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Why This Book Was Written
And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom;
and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split; and the graves were opened;
and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep [died] were raised.
(Matthew 27:51, 52, NKJV)
God is raising the dead!
The incident Matthew mentions above, when graves were opened and dead people came to life, was a unique event at that time. Although people had been raised from the dead before, in the days of Elijah (1 Kings 17:17-22) and Elisha (2 Kings 4:32-35), none had been dead for a long time. But after Jesus was resurrected, God also raised up a number of other people to testify to His resurrection. They had been dead for a considerable time.
In 1993, God first spoke to us about repeating that feat. Over a number of years He gave us dreams and various revelations, showing that He would bring back people from the grave – many of whom have been dead FOR YEARS! I summarised most of these revelations in WAKING The Dead!
Now, decades later, God is beginning to perform what He promised. These are the Days of Elijah! (Malachi 4:4-6. Matt 17:11)
Raised From The Grave After 22 Months Buried
On 17th December 2014 Emily Otete in Oyugis, Kenya, was brought out of her grave after being buried for 22 months. (22 is a numeric sign of inspired writing, as explained in the booklet God’s Great Genius.) Some roadworkers there saw her, and the angels beside her, and witnessed the miraculous event. God urged one of the roadworkers to write to me about it. As best as he could, with the English he knew, he described what he saw:
[My comments or clarifications in square brackets. I have protected his identity for his own safety.]
Sent: 12 January 2015 13:33
To: Malcolm B Heap
Subject: Emilly came back to life.
Hello! I’m Mr. O, I work with Kenya Public Works as a serviceman driving graders and forklifts at rural road contraction level. I was given your email address to write to you as a witness over what happened during the time Emily came back to life.
That day, I work up [woke up] to complete the last face [phase] of what we were making, I started working around 8.00am and reach near the girls homestead at around 12.30pm. I saw a strong wind pack flowers [blow flowers and plants around] that were at a point in that homestead and stopped by to see because it was only at one point. [There was no wind elsewhere in the area. It was only at that point where a wind was disturbing things on the ground.]
I called the three laborers who were assisting me and they came to observe it. [Then] We saw wind scatter the soil as if [it] digs it down [the wind dug into the ground, excavating and scattering the soil]. The two laborers ran away as they thought earth quake was about to take place but I stood still with the other one man.
The wind digged more dip [the wind dug deeper] and we left all the fear in us [fear left us as we became more curious to watch what was happening] and jumped over to the home stead. [Presumably a boundary fence. Maybe they jumped over it to get a closer look at what was going on.] The wind stopped and we saw seven people in white worship cloths as the angels, they had wings. The fear posted [arose in us] in us that we could not move any more step near [we were afraid to get any closer].
We closed our eyes because we were terrified and as we opened we saw a girl with burial cloths seated at the side of the grave. We ran to the nearby homestead to call those near the place. As they came to look, they called at her name and they said that girl resembled a lady called Emily who was killed some year back. [Yes, she was murdered about 22 months earlier. She has been in heaven (paradise), where good people go when they die. But God sent her back to earth to witness to God’s truth that we have been commissioned by God to promote.] She was not speaking but spoke at last when a man called Benjamin came and spoke to her as he raised some books over her. [Those books were writings of Midnight Ministries, which carry the ‘anointing’ or power of God to those who believe.]
This is all what I saw.
Emily wrote to me about her experience:
5th January 2015. From Emily:
I am happy to gain memory at last and get to write to you once again in this lifetime.
The glory of God is around you Malcolm. You have been given the authority to deliver mankind [through the spiritual power conveyed by the Word of God, to those who accept Jesus as Saviour] and prepare the world to meet Christ.
People have depended on the Bible for knowledge which is so good for Christian life, but do they understand all the Biblical concepts? [Many Christians do not, and are still in darkness about God’s truths.]
I have little time left but until [unless] I pass [on] this information [to those who will listen and whose lives can be changed by this witness about God], I believe my coming back to life [would have] no meaning otherwise.
I tasted the spiritual realign [realm or kingdom] and much [spiritual] understanding and message [information] has been given to me that [to convey] I pass to the world.
Time is short, but chances to choose the truth are enough for all who wish to hear it. Midnight Ministries’ publications are approved by God for synthesis of the Bible [making clear and understandable to people the Bible’s teachings] that many may understand God’s nature in belief that all is possible [and come to know that all is possible through belief in Him].
All churches who have published any misleading scriptures [incorrect teaching and who have distorted what God means in the Bible] [and who have been misleading people with their false teachings] will have fatal punishment. [I saw] there [in heaven] books from Restored [CoG], SDA, United Church, Living Church, Trumpet, Triumph Prophetic [all these are false churches and ministries], and [from] many many more denominations in paradise [ – all those] books are [in a] pile and locked in a store, and all this will stand [be used] as evidence [against all who did not teach God’s Truth] during the judgement day. [because false teachings are inspired by demons, and have led the majority astray.]
Until Jesus Christ died is when many came to realize that he was truly the son of God, [people did not realise Jesus was truly the Son of God until He died]. Likewise, many will not believe my words. Some have told me to do miracles to show that I have truly tasted the spiritual life in paradise but this is not what God made me to do. [Like it says in Luke 16:31, they have Moses and the prophets (and modern prophets such as MM); if they won’t listen to them, they won’t be persuaded even though someone comes back from paradise.]
There is much I enjoy right now that natural man can’t. I can see much of the spiritual as I have shared [experienced] the glory of God.
Each man is born with a spirit in him, but does each man’s spirit join with the body to live a whole life? No. This is the basic teaching that you have to help the world understand. Many tend to let their physical state rule them when awake, forgetting to let their spirit control over them, all men have the holy spirit to guide after them but the pride of man makes him/her join into the evil spirit and therefore the devil to control over them. [Each person is born with the spirit in man within them. But are people aware of this spirit within them and what they must do with this capacity? No. This is a basic concept that you have to help the world to understand. Many tend to go through life merely caring about the physical, and neglecting the spiritual. They are unaware of their spirit, and that they need to let the Holy Spirit guide them. So the pride of man, and their sole pursuit of the physical cares of this life (1 John 2:16 – physical desires, or desire of the eyes, and the pride of life), cause people to connect to the unseen evil spirit world, and thereby the devil controls them without them knowing it.]
During sleep, man forgets the physical and joins into the spiritual state, and for those who (are posed with) [live their lives motivated by] pride and evil, always have the devolic [devilish] spirit hovering over them. [They] dream of destruction and much evil which ends up controlling them (over) [throughout] the day (as) [after] they wake up.
I say this as (they) [these things are the] are truth and what i experienced. The devil has dominated Lukas’s world and his name appears in the front line in the Book of Judgement. God never killed Satan but left him to trail [test or try] the world. Lukas has gained much of the earthly things, fame, wealth and position to fight. [But] God has kept watch over this. [Lukas Ogada was a staunch, violent opponent of MM, who mounted terrorist attacks against MM readers, and who commissioned murderers to kill Emily 22 months before she was raised from the dead. God has a purpose for allowing him to become powerful, to test many other people.]
All the truth about resurrection [the prophecy that Emily would be resurrected] has been fulfilled despite [even though] few believe [it] as they see me alive once again. To those who wish to know the truth God has allowed [given] them [here] my testimony and [they can] know that God’s glory has come to mankind through MM.
This year will be great to entire Africa [This year there will be a great witness to all of Africa] (just as) [beginning] from this month. God has chosen not to center the new in [centre or base the new outreach in] Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia but to move it out to all countries in Africa.
Lukas is going to try and reach the MM supporters in Africa to convince them to stop all their support but we have Faith as God directs us. Let you not be shaken for all that is going to take place this year in Africa.
Big church organization to put their interest in Africa after that they shall join hand to fight and destroy MM. [Big church organisations have invested much in Africa, so they will join hands to fight and try to destroy MM.]
God is with you in this good fight. Emilly Otete.
God Told Me To Write This Book
One evening in 1993, our family was sitting, talking in our living room, when Jesus spoke to Richard, our son, who was 18 at the time, and told him that I should write about my life. Someone else had previously suggested that, but I had no intention of doing so. It seemed arrogant to write about myself! But when Richard received a confirming 'word' from God that it was His will for me to write about God's dealings in my life leading up to Midnight Ministries, I took the suggestion seriously.
Later, I was able to see that it would benefit others to understand what God is doing and why.
