered some writing by my daughter. My daughter has a significant learning disability which means she has a very low IQ and virtually no understanding of the world around her. She knows people and can talk with limited ease. She can walk and run and bake the most amazing cakes but stick her in a room of people talking and she will retain no information and she attends a special school as she cannot learn in mainstream setting. We once asked her to keep a diary but she couldn't say how she felt. She could say statements like: 'I ate breakfast,' but could not relate the day to her life. She has no conceptual thinking. She cannot think hypothetically so even with our best description of God there would be no way she would be able to cope with the concept of another being loving her from so very far away.

In her book it says this: "God had sent me a picture of seagulls flying past me and they were singing to me with joy. They were singing 'Bless The Lord' and holding onto me. When they flew past I felt emotional with joy. And God gave me a spirit of Luke 1 verse 28 where it says 'Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.'"

You will notice that Daisy has described in detail what she saw. She cannot do this with speech. This knowledge and wisdom must have come from another source. Also, Daisy spends most of her free hours worshipping God. This isn't anything to do with logic but to do with a 15 year-old girl created by God adoring her heavenly Father. I want to be more like her. This is all the hard evidence I need.

So going back to the scripture at the start of this article. Are you willing to give up all your understanding and knowledge on what you do know and to put your trust into something and someone you don't know? It's a big ask from Jesus. It's a massive one. But I can testify right here that it's the best thing I've ever done and will ever do. I gave Jesus my life and He gave me the world!

"Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere." Albert Einstein.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Since September I have been privileged enough to be part of a course called Training For Supernatural Minitries (TSM). This is a course ran by a team from the King's Arms Church in Bedford which helps reaffirm our call from God, maximize our spiritual gifting and to see heaven on earth displayed through healing on the streets and revelations of God's amazing love for people and His children.

Let's get one thing straight. Having been a Christian since the age of five and raised in an amazing church with strong apostolic teaching, I thought I knew most things about myself and what God wanted from me. I thought that other than developing in areas of prophecy and healing, my spiritual gifts were pretty good and it didn't matter too much that I was still carrying stuff from my past, thinking that if I didn't expose it, know-one would know and everything was just fine.


Within the space of a month of starting TSM I became acutely aware that God was wanting more from me and there were things that I thought were fine but were actually massive weights around me. I had been blaming past actions in terms of temptation and old sexual relationships for robbing me of who I really was but had carried on squaring the blame on pictures I'd seen and ex-partners. I had not realized that all this time the blame landed with me. I was the one who had given in to temptation and I was the one who could've been more responsible for my actions.

It was as this landed in my spirit I was able to cry out from within and ask God to deliver me from this guilt and to be forgiven for taking this out on others when it was my fault. When I did this, the only way I can describe the feeling is to say it felt like God removed the cookies from my mind that had stored these thoughts for so long. At last, I was free from guilt and shame. Amazing times.

From that moment God then began to restore parts of my mind and spirit that had been dormant for ages and I started to receive revelation of who I was in Him. I began to realize that I was a SON on God. I was His beloved boy who'd been hurt by the lies of the enemy and I didn't have to live that way any longer. I'm not saying I won't make mistakes any more but what I am saying is that as soon as I realized my son-ship I then knew that my old life had in fact been crucified on the cross and forgotten forever! What was I worrying about for all that time? Freedom had been restored to me in one afternoon and I know I'll never be the same.

Now that I'd had my eureka moment, it was then a case of breathing in all that God had for me. At the time I wrote down these notes from a preach I heard on Identity by my amazing course tutor:

'The God of the Universe really rates me!'

'We are not sinners who are sometimes saints. We are saints who sometimes sin! We are royal, chosen and the beloved of God. People who don't know Him are blessed by us being around them. We are princes and princesses of God!'

'Performance and comparing myself to others is just annoying. God didn't make a mistake when He made me. I must not look at others in high responsibility and think I wish I was like them - God made me like me! I AM His treasured possession!'

'The enemy's lie is our value and performance is wrapped up in our identity. Wrong. Our identity is dictated by how Jesus performed! I have value I can do all I am called to do.'


'God is thoroughly over the top in loving me, even when I am going the wrong way.'

'Pride speaks royalty based on achievement. God makes us royal because of what Jesus did.'

