Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Forgiveness

How to have hope.

Our country has been rocked by a terrorist attack.

Although I am from France, I have lived here for more than 40 years and my wife and I raised our family here. The UK is our home.

I was in France in November 2015, when terrorists attacked Paris.  I was in the middle of an exciting week of mission at my brother’s church and we were seeing incredible miracles, lives set free and people commit their lives to Christ.

We were full of excitement at what God was doing and then we heard the horrific news. Our hearts were broken, just as they are today for the people of London, for all those who have been injured, for all those who have lost someone.   

We have seen some incredible acts of bravery, a MP who fought to save the life of an injured police officer, doctors, nurses, police and ordinary members of the public who have put their own lives at risk, to help protect ours.   

We are so thankful to live in a country that is able to respond quickly and with deep compassion in the face of a tragedy.

As Christians, we sometimes wonder what to say in the face of such a terrible situation. But on the Sunday morning after the attacks in Paris, our church in France took great comfort from God’s Word, in Psalm 37.

Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong 

Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.  

The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
The Lord helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him. 

Let us always go to God’s Word for our answers.  His Word (John 1:5) says that the darkness in the world will get darker, but that darkness will never extinguish light. In fact, that light (His light) will continue to shine brighter and the darkness CANNOT overcome it. 

That is where I get my hope.

Let’s pray with passion for our world and all those who are suffering and grieving today.   

And may God’s light, his in-extinguishable light shine ever brighter in the middle of the darkness we see.

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Christianity

‘The hour I first believed’ – Warren’s story

This week at UCB, the team has been asking our listeners to get in touch and tell us about ‘the hour they first believed’.  We want to hear stories of how God has transformed other people’s lives, as we know stories can reach people in a very powerful way.

I have asked Warren Evans, the Chief Executive of Sports Chaplaincy UK to share how he came to faith and what God has been doing in his life and ministry since.   If you would like to share your story, of how you came to meet and know Jesus, please get in touch through the stories page on our website.

I hope you will be encouraged!

David

Warren’s story

I was born in Manchester. I am one of four boys and in fact, I’m a twin. The doctor delivered my brother and disappeared, but was quickly called back to deliver me (it’s the only time I’ve had five minutes peace and quiet!).  It was a shock because my parents weren’t expecting twins. I was always ribbed by my brothers as being the ‘bonus child’.  My brother and I were premature, placed in incubators and not held properly for six weeks. It’s funny how these things impact you; my father said as a child I didn’t like anyone holding me. Now as an adult, I love to give big ‘Northern’ hugs.

When I was five years old, I remember sitting on my father’s knee (it was Easter of 1975) and he asked me a question which led to me making an initial commitment to Christ. Of course, I wish the Christian walk had remained that simple, but we know it’s a journey. However, during my late teens and early twenties, my behaviour and lifestyle didn’t always reflect the God I knew. I wouldn’t say I left or went away from God, but I didn’t pursue Him either.

Those years were interesting, I had a relatively successful career, worked hard and played hard. I was doing what most guys did, going to the gym, playing plenty of sport, nights out drinking and everything else that went with it – nothing different from every other guy my age, but God had other plans. 

The best explanation of what happened next was – well, you know those extendable dog leads? It felt like God allowed me to have my own way up to a point, but now I sensed Him say, ‘that’s enough, it’s time to come back in and stop ignoring me, stop doing the things you know aren’t right – the excessive going out, drinking, girls and all that stuff.’ 

Why? Well, I believe that God created us and knows what’s best for us.Through all this I was learning to trust God more, confident He would never let me down.

I was single and decided to do some travelling and on a trip I said to God if He wanted me to stay single I would (at the time this was a massive ask). I got to the point where I was willing to let Him have it all. 

Turns out, God had a plan! I met a beautiful girl, she asked me for my number and in the second it took me to reply, it felt like I had had a five-minute conversation with God in which he said, ‘if you don’t share Me with her then who will?’

So, we exchanged numbers. I didn’t have any intentions of marriage but God did. It was clear God was pursuing Juliet and Juliet was searching for God. In the following months, Juliet fell in love with God and me.  We became inseparable (still are!) and we married within the year.  We now have three wonderful boys Jacob (16), Nathan (15) and Alexander (3), yes he’s our surprise blessing.

I was privileged to have been raised in a Christian family, my father was a minister on a large council estate. My career had given me the opportunity to travel and gain a good understanding of process and people. We then supported a couple of churches and eventually I pastored a church. 