From 1990 onwards, many members of the church my wife and I had formerly been a part of for over 20 years were fed malicious lies about us by evil ministers in the church. (Paul described such individuals in 2 Corinthians 11:13.) These men fed unsuspecting minds with gossip that our actions and motives were evil. They mounted an orchestrated conspiracy against us.
We were expelled from that church “for cause”, but such “cause” was not spelled out, for it would have exposed their wrong motives. Unfounded accusations and slanderous charges against us were spread by word of mouth, to polarise minds against us. We were not permitted an open defence against the slander. Former friends and acquaintances never heard our story, unless they were willing to read the 50 short articles I wrote in 1998 about the issues. But most were too prejudiced against us to bother. They only received disparaging gossip through the rumour-mill. They were deliberately fed misinformation to psychologically control them.
People usually believe whatever they are told about others, when there is nothing from those persons themselves to contradict such false information. And if they are told such things by ministers whom they highly respect and regard as above reproach, they think they have heard gospel truth! They don't recognise it as slander. They see no reason to question what they are told. That is the way things were in the Worldwide Church of God (WCG).
WCG ministers benefited from inflated respect. So their negative statements about our character were not questioned by members.
The hierarchy of the church was ultimate authority to those unsuspecting people who entrusted that church organisation and its leaders with their total loyalty. Because they implicitly followed their church leaders, they believed them, not any prophet ‘from outside’. They never suspected they could be led astray by evil men in control, for they had already placed implicit trust in those leaders instead of God as their authority.
They missed the mark. As a result, they were led astray.
This subtle misdirection occurs in many other churches and denominations. It is a subtle form of idolatry.
Religion is a system of belief in, obedience to, and worship of, God. Denominations have invariably reduced this to a system of belief in, obedience to, and worship of, men – those who lead their particular denomination! The transition is subtle, and goes largely unnoticed. It is highly damaging because it is idolatrous!
For this reason, God wanted me to write this book. Many Christians are blind to the insidious trap in which they are caught. They are spiritually asleep and need awakening. The experiences I relate highlight very deep problems concealed beneath the surface of most of organised Christianity.
As I said, my wife and I were illicitly excommunicated by our former friends and associates, and many lies were told about us by the leaders of that church in order to maintain their control of church members' minds. Members were never told the truth about our rejection. The regime which 'sentenced' us gave us no fair trial. It merely falsely accused us, threw us out of the church, and announced to the members untrue ‘information’ about our expulsion.
What it amounts to is vilification of true Christians. The issues at the heart of our treatment affect every Christian and will ultimately affect every person on earth. The prophecies of Revelation speak of a time of unprecedented persecution of Christians in this end time, who are denied justice and killed for their faithfulness to God. That has been happening in many non-Christian nations. It will also occur in the West.
Our experience is merely a mild foretaste of religious persecution that will shortly affect all true Christians who want to implicitly follow Jesus Christ.
Where Are The Prophets?
Jesus Christ has placed prophets in His Body, the Church. After apostles, God esteems their function as the most valuable asset to the people of God (1 Cor 12:28). Paul mentions the prophets' function as of primary importance after that of apostles. Listed second in the five-fold ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, the prophets' task is essential in building up the people of God (Eph 4:11-12).
Scripture insists on the presence of prophets. Paul describes the Church as founded upon the work of apostles and prophets (Eph 2:20). The New Testament implies the present continuation of such functions because the Body is not yet mature, and vastly disunited! (Eph 4:13.)
Yet, today, large segments of the Body of Christ are unaware of the prophets or what they are saying. They are not benefiting from their divinely inspired words.
Why? Because of wrong or incomplete church teaching.
Jesus stated, "Only in his home town, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honour" (Mark 6:4). Unfortunately, that is not only true of the physical household, but the spiritual household, too. In the broad Church, prophets are rarely accepted. Those who outwardly know the man, will seldom, if ever, realise inwardly the importance of his words.
A prophet's spiritual function will go unnoticed by those who are not spiritually minded. Most people look to the visible physical personality, not to the spirituality of the words he is given to convey. Because they take note of the man, rather than his message, they miss out. Prophets are meant to be God’s mouthpieces to help redirect the Church and call people to reform.
True prophets are rarely outwardly special, unlike many false ones. Most appear very ordinary and inconsequential. Amos was an outdoors-man, a shepherd, when God called him. Samuel was a young lad. David was a 'stripling' (1 Sam 17:56, KJV). We must be careful to look to the internal package, not the packaging in which God delivers His messages, or we will fail to receive the reward of the prophet – firstly, understanding his message.
See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks.
If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth,
how much less will we, if we turn away from Him who warns us from heaven?
Jeremiah was a young man when God first spoke to him. He was almost certainly younger than 25. When God spoke plainly to him that he was to act as a prophet to the nations, Jeremiah protested. Like Moses, who was called to lead Israel out of Egypt under God's direction, Jeremiah felt totally inadequate for the job!
However, the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable (Rom 11:29).
True prophets don't ask to be prophets. Only false prophets seek the job. One day they will wish they didn't!
But God gives encounters that enable true prophets to rely upon Him. They are trained through life's experiences so they are able to accept their commissions. As they develop their confidence in the One who leads them, they can be used for God's purposes.
Today, in large sectors of the Church, prideful resentment causes many to reject that God speaks to prophets and uses them.
Because of Jeremiah's relationship with God, he knew when God spoke. A true prophet has no problem hearing from God because God’s words and His life are living in him.
When first called, however, it can take some getting used to. Samuel didn't recognise God's voice when He first spoke to him (1 Sam 3), but he soon learned. God made Himself known to him. He had decided to use Samuel for an important purpose. God wasn't going to leave Samuel in any doubt that God was guiding him.
Misguided or ignorant people, who do not want to accept the words of God's prophets, accuse them of listening to the devil. But it is those accusers who are listening to the devil! Satan uses many hostile people to attack the prophetic office. It is most maligned and misunderstood.
Jeremiah learned that the Almighty had set him apart for the important task God had in mind, even before he was born (Jer 1:4). God knew beforehand the effectiveness of the vessel He had chosen, and He put His words in the prophet's mouth.
"Then the Lord reached out His hand and touched my mouth and said to me, "Now I have put My words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant" (Jer 1:9,10).
The call on Jeremiah's life was irresistible. Not because he wanted it; he didn't! But because of God's purpose for His people. For that purpose, God put His own words into the prophet's mouth. And Jeremiah wrote them down.
The call on my life has been equally irresistible. Not that I wanted it either. Humanly, there were other things I would far rather have done. But the One who has the destiny of each life in His hands, decreed something different for me. I cannot but bow to His every wish. He is God.
God first spoke to me when I was 15. I didn't recognise His voice at the time. It was not an audible voice, nor was it clear to me at the time that He was speaking, but with hindsight I am able to understand. I can see how much He determined my path. He was involving Himself directly in my life, despite my obliviousness to Him at the time.
God speaks to people in various ways. When our son Richard was 17, God spoke 'audibly' and semi-audibly in the mind, through His Spirit, giving, at times, very strong and definite words, phrases and sentences; even lengthy explanations. Richard was able to ask the Lord questions directly, and receive immediate answers through the Spirit. I believe the Lord worked with Jeremiah that way.
To me, He has spoken in several different ways. Only once has He spoken to me in such a strong voice in the mind that it seemed 'audible' and I wondered where it came from. I needed a strong prompt back then, because of the newness of the experience of God speaking to me.
Through dreams, He has given me direction and guidance. Likewise to my wife, Helena. And on many occasions our children have received them too, as well as some angelic visitations.
More often, however, God has moved me by strong impulses or impressions to do something or write something, implanting His thoughts in my mind. As I write, the thoughts flow, sometimes like a river, and what He wants to achieve is accomplished. His purposes through me are mainly achieved through writing.
It is hard for some people, not attuned to the Spirit, to understand. Most people – even Christians – operate in the 'flesh'. They live physical lives, and are more aware of things in the physical realm than of what is in the spiritual realm.
It is not easy walking 'in the Spirit'. I would like to do so more perfectly. Our faith and spiritual attunement is far from perfect. I think the man who came closest to the example of Jesus that I know of, was Smith Wigglesworth. He was a plumber before God called him to preach. Through his ministry, many thousands were brought into the Kingdom of God. Large numbers were also healed, and fourteen people were raised from the dead (some accounts say there were more than 14). Smith Wigglesworth was not highly educated. He was an 'ordinary', very straightforward man. One doesn't have to be trained in a theological seminary or have the best academic qualifications to be used by God. You just need a willing, submissive heart, and a determination and boldness to do what is right at all costs.
