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

The Power of a Story – Sid’s story

Once a year, the UCB team (staff and volunteers) gather together to celebrate all that God has done and share some of our thoughts and hopes for the future.

Our Staff Away Day was last Thursday and what a wonderful day we had.  We had a wonderful time of worship together, led by our friends from CfAN, followed by a great word from the Chairman of our Board, Alan Scotland, who heads up Global Horizons.    We themed the event, ‘The Power of a story’ to coincide with a new book we have published for UCB’s 30th anniversary. The book tells the stories of 30 people whose lives have been changed by the power of God’s Word.

Two of the people in the book, Sid O’Neill and Margaret McGuckin, came to join us (as a surprise for the staff) at the Away Day.  We shared their stories on video and then invited them to talk in more detail about how God has impacted their lives.


This is Sid’s story in his own words:

When I was 12 years old, I went to live with my grandmother. The house we lived in had a lot of strange spiritual activity and, as a child, I used to see and hear spirits. That was my only experience of anything ‘spiritual’. Years later, I was working in a print factory and one of the bosses, Neil, was a Christian. I think I made his life a misery, as I used to tease him and try to embarrass him. I’d never met a Christian before – I thought it was really amusing. I wondered why he always read his Bible, rather than the newspaper like the rest of us.

Although I knew there was a spiritual world (because of my childhood experiences), the only thing I now did religiously was go to the pub on a Friday night. One night, a group of us were heading off for some drinks when we were involved in a terrible car accident – one of my friends in the car was killed. I was seriously injured and spent a long time in hospital with broken legs and a broken back. I had a lot of time to think and I blamed God for what He had done to me and to my friends. When I got better, I took off to a new job in the Middle East. I made a real mess of things there, started drinking and ended up breaking my contract in order to get back to the UK. When I returned, Neil, the supervisor from my old factory, was now running his own busy printing firm and he was printing this little booklet called the UCB Word for Today.

He offered my wife a job and one day when I went to pick her up, the printing press was broken. Neil was distraught and at the point of tears, as he couldn’t find anyone to fix it and the UCB Word for Today needed to be urgently printed. I don’t know how, but I looked at the machine and I was able to fix it…and the printing continued. Even though I wasn’t a believer, I believe that God helped me to fix that machine.

Somehow, I knew that I needed to be there, working for Neil. It meant a 50% pay cut but I was drawn back there, and I used to read the UCB Word for Today as it came off the presses. One night, Neil gave me a CD with a man singing a song from Psalm 23 and as I sat there, alone in the factory, I raised my hands and I was crying. I knew that God was speaking to me, and I knew that if I asked for forgiveness, God would set me free and He would heal me of all my pain. That was the day I stopped running from God and since then, I have not looked back. Today, I am working with the Christian motorcyclist Association. I can’t say how thankful I am to God for all that He’s done in my life. He’s fixed my hurt and pain, He’s stopped me from running and He’s given me hope. In my life, God has worked through so many different means: through Neil, through the bikers, through the Word For Today and through everyone who prayed for me.

Today, Sid works with the Christian Motorcyclists Association and he brought some of his biker friends from CMA, who also shared how God was working in their lives.

Hearing stories like these blesses me so much.  I know that it is not because of anything UCB has done, but because of God at work in people’s lives.  Sometimes, God allows us and UCB to be part of that journey.  We are so thankful that we are!

This week is a very busy one for our team, as we launch our National Appeal on UCB 1 and UCB 2.   It will be three days of inspiring radio and we will share many more testimonies of God working in people’s lives.

I hope you will be able to listen in.

p.s   If you are able to support the work of UCB this week, it is very easy to get in touch.  You can text the word TEAMUCB to 70500 to give £10 and 100% of the donation comes straight to UCB (the text will cost you 1 network charge + the £10 from your donation).



 

 

 

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

Look to the future – what do you see?

