I want to share with you some of the wonderful things that God has done in my life, this is written not to draw attention to myself, but to give God all the glory for what he has done.
God Healed Me: When I was 4 years old I started to have seizures, I was diagnosed as having epilepsy, the seizures got so bad that I was hospitalised. The Consultant told my parents that the outlook was not good, if I lived I would be permanently brain damaged, but the greater likelihood was that I would die. My mother shared this with a preacher who was visiting our Chapel. He said that he wanted to visit me and pray for me, which he did that afternoon. Immediately my condition started to improve, medication that would not work before started to work.
Soon after I was discharged from Hospital I had to visit the Hospital to see my consultant, who was totally nonplussed by my recovery, he asked me,
David what made you get better,
I replied “Jesus made me better”
His response was “who knows the boy might be right, we certainly did not do anything.”
I was known at the hospital, and my local doctor’s as the miracle boy!!
This was the start of a healing process, which would last many years. Through the seizures I lost all co-ordination between hand and brain. And for many years I could not write properly. Then when I was 12 years old I had a teacher at School called Mrs Leader one day she said to me “David if you and I work together,I am convinced that you will begin to write”, and that is what happened. I still have to take medication for epilepsy, but I sometimes feel that I should say grace before taking them simply because I am very conscious that they only started working when my heavenly Father made them work.
Teenage problems and rebellion:When I got into my teens and early twenties I found it hard because there were limitations on my life. I can’t drink any alcohol, I can’t drive and I have to avoid strobe lighting. These restrictions made the life of a rebellious teenager difficult. so I was determined to find some outlet for my energy,I went to the library and started reading around all sorts of subjects to see what I could do. At the age of 15 I started reading about politics, and I knew that this was what I wanted to be involved in. In 1966 I joined the Liberal Party and became very active holding a number of posts,including that of Political Vice Chairman of Luton Young Liberals. I was involved in all the ferment that surrounded The New Left in those days. I thought that I would be involved in Politics for the rest of my life, but God had a very different idea!!
God’s Gracious Plan: I was in rebellion against the legalistic background I was raised in and only went to chapel to please my parents. I normally sat by myself and read a political book during the sermon, nobody realised what I was doing because the book was concealed behind my Bible. However one Sunday morning in 1969, I could not read my book because I was surrounded by people. So I had to listen to the sermon, I don’t remember what it was about but the thing that hit me was that the preacher had something in his life that I didn’t. I was convinced of my sinfulness and my need of a Saviour. On New years Eve 1969 I went to a service feeling depressed, our pastor preached from Psalm 118 on these words “Thou art my God, and I will praise thee” during that sermon I realised that God was my God,I was sure that Jesus had saved me and I left the service rejoicing in my God. I realise in looking back on it that this was the night I was baptised in the Holy Spirit.
God Called Me:I was also aware that as God called me into his kingdom,he was also calling me to preach his word. I liked the idea of being in the kingdom but I did not want to be a minister, I found all the objections I could, but for nearly a year every time I opened my Bible it would open on 2 Timothy 4 where Paul says this,
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. 6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
I remember clearly thinking I don’t want to do this but because he is the Lord I know he will have his way, so I started reading books on ministry. One of the books I read was Charles Bridges “The Christian Ministry”, one summer day I sat in our garden in Luton reading the section on the joy of ministry, the Lord opened my eyes to see that preaching the word can be a joyful occupation. sitting in that garden chair, I surrendered to the Lord’s will. from that point on my bible did not open on 2 Timothy 4. I then began asking the Lord to guide me forward.
The first thing he showed me was the false theology of the Gospel Standard Strict Baptists, he showed me clearly that hyper-Calvinism is not scriptural. At about the same time I started to read books by Francis Schaeffer,my eyes were opened to the need for a Christian worldview. In 1972 I was able to contact Dick Keyes, who was then working in Ealing for L’Abri Fellowship, Dick was a great help to me and suggested that I spend some time at the English branch of L’Abri in Greatham. In September 1972 to I spent my first two weeks there, and I was really blessed through this, in fact I spent all work vacation time at Greatham until 1974. On June 10th 1974 I moved to Greatham to be a helper there for 3 months but the three month stretched into 9 months. At the end of the nine months the Lord clearly guided to apply to be a worker at the Swiss branch of L’Abri. I will never forget the day that I posted that application letter because when I returned from the Post Office, Ranald Macaulay greeted and asked me if I had posted my letter. I told Ranald that I had, and he said to me, “you will definitely being going out there, I have just received a letter from Swiss L’Abri saying can you send us a man”. this was to be the start of a big adventure.
A few weeks later I found myself in Switzerland, where I was told that they needed me to work in the French Branch, this was an extension of the Swiss branch. So I found myself living in Thollon-les- Memises in the French Alps, my role here was to tutor the students, lead discussions and lecture in Switzerland from time to time. In 1978 Judy Baumgart came as a student to French L’Abri, she then stayed on as a helper. I soon realised that this was a woman I wanted to get to know. to cut a long story short Judy, and I got married at Greatham on March 17th 1979.
In September 1979 we left L’Abri and returned to England, for Judy this was a new experience as she comes from Green Bay Wisconsin, she knew before we got married that I believed the Lord had called me to serve him in England, and she accepted that.
I started to apply to bible Colleges, but they all turned me down because I had a lack of qualifications. My friend Jerram Barrs, decided to write to London Bible College and ask them if they had done justice to my application. I was then offered an interview in July and was offered a place to start in September 1980. Through my time at LBC (now known as London School of Theology) I was finally prepared for ministry. I was ordained in June 1983 at Stanmore Baptist Church.
Since that time in various ways I have served the body of Christ, people often say to me, “You enjoy preaching don’t you” to which I always reply “yes”. When the Lord called me to ministry I realised the responsibility of preaching God’s word ( I still do ) but I did not know as I do now that serving the Lord is fulfilling, the calling I dreaded is now one of my greatest joys. I want to praise my God for all he has done. William Gadsby’s hymn sums it all up,
Immortal honors rest on Jesus’ head;
My God, my portion, and my Living Bread;
In Him I live, upon Him cast my care;
He saves from death, destruction, and despair.
He is my Refuge in each deep distress;
The Lord my strength and glorious righteousness;
Through floods and flames He leads me safely on,
And daily makes His sovereign goodness known.
My every need He richly will supply;
Nor will His mercy ever let me die;
In Him there dwells a treasure all divine,
And matchless grace has made that treasure mine.
O that my soul could love and praise Him more,
His beauties trace, His majesty adore;
Live near His heart, upon His bosom lean;
Obey His voice, and all His will esteem.
Amen and Amen