I was a builder for seventeen years, serving domestic customers, doing home improvements, extensions and alterations. It was a successful venture, and I enjoyed my work, even though it was dirty, and physically demanding. It was creative and rewarding. I felt fulfilled doing things for others.
Not only was I rewarded directly through my work for others, but the skills God gave me could be put to good use at home. My wife and I worked hard physically for more than 20 years, renovating and extending our first home, and then extending our next house. God blessed us physically as well as spiritually in our lives, and His hand was always guiding and helping throughout those years. He was having us prepare a physical foundation for MM’s work that He knew was ahead years later. Now others are able to benefit from the fruits of those physical labours.
As just one sign of His involvement in our lives, He gave a numeric indicator in the number 74. I didn’t know what this signified at first. Later I found out it is the gematria (numeric value) of each of these words in Hebrew: foundation, eternity, everlasting, witness, a great God, and their redemption. Moreover, the Hebrew for to restore adds up to 370 whichis 5 x 74. And whole in both Hebrew and Greek is likewise 370, or 5 x 74. When you put all those facts together, I think you can see what God was saying, and using a simple number to point to what He was about to accomplish in our lives. Interestingly also creation, circle, great stones, His delight, for He will hide me in His shelter in the day of evil, and you have laid the foundations of the earth all have the gematria of 740 in Hebrew.
Seven years later, I was writing some material for one of our booklets, entitled God's Great Genius. This booklet details numeric phenomena contained in the Bible which prove its divine inspiration and authenticity. One of God's names in the Old Testament is Palmoni, the Wonderful Numberer. As I was writing about the amazing occurrences of the number 37 and that it signified 'the Word of God', the Lord spoke to my spirit. I did not hear an audible voice. There was no startling vision, but what He revealed certainly startled me!
He put a strong thought in my mind to do a little calculation. I got out my pocket calculator and as I did so, I was given a series of very strong and definite instructions. "Enter the number X. Multiply by Y. Multiply by Z. Multiply by W. Multiply by 37. Multiply by 37 again." (Jesus’ ‘signature number’ is 37.) The result was our phone number! (I have concealed numbers for obvious reasons.) I was astonished. The whole exercise took about 15 seconds. I didn't have to spend long hours trying to work the whole thing out. God gave it step by step in my spirit. As I followed His instructions, I saw the astonishing answer with my own eyes.
That is the way God works. He gets you to do what He says, step by step. He will lead you by thoughts, implanted in your spirit, when your life is dedicated to serving Him.
God also gave another numeric sign in the number 33. I knew from research God had led me in, that 11 can signify His inspired writings (the Word of God), and 3 indicates completeness or finality. That is why Jesus died at age 33. He had completed the job God gave Him to do as the Word of God.
God gave several incidences of the number 33 occurring in our lives in significant situations. He was speaking through those means to indicate what He was about to use me for. It was to write a complete doctrinal foundation for the Church, which would constitute the Last Restoration in this end time.
Mockers will dismiss this as supposition and arrogance, or foolishness and mere coincidence. But those who are open to God with a childlike approach will perceive that God is giving us His 'witnesses'. And the end result is evident. I could not write all that has been written without His inspiration.
In Ezekiel 33:33 the prophet stated: "When all this comes true – and it surely will – then they will know that a prophet has been among them."
A prophet speaks (or writes) for God.
Through MM writings God has laid a foundation (74) that can help others to 'see' the Final Restoration of His spiritual Truth. All the virgins have been asleep, not seeing (Matt 25:5). It is time to awake. Sleep is a metaphor for lack of spiritual awareness. All believers need to wake up, and see where their spirituality is lacking. They must fill their jars with oil, trim their lamps with Truth and come out to meet the Bridegroom. The Midnight Cry goes out. That time is now upon us. We are in the final 'minutes' of this Age before the second coming of Jesus Christ. There is very little time to prepare.
Although I have been moved to write what I have done under inspiration of the Spirit, I am nothing special. Anyone could do it if that was God’s plan for your life, and if you submit yourself to God's lead. The glory is God’s, not man’s. Nor do I claim that all I have written is faultless. God may have allowed some minor errors to escape our attention. It is not meant to be included in the holy canon, the Bible. It complements it and explains it.
It is a work of love, for the edification of the reader. The Holy Spirit moves in and through love. Those who have the same Spirit will recognise His voice in what I have written. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says..." (Rev 2:29).
The steps of a man are established by the Lord.
(Psalm 37:23, KJV)
I don't want to say much about myself. I don't consider myself an unusual person; rather the opposite. From early childhood I had a feeling of inadequacy and inferiority compared with others. As a result, I have generally been shy and reluctant to be directly in the 'limelight'.
I realise now that the qualities God has given me do not make me inferior to others; but I certainly don't consider myself better than others! No matter who the person is, whatever their background, whatever their achievements in life, I consider that we are all here as children of God, not to compare ourselves, but to co-operate together in true love as a part of God's family. We are here to learn from one another and to help one another as we are able. We are certainly not here to compete with one another and repeat the mistakes of history by exalting ourselves.
However, I recogise that I must include something about myself for those who don't know me. Even for those who do, the anecdotes I relate may help explain why I am the way I am.
A man of God whom I know made the statement that all of our experiences are a training ground for the future. That is certainly true. What we choose in every situation in life will determine what we can do in the future. If we learn positively, we can later make further use of what we have learned.
In life, many varied experiences come our way. I now know that God is so great that He 'engineers' or foresees all our life before it happens. However I realise this is simply too much for some people's faith to grasp. There is enough indication in the Bible to show us that God knows all that is to happen before it does. Numerous dreams He has given us bear this out. Foresight is merely history in reverse. God lives in timelessness, unlike us, so He has the ability to see the future as perfectly as He sees the past.
He also has the supreme ability to control all that transpires and direct human steps to suit His purposes. How much He intervenes, of course, we do not know. Solomon stated. "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps" (Prov 16:9). My 'steps' have been determined by Him. That I know, not only because He says so in His Word; experience also bears it out. I can look back on my life and see His hand guided in so many ways, directing, intervening, preparing me for the task that He knew lay ahead.
God is so all-knowing, there is not a prayer He does not hear. There is not a thought that escapes His attention. He knows your end before your beginning. Humanity's capacity is so small in relation to God that all the nations are as mere dust on the scales (Is 40:15). It is no wonder so many fail to see Him. He is so big!
Looking back, I can now see why I was made the way I am. I was not only formed from chemical elements, through the genes inherited from my parents, but God moulded me through life's experiences also. He is the Master Potter (Is 64:8).
In Matthew 6:22, Jesus tells us to be single-minded. Apparently, I was certainly that from a young age. My mother told me that at the age of two I had a fascination for the sea and when I first saw it I ran straight in with all my clothes on! I don't remember the incident. Presumably, I was determined to get a closer look and exercise my young adventurous spirit.
I always liked the outdoors. Most children do. Nature holds great fascination to inquisitive young minds. When I grew up in a fairly enclosed environment in Southend, Essex, as a young boy, I eagerly looked forward to travelling to visit relatives in the holidays. Favourite was going to stay with the Williamsons in Hereford. Uncle Harry (Williamson) was brother-in-law to my father, Ronald Heap. Harry owned a big horticultural nursery called Wyevale Nurseries, which later expanded into the Wyevale Garden Centre chain.
What I delighted in was romping in the wide open spaces there, doing things I was not able to do at home. Land, space and nature for me signalled adventure and fun. In the holidays we had quite a bit of it.
One of the desires of my heart as a young child was being able to live in such a beautiful rural environment. David said in Psalm 37:4 "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." He did! Thirty five years later (written 1994), He has given me that desire of my heart. We had to work hard for it, but God gave us the opportunities and we took them. I believe He even gave us the physical drive and perseverance to be able to turn the opportunities into reality. Now my greatest desire is to see His ultimate desire for humanity fulfilled.
When I was about five or six, I disappeared; but, not literally. Looking for adventure, for some reason, I decided to start digging a hole in the back garden where we lived in Thorpe Bay, Essex. I found first one brick then another. The hole got deeper and the mound of excavated earth got bigger. The more rubble I found, the more I was convinced there must be something more valuable down there. I was determined to find that buried treasure!
After some hours, all my mother could see was a great big heap of earth. I had disappeared from sight.
