Latest Entries »

when life changes

stone outcropI had a bit of a moment this weekend. To celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, we re-visited the hills we had explored when we decided to get married. We even took the same route we had taken all those years ago.

On the hill, overlooking one of my favourite places in the world, I was acutely aware that the most important period of our most important role in life is almost over. Our children have grown up.

Hope has completed her first year at university, Peace is about to leave home for college and Mercy is 17 in a few months time.  It’s not that you ever finish parenting – it’s simply that the role you play in your children’s lives changes and we are entering a new phase.

I was aware too that the most important wish I had for them when they were born was that they would each know and love Jesus for themselves, which they do.  I felt overwhelmed by God’s love and faithfulness across the years.

I am also aware that our marriage is entering a new phase too.  We have been preparing for life without our children at home, talking together about our future – the hopes and desires that we have – and about God’s plans and purposes for us.

It was so good to look out across the hills and vales and know that He has been faithful for so long and that He will continue to be so throughout the years ahead.

The care system for children in the UK has come under huge scrutiny recently, and rightly so. With so many cases of historic and systematic abuse being uncovered it is essential that the truth is established, justice is done and changes are made.

The impact on people’s lives is immeasurable. Many never really recover from such a difficult start.

It is therefore both challenging and encouraging to know people like Ray. He started life in a very tough family situation and experienced a traumatic time in the care system. When he left at 18 he was vulnerable and angry.

Unable to cope, he repeatedly found himself in prison. There was a pattern of behaviour in his life that he simply couldn’t change. God, however, had other ideas.

After being taken care of by a Christian who took him under his wing, Ray eventually gave his own life to Jesus. Things have taken time to change – and continue at times to be difficult – but for the last four years he has been living in accommodation with Faith Hope and Enterprise and making good progress.

In that time, Ray has become a family friend. He has spent Christmas day with us a couple of times and has seen our children in school productions, choir concerts and sports events. It is a privilege to know him and to be part of his journey.

when change happens

It’s one thing to see someone make significant change in their lives, it’s another when they reach out to help someone else do the same. Today, Geordie offered a young homeless man some hope in a desperate situation. Listening to him make the offer just blew me away.

I have known Geordie for a little more than two years. We met when he was in prison, referred to us by an alcohol worker there with whom we had built up a good relationship. He moved into a shared house and began volunteering with the company, quickly able to turn his hand to a number of practical skills that he has continued to develop.

Last year he moved into his own property, which he keeps in exceptional condition.

Other residents listen to him. His understanding and advice has been invaluable, and he is an inspiration to people looking to make the same changes in their own lives that Geordie has made in his. His journey is not yet complete, but he has come a long way and he has hope and confidence for the future. I am looking forward to seeing where that takes him.

a sense of loss

My colleague and close friend Carl Taylor, founder and visionary of Faith Hope and Enterprise, died earlier this month.

Carl was a quite remarkable man. Someone of whom, in my estimation, the world was not worthy.

His compassion for the poor and his commitment to helping people turn their lives around against the odds was absolute. He enabled people to overcome abusive childhoods, mental health illness, learning disabilities, addictions and their past offending behaviour to find a meaningful place in society. He worked for the benefit of others at tremendous cost to himself.

Even in hospital, in the last week of his life, he would talk to me about the future of the company and the people we currently work with. He never once switched off.

He was the kind of man who said it the way he saw it. He could be uncompromising and intimidating. He was honest. He lived out the call of God on his life for the whole of his life. In the last days we remembered God’s promises to “make the Valley of Trouble a door of hope” (Hosea 2:15), “to proclaim good news to the poor…to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” (Isaiah 61:1,2).

We remembered the promise of Jesus to the man next to him on the cross, “today you will be with me in paradise,” (Luke 23:43). I know that Carl has also heard the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21).

Friendships like ours don’t happen very often in life. We were open hearted with each other, we shared common values and purpose, we felt that God had brought us together for a reason and we pursued that vision with everything we had.

I will miss him. I will miss his warmth and his love. I will miss his humour and his clarity of thought. I will miss his wisdom and understanding.

Carl leaves an amazing legacy in the lives of the many people that he supported and the many different projects and enterprises that he was involved with. His vision continues and his ministry lives on.

Well done, my friend.

changing lives

Every now and then you see a break through in someone’s life that reminds you of the importance of grace. To be part of these stories is always a privilege.

I am so grateful to the people around me who make it possible to see people like Emma change their lives.

I hope you feel inspired reading her story.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 353 other followers

%d bloggers like this: