Why go to Church?
As a 15 year old growing up in the City of Coventry I had one main focus in life. Cycling was my passion. Every day I would be out with the local cycling club training or being involved with time trials. I was not really that good but I just loved the sport. It therefore came a s a surprise when a good friend of mine who had for a long time had been a “Church goer!” invited me along to her church youth group. I politely declined. I had never even considered whether there was a God or not and I had no concept as to what a Christian might be. My fiend however persisted and eventually found a key to get me along. It was Christmas time and another interest had started to develop in my experience. Girls: she told me that there were some nice girls there and so I agreed to go along to the Christmas party.
My friend was right, there were some really attractive girls at the party and so it was no real difficulty to be there. I still had no concept of what Christianity was about and there was no epilogue to conclude the party. BUT I was impressed by something on that night that caused me to want to go again. There was a lad 3 years older than me who at the end of the party invited me to follow him. Dutifully I followed because there was something about him that fascinated me. He led me into the kitchen, threw a tea towel to me and told me that he and I were doing the washing up. I might have thought that this would have put me off church for life.
After all whoever heard of a 15 year old voluntarily washing up??
Ian (the young man) was so much fun that I was impressed by his character and so it seemed only natural to agree to attend the next young people’s meeting.
I went along on the first Wednesday of the New Year to the “Crusader” group, where a man called Dave led what to me seemed like a Church service. It was all very odd to me but I was sat next to my new found friend and of course there were an number of girls to “eye up.”
The meeting consisted of singing a few “choruses” (I could never understand where the verses were!) a bible reading and then Dave spoke about Jesus from the bible. This was the very first time that I had been confronted with religion and I remember thinking to myself “why do I need religion” but that was thrown into confusion by Ian who clearly had got it!
A time to decide.
I became a regular attender of the group and I confess that I really did enjoy all that went on there. The message from the front seemed to make sense and Ian seemed to me to be living proof of all that was being taught. Deep inside I knew that I did not have what was being “preached” and that I wanted it. It was at an inter church meeting in Rugby that an older man spoke about the need for personal salvation that God the Holy Spirit convicted me of the sin within, He extended His grace towards me and I was not saved!!! I was in a state of confusion and unhappiness for a few months. Was I one of those who had rejected the free offer of the gospel, would it ever be offered by God in such a way again? Theses thoughts were my constant companion.
An evangelist called Arthur Dean came to the special youth weekend and after the evening service he spoke directly to the youth group. He asked each one in turn to give testimony to salvation in Christ. I was towards the back of the meeting and was urgently trying to think of what to say. When my turn came I could do no more than say that I was not a Christian. What came next surprised me. The speaker asked me if I wanted to be a Christian. At that moment the conviction that had felt in Rugby returned and so I said with great conviction that I did. I went into another room with a leader and prayed and received Christ as Saviour. My sin was dealt with, my heart was removed of the burden and I was saved! God had gifted me with something very special.
That was of course a long time ago, many things have passed under the bridge and now I am now Pastor of the church here in Ogmore-by-Sea. How does all of that happen?
The ongoing story!
Space on this web site does not allow me to fill in the details which have taken 43 years to reach this point and so I will develop this testimony in my blog which you can access from the links page. I will however say along with the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:8 that my salvation is God’s gift of grace to me. I did not deserve it. Even though relatively young the bible tells me that I am a sinner and God confirmed that in my heart through the preaching of the gospel. By faith I believed, repented of my sins and became a follower of Jesus.
Jesus told His followers that we should be impressive to others, just as Ian had been to me. This had a profound effect on me and eventually many years later felt that I should train for “the ministry” and teach others what Ian had taught me: that “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.”1 Timothy 1:15
Why not you?
A similar story is true of many people in Churches around the world. God so loves this world that He sent Jesus that He might save us from the penalty deserved due to our personal sin. He does not delight in punishing the wicked but He wants all to be saved (see John 3:16-17). All have sinned and fallen short of God’s standard and so we all need saving. Why not read the bible for yourself and ask God to reveal truth to you through His Word? If you need any help in these things please e-mail through the contacts page and we will help in any way that we can.
(Peter’s Testimony Part 2)
Why on earth did you become a Pastor?
An enjoyable career!
After leaving school I worked at Warwick University where I trained as a Chemistry Technician. I ultimately became a spectroscopist. A big title which simply meant that the university paid me for thoroughly enjoying myself; working with wonderfully clever analytical equipment.
I met Pam and we eventually married in 1974. When the family arrived a university salary was no longer sufficient even though I had been promoted to a senior position. I went to work for a short while in the Environmental Health Department at Nuneaton Borough Council as a noise and pollution technician. I enjoyed the contact with the general public but for various reasons the job was not what I wanted and so after 2 years went to work in Chemistry at Coventry University where I once again took up the mantle of spectroscopist. Again I thoroughly enjoyed my job and even began studying for a Masters degree.
An active member of the church:
It was during this period as I had become more involved with my local church, as the young people’s leader, a member of the outreach team and Deacon of the church that I started to consider what I might do more directly in the Lord’s service.
When I was first converted a friend lent me a book titled “Tortured for Christ” by Romanian Pastor named Richard Wurmbrandt. The book was set in the times of severe communist oppression of the church and Pastor Wurmbrandt suffered terribly on account of his faith. Since that time I had been prayerfully concerned for the persecuted church in Eastern Europe and especially Romania. It was a joy to see the news of the Berlin wall coming down one night as I returned from an evening of prayer for the church in Eastern Europe.