Little did I realise then that, later in life, I would be required to "heap it up" in a different way, in order to get the stumbling-block out of the way of God's people (Is 57:14, NKJV).
Single-mindedness can have its advantages, but it can have its drawbacks too. I remember at about six trying to befriend our cat. However, the cat was not too impressed, and decided to go next door underneath the boundary fence. I was determined not to let her go, and exercised my single-mindedness as best I could.
All I had to hold onto was her anatomical extremity. It was a good handle! I remember holding on to it with a determined grip, trying to pull her back by her tail into our garden. She was having none of it though, and fought just as vigorously to get away. The struggle lasted for many minutes, which must have been an agonising eternity for the cat. In the end, I think discretion became the better part of valour, even for a six year old!
I had to learn that even animals can have a mind of their own, too.
I remember attending with my parents the Methodist church in Thorpe Bay where we lived until I was 11. One incident stands out in my memory.
I had to read the passage in Matthew 6:19-34 before all the church. I didn't like the idea, and the more I contemplated it, the more fearful I became. I have never forgotten the incident. I was so shy, I dreaded the responsibility. At that time it was one of the most unwelcome experiences of my life!
My mother made me rehearse it the week before that fateful Sunday, and read it to her time and time again, to be sure I had it polished enough. But as the day approached, I desperately tried to 'chicken' out.
I can remember being on the beach the day before. It was a hot summer's day, and I distinctly remember moaning and whining about having to read in church the next day; I tried every way I could to wriggle out of it, but my mother wouldn't have any of my excuses! I had to do it. My mother's will was stronger than my lack of it. Ironically, when the fateful time came, it was not half as bad as I had feared! That is usually the way with fear. It is irrational, and exaggerates matters out of all proportion to their reality.
Curiously enough, that passage of scripture is the only one I can remember from being in church as a child. The only other thing I remember from the Methodist church was going to the big church in Morecambe at Easter and sitting up in the gallery or balcony and singing "There Is A Green Hill Far Away". The words "it was for us He hung and suffered there..." made a distinct impression on me at about age eight or so.
From my upbringing in the Methodist church, one other thing sticks in my memory – smashing a window in the old church hall the first day I went to scouts. I don't know why I did it but I distinctly remember having smashed it. Now it let in more light or fresh air! But others certainly didn’t view it that way!
The prophets frequently had to 'act out' in a physical manner their spiritually vital messages. Those physical actions vividly illustrated God’s spiritual intent.
Helena pointed out to me one day that this incident may have a spiritual parallel in my later life. It was not to be just the 'window' of the Methodist church which I would have to smash, but that of all churches which have become “prison houses” as Isaiah prophesied (Is 42:22), needing much more of God’s Light.
Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.
I went through quite rigorous schooling. Like all aspects in life, it had its pros and cons.
After passing the 'eleven plus', I went to grammar school. My parents felt that it was essential for me to attend Westcliff High School For Boys, on the opposite side of town. However, we didn't live in the catchment area, and the only way I would be accepted was if we were to move house. That is what my mother and father decided upon.
After a tedious and lengthy wait, the home they had searched for was ready. We moved in when I was 11. It was a new home in Eastwood, on the northern fringe of the town of Southend. It overlooked open fields and woods at the back and had a very nice position. I was to spend many happy hours nature-hunting and badger watching in those woods as a teenager.
My parents worked hard to provide for my sister and myself, and they wanted to provide the best. The best meant discipline, too. I don't mean hard physical discipline. No. But they were conscious of the need to bring us up with a sound and solid foundation to rely on in later life.
They had achieved physical success in life only through hard work. They knew there were no shortcuts. My mother, especially, taught me the need for self-discipline, the need to work hard.
That is a biblical precept and is essential for total fulfilment in life. Shirkers never outdo workers! It might appear more fashionable in one's youth to be a layabout, but true satisfaction in achievement will always surpass any temporary satisfaction gained from self-indulgent indolence.
Solomon knew this. And his wisdom was God-given. He said, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might" (Eccl 9:10). You only get one chance in life, so make the best of it. What you learn now is setting the stage for what you will do for eternity – or not do, as the case may be.
I was taught to work hard. I was taught never to give up, but to persevere when things were difficult. I was taught to endure, and stick at it when the task at hand was not pleasant. I would far rather have gone out with the lads, seeking pleasure and fun, but in my youth I had the chore of hours of homework almost every evening. Even at weekends there didn't seem to be any letup. I learned to accept it. It was my lot in life, for what lay ahead.
I don't say it was all good. It tended to make me unsociable and has left its scars on my personality. But one thing it did teach me – discipline.
I am grateful to my parents for encouraging me and prompting me continually. They taught me the value of the work ethic. Without it I could not have done the mountain of writing that had to be done in this work for God.
There are no shortcuts in life.
At Westcliff High School the main sport was rugby football. I hated it. I would have much preferred to play soccer, but the school didn't give anyone the chance of opting out – unless they were severely handicapped. For the first year, there was no option but to join in the compulsory rugby games, come wind, rain or hail.
I can remember one foul day in particular. It was sleeting and there was quite a brisk wind. I was perished to the bone. Even running up and down didn't seem to make any difference to how cold I felt. I was getting used to the inevitable – being covered in mud and getting soaking wet – but this particular day was worse than any other. From that day on, I sought an opportunity to get out of that most uncivil and unpleasant game!
My opportunity loomed a year later. I liked most sports and took part in several – cricket, basketball, gymnastics, athletics. Also, I had joined the trampoline club the first year at the school. That was favourite, and soon became a passion. I was delighted when the coach, Harry Brownley, accepted me into the trampoline team.
It was a bit of a closed shop. Since there were far too many pupils for all to be able to participate, the team was limited to the most promising prospectives. I don't think I was the most promising at the start, because I remember others performing new stunts before I could. I often lagged behind, and was slower to learn. However, I was determined, so I persevered.
Our small team of about a dozen or so steadily improved, but as the months passed by, some who were more inclined to do other things, dropped out. The numbers dwindled to about six or eight. I remember we used to practice late some evenings, as well as before school, in the breaks, and at lunch-time. In the holidays, the coach would open up the gymnasium every day. We would practice and also go swimming in the summer if the weather was good.
After about a year, we had learned quite a number of somersaults and different stunts. My father, who was the area organiser for physical education, arranged a local competitive trampoline meet between the local schools in Southend. Several schools took part, but our team walked away with the trophies.
It provided a stepping stone to further competitions. We soon entered into county, regional and national competitions. After about a year or so, we began to win the team events. For a few years, we managed to win team trophies at most of the major trampoline competitions throughout the country.
As we saw what other trampolinists were doing, we learned from them. We tried new stunts and became more daring. I began to have a goal to head towards. I read, ate, and slept the sport for quite some time. My individual performance improved dramatically as a result. I was determined to push myself to the limit of what I was capable of.
I would practice quite religiously. By about 14, performing successive double somersaults was, for me, like skipping with a rope.
I remember, one day, I decided to see how many double back somersaults I could perform in succession. I remember reaching ten before I got too tired to go on (the trampolines at that time were not as efficient as later models).
By age 15, the perseverance and diligence paid off, and I won my first national title in the age group of 15 to 19. That was in the English Schools Trampoline Championships in 1965. Paul Luxon won the under 15's at the same time. He went on eventually to become World Champion several years later.
The sport was relatively young at that time and international meets were very few and far between, but some were arranged. I was selected to represent England against Germany in Oldenburg. I think the year was 1964. I remember trying to perform a stunt in my routine which I had not quite perfected, and, as a result, I 'fluffed' my routine and ended up last. I also ended up on the floor! I had to learn not to be too daring.
Academically, I was stretched as well. I recall the essays and writing assignments that were expected. Somehow I always managed to do them, although I found them far from easy. I hated reading, and disliked writing just as much. It was a real chore! But I can now see this preparation was most necessary for what God knew lay ahead.
Homework and schoolwork were relentless. It was just as well I had an escape in trampolining. It provided a much needed change.
I was pushed through High School in the 'A' stream, taking GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) 'O' levels (Ordinary level) with about forty other pupils a year earlier than the majority. I didn't like the pressure, but at twelve, thirteen and fourteen, one doesn't have much say in the matter. Three hours homework most evenings, on top of the usual pressures of school, soon took their toll. I became sullen and withdrawn, and awoke most mornings depressed and miserable.
I was empty inside.
