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.”
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.