Whilst there I was approached by a friend to consider becoming the chaplain to our local professional rugby league club. After much thought and prayer,  I started my journey in Sports Chaplaincy and over the next seven years I have had the privilege of serving and overseeing chaplaincy within Rugby League and then I was asked to become the CEO of Sports Chaplaincy UK (SCUK). Here at SCUK, we believe God has given us a dream to see an expression of his love and compassion in every community called sport. 

I love God, I love sport but really it is all about loving the people. Without being too spiritual, I believe that my whole life has been preparation for this role.

Warren

Life continues to be a journey, I love John 3:16 which says, “God loves you so much that He sent His only son Jesus Christ to save you, that if you believe in Him you will not perish but have everlasting life.”

It’s a massive promise and it’s too important for you or me to ignore. 

I believe God has a plan and purpose for each one us, we are not an accident and he wants us to live life and life to the full. 

We are called to see with his eye and bring the best out of each other, declare his goodness and stand up against injustice and be and make a difference.

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Genesis 50:20 talks about what the enemy meant for harm, God used for good. We serve a gracious, merciful and just God who loves us. My hope is we can communicate to the local church that the community of sport is a wonderful mission field.

For more information about the work of Sports Chaplaincy, visit sportschaplaincy.org.uk

Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Evangelism, Faith, Forgiveness, Healing, Hope

Heaven is real

Last year, I told the story of losing our son Jamie when he was 13 months old. Our hearts were broken and as I cried out to God and asked Him to bring Jamie back, I felt God speak into my spirit; ‘He will not come back to you, but you will go to him one day’.
I learned later that these were the words God spoke to King David after the loss of his own son. Over the years, those words have given me great hope and comfort, because they remind me there is a world beyond this one.  I believe we will see Jamie again one day.

If you have lost someone you love, I would like to encourage you to know and believe that Heaven is not a myth. Heaven is real.

The Scriptures give us quite a lot of detail about Heaven.  Heaven is where God lives (Psalm 23:1) and Heaven was designed for us.   God does not need a place to live, He is self-sufficient, but He made Heaven for us.  God’s heart was to create a home and a family and God loves us so much that He has adopted us into the family so we can spend eternity with Him.   But He also gave us a choice.   Where we spend eternity will be determined by the choices we make in this life, whether we choose to accept the free gift of Jesus, or not.

What is Heaven like? 

Jesus said that He would go to prepare a place for us (John 14:3) and in Revelation 22, we are given a beautiful picture of a place with trees and a river ‘clear as crystal’ which flows down the middle of the street.  Heaven is also described as a place where God’s people will live with Him forever, and where all tears, grief, pain and death will be wiped away.  It is a place where the ‘old order of things has passed away’.  (Revelation 21).   If you are like me, sometimes you might think, ‘Lord, it’s dreadful down here…’ But the thought of a perfect world to come with no pain, gives us great hope.

Living for today

Although we look forward to eternity with great expectancy, it is still important to live with our purpose while on this Earth, to be fully present in the life we have been given.  It is ok to dream and look forward to a day when we can take off our ‘suit’ of flesh and blood, but we should not forget that God has a purpose for us now.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul says that we are ambassadors of Christ.   If I were a political ambassador, it would mean that I had an important purpose, but that ultimately I was the citizen of another country.  The same is true when we are Christ’s ambassadors.  Our appointment and purpose is from God and we have a heavenly assignment, to speak God’s heart to the country and situation we are currently in.

If you are in a difficult situation or have lost someone you love too, can I encourage you, Heaven is real.  As believers, it is a place we can look forward to with expectancy.   I believe that I will one day be reunited with both my son and grandson, but until that day, let’s live for the here and now.

Let’s make it our goal to share this truth, this hope with as many people as possible, until the day God finally calls us home.


 

Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Evangelism, Faith, Healing, Hope, Miracles, Spiritual healing

God will get you through it…

I would like to tell you about my grandson Emile. Emile is 8 years old and is so loving and caring (especially with his new baby sister) and I believe God has a great purpose for his life.

My daughter Natalie had a normal pregnancy with Emile and as a family we had no idea there was anything wrong. Emile surprised everyone by arriving two months early and at first the doctor thought he might have a blockage in one of the tubes leading to his stomach.