Over the last few weeks, I have been spending some time with God, seeking the way forward for UCB as a ministry.  I have been rejoicing about the past and those who have gone before us, but also rejoicing about the many lives which have been changed and transformed by the power of God’s Word.

I recently met with a group of UCB supporters and shared what I see for the future.  I want to share the same message with you and give you a glimpse of what I am seeing today. It is a glimpse that came from the challenge Jesus gave to his disciples when He said to them, ‘Lift up your eyes, and look at the fields and see how white and ready they are for the harvest’. (John 4:35).

Instead of looking at the gloom and despondency and the brokenness that is in our world today, God wants us to see what He sees today.

Here is what I see.

I see God turning the hearts of a godless society back to Himself.

I see a church living and operating in the power of the Gospel.

I see our Government, our laws, our society being reshaped by the truth of God’s Word.

I see family units coming together into the knowledge and the transformation of God’s power, from the toughest parts of the cities to the most rural parts of our country.

I see every generation, should it be young or old, knowing their worth and experiencing value and a purpose for their lives.

I see people standing for what it is true and becoming intolerant for all the right reasons – intolerant of wrongdoing, intolerant of injustice.

I see people getting ready to answer God’s call, like they have never done before.  I see people standing together totally united for their cities and not afraid to say, ‘We are the Church’.

I see the Church mobilised to take the Gospel to the towns, villages and the cities, making disciples and being totally committed to what God has called them to do.

I see changing statistics; relationships being restored, addictions broken.   I see miracles to be the order of the day in the life of our society, because the Church is acting like true light and salt, like never before.

I see an army of young people having visions and I see older people, instead of being put ‘on the shelf,’ having dreams like they have never had before,  supporting and standing with the younger generation.

I truly believe and see a day is coming when God will pour His Spirit upon all flesh.   I see the young and the old, the children and the grandparents lifting the banner of victory, looking at their society and truly believing that God has a message of hope, and using every means possible to lift up that message of truth.

You might say, ‘Dave, you’re living in cuckoo land, you’re dreaming!’

But I am seeing only what Jesus spoke of to his disciples and I am saying that it is time that we lift up your eyes from the negative, from the oppressive, from the depressive and recognise that the fields are white for harvest.

And therefore it is time, I believe that we as a ministry and you as partners and supporters, that we actually start to switch on and see what God wants us to see.

And let’s believe that the enemy will not have the upper hand.  He may think that he has the best strategy, to steal, to kill, to destroy,  but the verse does not stop there, because Jesus says even to us today, through His Word that He came that we might have life, not just life,  but life to the full. (John 10:10).

I strongly believe we are moving into an unprecedented hour and that we as a ministry need to be ready like never before.  We need to be ready for people to be resourced and helped in their faith.  And we need to be ready to resource the church, as I believe they will not be able to cope with the amount of people who will be coming in.   They need to have reliable content.

There is a saying in Media that ‘content is king’.  This means that all our strategies are of no use, if our content, if what we write or share on air is not good.   I believe today though that God is turning that around and saying, ‘The KING is the content’.

David-Blog21

 

Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Forgiveness, Healing, Hope, Miracles

Learning to forgive yourself 

I shared last week about the loss of our son Jamie and the way our lives as a family were changed forever. In the weeks and months after Jamie died, our pastor John Mosey was a wonderful friend. He helped us with the many practical arrangements and he led Jamie’s funeral service, providing a great deal of comfort and support in a terrible time.

On Dec 21, 1988, in the same year that Jamie died, a Pan Am plane exploded over Lockerbie, killing everyone on board. John’s 19 year old daughter Helga was one of the victims. I remember the day we received the news and I drove to John’s house. John and his family knew Helga had been on the plane, but John was on the phone in the hallway, trying to confirm some more details. ‘I am so glad you are here,’ he said. ‘You know what it feels like to lose a child’.  

The circumstances were very different. Jamie had died from an unknown illness and Helga had been killed in a suspected terrorist attack. But now, in the same year, both families were facing the indescribable grief of losing a child. 