Superficial enjoyment in life did not provide a solution to my inner emptiness, although I sought it like everyone else. Although I left school with 9 'O' levels, 3 'A' (Advanced) levels, and an 'S' (Special) level, I left with a void too. I was seeking to fill that emptiness in my heart.
No-one can come to Me unless the Father... draws him.
It was the summer of 1965. I believe the month was June. At that time, a rash of independent 'ship' stations had appeared on the radio dial, broadcasting into the British Isles from waters surrounding the country. They provided round-the-clock popular music, and were much listened to by the public, especially the youth.
Radio Caroline, Radio London, Radio 390, and others, all took their image and style from their forerunner on the continental mainland, Radio Luxembourg.
My father had given me his old mains radio set a couple of years before, which I had in my bedroom at the bottom of a built-in bookcase. I used to tune in to the ship stations; there was far more appealing music on them than on the conventional BBC channels.
One day I was listening to Radio London, when I heard something totally different to anything I had ever heard before – a radio preacher who could talk so fast and so fluently that I was astonished. I was a young impressionable mind, looking for something. And he certainly impressed my mind! God used that avenue to come into my life and begin to fill my inner emptiness.
The preacher was Garner Ted Armstrong. The programme was The World Tomorrow. He seemed to know what he was talking about. He could certainly talk! I was curious to know more.
The literature offered at the end of the broadcasts was free, so what had I got to lose? I wrote away for the booklets offered, which duly appeared in the post a week or so later. By now, study was second nature. I delved into the booklets, reading everything and learning as I went. Everything was supported by biblical references.
I hadn't purposefully read the Bible before. This was to be my introduction into the Word of God. I was beginning to learn new things; things I never imagined were in the Bible. I learned that the Bible contained practical instructions for everyday living and contained a meaning for life. What I read made me realise that God was not just a platitude, or merely the subject of intellectual debate. I started to pray for the first time, and by talking to Him in prayer I learned that God does really exist!
What I read challenged my intellect and nourished my 'soul'. I found something at last which satisfied it. That inner void was being filled. I found for the first time in my life that the Word of God was indeed the Bread of life. It satisfied far more than any physical nourishment. I discovered firsthand that the invitation Isaiah the prophet made was well worth the effort!
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to Me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight itself in the richest of fare (Is 55:1-2).
The Bible is a book of mysteries. Most do not understand it. But when it is put to the test, it is proven reliable. It has to be lived to be believed. What the Bible declares cannot be understood by the rational intellect alone. It has to be discovered through experience. Everything is measured and weighed in the school of life. But there is a price to be paid, like with all things.
And that is the reason most do not believe the Bible. They are not prepared to pay the price to not only read it, but to live it. When they truly begin to live it, they will believe it (Jn 7:16,17).
Now I had found what my soul had been searching for!
From a human perspective, I was raised in a good home, in a good family, with good parents. I had been given all I needed physically. I had been prepared for life, as well as any parents can prepare their offspring. I had been given educational opportunities, holiday adventures, travel as well. Physically, there was nothing that I lacked. But despite all that I had, I was still deprived.
Now I was determined to make up for what I had been deprived of through no fault of my parents. I had a real hunger and thirst for the spiritual meat and drink of life!
I studied for longer hours now, and spent days at the weekends poring over this new knowledge. It was fascinating. It was new life to me!
Then, one day, I was presented with a bombshell! I read a booklet entitled Which Day is The Christian Sabbath? It laid out biblically a case which supported the fact that Sunday was not, after all, the day of rest for Christians which the Bible supports. At first I couldn't believe what my eyes were reading.
I read another, entitled, Which Day is The Sabbath of The New Testament? There also I saw enough biblical proof to substantiate the raw truth that most churches are not keeping the biblically ordained day of rest which God established at creation (Gen 2), and which He also later gave to Israel in the Sinai wilderness (Ex 20). The day had not been changed to Sunday by divine mandate, but had merely been supplanted by human decree. It was the Roman Emperor Constantine who instituted Sunday.
Now, I really was in a dilemma! I did many things on Saturdays, which I saw were not lawful now that I knew this (to me) new truth. Trampoline competitions were always on Saturdays. It seemed everything 'good' occurred on Saturdays. But I knew that if I wanted to be loyal to God in this new knowledge He had given me, I had to keep this day holy. I could not do my 'own thing' any more. I had to be obedient to Him (Is 58:13,14).
I 'packed in' trampolining immediately. There was an upcoming international competition for which I had been selected to represent England. I went to see the trainer, who was now in his sixties, and told him rather abruptly – too abruptly and too naively – that I was giving up trampolining. That hurt him greatly. He had seen me develop from being a scrawny 11-year-old who could barely keep his balance, to becoming a National champion four years later, capable of going for much higher titles in the years to come.
My lack of wisdom in explaining my reasons for resigning caused him great distress. I didn't see the need to explain, and my ignorance made him feel I was rejecting him. He responded with a most natural reply. He didn't want to see me again.
Thankfully things were mollified a short while later by the headmaster. He was curious as to why I had suddenly started observing the Sabbath day since my parents didn’t observe it, but he was amazingly understanding and tolerant. God was smoothing the way before me.
The headmaster later explained to Harry Brownley, the trampoline coach, my reasons for resigning. There was nothing personal in it, nor was it out of lack of sense of duty. It was just that I felt that a Higher duty called. When Harry Brownley learned that, he apologised for his abrupt response and had, for a short while, a measure of respect for my decision. Pills like that, however, are not easy to swallow, for the best of men.
God's call on my life was so strong that to me it was do or die. I was weak and vulnerable humanly. But with this new conviction, something within burned like a fire and turned that inadequacy into strength and resolve. I had to do whatever I knew to be right. If it meant being expelled from school for it, if it meant being rejected by my family, if it meant being taken to court for wanting to follow this 'new religion', I was prepared to do all that and more.
There was no price I wasn't prepared to pay for this new truth and life.
Some would call it fanaticism. However, I see the same, if not greater, level of 'fanaticism' in the life of Jesus. No, it is not fanaticism. It is loyalty and zeal to, and for, the One who gives us life. It is our duty (Luke 17:10).
Jesus died to pay the price of our sins. He gave His life for ours. What can we give that can ever match the total sacrifice He made on our behalf? There is nothing we can do to even compare with what He did. It is merely our duty, the least we can do, to be prepared to do anything He asks of us. Of course, that is not easy. It does take resolve, determination and sacrifice. But even at 16, I realised there was no other way. HE was that way, now, for me!
He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones.
When I left school at age 17, I had the opportunity to take up a place at any one of six universities. My parents had wanted me to go to either Oxford or Cambridge, the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in the country. However, I had learned by this time that academic achievement was not what I wanted. I had had my fill!
I was content to set my sights a little lower. I opted for a place at Wye College in Kent, part of London University.
I'm not sure what it was that appealed to me so much about Wye. Perhaps it was the fact that it was not in the inner city; it seemed closer to nature. Whatever it was, it was not to be. God had other ideas.
I was provisionally accepted to read for a B Sc degree in Plant Sciences and I went for interview. Although I was accepted, the panel all agreed that I was too young and would do well to have a year's 'practical' experience before going there. They suggested spending a year at Kew or some other notable Botanic Garden to gain some different experience.
Although I was not pleased at the time, I was much relieved later that they had made the suggestion. And I was too young and inexperienced. I needed broadening. The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew accepted me as a garden labourer for the interim year, prior to taking the place reserved for me at Wye in autumn 1968.
It was good experience. It got my hands dirty again, and I found the manual work left my brain untaxed and open to be stimulated later in the evenings by further study of a spiritual nature.
Leaving home at 17 did not perturb me. What concerned me was being able to find a suitable room where I could have peace and quiet to study. Rooms in that area of London were not cheap, and I was only going to earn £9 a week (it was 1967). I was the poorest of the poor in such a job. Would I be able to find affordable accommodation?
I must have prayed about finding a suitable place to live, although I don't remember specifically doing so. My parents dutifully hunted around with me to find accommodation. And God provided; the ideal room turned up! It was a very small room on the top floor of an older Victorian-style house, but it was a stone's throw from the beautiful Richmond Park with its open spaces, deer and mature oaks. It was just what I needed! The lodgings were in cycling distance from Kew Gardens. The rent for the 12' by 6' room was just under £5 a week. The landlady graciously reduced it to £4 ten shillings (£4.50) when I later told her that the rent was more than half my weekly wage.
God was looking after every need!
