My name is James. Born and raised in Essex, everything was good at first: I was the biggest kid in primary school and every day was fun. As a teenager, life started to fall apart. My parents divorced, I had issues at school, and I was living a double life - being dragged to church but hating Christianity. I longed for something more.
So, once I hit 16 I joined the Army, thinking this was what I needed. But the novelty wore off and I left the Army and entered my early 20s trying to figure out what life was about, and to be as happy as I could be. This desire became more costly, and I got involved with the wrong crowd. Relationships came and went, and one relationship went bad and led to an unexpected pregnancy with an even more unexpected abortion. I felt my life was out of control, and my search for meaning took me to some dark places.
I had been working in the security industry for some time, and was a bouncer at various night clubs. This arrogant and sometimes violent world introduced me to hard drugs and petty crime. None of this satisfied me, and I hit rock bottom spiritually and emotionally. I did everything the world told me to do and it failed to deliver on its promises of peace, security and love. I confessed this to some family members who I’d avoided over the years, only to be told to try church! With nothing to lose, I did.
Upon visiting church for the first time in many years, I heard the gospel preached again. This time the Spirit opened my eyes and it all made sense. I’d tried to live a good life, but I’d just hurt myself and others. Because of my sin, I deserved the wrath of a just God; but then seeing the same God become man and take the punishment in my place to forgive me, and rise again to show my fine was paid in full - seeing all that, changed my life; brought me life in fact! I found the peace, security and love that I had not found in money, relationships and drugs. All by his grace, God filled that hole that I had had in my heart since I was born. This love changed my life. I now loved the things I used to hate, and vice versa. With God’s help, I gave up the addictions and finished the unhealthy relationships, because I had something infinitely better in Christ - and this newness of life was something I longed to share!
After moving to London, my evangelist heart continued to grow. I found myself being discipled in a church in South West London which had an ex-London City Missionary as a pastor. He directed me into the mission and I jumped on this opportunity. Over the years I moved from part-time and temporary positions to my current full-time position working in East London on the Isle of Dogs. I married Abi, and we have just had our first daughter.
My heart grew for Muslims and I committed to reaching them and others. I also had an eager desire to go deeper with studying the Bible and preparing myself in the future to be used by God to grow and edify the church, which led me to study part time at London Seminary. The course has been amazing so far, from studying Hebrew, to Hebrews. It fuels my ministry and personal growth!
1 John 4:19 tells us that ‘we love, because he first loved us’ - this has been my motto ever since being brought from death to life in Christ. My prayer is that others would know this love too through the life that I now live.