To me this was the moment. After 32 years of being a Christian I was now beginning to understand what God's heart was for me and that He was wanting a new authentic me. If I, through my testimony, can tell what God has really done then this will help people struggling with things in their own lives. Such an amazing time.

However, there were other things going on that were affecting my time at TSM. Because I was now trying to work a three day week in order to accommodate this course, my earnings were down pretty dramatically. We had always felt as a couple that our regular gift to God should not be touched and so even through times of barren earnings, we have still given outrageously. The fruit of this was our bills account was still operating normally but if you looked at what was coming into this account, it should never have worked out. But it did and praise God for all His provision.

The trouble was, in my attempts to protect the bills account I had not been protecting my spending on a credit card and things had started to get quite bad. Not only that, we'd only paid for TSM up to Christmas and it was now time for the next installment and I didn't know how on earth we'd get it. I thought of all different ways of covering this debt but what God was asking me to do was be honest and tell my incredibly patient wife what the deal was.

I obeyed God and things were understandably hard for a few days while we tried to assess the problem. I also knew God wanted more from me so I set aside time to pray about what He wanted me to do. God very quickly revealed that His heart was for me to honor my wife and children by laying down TSM and serving them. He reminded me if I ever wanted to lead others, then I needed to lead my family first.

After a chat with my course tutor I knew that God had spoken and so last Friday I shared this testimony with all of my TSM family as a way of them understanding why I was leaving. It was one of those moments I knew God was pleased with my obedience but I also understood that it was now time for action, responsibility and commitment to my wife and children.

This next season is one I believe God has lead us into for a reason and we are ready for all He has for us. I know that in past times when things have seemed hard God has always shined through and we have seen amazing things happen in our lives which demonstrate His never ending favor. I feel that God is wanting my wife and I to be ready for new adventures and actually this is a time for both of us to be serving and committing ourselves to our local church more than ever.

I am very excited about the future and praise God that I had the chance to be part of an amazing course and to get my life into perspective. God is just amazing and I am so grateful that He loves me. I hope this has also encouraged you.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013


During recent weeks I have been stirred to share my testimony. Many people know my background while others don't and in the last week or so I've realised there are friends of mine who may need to hear this as they are in a season of trying to make a decision whether to follow Jesus or not.

My life has been full of laughter, joy, despair, anguish, disappointment, encouragement, love and peace. Some have thought in the past that just because I am a Christian I have all the answers - well I don't. I just know that choosing to follow Jesus is the best decision I ever made and the fire that started to burn bright in me as a five year-old is still burning now, even brighter. But why?

Well this is my story and I hope it encourages you.

I was born in in 1975 in Brighton, East Sussex, which is on the south coast of the UK. At that time my mum, dad, sister and brother were living in a three story house in the middle of the town, as it was back then, and my dad's business went through a rough patch and we ended up moving to a place called Scaynes Hill in West Sussex.

Moving to this part of Sussex seemed a good idea and my earliest memories were that my nan and granddad lived just along the road from us and we had some nice neighbours. I also remember a couple who lived across and they had become good friends with my parents and they had formed a small house church in their living room. I remember being there and sitting on the stairs, looking through the spindles of the staircase as a two year-old watching my parents worship. Everyone always seemed happy.

Not long after that the church had outgrown this small house and briefly met in Scaynes Hill Village Hall before moving to the bar lounge in a new building called Clair Hall. This was Haywards Heath's new cinema/theatre and it was amazing for everyone involved.

As this was all happening, my family had moved out of where we were into a very large house in a place called Cuckfield before finally settling in a house in Lindfield which backed onto a very large green.

I don't remember specific details about all the moves but I was told later in life that getting into this house in Lindfield should never have happened but that God had made a way for it to happen. Looking back now at the circumstances we were in it was indeed a miracle.

It was during my early years in Lindfield that I had started asking questions about what church was and why we went every Sunday. Growing up watching my parents worshiping had made me realise that there must be something to life that I didn't know, but what was it?

You might be thinking that I was easily persuaded or that I was forced into this decision. Totally not the case. When you see someone engaging with God in worship there is only one conclusion to draw from this - there must be someone that they are worshiping.

At the grand age of five I asked my dad if I could become a Christian and he prayed a simple prayer with me which went something like; "Dear Lord Jesus, please come into my life. Thank you for dying for me, I'm sorry for all the wrong things I have done. Amen." And that was it.