However, as the doctors did many more investigations, they discovered that Emile actually had Vacterl Syndrome, a genetic condition which affects multiple areas of the body. Emile had a hole in his heart, problems with his spine, his oesophagus was fused to his lung (instead of his stomach) and he had only one kidney. In addition, he had a problem with the thumb on his hand and one of his eyes remained shut, as there was no nerve in the eyelid.


At the beginning of his journey, when we were first told of Emile’s diagnosis, our family was devastated. Having lost a child of our own, my wife Jackie and I did not want to see Natalie and Antoine go through a similar heartache. I remember spending a lot of time with God and I felt Him tell me clearly that He would not lift us out of the situation, but He would lead us through it. All around the world, other ministries and friends were praying for Emile and his parents and we felt so lifted by their prayers, knowing that we were not alone.

Emile was finally released from hospital and Natalie and Antoine had a wonderful first day as a family at home with him. For the first time, they felt like real parents but that evening, Emile choked and had to be resuscitated and rushed back to hospital. It felt as though we were facing yet another setback, and yet through it all, we sensed that victory was coming. 

Emile remained in hospital till he was four months old and had many operations during that time and over the following years.


The doctors said that Emile would probably never sit unaided, and if he did, he would probably never stand. And if he was ever able to stand, he would never be able to walk or run. And yet, Emile has done all of those things and much more. 

We wondered if he would ever be able to eat normally. At the time he had a button fitted in his stomach to allow tube feeding. When he was five years old, Emile started to eat and finally this year he had his button removed, as he is now eating enough on his own. I remember the weekend that Emile came to stay with us and ate a whole plate of spaghetti. For Jackie and I, it was an incredible event and even now when I sit at the table and see him eat, there is a silent cry of thanks that wells up inside me. Thank you God, thank you Father for ALL you have done in his life.

God has been so faithful and although Emile faces many challenges, we know that God has been true to His word when He said he would not take us out of the situation, but He would lead us through it.  

Did I ever doubt? I can honestly say I do not think I did. However, there have been times that have been overwhelming. Seeing someone you love in so much pain is devastating and stressful and yet even through pain, God has been there.  

On one occasion I felt God tell me to ‘talk to the mountain’ and so sitting with Emile as he was in his hospital bed, I asked if he could feel any pain. He said yes and I told him that in Jesus’ name, he could tell the pain to go. As we prayed and Emile told the pain to leave his body, I wish I could have taken a photograph, as a huge smile lit up his face. Even now, several years later, our daughter tells us that Emile will shout out, ‘Pain, go, in Jesus name!’

His simple faith has been such a blessing to us and God has spoken to us so many times.

On another occasion, I was with Emile at a physiotherapy appointment, to help correct a malformation in his thumb. The physiotherapist explained that in order to get the thumb into the right position, they would need to ‘stretch and pull’. This would be a repeated process until eventually the thumb stayed in a more natural position. It would not be pleasant but as the physiotherapist explained, ‘when the thumb stays in the right position, we will know we have won’.  

It spoke to me so clearly of how God works in our lives. Sometimes our lives and purposes need to be realigned and we need divine physiotherapy to put us into the right position. It is rarely a pleasant experience, but God uses this stretching and pulling, to shape us into the people he wants us to be.

Today, as we look back on all God has done in Emile’s life so far, we are overwhelmed and so very grateful. There is much physical healing still to be done in Emile’s life, but we know that the God who has brought us this far, will continue to see us through.  

     

Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Faith

Why is Christian Media important?

At the beginning of a new year, we are finalising our plans for the next 12 months and looking ahead to all we believe and trust God will do.   It is always good to keep ourselves accountable and even ask difficult questions.  I have been asking myself, why is Christian media so important?  Can it really impact people’s lives?

What do you believe?

Whether we are aware of it or not, we are surrounded and saturated by messages from the media.  Whether that be TV, radio, adverts, newspapers, Facebook or other online messages, on a daily basis, we are always absorbing many different kinds of information.  Some of those messages may be good, but we need to be wise to the fact that the enemy also uses media to pollute our minds.  It is not just the ‘obvious’ things like pornography or images which do not glorify God, but it can be subtle messages which make us believe things which are contrary to God’s will.

The alarming part is that often we do not even realise we are being influenced!   We are even influenced by different brands.  I see many people walking around with big logos on their clothes and possessions.  Although there is nothing wrong with that, it can be a way people find their identity.  How much better if we knew our identity was only found in Jesus.

Jesus Christ (JC) is the biggest brand in the world and that is what I want to be ‘branded’ with.

