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About us…

The testimony of a work in progress…

I was born and raised in Northern Ireland in a Christian family – my family had been Covenanters or reformed presbyterians for generations.  In our home there was respect for the law, respect for justice and love of family extended to others. Growing up in a loving christian home is something I didn’t really appreciate at the time but have grown in the realization of just how special and unique it was.

However my fathers job meant that we moved around frequently and as the troubles in Northern Ireland deepened my brother and I could not really develop open friendships as this could jeopardize our families security.  So although loved and cared for by my parents by my late teens I was a very lonely person, fearful and stressed.  I had developed epilepsy and was introverted and angry, people I tried to befriend let me down and I was labeled (nick named) ‘THE ALIEN’ at school – which just about sums up where I was at.

One wet friday evening I was out wandering the streets of a suburb of Belfast near a local church hall and heard singing – with music: we Covenanters only sang Psalms  and those unaccompanied [which can be awesome worship]. Curious I poked my head in the door to see what was going on, and ended up in the room.

Who I met that night was the real living person of Jesus.  Sure I’d heard of Him, studied him, sat written exams about him as part of Sunday School… but here in this group of 20 teenagers was the real deal.  Here was the person… and he invited me in.

Over the next few months I found that everyone in the room was on some sort of journey towards knowing Jesus and I had found a group of people heading in a direction that I could really relate and join in with. I had found Him, and I had found His family.

We read the bible and we were re-discovering things that He said we (as his family) should do… go and make disciples, prophesy, teach, preach, heal the sick, love and support one-another.  Having been taught that the word of God was truth we took Him at his word and went for it – even though the churches we had been brought up in told us that the times for the gifts of the spirit were over.

One evening at the group after discussing healing a friend looked at me and said… “You have epilepsy don’t you? That’s not what God wants for you — be healed!”… there was no floor time, no flash of lighting… but there was truth and power… and I’ve never had a seizure in the 31 years after this – Total instantaneous healing.

To all of us in this group Jesus turned up and told us about himself and showed us him alive and well… However our local church did not see it the same way.  We we asked to disband and felt that we couldn’t… and so Community of the King (CTK) was born…. and grew to over 400 people from all over Belfast.

I participated in the small groups of the church and being technically minded served in practical ministries such as PA, computing support and really enjoyed the worship.

My path eventually took me to work at the University of Ulster (UU) about 70 miles from where the community met in order to live amongst and support a group of students who were part of CTK but without support.  And having been there a short time God started gathering and moving more CTK people into the area.  I met Heather, my wife to be, in her final year at University, and although I had left school with very poor grades (not enough to get me into college, never mind University) the University enrolled me on a Masters Degree – one of many impossible opportunities that God generously has blessed me with.

As the last of the students graduated CTK blew up.  Something bad had happened in leadership and the community fell apart… and so did I.  I took the failure of CTK very personally… we were family… we had grown up together in spirit and truth… but we had failed.  The group that had been forming in the area drifted off into other churches but Heather and I couldn’t face further potential hurt.

After months of nothingness we decided to study ‘Celebration of Discipline’ together… and as soon as we had committed to doing this the phone started to ring with people we barely knew asking ‘What are you doing?’. When we mentioned the study people wanted to join us… and in a short time we had 20 people working through spiritual disciplines with us in our home – none of us in any church. In this group Heather & I got to pray for a couple for whom having children was impossible, the ladies womb having been destroyed as a result of a horrendous car crash – shortly afterwards she became pregnant and now they have 2 teenagers.  God was on the move and using us as we made ourselves available to Him.

We eventually joined a local pentecostal church – Coleraine Christian Centre (CCC). Where we were quickly integrated into the church… and God started a work in me in prophesy {this is still a work in progress}.  The leader at CCC was a very prophetic man whom God used very powerfully.  During our time there Heather and I produced a series of studies on the spiritual gifts that were used by the church during a month of prayer and fasting for the direction of the church.