Did a bolt of lightening hit the house or the ground shake? Nope. I just felt happy.

Something strange did happen though. I did all of a sudden become aware that there wasn't just a God but there was also a devil, too. He was nasty and evil and he made people make bad choices. I became a bit too obsessed with this and ended up getting my parents summoned to school because I kept blaming the devil for things I was doing wrong. It is a funny story but interesting how a five year-old can then have a discernment about what is right and wrong.

School was hard for me as was always daydreaming but by the time I had reached the age of seven I had decided to get baptised. I made this choice because I had read that this is what Jesus did. If Jesus did this and He was the Son of God then I'd definitely have to! It was also a way of me saying, 'right I'm taking this seriously now'.

At this moment in time my dad was just going into teaching, which was at the time terrible money but he did it to provide for us. It was such a hard time for everyone. Sometimes we'd buy a Mars Bar as a treat but would have to share it into five because we could only afford one at a time. But in all that financial hardship, we never went without a meal. Never went without clothes. Never had to move. God was sustaining us in ways that I can't even explain here. It was that amazing.

By now I had made really good friends and one whom I met as a five year-old is still my friend now. But there was one who was my closest friend, Tim. We were inseparable. Throughout junior school and senior school we had such a great friendship and would often sit in his or my room chatting and sharing our lives and it was such a happy time.

As we grew up together the youth group of our church had started to go to things called bible-weeks, where thousands of Christians from all over the country would get together to worship and hear preaching. We weren't really interested in the God stuff as there was loads of Christian girls there! Funny and unfortunately true.

But while this was going on my dad's business which he had started in Brighton was struggling and towards the end of my school years I'd effectively given up on education. I was only good at writing and hated all the other subjects. I decided there and then that I wanted to be a journalist and write about cars.

As well as not doing well at school, I had also started to grow a bit cold with the whole church thing and wanted to 'have a life' as I used to think. I don't know the reasons for growing cold but as a teenager on the verge of college I guess I wanted to drink and smoke and party like all my other friends. I had started to think that being a Christian was a pretty lonely existence.

This was now 1992. I had started to teach myself bass guitar and I had found a media course in Brighton but it wasn't due to start until the following year so I had a chance to retake some GCSEs and move to Brighton with my parents as I was the last one left at home. It was then that I became a member of a church called Clarendon which had loads of young cool people in. I missed my friend Tim but we kept in touch as best we could.

As soon as I started going to this church there was something in me that was desperate to know God in a personal way. I knew all the Sunday school stuff but this was different. This was about me knowing who He really was. I began to encounter the Holy Spirit in ways I hadn't done before and once you have one hit from Him you just want it again and again. And it was during this year I got mugged.

I was walking across Brighton to get to college and for some reason a man chased me across a road and hit me in the face about five or six times before someone scared him off. I didn't react, I just stood there with my hands in my pockets. My gums were bleeding everywhere and I walked to the Police Station where I did some ID stuff but went home not quite knowing what had happened. It put such a fear of men in me that even now I will react with a chilling coldness to violence.

It was the next morning, however, that I experienced God's first miracle in my own life. I looked in the mirror and my gums were still bleeding and I had bruising to my face but I knew I needed to pray and forgive this person for what he'd done. So I sat on my bed and said; "Lord, I don't know why I'm praying for this man, I don't even like him and hate him for what he did. But You love him. I pray that you forgive him for what he did to me and that you take away my pain. Amen."

When I walked passed the mirror on my way out of my room I glanced at my reflection and noticed the bruise had gone from my face. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up as I realised God had taken away my pain. So I check my gums - ALL TOTALLY HEALED.

It was such a revelation to me about the love of this great big God that I served. He did love me. He did take away people's pain and He really did want the best for me.

From that moment my faith grew and grew and I felt that life was now all ok and I even finished my National Diploma in Media with a distinction. I was on top of the world.

As well as this I had joined a team to go on outreach in America and had got into the musicians at church. I was playing bass with world renowned worship leaders on a regular basis. I was going to meetings where people were getting healed from all sorts of physical ailments and others were being set free from addictions. There was a huge wave of God's power sweeping across the country and God had given me new spiritual gifts like tongues and prophecy.

And then BANG.

My friend Tim had got meningitis and died a week later. At the time of his death he was 19 and had been made captain of his university's lacrosse team. He was in the prime of his life and loved Jesus. What the heck was all this about???