That year in Richmond was to prove a turning point in my life. I had set my sights on university, to follow my interest in plants. At least, so I thought.
Shortly after I accepted my future place at Wye, I received a letter from the University which explained that certain examinations would now be allocated to Saturdays. This had not been a custom prior to this time, but the Board had felt it needed to make this amendment to their schedule.
This immediately posed another dilemma. I was not prepared to take an exam in holy time. I wrote to them, explaining my position, asking them if it was possible to sit the exam on another day of the week. They politely replied that no exceptions were possible, could I not make an exception for them?
I could not. As far as I was concerned, what God decrees always comes first, without compromise.
God was leading my mind in another direction. That year provided me an ideal opportunity to read, study, and think. And I did read, study and think! But not about plants! I thought about God; about His Word; about His Church. I was spending much time in the evenings pondering His Word. I studied the Bible and literature the church provided for many hours, night after night, week after week.
I remember the first time I read Isaiah. I was captivated by that book. It had me riveted. I could not put it down. There was some sort of contagious 'magic' about its words. They were astounding! I sat up into the small hours of the morning, transfixed by it, filled with wonder! I was to see why 24 years later!
I now talked to God a lot more. It was during one of those times of prayer that I surrendered my life to God. I now realised it wasn't worth much. He had the worse end of the bargain; I knew that He was giving me much more than I was giving Him! I began to realise the astronomical price Jesus had paid to redeem me. I laid down my life and accepted Him. At that time an unusual peace came over me when I prayed.
I didn't really know God that well. I had a lot to learn. But one thing I knew, He was with me all the time. I would go to work on my bike and think of Him and talk with Him whenever I could. I would weed the herbaceous borders, talking to Him frequently. I was learning to walk with Him.
I talked to Him about this difficulty with Wye College. What should I do? I was certainly not going to go there, if they insisted on setting examinations on the Sabbath. Of that I was sure! What I was not sure of was where I was going to go, and what I was now going to do.
Abraham had that same dilemma when he was told millennia ago to leave his homeland and go somewhere God led him. I didn't know of Abraham's experience until later. I didn't need to. All I needed to know was that God was with me.
And that I knew!
Gradually, God drew my attention to the fact that He wanted me to go to another College, an inconspicuous, unrecognised institution, to take a course which didn't hold much interest to me at that time, to gain a degree which, in secular circles, was not worth the paper it was written on! But I saw no other option. God was drawing me, and there was no drawing back.
Ambassador College, established by the then Radio Church of God (later Worldwide Church of God) was a religious institution geared to training personnel to staff the growing facets of the church and its publishing activities. It was a four-year 'Liberal Arts' course, designed to develop a balanced personality and social graces. (I certainly needed those! Although I wasn’t that keen.) It also majored in speech classes, which I hated, and had the added inconvenience of compulsory additional weekly speech clubs. I detested the thought because of my shyness. However, I knew I was being drawn to go there. Maybe there was a way I could discreetly opt out of those repulsive speech clubs, I thought.
How naive I was!
Much to my amazement, I was accepted at Ambassador College – and much to my parents' horror! (My mother was so against my decision that she even considered taking College personnel to court for influencing a ‘minor’. But her threats did not deter me.) My parents could not understand my mentality. Nor could I! Naturally, it looked the antithesis of what I was cut out for, and the opposite of what would set me in good stead for the future. Something inside told me, however, that it was God's call on my life.
It was, but not in the way I thought at the time! God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform!
In September 1968, with heavy hearts, my parents took me to Ambassador College in Bricket Wood near St Albans, with all my belongings. My mother especially had hoped that I would have a change of heart at the last minute and see sense. She had written to Wye to keep my place open there until the last minute. Even when I started at Ambassador, she still requested that Wye retain the place for the following year, should I find that I had made a mistake. There was no mistake. God doesn't make mistakes. He knows precisely what He is doing, even if we don't!
I didn't know then, but I heard later, that Wye had withdrawn their plan to hold examinations on Saturdays. The idea had later been dropped! The decision was reversed after I had reversed mine to go where God wanted me. God knows how to move circumstances to achieve what He wants!
The following four years were to be years of learning, years of growing, and years of preparation. They were essential to fulfilling the task God was later to lay before me.
He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who cherishes understanding prospers.
Life at Ambassador College was full. There was always a lot happening. It was an institute of learning, but also an institute of work.
Days were very busy. Classes took up about five or six hours a day, beginning at 8 am and finishing at either 5 or 6 p.m.. Students were also given the opportunity to work to provide money for their keep and tuition. They could work about 20 to 25 hours a week in term time, receiving wages which were quite generous considering the unskilled nature and lack of experience of most of the students. In holiday time, on-campus work opportunities were increased to permit between a 40 and 48-hour week. College was no place for slackers!
There was a full load of assignments to be completed in the evenings, besides regular varied sport activities and many social functions periodically arranged each semester. It was at one of these social functions that I met my wife, Helena.
When I was 16 or 17 I had seriously prayed that God would lead me to the wife He chose for me, for His purposes. I left it all in His hands and thought nothing more about it for several years.
I had not taken much serious notice of girls. I had always been too tied to studies, or had been too involved in other activities to take any serious interest in the opposite sex. Getting married was the last thing on my mind.
During the college semester, a 'field trip' was arranged in which – all at college expense – coaches were hired, tickets to popular shows or theatres were purchased, and students were given an evening out. All men students were expected to ask a date to accompany them. The system worked very well. All the girls had an escort for the evening.
In January or February 1972, just such a 'field trip' was due. I had to think of whom to ask to accompany me. I hadn't got a clue, so I sat down with a student handbook, which had a list of all the students and their portrait photographs. My eye caught sight of Helena's picture. Somehow I knew she was the one! I asked her out. It was our first date. From that time I knew she was the one I was to marry. Don't ask me how I knew. God simply put the intuition in me from that time on. I just knew! And she did too.
We were married on June 17th 1973 on the beautiful grounds of the (then) Bricket Wood Ambassador College campus. (The estate was later sold.)
Ambassador College (AC) prided itself on setting high standards, both physically and morally, as well as socially. AC students prided themselves on being happy in the midst of a miserable world. We were taught to radiate, which is good. Part of this radiance was only natural. When young people come voluntarily together with a common purpose and are fully occupied, living in a beautiful environment, and having all their physical and emotional needs provided, how can one be miserable?
The aims and intent of the institution were laudable. "To recapture true values" was the College motto. It directed the minds of young people to the Bible as the Source of knowledge which can bring success and happiness in life. Such direction and instruction was naturally mingled with the aims and intent of the church which supported the College. There was a certain amount of vested interests involved, but the motivation and dedication of many of the staff and students could only be commended. That is not true of all, however.
Wherever one goes there are wheat and weeds. One can never find a perfect environment in this world, no matter how ideal the situation.
The Bible was taught, but not always ideally. One can say a lot with hindsight.
-240I don't wish to be critical of anyone or anything in particular. But having personally lived in and been trained by the system which the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) created, I have made observations from experience. I feel qualified to make statements which are objective. They are only intended to be helpful. I must call a spade a spade.
The College, whilst laudably acclaiming the recapturing of true values, missed the mark. Its emphasis in recapturing those values was physical, not truly spiritual.
In focusing on 'truth', and homing in on knowledge and revelation, it frequently missed the more important Revelator of that truth and knowledge. It unwittingly made an idol out of the knowledge itself, and prided itself on its acquisition rather than on the One who granted that knowledge and acquisition.
Instead of worshipping the Creator, it ended up worshipping the created. Human achievement subtly took the place of divine achievement. Human pride, greed and selfish ambition supplanted true humility and service in far too many cases. And love of wealth often took the place of love of God.
These weaknesses were not prevalent in all who learned and all who taught. But they became prevalent in far too many, especially those who held the highest positions. Lust for power and lust for the 'good things of life' ended up consuming many of the top-ranking personnel, including the founder himself. Had he been selfless and dedicated to Jesus Christ, the College would have adopted a different tone. Its sumptuous extravagant image would not have become the cause of consternation and much criticism. Much of this criticism is unfortunately warranted.