This is why I believe good, accountable Christian media is very important.  And in a world where we are surrounded by constant information, it is so important that God’s Word and positive, encouraging and faith-building messages are also ‘out there’ for people to find and listen to.  If the enemy is using media for his own good, how much more should Christians rise up and say, ‘No, we want to reclaim media, reclaim the airwaves for something positive, something transforming that can change people’s lives’.   Let’s use Christian media to show people that their lives CAN be changed for good, forever, by the power of God’s Word.

Get in the boat

A much loved charity in the UK is the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institute). They do not receive Government funding and are staffed by volunteers, to help save the lives of people stranded at sea.  They offer a 24/7 life-saving service, working selflessly to help save physical lives each day.

This to me is a great picture of what Christian media can do.  Christian media is also a 24/7 service.  No, I do not believe we are ‘the church’, but we are here to support the church and to help provide an important service, going into places and homes which the church cannot initially reach.  I see what we do very much as a ‘rescue service’.

As I look to the year ahead and I see a lot of darkness online and in our media, I know that we need to continue to offer a ‘rescue service’.  I believe there is truly a crisis at sea, but thank God that He never slumbers or sleeps.

God has given us media platforms available 24/7 to reach every person, everywhere, every moment of the day and night, who need help more than ever before.

Let’s work together to throw a lifeline to people who need it more than ever.

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Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional

2017 – the year of ‘the SUDDENLY’!

First, let me wish you a Happy New Year!  For many, 2016 will be remembered as the year of surprises!  We had Brexit, a new Prime Minister, Theresa May, a new President elected, Donald Trump and we also saw many acts of terror and a growing refugee crisis.   For UCB, it was a year of distractions on many fronts, but I sense that as we enter 2017, it will be a year of God’s ‘suddenly moments’.

The verses which keep coming to me are:

“You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.”  Psalm 65:11

“I declared the former things long ago and they went forth from My mouth, and I proclaimed them. Suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.” Isaiah 48:3

However, as we each begin this new year, I believe we need to be expectant and ask ourselves, what are we hoping for?  What are we waiting for?

Much of life is waiting for something to happen. Minutes turn into hours, hours into days, days into months and months into years.  Sometimes it feels as though the clock on our lives is standing still, and we are waiting for whatever will come next.  If you are in that place at the moment, waiting to see a word fulfilled or for God to move in your circumstances, you are not alone.   It can feel as though things will never change, but the Word of God is full of people who had ‘suddenly’ experiences.   Here are just a few examples:

  • Abraham was a very old man when he was ‘suddenly’ told that he would be given a much-longed-for son
  • Joseph went from being in jail to standing before Pharaoh. One minute, no one would listen to him. The next minute, the most powerful man in the country was asking his opinion.
  • Moses had raised a family and was content to stay hidden in the desert when God ‘suddenly ‘called him to the greatest of adventures.
  • Elizabeth and Zacharias! The Bible says they were well advanced in years and she was barren, when ‘suddenly’ an angel appeared and announced that they would have a son – John the Baptist.

God has been in the ‘suddenly business’ for years.

So, you might be asking, what about my ‘suddenly moment’?

Maybe you know and believe that God can do anything, anytime, anywhere and that there are no limitations to God’s ability, but you’re frustrated as to why it’s not happening now? We may become frustrated in the waiting, but God’s timing is perfect.  He is never too late and certainly never too early, but it surely comes! And I know that His timing and will are much better than mine!

How to pray as we wait.

Be specific

I really believe God wants us to be specific as we pray.  Sometimes we can feel as though we don’t need to tell Him the detail, but in any relationship, you share the detail, your thoughts, your hopes.  It is the same with God – when we pray, let’s be specific about what we see and about what we are asking God to do.

Dream big!

We need to be specific when we pray, but we also need to be open to God doing something different.   It can be easy to use our prayer to ‘shape’ what we want God to do, rather than be open to whatever it is He wants to give us.

The shape, size, colour and features of our destination may not be in the package that we have been describing to God… or to ourselves!   I often wonder if we have spent so much time focused on ‘telling God what to do’, that we might have missed a suddenly moment, or something unusual He wanted to bless us with?  God’s answers don’t always come in the way we expect and it can be easy to overlook His blessings, because the answer, he, she or it did not fit into our formula? It is something to ponder on!