I was so angry at God. Not for taking Tim but because I could not understand why God didn't just heal Tim so that the glory of a miracle could be told to everyone I knew. But in my heart I knew I could not question God over this because He is always just, even when we don't understand it. It was a horrible, horrible time.

I got a job as a journalist working on car magazines and it was amazing. I did this for eight years but was still struggling to understand what had happened to Tim. I started drinking, meeting the wrong girls and getting involved with the wrong groups of people. In 2002 I was working for a magazine and was horribly in debt, I was drinking in excess of five pints a night, maybe 10 on a Saturday and Sunday and was now heavily into pornography. My life was out of control.

But. In the midst of all this. I could still hear the distant voice of God saying my name. ADAM. ADAM. ADAM. I knew that in spite of ALL my running God still loved me. It was time to get away from where I was an back to Brighton.

I didn't quite make it to Brighton straight away and ended up living in London for a while which was fun but I was still drinking every day and it all came to a head one night when I vomited a huge amount of blood. Enough was enough. Time to call my parents.

So in the January of 2003 I moved back to Brighton and as much as I wanted to go to church I thought I was too dirty and headed to the pub that backed on to my old church so I knew I'd at least see some familiar faces afterwards. I did but there was one face I'll never forget.

When I saw my wife for the first time, I recognised her but couldn't put my finger on why. I gave up trying to catch her eye and sat with an old homeless guy to play cards. It was then that this mysterious girl walked up and sat down in front of me and started chatting. I couldn't believe my luck.

A year and a half later we were married and it was, since giving my life to Christ, the best thing to happen to me. In marrying I also gained a daughter and a year later we had a son. As well as this God was now starting to point to areas in my life that needed sorting out. Everything was starting to come together.

As well as this I had heard a call of God to lay down writing and to go into the family trade of carpentry. This was huge for me. I had carved out a very successful career as a journalist and was being flown about all over Europe to test all sorts of new cars. Now God was asking me to lay it down?? It was horrible and I didn't know what to say but when I was praying I asked God why I should lay down everything to become a carpenter. The answer from God was simple: "Adam, my Son was a carpenter!" Oh, yeah, stupid me. In that one moment I knew that God was referring to Jesus who laid down all His majesty to work as a carpenter and then die for me.

I then looked back on my life and realised that I was like the prodigal son in the bible that Jesus spoke of. I had tried to run away and spent my money on anything I could but ended up with nothing. I then came home to find that God hadn't shunned me, but He welcomed me back into His massive arms and was also wanting me to have the best life I could ever have. It was just the most amazing feeling.

In all of the despair of losing a close friend, being out of control and lost without hope, God was holding me up throughout all of it. I just never knew it at the time.

Step by step, through God's amazing strength I was now being restored to the person I was just before my friend died and it felt so good. God had dealt with my past and was now working on me as a person for the future.

Now I am still enjoying God's love but in measures I have never experienced. Throughout my marriage to my wife we have both been maturing in our spiritual gifts but in this last two years it's felt like God has been shifting us at warp speed into a new and exciting season. We have both been so blessed with financial provision it's hard to know how to express our love to Him but we are trying.

At this time we are seeing people healed on the streets, people being set free from all sorts of illnesses including cancer. We're seeing our church grow faster than at any time I can remember. Our spiritual gifts are now at such an exciting level that we are being used more and more by God to speak into people's lives through the gift of prophecy. I am so thankful that God never took His eyes off me for a second. If He had of done, I certainly wouldn't be writing this blog.

But what has been the remedy? Why do I believe in God with such assurance? It all comes down to the spiritual foundations set in place back in the late 1970's by my parents. It is a result of constant unwavering love from them and the power of my mum's prayers for me when I was in a bad place that has kept me here. I have no doubt about that.

It is also down to men and women who have and are still speaking into my life nuggets of God given wisdom on a weekly basis. But ultimately it is down to one constant. One who never changes. One who has always interceded on my behalf. One who never holds anything against me. One who has never stopped loving me. His name is JESUS.

Jesus has transformed my life so much that I am unrecognisable to myself and to my friends and sometimes even to my wife.

So this is my very brief story. I hope it has encouraged you and that if you don't know Jesus, you will pray the same prayer I did as a five year-old.

You will never look back. I promise.