About Me

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Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, United Kingdom
Broadcaster, musician, song writer, tea drinker and curry lover.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

My 5 Life-changing moments - Part 3

So we left it with my having downed a bottle of aspirin and going to bed. Things weren't looking good. Except God had other ideas. Something within me made me get up again, go down the hall and call a friend, who took me the 2 miles to the nearest hospital, where the next morning, after a stomach pump and a thorough psychiatric assessment, I was discharged with a whole new outlook on life.

I was glad to be alive, and so thankful to God that after some months of leaving him out and doing my own thing, he still cared enough to rescue me. I vowed in return to dedicate my life to him in any way I could, and within 7 years I had embarked on the pathway that led me to where I am now, and that leads me onto my final life-changing moment.

On April 25th 2007 I left England to come and work here in Medford, OR for The Dove. I had been over for 2 months the previous September just to see if life in the US was going to work out. It did and it has.

There's no doubting that leaving your home country and moving to a foreign land is a huge upheaval in many ways, but the process has been made so much easier by my wonderful talented and fun-loving work colleagues, the listeners and locals I've got to know along the way, and most of all, at church, by the worship ministry people, the pastors, the Mighty Men, and my new US family, the Life Group, without which I'd be a mess. I love you guys.

So there you are. My 5 life-changing moments. Sorry it was a bit long, but it all needed saying, some of it perhaps for the first time.

I wonder which moments have shaped your life...?

My 5 Life-changing moments - Part 2

We're up to the third in my 5 life-changing moments, and this one was in 1985, during an event that Steve Chalke (see 2) had enlisted me in, the annual Spring Harvest conference, held in April in various holiday camp sites around the UK.

As part of Steve's fringe media team I was also hawking tapes by the band I'd joined (my first), the script-rock (sic.) band The S.T.A.T.E.S. (stands for Sharper Than Any Two Edged Sword - Hebrews 4:12) to some of the well-known British worship leaders who were there. I had already given a tape to Graham Kendrick (who is a big deal in the annals of UK worship) when the weather took a turn for the worse, and the 5,000 seater big top tent, which is a signature part of Spring Harvest and the place where all the main adult meetings are held, was blown down. This left Spring Harvest looking for extra venues, and extra musicians to play in these venues for the worship meetings.

Graham must have remembered the tape, becuause I got a call from HIS bass player Les Moir, who is now a friend and still involved in the UK Christian music scene, asking if I played worship, and would I like to try out?

The rest, as they say is history. I played for a pickup worship band, got asked to tour with the leader, Ian Traynar, at other events, would up joining Youth For Christ's itinerant schools' band "TVB" for 2 years in 1993-5, was a founder member of the Saltmine Trust's band "Audacity" from 1996-98, and have toured all over the world, led worship in all manner of places and settings, appeared on a number of live worship albums, written countless songs, and worked with worship leaders and evangelists like Dave Pope, Graham Kendrick, Sue Rinaldi, Noel Richards, Chris Eaton, Luis Palau, Don Moen, Robin Mark and Calvin Hollingworth.

All because it got a bit windy back on an April day in Minehead!

Now onto 4, and for this we switch to my college years at Kingston Polytechnic (as it was known before it became a University) in 1985 - again!

I was there to study teaching, and in my first year I met a girl called Laura, who was not a Christian, but at that stage I wasn't going to let that get in the way of some fun. Plus she was absolutely gorgeous!

After 6 months together, we drifted apart, but I didn't take it well. One night after spending my time in the Union bar downing vodka and blackcurrant juice, I went up to my room and emptied a bottle of aspirin down my throat and went to bed, imagining I would not wake up the next morning.

For what happened next, stay tuned....

My 5 Life-changing moments - Part 1

I guess one major consequence of posting bulletins asking for people's "Top 5's" is that you will be asked for yours too. So, in response to those who asked, here are my top 5 life-changing moments (after, I might add, some considerable thought).

I should say too that these are most definitely, "so far", since there may well me more life defining moments to come, and I may well have already experienced moments that will change my life, even though I don't know it yet.

Anyways, in no particular order....

I've tried to be chronological in the way I've done this, and so 1 would be the decision my family made to change churches when I was in my early teens. This might not on the surface seem to be that significant, but what the move from St Peter & St Paul's Tonbridge (known by most in the town as "The Parish Church", although by Duncan Price as "The OTHER Parish Church"!) to St Stephen's did was to introduce me to a group of friends who have remained my strongest in my home town. People who were a part of the Wayfarers youth group, and with whom I really started to grow up.