News of the Lockerbie disaster was in every newspaper and John became known at the time, for saying he would forgive the people who had taken his daughter from them. Our family did not have anyone to forgive in the same way, but as the years went by and I continued to carry a great weight of grief, I wondered if I did need to forgive someone. 

In April 2016, RT Kendall came to visit UCB. I spoke about his visit in another blog post  but I did not share at the time, how much this visit impacted me. RT was filming a TV programme for UCB TV, but we asked if he would share something for UCB’s team leaders also.    

RT spoke for a little while about forgiveness and encouraged our team to forgive those who had hurt them. He then said he wanted to pray for those who needed to forgive themselves. This was a very important moment for me personally, as although many years had passed since we had lost Jamie, I had carried a silent burden of guilt, wondering if I could have done more? Could I have spent more time with him? Could I have done things differently?

RT’s time with us and his powerful prayer, was a moment of breakthrough in my life. Over the next few days, I began to realise that I felt totally free. By the power of God’s grace, I was finally released from a burden which I was never meant to carry. God had shown me that I needed to forgive myself. 

I believe that God wants all of us to be totally free, to not carry guilt and shame from the past, into our present lives. I thank God for sending Godly people into the ministry of UCB, who can show us more about God’s wonderful healing power. 

Jesus came to set the prisoners free. If we choose to accept it, we too can live in total freedom. 

Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Evangelism, Faith, Forgiveness, Hope, Miracles

God is the God of the impossible

Early one Friday morning over five years ago, our Company Secretary came to see me. ‘David, we have a problem,’ he said.  ‘Our cashflow is bad. We need half a million pounds’.

When you are responsible for a large organisation, this is never good news to hear. Coming from a commercial background, I knew it was quite common to operate a business out of an overdraft, but I did not feel this was the answer for UCB.  I did not know what the solution was, but firstly,  I knew that we needed to pray.

When facing unexpected news, it is easy to get caught up in meetings and discussions but at that moment I wanted to be alone so that I could ask God for His answer.  I took out my Bible and felt God prompt me to read Jeremiah 17.  My eyes fell initially to Jeremiah 17:7-8.

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit’.

As I read this, I felt encouraged especially that we were to ‘have no worries in a year of drought’, but in my heart, I still didn’t feel fully peaceful.   I felt God prompt me to read Jeremiah 17 again, but this time I needed to read the whole chapter.  I have to admit that verses  4 to 6 shocked me – they were curses about goods being plundered and lives being destroyed!

I remember I prayed,  ‘God, ‘I do not understand. First you gave us a promise and a blessing and now I am reading about a curse?  What are you saying to us?

However, as I read it again, Jeremiah 17, verse 6 suddenly came alive to me;

This is what the Lord says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord.

I felt this was our answer!  I knew I had a decision to make.  Where should we take our strength from?  Should we rely on an overdraft which came from ‘mere flesh’ or could we find the courage to trust God, believe His promise and see what He would do?

I gathered all the UCB staff together for a time of prayer.  I remember we stood in a circle in our Hanchurch building, all holding hands and we prayed and asked God for a miracle.  I told the team that I believed God wanted us to trust Him.   I later wrote to our Board of Trustees and asked if they would support us in this decision, and they all agreed.Those were difficult months but we believed God had given us a clear promise from His Word – His divine instruction manual.

That was at Easter time and we had to wait until nearly October before we began to see the financial breakthrough in our circumstances.  However, we did not ever need to use that overdraft and we give God all the glory for seeing UCB through a very difficult time.

There have been many other challenging times since then, but prayer remains an essential everyday part of what we do.  I do not believe we can function properly as a ministry unless we purposefully choose to spend time in God’s presence.  It’s in His presence that (combined with His Word) we can find answers to the problems that we all face.   In God’s presence, we are able to talk openly and honestly with our Father.  We can tell Him our problems, our fears and frustrations.   It’s in that place that we can truly find our peace.