A trip to Romania:
About 12 months later Joy; one of the young people from our youth group went to Romania as a volunteer worker in an orphanage in a town called Piatra Niamt. Pam saved up for a ticket for me to go to see Joy whilst she worked there, it is this that changed my life radically. To see the people who I had been praying for and to see their real needs was a life changing experience. The country was desperately poor but the church was spiritually rich beyond what I had ever seen before. Many had gone out before me and had interpreted the greatest need of the church to be financial and practical, but as I observed the Pastor and church in action a greater need became evident to me. Due to oppression the leaders had very little bible resources and many were very poorly taught. My previous desire for the church’s protection from persecution had been replaced with a desire to protect the church from the error of some western teaching that was flooding Eastern Europe by then. This was more likely to have a detrimental affect on the purity of the church than persecution ever did have.
Upon returning from Romania, Pam’s first question was what now, we both realised the profound affect that the trip had upon me. I felt it right to apply for a place at the Theological college of Wales (now West Evangelical School of Theology) I was accepted and even qualified for a Local Authority Grant for my studies. Chemistry gave way to theology. I enjoyed my studies there. As a family part way through we moved to Wales.
A great church in beautiful surroundings:
It was at this point that our relationship with the Evangelical Church in Ogmore-by-Sea came about. We had the privilege of worshipping with the church in the most beautiful place you can imagine. (If you have not been there you should really make every effort to, you will not be disappointed!!) We enjoyed living in the village and also loved the ministry of Pastor Vernon Salkeld and fellowship with the church.
During my studies at ETCW I believed the direction of my ministry would be to help the church in Eastern Europe to get good bible teaching and resources. This all changed during my time in the church at Ogmore-by-Sea. My love for the people developed more and more and unbeknown to me they were looking for a Pastor at just the time I would graduate. They prayed for guidance and we prayed for direction. Through a series of remarkable incidences we both came to the same conclusion and I was appointed to be Pastor of the church in September 1995.
God is good to His people and we have been blessed in more ways that we can ever explain. He continues to bless His church here in Ogmore-by-Sea.
(Peter's testimony part 3)
Almost 20 years on:
In June 2013 after much prayer and deliberation and many wonderful (and also not so wonderful) experiences we felt that it was time to move on from the Pastorate of Ogmore by Sea Evangelical church and to move into what promised to be a very different type of ministry. It was not to be church pastoral work but working in the town of Looe for a Christian Resource Centre. The name was the Rusty Bucket of which you can discover more either from their web site or from my blog at: rbcrc.blogspot.co.uk
Initially we agreed to manage the coffee shop which was the open door into the charity where the gospel through many different social concerns and evangelistic events was to be discovered. Before taking up post the trustees agreed to change my job description to Development manager of the charity with secondment to the coffee shop at high need times. Looe is a very busy seaside town and so understandably all hands needed to be on deck in high season. We readily agreed to the change with great excitement and plans.
After the relief of a hip replacement due to chronic arthritis which had resulted from many cycling accidents in my younger days I started work in the cafe. We started running as the season had already kicked in. We had a very busy summer and made many new friends from all over Britain and indeed the world. We also began to make contact with people from Looe which is really what we believed our role to be all about.
The summer was very busy with both Pam and I putting our backs into coffee shop work. Our difficulties became apparent when trade in the autumn did not really subside as was predicted and so coffee shop work continued and evangelistic opportunities were infrequent. There were a number of clubs operating in the function room above the cafe but I was discouraged from any involvement which proved to me that this was not what God had called me to long term.
I also developed a serious hernia which was more painful than my hip had ever been and far more debilitating but I soldiered on until after the new year when the cafe closed down and I had an operation. Due to a number of issues which are best not explored publicly I resigned from working for the charity and joined the great line of semi-retired people of my generation. It is not my choice to be retired, I am too young and also do not have the finances behind me to live without earned income and so it is a very nervous time for us.
Was it all a mistake?
I have to say a resounding NO to that question. Without going into details I believe that the lord led me here firstly in order to assess the work of the charity and to make recommendations that have proven to be unacceptable. that is the responsibility of those concerned. I have worked outside of my comfort zone but have a clear conscience as to what I have done.
The question that seems to be of greater importance is:
"what means does God use to bring a man and his wife out of their comfort zone and lovely life in South Wales into Cornwall?"
The Rusty Bucket Christian Resource Centre on this occasion is the answer. Therefore I am grateful to the Trustees and to the Lord for what He has done.
I am a member of Grace community Church in Morval, they are exploring Pastoral work within the church for me. This is an unsalaried position and so does not cover the financial costs of life. I also work voluntarily for the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches and am involved in leadership of a house group within the church. along with other preaching and teaching opportunities all of which do not pay our way.
As many Christians remind me "God is good" and He will not let His loved ones fall, therefore we are trusting Him for the future.
This post is called Testimony and may appear to be all about me but the reality is that it is Testimony as to how God is at work by His grace and amazing favour even through me. Nothing that I say is less than honest and is meant as no criticism to others implicated. you have all been a part of my amazing journey as a Christian, there are many unsung heroes and villains but God has used you all for my sanctification and to travel this life until I enter into the valley that Psalm 23 tells us is where the Lord really takes over and takes us eternally into His presence.
Therefore watch this space, if there is to be more testimony to His goodness I will post it as soon as it is proper to do so.