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.