We continue to believe that God is the God of the impossible and He will never let us down.

David-Blog10

Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Faith, Forgiveness, Healing, Hope, Miracles, Spiritual healing

When trouble comes, will you stay the course?

I am very pleased to hand the blog over to my friend Bruno Kondabéka this week. Bruno and his wife Joanne are great friends of our family and are also the pastors of Chichester Family Church.

Some years ago, their son (who was then 7 years old) was struck by a terrible illness, but God did something remarkable.

It’s an incredible story of God’s power at work.  Bruno will share what happened next.

Bruno writes…

My wife Joanne and I have three boys and as pastors of a church in Chichester, our lives are often busy.   About two years ago, I was preaching a sermon series on the issue of suffering.  I remember asking our church, when trouble comes, will you stay the course?  We didn’t know then, that soon ‘trouble’ would visit our home and put our family to the test.

It began without any warning, when one day our youngest son Samuel started to feel unwell.   He had a slight fever but didn’t seem too ill, so we gave him Calpol and he stayed home from school for a few days to recover.

Five days later Samuel started to get visibly worse, his temperature went up and he was complaining his head and neck were hurting, so we rang NHS Direct who advised we take him to the emergency Doctor.  On Sunday the hospital checked him over but they felt satisfied that it was probably a virus and in time it would pass.   However, by the middle of the week, Samuel was still not any better, so we took him to our GP and that’s when things became very worrying.   Samuel was very agitated that day, which was not like his usual cooperative self, and he seemed to be in pain and was very confused.  The GP rang the paediatric unit at the hospital and the Consultant suggested we take him straight there.

We were greeted at the hospital by the Consultant and his team, and we started to realise that this was maybe very serious indeed.  Again Samuel was very agitated and confused and had become light sensitive, so he was sedated in order to calm him down so he could be examined and given a CT scan.

After the scan, our son’s condition deteriorated rapidly. He was finding it hard to wake up, his heart beat was erratic and he was not responsive to anything we said to him. The results of his CT scan were passed onto the specialists in Southampton Hospital and because they were concerned with what they saw, they arranged for Samuel to be transferred by ambulance to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit in Southampton. To stabilise him he was put in a drug induced coma and he was quickly taken to Intensive Care.

Samuel

After further tests, we were told Samuel had Meningoencephalitis – a very rare and potentially deadly infection on the brain, caused by mycoplasma, a cross between a virus and bacteria, which causes the brain to swell. As parents, our hearts were broken and the tears flowed as we watched what was happening to our little boy, but we did what we could to hold on to God and to trust Him to take us through this.

I remembered that just a short time previously, I had asked our church family if they were able to ‘stay the course’ when suffering came and now we were facing that exact situation ourselves. We felt all the emotions you could expect – we wept and we worried, but we were also encouraged by remembering words spoken over Samuel’s life when he was dedicated as a baby, by our friend Pastor Brian Downward from Bournemouth.   The words at that time were that God had a purpose for his life and it was a good purpose.  He was to be a man of God.

I was also aware that our friends in Angers, France, were holding a week of mission at their church that week.  I lived in France for some years and the church there had helped to sponsor me in my theology studies in South Africa.  I had a phone call from David L’Herroux who told us that the church wanted to pray for Samuel.   David felt it was important that the church prayed together during one of their services and so that night at 8.30pm at the hospital in Southampton, we connected by phone with the church in France (as David paused in the middle of his preach). We laid hands on Samuel as David prayed, and then because we were in the ICU and couldn’t make too much noise, I went outside the ward and continued to pray (with my arm outstretched toward my son’s bed) while the church prayed that God would heal Samuel.   That day had been particularly hard as we watched the nurses struggling to get Samuel to wake up out of the coma and they were not succeeding.   So, we were encouraged by this prayer and support and it gave us courage to believe for a miracle.