People like Tim, Helen, Gordon, Alan & Alison (okay, Boy and Girl!), Neil (miss you, my friend) Duncan & Colin, Jill (and later Malcolm) , Graham & Lynne (now in New Jersey), and the family to whom I am closest back in the UK, my dearest friends Mike, Cherry, Ben and Laurie.

If it hadn't been for that church move, I would never have met these people, which is what makes it a life-changing moment, and my life is all the richer for knowing these guys.

Next, two moments which are defintely the 2nd and third top life-changing moments in my life, and both of which happened relatively close together in the early 1980s.

First, was a meeting in Tonbridge with a guy called Steve Chalke. He was at the time a local junior Baptist church minister (pastor) with big ideas, and absolutely no knowledge of the word "impossible".

Steve dreamed up cool ideas for youth work in the town, one of which was a temporary cafe over Christmas raising funds for famine relief and run by the kids. Another was even more revolutionary, using temporary radio frequencies (although it started as a cable radio project) to broadcast locally in town for a month as a fully-fledged radio station, again in aid of famine relief.

This came the year after the cafe idea, and was in 1984, the year of "Band Aid" in the UK. It was called "Radio Christmas" and was cabled into all the town's stores for a month. I was a dj on that station, and together with it's nationwide launch on separate FM frequencies in towns all over the UK and Ireland as Radio Cracker in 1991, it is what propelled me into eventually taking up a career in radio. For that I will always be eternally grateful to Steve Chalke (who now is a household name on UK TV and who heads up Oasis Media).

Incidentally, it was also down to Steve that, as part of Oasis, I spent 8 life-changing months in Mumbai, India in 1992/3. Quite a guy!

That's the first two. Stay tuned for more...

Mosaic - by Amy Grant

Those who know me well will be aware that I've long been a fan of Amy Grant's work, stretching way back to my first album of hers, 1985's Unguarded.

That interest wasn't waned over the years, and so it's probably no surprise at all to hear that as a Christmas present to myself I bought her new book of writings, poetry, song lyrics and reminiscences, "Mosaic".

The book has been criticised by some because it doesn't deal adequately with Amy's somewhat controversial 1999 divorce from first husband Gary Chapman, but that is missing the point. This book is not, nor does it ever pretend to be, a Life Story. It is rather a collection of thoughts and memories, many of them intimate, many of them brilliantly insightful in a way that doesn't over-intellectualize, many amusing, and many which bring a lump to the throat.

Okay, like I say, I'm a fan. But there is still much I have learned from a book which I read this afternoon from cover to cover, virtually in one sitting.

I have always liked Amy's uncluttered approach to life, with total honesty, even if she is falling into a briar patch. It helps us all to feel that it's okay to be "human".

Mosaic will surprise you with a sudden spiritual depth, and it will probably happen when you least expect it, and it is most definitely worth delving into.

2007 - the year that was...

Well, this has been a huge year for me. The year when I packed up and left the UK and found a new home in Southern Oregon - and a new family.

It was a year when I discovered that God likes to surprise you - sometimes it's a nice surprise, sometimes...not so nice!

I had a six week wait to get my Social Security when I first arrived in April. During that time my life was pretty much on hold as I couldn't really do anything. No bank account, no cell phone, no drivers license.

It finally came, and I passed my drivers test 2nd time (well, we're none of us perfect!) on July 3rd. Yes, Independance Day truly was just that!

Got my cell phone around the same time and since then it's been no looking back. Just last week I successfully got my British passport renewed in Washington DC, and so I'm legal for another 10 years!

I have the best cell group ever, a really cool team of musicians around me at church, and a great working family at the DOVE.

I've been thinking to myself about how my dear old dad, who left this earth nearly 4 years ago now, would react if he thought I was now living here.

He always maintained that he hated America and Americans. He said that Americans were loud and brash, and didn't spell or pronounce words properly!! Mind you, he said that about a lot of nationalities!!

I always THOUGHT he was kidding - I'm pretty sure he was; I guess I'll not know for a while yet - and I'd like to think that actually he'd be pretty pleased that I uprooted and moved to a whole new culture and a whole new life. I think that's something he could be proud of, in his own way!

And a note to you Americans. I'm sure he'd LOVE you!

Peace; and here's to a great 2008.