All believers have something worth sharing with others.
This is Paul's testimony.
I was brought up in Adlington in a stable and loving church going family. I have two sisters and one brother and I have never
known a life without going to Church and Sunday School on a regular basis. We attended a "low" Anglican church
and I have many happy memories of Church life and yet I can say that I cannot remember the gospel being preached.
This, of course, could be for two reasons 1) the gospel was never preached or, 2) My ears were closed to it.
In the early 1950's my dad took my elder sister and me to Main Rd (Manchester City's football ground) to see and
hear the famous American evangelist, Billy Graham preach. The three things that I remember quite clearly about
that sunny summer evening were a) The large number of people there b) the tears in my dad's eyes as my sister
went to the front as Billy Graham gave the "altar call" and c) the question and answer I gave to the person who
asked me why I had come to the front, as I followed shortly after my sister. My answer of "Because Mr Graham
asked me to" still haunts me. My life, and that of my sister changed little after our encounter with Billy Graham. Now I understand why!
As I grew older I found that the love of my life was sport. I played cricket, football, golf and badminton and at school
I was also reasonably ok at athletics including cross-country running (never brilliant but reasonably ok).
Of these the one I loved the most was cricket and at 17 years old I joined Adlington CC and played until
we (me and my wife Marie) went out to Swaziland in 1979. The Lord used cricket to stir up in me my sin
before a Holy God. In 1974/75 I had what is known as a "purple patch" when I played well enough to be selected for the league team.
It needs to be explained at this point that in my early days of playing cricket it was rarely, if ever, played on a Sunday
and so there was no conflict of interest. But things slowly changed and as I was still a Sunday School teacher Sunday
matches caused me a problem (it was religion not salvation that caused this conflict). But somehow I managed get
round it by being allowed to turn up late for Sunday matches, which on one occasion included a cup final.
This satisfied my conscience for a time. But the Lord allowed it for a time and then intervened.
I was selected for the Bolton Association league team and we played against the Northern League team at
Blackpool and as they wouldn't let me turn up late I was left with a choice to make religion or cricket.
Clearly cricket won and I left late morning to go to Blackpool. I couldn't even use the excuse that I had
been to the morning service to ease my conscience, as I had to miss that as well.
I remember sitting on a bench overlooking the ground on that beautiful Sunday afternoon thinking that
I had blown it and that I had shown my true colours. The Lord had convicted me of hypocrisy.
I am sure that He could have convicted me of many other sins as well but in His gentleness He left it just to hypocrisy at that time.
Shortly after this my elder sister and her family and my dad (my mother had died 2 years earlier from a massive stroke,
which devastated the family) invited me to go with them for a weeks holiday in Morecambe (no jokes please) and on the
Sunday we went to Morecambe Zion Baptist Church and I heard an old gentleman preach (a visiting preacher if I remember
rightly) and I vividly remember after he finished preaching he sat down, took out his handkerchief and mopped his
brow and I thought "he really
believes what he preached". The Lord was moving in my life and softening my hard heart.
At the end of September 1975 I went with my dad to Chorley Baptist Church for the first time (which is a story in itself of how the Lord worked
a miracle to get me under sound biblical preaching) As an aside, not only did the
Lord save me but the first person I saw as I entered the church was a young girl (Marie) who fifteen months
later became my wife. How gracious is the Lord.
From that day the Lord not only gave me salvation, a wife, two wonderful children and two wonderful grand
children but godly men (Mr Hewitson, Mr White and currently Ian Moulton. He even took us to Swaziland for
five and a half years and enabled us to grow in grace and be baptised in the Holy Spirit) to teach me the
whole counsel of God and the blessed Holy Spirit to continually point me to the one who died on Calvary
for my many sins (it started out with hypocrisy) the Lord Jesus Christ of whom I can say "My
Saviour" and the one who loved me unto death and who now I can say "I love thee Lord Jesus thank you for saving me"