I walked back to the ward and we continued to sit beside Samuel’s bed and literally just 30 minutes later, we had the biggest surprise of our lives when Samuel just opened his eyes. He had been unconscious for 3 days.   The nurses rushed to see him and confirmed he was conscious – they removed his breathing tube and from that moment, he started to make a full recovery.

Samuel2

The next day he was moved from the ICU and 14 days later, he was discharged from the hospital.  The neurosurgeon who had worked with Samuel took us to one side and said that although she was amazed at his recovery, we should also expect the worst, as there could be long term damage.

But just over two weeks later, Samuel was back at school part-time, and the following week, he went back to school full time.  He will soon be celebrating his tenth birthday and has suffered no ill effects whatsoever.

Samuel3

We thank God every day for the amazing miracle he gave us for our son.

Family

David concludes…

Bruno’s story is a wonderful reminder to us that God is very much at work in the world around us.  At UCB, I encourage the team to keep being expectant and believing for the impossible. We live in a world which is bound by fear but I believe God wants to set us free in every area of our lives.   I trust Bruno’s story has encouraged you to believe for more.  We serve a mighty God!

 

David-Blog9

Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Faith, Miracles

If God has given you a dream, don’t give up on it.

I have been asked recently, how did I come to UCB? Where did this journey begin?

I want to share with you a few thoughts about the power of having a God-given dream.  If God has given you a dream, do not give up on it.

I first came to the UK in 1973.  I was a rebellious young man, running from the Christian upbringing I had been given.  I wanted to strike out on my own, but it didn’t take long before I realised that I missed the precious atmosphere of God’s presence in my life.  I went to visit my brother who was attending the Assemblies of God conference in Minehead.  I had not planned to go to the actual conference, just meet up with my brother, but I stayed for the meetings and I had a powerful encounter with the Holy Spirit which changed my life.

After that experience, I put myself before God and asked Him, ‘What do you want to do with me? What do you want to do with my life?’  I felt God encourage me to believe for the impossible and He put a dream in my heart, of going all the way to the Boardroom.  At that time I was a janitor, so I did not see how that was possible, but I began to seek God’s Word.

I believe God gave me insight into the verse in Genesis 1:28, where God said to Adam; ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.’   For years, we have read this as a command to have children and populate the earth, but I believe this is also a command to be creative and fruitful in whatever we turn our hands to.  By reading God’s Word, I began to develop business principles to live by and over time,  God allowed me to become very fruitful.

I started out as a janitor working for a national retail chain and before too long, I became a warehouse manager, moving to store manager until eventually (after 23 years), I became the Head of their national discount chain. God had truly fulfilled His promise to me, to take me to the Boardroom. It wasn’t because I wanted the ‘position’ or the power. It was because I believed that God wanted me to be fruitful in what I did. However, I had to learn some painful lessons along the way.

In 1988, the business was going very well and my wife and I had a good life, when very suddenly, we lost our 13 month old son Jamie. Our lives were devastated and we cried out to God for answers, trying to understand what God’s purpose was. However, in years to come, God gave me a very powerful burden for the children and youth of the world. I had seen my own son die and I couldn’t bear to see the young generation spiritually dead and eventually leaving this world not knowing Jesus as their personal saviour and friend.

Over time, God brought me into contact with the wonderful organisation OneHope and eventually He led me out of the retail industry, to work full time as a missionary with OneHope. Those were challenging times but God was so faithful to our family.

I served in that capacity for five years, and then through a mutual friend, I was invited to a meeting at UCB. During my time in retail, the Welsh singer Bryn Yemm had sung in many of our stores. He was also a friend of UCB and had said to members of the leadership team at UCB, ‘you need to meet this French guy’. I was initially invited to share my testimony on air and I had the opportunity to have coffee with Ian Mackie, the founder and at the time Chief Executive of UCB. Over a long period of many prayerful conversations with Ian Mackie, I eventually joined UCB, initially as a Trustee and later as Ministry Director. We were later able to merge OneHope UK into UCB.