By this stage Heather and I had been married 9 years and it looked like we would have no children of our own.  This was not particularly difficult for us and we had accepted the situation.  The leader of CCC had prophesied over us a number of times (some of these are yet to be realized) but his last prophesy was that Heather would be ‘a fruitful vine’ – we laughed as we thought of this meaning children… however the ‘joke’ was on us as by the end of the month Heather was expecting our first child, Beatrice Hope.

After Bea was born, God opened a path for us to come to Inverness and to be part of Kings Fellowship.  In Inverness God worked to free me from some of the closed-ness I had unconsciously learned in my childhood – I was so glad not to be in Northern Ireland. We agreed with God that we would do anything he asked of us… and we said ‘Yes’ to everything that the church in Inverness asked of us.  We lead a small group, we served, we supported individuals in need and in the year 2000 our second child Ben was born in Inverness.

But God had not finished with us in Northern Ireland (a Jonah moment) – I returned to University of Ulster as a senior manager (a jump of 5 grades in just over 2 years – more impossible stuff) with the task of setting strategic direction for the ICT services, and pulling together the services teams which had been fragmented and at each-others throats for many years.  God taught, and brought out of, me a latent leadership gift, and during my time at UU I was successful in bringing the team together, in setting direction and setting a standard of service.

While back in Northern Ireland we joined Belfast City Vineyard (BCV) church, which had many of the family aspects of church that we had appreciated in CTK and at Kings Fellowship.  We served in this church leading small groups, as part of the worship team, one-to-one mentoring and running discipleship classes.

It was while serving at BCV I had the privilege of serving the younger saints in Vineyard Kids.

For two years I worked with Katie the childrens pastor (BCV appointed a full time Kids pastor when we only had 6 kids) – In this time we only worshiped with adults when it was a family service – all our time was with the kids.  Katie modeled Vineyards Kids on the Childrens Equipping Centre at IHOP Kanas, and had spent some time with Lenny and Tracey LaGuardia ‘catching’ their vision for equipping kids.  In describing what we did we would say that “this is not a nursery, this is an armory”.

We saw children prophesy, heal the sick, have words of knowledge, worship in spirit and truth, lead others to christ, and even to die at peace in Christ… what could be better for the health of the church.

While I worked with the Kids and discipleship ministries in BCV Heather started to find a place of leadership amongst creative artists – both playing a role in the church song writing group, but also leading the creatives group [the church had a large number of professionals in creative industries].  Heather and I actively supported contemplative prayer and new expressions of worship within the church, and participated in friendship/servant evangelism ministry of the church.

All the while God was refining my heart.  I was learning to lead Gods way, by being attentive to his voice and obeying what he said.  But I didn’t know how tough this was going to become.

My work at UU completed I set up a life coaching/leadership development business… however while the time was right for me to leave the University I think in retrospect that the business idea was mine not Gods.  Instead we should have returned to Inverness at that time.  After nearly two years of trying to get the business working I was depressed and frustrated, everything I tried failed – I was in the dark night of the soul, so… I begged God for his presence, his direction and for a job… within a week he answered… A management position at Inverness College. I called… He answered.

We returned to Inverness, to the church that we had left here and slotted in seamlessly, picking up conversations that had been put on pause almost 10 years earlier.  Heather and I serve on the Ministry team and are responsible for the ‘Visual’ part of the church AV and the Connections team that welcomes people to the church and connects them into the body, and we both completed preaching workshops and I have had the opportunity to preach at Kings on several occasions and Heather at Womens Aglow.

God used Inverness College to get us back to Inverness – and his purposes see us here for as much (or as little) time as is his will.  And now I see that even my recent redundancy from the college is a gift from Him who has been with me guiding (and correcting) my path through all my life.

My story continues… my refinement continues… I am aware that I am flawed and weak and it is by his grace that I know the strengths and gifts he has given me.  It is my desire to serve Him – the one I love, the one who invited me in all those years ago.  I want to be where He is at work, and I want to join him daily in His work.  I am a work in progress.

God does the impossible, he delights in it.  He delights in His children saying yes and joining him in what He is doing.  This is the testimony of my life so far… He does the impossible, and wants us to join him in it.

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