I grew up in Africa, in Nigeria; my parents were missionaries with what was then known as Sudan United Mission, now 'Action Partners'. Born in 1972 I lived there for 9 years in various different places around the country; Vom, Lang Tang, Daffo and finally Jos in Plateau State. We used to spend three years out there at a time and then come back to the U.K. for six months leave. So, childhood, whilst living in a secure family was a bit unstable, never staying in one place for very long. Such experiences eventually led me to vow NEVER to become a missionary!! I loved living in Nigeria, I just didn't like moving all the time.
We moved back to England permanently in 1981 to live in London -not a bad place, just too many people! Whilst I was growing up in a 'christian family' and was brought up with a christian worldview which I had no reason to disbelieve, it was a passive belief -more of an acceptance that certain things were true. It wasn't until July 1991 when I was 18 that the truth of the christian gospel really struck me and changed the way I looked at life and in turn how I lived. It was at a conference called YES '91 in a meeting one night that God revealed to my heart exactly what he had done for me in Christ Jesus. Put simply, as a result I came to think, 'if Jesus has given his life to death on a cross that I might be right with God and have eternal life who am I to think I can withold my life from him?' Such love demands my whole life not just a token part. I came to see that I had NO RIGHT to say to God -for example- that I would NEVER become a missionary. I came to see that the only thing I could say was, 'show me what you would have me do with my life and I will do it'. And it was not a burden, it did not feel like a duty, it was actually like finding freedom; life with purpose. I wanted to give myself completely to God.
I have to say that my belief in Jesus -in the truth of the Bible and it's claims about him, was never an intellectual decision. In other words I didn't have to be convinced through intellectual reasoning before I came to believe. To me it just made sense. Having experienced God in my life I cannot deny Him. However since coming to faith I had read many intellectual arguments which show that Christian belief in Jesus Christ as Saviour is not an irrational one. They have edified my faith but they don't 'prove' anything. Only an encounter with Jesus will prove to an individual that he is real and not myth. If you give your life to him and put your faith in him, very soon you will see that he is real and he will not let you down. Anyway, I'm getting slightly off track here as this is meant to be about my past, present and future.
After passing my 'A' Levels in 1991 I ended up taking a year out - I wanted to go to university but really needed a break from study. God used that time to strengthen my faith and reveal more of Himself to me. July/August '91 I went to South Africa and did 4 weeks voluntary work with a group of other young people around my age at a Scripture Union Outdoor Education Centre. Whilst I was out there God showed me clearly that He wanted me to come back in my year out -which I did in May-July 1992. This was probably the most enjoyable time of my life and I grew alot. Out there I met a someone who had spent some time in Bible College and God put it on my heart to one day do the same. I just wanted time really to emerse myself in His word.
Back in the U.K. I ended up in Art College on a Foundation course and then after that went to St. Luke's College, Exeter University to study Primary Teaching and Art. With a teaching degree under my belt I would have a passport to other countries IF God did indeed want me to become a missionary. At the University I became very involved with the Christian Union, first as a Hall rep. then as President.. This was short lived however as for various reasons at that time things began to fall apart. I ended up leaving college and feeling very much as if I had blown it and ruined God's plans for my life. For other reasons I ended up staying in Exeter for the next two years (July 1995- June 1997) and got a job working for a bank. As far as I was concerened this job was only to tide me over until the time was right for me to go to Bible College to do a Theology degree. During 1997 I became more involved with my local church in Exeter, St. Thomas Baptist Church and began preaching on the lay circuit being mentored by a man called Wally Nott. Sooner than I thought would be the case, circumstances changed to allow me to go to Bible College and in July 1997 I was able to leave Exeter in preparation to go to London Bible College in September, and I went back home to live with my parents in London.
I have spent the last three years reading Theology at London Bible College. All three of those years I was involved with the preaching team - being a part of it in the first and leading it in years 2 and 3. On July 1st of this year (2000) I graduated with a 2:1 in Theology BA(hons.) my to my relief... it had been three years of hard labour but it was worth it!! Baroness Cox spoke at the graduation ceremony which saw Graham Kendrick receive an Honorary Doctorate from Brunel University, so it was a memorable occasion.
The day after graduation I was able to walk straight into a job and am now the Pastoral Assistant at the International Presbyterian Church in West Ealing. In the months leading up to my graduation, Steve Constable, the Pastor gave notice that he was leaving to go and pastor a church in New York State. His leaving providentially coincided with the completion of my studies and the church decided to call me to pastorally assist (i.e. look after things) whilst they begun the search for a replacement minister. For me this has been a great opportunity to gain vital experience of the pastoral ministry with support from a church leadership that is sympathetic to my needs as a novice. I also strongly believe that the local church body as well as the leadership should recognise a persons gifts and calling before they are propelled fully into such work. What better opportunity for them to be in a postition to either confirm or deny that, than if I am working and exercising the gifts God has given me among them?
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