And then in 2010, after many faithful years serving as the Chief Executive, Ian Mackie took on additional responsibilities with UCB International. This eventually led me to take on the role of Chief Executive.

There have been difficult times in our ministry journey, but God has been faithful to the dream He gave me in 1973.   If God has given you a dream, be faithful to His Word and don’t give up.

 

David-Blog8

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

Faith is like a muscle – it has to be exercised.

Last week, I shared some stories of the incredible miracles which have been happening at my brother’s church in France.   We felt that God started to move in the church about two years ago during our first missions week. A lady came asking for prayer for pain in her hips, which was caused by deformed bones.  She was completely healed and this opened up a door for God to do more.

Over the last two years we have heard many more incredible testimonies;  a man healed of complete deafness, a woman healed of paralysis in her leg, another lady who had severe pain and even discharged herself from hospital for an hour to come to the service. She was completely set free and later declared free of disease.   Others have been restored from tumours, depression, restless leg syndrome, chronic insomnia and addictions.   There are so many stories I could share and in the future, I hope that some of these people will write guest blogs and tell you their stories themselves.  There is so much to thank God for!

I have been asked a question which is close to many people’s hearts – why are some people healed and others not?  I do not have all the answers but I can share from my own experience what I believe is true.  I wrote last week about the need for expectancy and how we should approach God believing that He will do something.

To give you an illustration; if one of us was sick, we would go to the doctors for a check-up. Often, we will not know the doctor, but we will take their advice and when they give us a prescription for medication, we will then take that to a chemist.  At every stage, we usually trust the doctor we do not know, we trust the chemist we do not know, and we trust the pills, even when we do not understand how they work.   But when it comes to trusting God, we often struggle and we question if He is capable of giving us what we ask.   We have no trouble believing that He could die for us, save us and give us eternal life, but we do struggle to believe that He could do the miraculous.

I believe that faith is a muscle and just like any other muscle in our bodies, if we do not use it, it will eventually become  weak and useless.  As believers, we are children of God’s kingdom and just like being a citizen of the United Kingdom, we have certain citizenship rights.  If something was wrong in our country, we would have the right to take a petition to 10 Downing Street and in the same way, we can take our petitions to God.

As citizens of God’s kingdom, we have a constitution (God’s Word) and we can stand on that and petition God to do what no one else can do. Just as with politics,  we don’t always see answers right away, but we should keep standing on God’s word, believing His promises and asking Him to bring about a miracle.  God’s Word is the instruction manual for life.   If you or I bought a new mobile phone, we would go home and start reading the instructions, to make sure that we got the best use from the phone.  If we pay that much care and attention to our phones, how much more attention should we give to our lives. God’s Word is the instruction manual – without understanding it, our lives do not work properly.

Now it is true to say that not everyone does get healed but I believe that God is sovereign and we are not here to dictate to him, how He should do things, but just be obedient to His Word.  However, I have also seen great things happen when a person didn’t get healed.

Last year, a lady came to a meeting during the mission in France. That very day she gave her life to Christ and asked us to pray she would be healed from terminal cancer.   We prayed for her but sadly just five days later she died.   When the church went to visit her family (they were not Christians), her husband said that in the days before she passed away, he had never seen his wife so happy and peaceful since he had known her.

He said;  She spent her final days praising her Jesus and she left this world in total peace, knowing that she would soon see him face to face.   So although she did not see physical healing in this life, she was healed when she stood before Jesus and was given a new body, free of disease.   There is no sickness or ill-health or cancer in Heaven.  Praise God!

If you are trusting God to heal or set you free, can I encourage you to persevere?  Stand on His word, trust Him and practice exercising your faith muscle.  Whatever happens, you can be sure of one thing, your life will be changed for the better.  I have never met a person who wasn’t changed by spending time with God.  Follow God’s instructions and wait to see what He can do in your life.

David-Blog7