So far I have shared two parts of my story, and today I will continue where I stopped last time. As a young child, one of my favorite verses was the following:
Acts 10:47—“Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”
My parents found themselves with no arguments left. I had received the Spirit just as they had. I was clearly a Christian. How could they stop me any longer from being baptized?
I remember the day well. We had a temporary wooden baptistery with a plastic lining. I loved watching the pipes being used to fill and empty it. For some reason that day someone decided it would be kind for me as a youngster not to be first. They started with the oldest and worked down to me the youngest.
I waited for what seemed like an eternity. Finally it was my turn. The water was cold. I remember being pushed under the water and brought back up. Now I was a “proper Christian.” I had told the world I would follow Jesus. It was a solemn moment and yet a great celebration. I felt like it was almost my funeral since I was so determined to die to myself and live for Jesus.
After receiving the Sprit and being baptized, very quickly I began to prophecy regularly in church. At the time we also held open air meetings in the park. My sense of a need to preach the gospel grew. I would ask to be allowed to tell my story. More than once my parents would discover I had disappeared. I would be found with leaflets I had taken from the adult supply to explain the gospel to someone. I was sure they were trying to hide the leaflets from me, but I would always find them. I would choose older people as I figured they had less time left. My parents would urge me to only do this with an adult accompanying me. I retorted, “But then they don’t let me speak.”
At around this time I had an encounter with my granddad, a tent evangelist, which I recall well. My uncle was home from New Zealand and we were all visiting my aged grandfather. Suddenly, as we were walking, my grandfather became lucid. He turned to me and said, “This will be the last time I see my son.” He then spoke of the lack of faithfulness of many to the word of God and passed on a baton to me, saying that when I was older I, too, must preach the Bible in a trustworthy manner.
All was going well for me, and I had a growing sense of God’s hand on me for service as the years progressed. I was happy to be in church and looked forward each year to the Newfrontiers conference, the Downs Bible Week.
At the last Downs, I was impressed by a preacher named Henry Tyler, who did a seminar on missions. I sat through it eagerly taking notes, and at the end Henry told me how encouraging it was having me there. He confirmed a sense that God was at work in me for some service to him in the future. He told me to keep in touch, which I did until his death many years later. It was Henry who introduced me to Spurgeon and encouraged me to read biographies of Christian leaders.
Then I was surprised to hear that my world was about to be turned upside down—we were to move to another part of the country where there was no Newfrontiers church. I sensed God saying, “Maintain your links with Newfrontiers,” which I did over about the next ten years when I was not in a Newfrontiers church. I continued to find their conferences like Stoneleigh Bible Week and Clear Vision over the New Year to be invaluable, and even attended a week of outreach led by Lex Loizides which had a major impact on me, and reminded me of the passion and enthusiasm for God and sense of belonging I experienced within Newfrontiers that I was missing.