These statements, whilst sounding derogatory and uninvited, are substantiable. Ambassador Report documented many of the indiscretions and corrupt practices which went unchallenged and unnoticed by the majority of loyal employees and unsuspecting students. I do not desire to run anyone or any institution down, particularly the institution which I wanted to hold in the highest esteem for personal reasons, but the smut, duplicity and political chicanery which Ambassador Report disclosed cannot be denied. The majority of unsuspecting, loyal, trusting church members, students and college employees would be shocked if they knew the truth of some of the underhand things that went on behind the scenes. Unfortunately, most are so trusting they wouldn't believe such things are true, even if they had the courage to look into them! Most want to blindly, 'loyally' follow their human leaders in the organisation, oblivious to the corruption of many of them.
I spent four happy years at Ambassador College as a student. Overall, they were enjoyable and positive times, but there were sad, unhappy and much disliked moments as well. No learning in life is free from suffering.
I gained my BA degree in 1972, as did my wife in 1973. And I continued to work as an employee for a further two years before internal dissent, financial restrictions and other strictures within the organisation in the USA forced the closure of the English college campus in 1974.
My wife and I made many friends while we were there; friends whom I hope we can always hold dear.
Making A Clean Break
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.
In 1974, Ambassador College in Bricket Wood faced closure. Internal discord, which led to a financial crisis in the United States headquarters, from where it received most of its funding, caused this precipitate action.
Many employees were laid off. The most valued employees were offered alternative employment. Some transferred to America to fill posts made available there. But the majority had to look elsewhere.
After two years of working in the Agriculture Department at the College, I was beginning to feel like a fish out of water. I wasn't able to put my finger on why I felt like that. The job itself was challenging, mentally stimulating. I had to co-ordinate a small experimental programme of pilot trials designed to demonstrate various aspects of the College's philosophy towards agricultural practice. I realised later what was 'getting' to me. I was feeling uncomfortable because of the pressure to conform to organisational standards of behaviour.
These were not openly imposed, but one felt one had to project a certain image to be acceptable to one's superiors. It was not until I was out of that environment that I could see the psychological pressure being imposed on me – feeling one must conform to standards imposed upon you, denying one's own individuality and personal expression. I was being 'cloned' to conform to a false self image which the College projected. It was hypocrisy.
At the time I didn’t know why I felt uncomfortable. I was trying to be someone I was not. Without realising, I was trying to behave outwardly in a way that I was not within. This was as a result of the invisible psychological pressure that students underwent in their training. Some could tolerate it because they instinctively fitted that mould. They were naturally confident, capable, outgoing, extrovert, and made good preachers or leaders. I was not that way by nature. Something within always made me feel like rebelling against this false imposition upon my personality.
When I came home one day in 1974 to tell Helena that I had lost my job, she couldn't understand why I was so joyful about it! I felt free at last – free to be myself. I don't mean free to do evil; that was not in my heart. I felt free to be myself, to behave with the personality I had, instead of feeling I needed to portray a false front, a pseudo-image – conforming to the 'Ambassador College image'!
A day or two after I received my 'notice' and was made redundant, I was reading the local newspaper looking for jobs and ideas, when my eye caught sight of an advert for a residential caravan for sale in the scenic Chiltern hills. It sounded very appealing. It was a corner site on a residential caravan park for 'mobile' homes in St Leonards, near Wendover, Buckinghamshire. We went to see it and seriously considered buying it, but we had no money to speak of. We had not been able to save much even though we both worked.
I approached the bank manager by telephone for a loan, explaining what we wanted to purchase, and he sent me the necessary forms which I duly completed. No questions were asked by the manager as to my employment status (I was unemployed at the time). However, because of the nature of the purchase, he had requested the signatures of two guarantors anyway. My mother and father willingly offered to stand surety for me. We moved in during the summer of 1974.
It was a lovely situation. There was a field behind us and a semi-mature wood to look out on through the window. It was in the heart of the beautiful Chiltern countryside. This was what we could really consider our first home. It had a small garden with a few shrubs and trees. In the summer sun, the overhanging leafy boughs were a picturesque sight. It was very pleasant.
We were now some 20 miles or more from the College, but we still dutifully travelled to church services held there in the College gymnasium every weekend, and to Friday night Bible studies, until shortly before the college estate was purchased by the Central Electricity Generating Board.
Although I was beginning to find my own identity, Helena and I were very loyal members of the church, because we had learned much through its auspices. It was the human 'vehicle' God used to first reach our minds. We felt a correspondingly strong bond with its human structure and strong loyalties with the established order. But we were physically independent. We didn't rely upon the organisation in any fundamental way. Nor did we live near. God made sure we moved away.
After the College closed, the church suffered some internal political and doctrinal unrest. During that time, there was an upsetting environment. False ideas and doctrinal heresy began to be entertained by many.
We were protected from this disquiet. In fact, we knew little of it until afterwards. Because we lived away from the area where most of it occurred, we were sheltered from the bombardment of false ideas and spiritual self-seeking which took place. God was protecting our minds until we had to face our test in that regard, later.
Finding A Vocation
I sought the Lord and He answered me.
I thought long and hard about what job I ought to do. I applied for several jobs as a salesman, but nothing worked out. I even got short-listed and went for a week's trial for one particular job as an agricultural buyer and seller of grain. I landed the job after the week, only to be turned down the next day because I made it clear that I would expect to take time off in the autumn – their busiest time of year! In retrospect, I'm glad they did turn me down. I would have been a square peg in a round hole.
Not knowing what job to go for, I got on my knees. I asked God to show me what would suit me best. I asked Him to provide me with a job which would not only be fulfilling, but which would provide for others in some beneficial way. I wanted to do something in which I could give to others and be of use to them. I didn't want to work for money only.
A few weeks later, a church member approached me. Peter was a builder who lived west of Greater London. We struck up quite a friendship and he found himself suddenly rather busy – too busy, in fact, to cope with the volume of work which had descended upon him. Peter was a carpenter and joiner, but he turned his hand to a number of other trades as circumstances dictated.
One day, out of the blue, he asked me if I would like to join him on a large demolition and refurbishment job he had landed in East London, some 45 miles away. He knew I was out of work, and he had seen me doing things around our caravan. I was taking a woodwork course in the evenings in Redbourn, purely out of interest. I had made a set of chairs and an occasional table and done some other practical work that needed doing at home. He could see I was becoming 'handy'.
I accepted his offer, and embarked on a totally new venture, in a whole new world to that which I had been used to. I was now going to have to use my hands, as much as, if not more than, my head.
The job was near Liverpool Street Station in East London, a half derelict, run-down area of the city. A three-story Victorian building was being gutted and modernised to be sold (hopefully) as offices.
It was a filthy job. Old ceilings and walls had to be torn down. The dust was incredible. Virtually every day we went home either grey from dust, or black from the soot that had accumulated above the ceilings during the previous hundred years of coal-fired steam trains. Our sandwiches were gritty from the dirt, and it was impossible to get a comb in your hair to comb it.
Yet it was satisfying work. It was creative. The old was being made new. Derelict rooms, long-overdue for a face-lift, were being improved and made to look habitable at long last.
I accepted the challenge and worked hard. It meant leaving about 6 in the morning to avoid the traffic, arriving at work shortly after 7, and leaving between 3.30 and 4 to avoid equal congestion on the return journey.
I didn't see it as the answer to my prayer, at that time. But it was. That first contract lasted a few months. Peter went his own way after that, and left me to fend for myself. While there I met two other enterprising Irish lads who were subcontracting for another firm which specialised in loft conversions and home extensions. I went to help them for a while and gained more experience. One thing led to another, and I soon saw the need to obtain a competent skill. I managed to get retrained on a six-month TOPS government-sponsored bricklaying course. After that I was able to take on my own building contracts and provide a proficient service.
Quite early on in that job in East London – it could have been as early as the first or second day – a falling beam nearly put an end to the start of my new career.
We were tearing out old ceiling joists that had to be replaced to make way for a false ceiling and new floor. As I was occupied dealing with one beam, another came crashing down above me with old, jagged, rusty nails sticking out of it. It fell fast, and since it was a warm summer's day, my shirt sleeves were rolled up. In the split second as I saw it land on my right forearm, I suddenly pulled my arm out of the way.
I was just too late. The nail had penetrated the skin, and the sudden movement tore a huge gash in my arm over a foot long, right down to my wrist. Part of it was quite deep – about a quarter of an inch deep where the nail first penetrated, and should have had stitches. I had an aversion to hospitals, so I avoided going for treatment. Peter and I trooped off down to the local chemist for some antiseptic. I bound it up, then went back to work. I made sure I carried on.
The cut healed naturally, although it has left its scar to remind me of the incident.
Whenever God moves to give you an opportunity in life, Satan comes also to try to ruin it and steal it away. We must not let him.