Trust His timing

Allow God to set the timeline.  And instead of clock-watching,  let’s count every sorrow, every joy, every longing, every heartache as a precious gift that God is allowing to come our way to prepare us for the joy He passionately wants to share with us.   Be confident that He does have a ‘suddenly’ for you too!  The question is whether or not you will be ready to see and experience it.

For UCB, I believe our ‘suddenly’ moment is rooted in a Word I felt God gave us last year, which I wrote about in a blog post, Look to the future – what do you see? 

I continue to wait, believe and pray expectantly for a great move of God which will change the landscape of the world!

Therefore as we launch into this new year, let’s not forget the words of Jesus to His disciples (John 4:35), “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’?  Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.”

Time is of the essence – can you join me in believing that 2017 will be the year of ‘the suddenly?’

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Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Faith

Let’s pray and believe for our breakthrough

Recently, we had our Prayer Breakthrough Day on UCB radio.   We invited anyone who was listening to contact us with their prayer requests (or praise reports) and we dedicated the whole day to sharing and praying for those needs on air.  It is a sobering day for our team as we receive many requests from people desperate for a breakthrough in their circumstances.  But it is also a great privilege to be trusted with these needs and to be able to stand together in prayer.

I am sometimes asked, why is prayer important?  Is there a particular way I should pray?

I feel so passionate about prayer.  It is such a wonderful way to engage with God, with each other and to see God’s power and grace released in our lives.

In the early days of UCB, the ministry was soaked in prayer.  The situation our founders faced was so difficult that every breakthrough, every month of finance had to be ‘prayed in’.   We are so grateful for the army of people who, over the years have faithfully prayed for UCB’s ministry and  days like these are  our way of ministering in return, to our listeners.

We know that many of our listeners will have key difficulties and issues in their lives and will need someone to ‘stand in the gap’ for them.  We receive hundreds of calls and emails from people who are struggling with poor health or facing financial difficulties or marriage problems.  Each time we pray for the individual, we are praying for everyone who is facing those situations too.

I visualise the day in time to come, of waves of breakthrough as a result of those prayers, of our phones lighting up with listeners telling us they have been set free or healed.  Prayer works and it is incredibly effective (I have seen this many times in my own life) but we do not always understand the importance of prayer or how to pray effectively   Prayer meetings at churches are usually the least attended of all services, but if we truly believed that prayer works and that through it, God can deliver and set us free, we would never miss a prayer meeting again!

Prayer is an invitation

If we go back to Genesis, we will read that God gave man the authority to rule the Earth.  He delegated the authority and His power to us.  As a leader, I know that when you delegate authority to someone, you should not interfere, well not unless you are invited.

I believe that prayer is an invitation.  We are asking God, inviting Him into the situation, into our lives, into whatever we are facing.   When we invite Him in, that is when we often experience His presence most powerfully.  This is the structure God has given us.  But how many of us fail to invite God to manifest himself into whatever we are facing?

Prayer is a trigger for God’s grace

In many senses, prayer is like a weapon and a bullet.  Prayer is the trigger to release God’s grace in our lives.   If we look at how God’s grace was released in the lives of people Jesus prayed for, there was often a step of faith, an action required.  He told a disabled man to ‘pick up his bed and walk’.  In other parts of the Bible, people are told to stretch out their hands, to dip in a river, to do something.  To see God at work, we need to take action and that action is prayer.  As we step forward, do something and invite God into our circumstances, His grace, His healing, His provision is released.

Pray for us, as we pray for you

UCB is growing and because we believe so much in the power of prayer, we have increased our prayer on air.  We now have Prayer Breakthrough Days four times a year and we are committed to praying for the needs of our nation.  But as a ministry we need prayer too.  We face many exciting opportunities (especially as technology advances) but we are not immune to sickness, problems or attacks from the enemy.   Just as it took 23 years for the founders of UCB to see the breakthrough of national  Christian radio becoming a reality, we know it can take time to see breakthrough in other areas too.  But I believe that for you, me and all the situations we face, breakthrough comes when we pray and invite God into the problems, issues and situations we all face.

Let’s stand together to see a breakthrough in this nation.   Would you be willing to pray for UCB?  Fill in your details below and we will send you ministry updates with different prayer needs.   Tell us too, how we can pray for you.   Together, let’s release the power of God in our lives, by inviting Him into all we face.

*(Prayer requests are passed on to UCB’s Prayer Team who will pray for your needs. If you would like to pray with someone on the phone, please ring 0845 456 7729)

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