Buying Our First House
Blessed is the man who fears the Lord... wealth and riches are in his house.
Previous experiences had made me daring. I think most young men are daring and will try new things. I was an active person. In my twenties I was restless. I always had to be doing something. I wanted activity. I could not bear to be sitting around doing nothing. Things were no different in my thirties; it was only when I reached 40 that my physical vigour noticeably diminished and I began to be a bit more bearable to live with.
The enterprising spirit was necessary. God knew a foundation had to be laid for what lay ahead. I had to be that way for the very physical job I had to do in those two decades of my life.
In 1975, Helena and I were living in our 'cosy' caravan home in the Chilterns. It was not so cosy in the winter. Heating was electric, and very expensive. With only an inch of insulation between us and the outside, we sometimes slept with an electric blanket on all night to keep warm. I can remember on more than one occasion going out in the morning after a hard frost to de-ice the water pipe under the caravan so we could have our cuppa.
Our first child was due in October 1975. My mother was concerned that this was not the place to be living with a baby. It didn't concern us. I could think of a lot worse places to live, and we were quite happy with our lot in life. We loved the environment. When young and in love with life, one isn't too perturbed about such inconveniences as having to defrost one's water main.
However, mother was concerned about the fact we were living in a caravan with a baby due. In the summer of 1975, she suggested we buy 'bricks and mortar'. There was no way we could afford to buy a house! Even at that time, a semi-detached was over £10,000. I was earning £65 a week – and that was relatively good money for a regular semiskilled building job. (It was not until about two years later that I became fully skilled.) On such a wage, I would only have been offered a mortgage of between £7,000 and £8,000. We had no savings, and I believe the caravan was being purchased over a five year term. There was no way we could raise a mortgage to get into the property market, even if we had wanted to, and at the time we saw no reason to want to do so.
My mother was moved to do something which was to prove pivotal in our lives. She clubbed together with Helena's uncle, Gabriel Zajac, to pool their resources for our benefit. Both my father and mother were still working and had a few more years to go before retirement. At retirement, they knew they would be entitled to the benefits of maturing investment policies they had prudently taken out earlier in life. But, at that time, they had no financial reserves to speak of.
They decided to borrow against their assets to raise a lump sum so we could buy a home. They also persuaded Helena's uncle, who lived frugally and who had saved assiduously, to part with his savings too.
Polish people have a very generous heart. They can be very hospitable people, as I discovered when I visited the country in 1976. They have a natural love and warmth that puts many English people to shame. All people can have two personalities, depending upon their circumstances, the situation, and their motivation. Poles, like other peoples, have a natural pride too, which can be either good or bad. God knows how to draw the best out of a person for His purposes.
Gabriel's generous heart was touched. He agreed to give us money too, to help us and to please my mother who could be very astute and persuasive. A pride element was also involved in what transpired. Gabriel boasted he would double whatever my parents raised on our behalf. In determining how much my parents should borrow, mother probed to find out how much Gabriel was prepared to go to! He said he could raise £6,500.
I could not believe what my ears were hearing! My mother agreed to give us £3,250, most of which they would have to raise on a bank loan. With a pledge of almost £10,000 behind us, Helena and I went house hunting. That was a lot of money in 1975, probably equivalent, in house purchase terms today (1994), to ten or fifteen times as much!
We obtained all the particulars we could about houses for sale in the area, looking within about a fifteen mile radius. We liked the Chiltern area and wanted to stay there. There did not seem to be many houses for sale at that time, and those we saw we did not want to buy. They were reasonable enough, ordinary enough. Maybe that was the problem, we were looking for something out of the ordinary, although we didn't know it.
We looked for some time during that summer of 1975, but could find nothing that 'took our fancy'. The houses that did appeal to us were far more expensive than we could afford, even with our gold 'nest-egg'.
We had almost given up searching and resigned ourselves to stay put and turn down the very generous offer we had been given, when one Sunday we decided to go for a drive. It was a pleasant summer's day. The sun was shining and the air was fresh. For some reason, the leaves of the trees that day seemed especially verdant.
We drove down the steep, narrow, windey lane through the beech woods from St Leonards to Wendover. It is a one-lane road with passing places until it comes down the steep chalk escarpment into the open valley below. We drove through Wendover and around the surrounding district.
We weren't looking for houses. We had put houses out of our minds. We were enjoying the scenery. As we were travelling, my eye caught a 'For Sale' sign on the left: "Buckell, Ballard and Rupert Lawrence." I had never heard of those estate agents before.
I didn't really care about looking for a house, but the area was so beautiful I felt I had to stop and take another look. We turned around and came back down the road to see what the house was like. It was a small Victorian style bungalow with old-fashioned squint bay windows with equally dated pointed gable roofs above them. Although the bungalow itself was not that appealing, the position was idyllic. Helena and I fell in love with it immediately.
I phoned the agents the next day to enquire of the price: £15,500. The house was quite dilapidated. The windows only had a year or two of life left. The ceilings were high and in need of replastering, as were some of the walls. All the house was badly in need of decorating, and the garden (which was wonderfully large) was becoming overgrown.
After seeing around the bungalow, it was obvious why others had not 'snapped it up'. It needed so much spent on it. There was a great deal of building work to be done. It was, we thought, grossly overpriced; but one was paying for the position.
My parents travelled the 80 miles to see it, and we all negotiated a price with the vendors. It was not much below the asking price. Wheels began to turn to exchange contracts.
Then something totally unforeseen occurred: subsidence!
The house had been built in 1919, and had stood without serious mishap until we arrived! After we had agreed to purchase, but before contracts were exchanged, a large crack about a quarter of an inch wide suddenly appeared in the front left corner. The corner had dropped considerably. It was not a surface feature, but indicated a serious structural defect.
We had asked the Leeds Permanent Building Society for a mortgage of about £7,000 to make the purchase viable, which they had initially agreed to. When their surveyor came to inspect, however, the offer of loan was withdrawn. The evidence of such movement disturbed everyone, especially the vendor. It was disappointing to me and I wondered whether to go ahead with the purchase.
I dug an exploratory hole to see how deep the foundations were. I was stunned when I found they were only 13 inches deep! Houses today are built with foundations between 1 m and 1.2 m deep in order to find a subsoil in which expansion and contraction due to changes in the soil's moisture content are minimal.
The previous years' unusually low winter rainfall had not replenished summer demands on the soil's moisture level, and the soil that summer had dried out more than ever previously. The result was shrinkage of the surface layers and the most exposed corner of the bungalow suffered the effects.
The agent offered to arrange a mortgage through a personal contact he had in the Building Society which backed his agency. But I knew the building would have to be underpinned. That could prove highly expensive. I was in two minds what to do. We loved the position of the home, but I was not sure whether we dared risk buying it. Was I stupid to even consider it?
Then, 'out of the blue', God sent a friend in the church to talk with me one day. I didn't realise at the time God had set it all up; all these things became clearer later. He was a building surveyor. I will call him ‘Stan’. Curiously enough, the first time I met Stan was at Ambassador College in 1968, when we both attended on the same day for interview. I am not sure of the precise course of events after that, but he did not go to College. Instead, he worked his way up from being a builder's labourer to becoming a qualified Council Building Inspector.
He told me that a technical representative from Pynfords was coming to give a lecture to all the Building Surveyors in the district where he worked. (Pynfords were generally recognised nationally as the foremost firm specialising in underpinning.) Would I like to come? Stan assured me it was no problem getting me in to the lecture with him. He said we could specifically ask the 'rep' after the lecture how I could go about underpinning the property myself.
I went, and that is what we did. The representative was most helpful and told me precisely how to go about the operation. It was not as difficult as I had first thought. In theory it was quite simple. In practice, all it required was resolve and hard physical work. I determined to do the job.
We renegotiated the price with the agent and vendor to compensate for the defects. The agent obtained the mortgage for us. Contracts were finalised and we moved in. It was November 1975.
 Ambassador Reports contain factual accounts of much of the corruption and abuse that has transpired within the Worldwide Church of God by its leaders who have tried to hide their corrupt behaviour from the church membership. AR documented evidence of serious inconsistencies, moral and sexual impropriety, misappropriation of funds, outright lies, deliberate deceit and other behaviour totally unfitting of true ministers of Jesus Christ. Ambassador Report, formerly at PO Box 60068, Pasadena, California 91116, USA, was compiled by the late John Trechak, himself a former American student whom we knew.
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