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Study at LST - A vision for mission
Please help me to fulfill God’s vision to extend His Kingdom
I’ve been a lifelong churchgoer, despite my parents’ having no Christian faith or any interest in going to church for themselves. For reasons that I still don’t begin to understand, but can only trust was God at work in my life, even when I was a child, they took me to church as they thought that I should be able to decide for myself whether Christianity was right for me or not.
However, it wasn’t until I was a teenager that my faith started to come alive.
When I was 16 years old, I was asked to play the organ at a local Methodist church, and my time at this church turned out to be a big part of my Christian journey. I had spent a number of years developing my abilities as a musician, although, in truth, having been born with cerebral palsy, medical wisdom says I shouldn’t have been able to play at all.
I arrived at the church around the same time as the new ministers, Helen and Andy, who took up their positions as part of the Methodist cycle of rotating ministers. I found their theological approach and style of worship helped me to engage with God more deeply and powerfully than I had before. I also attended an Alpha course for the first time, which equipped me to explore my faith more intellectually. By my late teens, I had realised how important Christ had become in my life. During this time, I also found myself getting occasional visions from God. Often during instrumental moments within worship, I would feel myself guided towards certain songs or hymns. As an example, I once felt lead to play a particular hymn tune: one of the older members of the congregation started crying and later shared with me that it was her husband’s favourite hymn and it was anniversary of his death the next day – this kind of thing was becoming normal during my early years at the church.
Period of tribulation and prophecy
In my early twenties, I felt God repeatedly saying that I needed to take creating music more seriously – I kept seeing myself in front of recording equipment and I was comfortable and confident using it. However, I did nothing about it and then I took up a post as a church administrator. Pretty quickly, I realised that it was the wrong decision and God kept telling me that his plan involved my musical talent.
After twelve months of having this picture constantly come to mind, I was playing at a church anniversary service, at which the ministers who were there when I was 16 came back to preach. In the end, Andy preached on listening to God. Try as I might to focus on the preaching, I found myself becoming distracted: the picture of the recording equipment was coming to mind even more forcefully. Some way into the sermon, I sensed God saying to me “If you’re really listening to me, then you know what I want you to do.” Given that I was brought up in a church that didn’t believe in God speaking directly – I thought I was losing the plot. A few days later Helen emailed me out of the blue: “I don’t know what God was saying to you the other night, but you really need to listen to Him.” Which brought me up short and told me I really ought to be listening to Him.
In 2004, I became the Cardiff Methodist Circuit Administrator, being responsible for 22 local Methodist churches. It was a disaster. The job was ill thought out, wasn’t managed well, and God had already made it clear music was what I was supposed to be doing. The disaster lasted seven years.
At least it gave me the money to buy my music equipment. Unfortunately, having invested thousands of pounds in this new equipment, one crucial part simply stopped working, which meant that all music making was on hold.
In the meantime, my chaotic work situation was becoming so stressful that I came close to a breakdown. By God’s grace, that didn’t happen, but I am still suffering from the chronic illness that resulted from that stress.
In the midst of this, I was invited by some friends to come to the Mission Worship conference in Eastbourne. My confidence was shot, I wasn’t even sure why I was there – all I knew was that I needed prayer – but thankfully these friends had recognised that Mission Worship was where God wanted to meet me.
Over the course of the weekend, I was totally overwhelmed by what was going on. The worship and the teaching were radically different to anything I had ever known. Then on Saturday the leader of a seminar session had a prophetic word for me that prompted me to go for prayer ministry afterwards. The gentleman that prayed for me, very strongly encouraged and challenged me not to give up what God had called me to. I went back to my music and after a fight with the company that sold me the equipment, I got everything working again.
By the last session on Sunday morning, we sang ‘When I was lost.’ When we got to the line ‘Oh Lord, such peace, I’m as loved by you as I can be’, God spoke to me. I wept.
Bethel – worship leading
In 2008, God told me to move to a future in a new church. It took me some soul searching and wrestling with my conscience before I became fully obedient to God’s word. On Pentecost Sunday 2008, I was baptised by total immersion at Bethel, Whitchurch, and in early 2010 I moved there permanently.
Since then I’ve felt an explosion of spiritual growth in me: I’ve hungered for more of God; I’ve studied my Bible; I’ve prayed; I’ve worshipped. I have grown and really long for others to grow in the same way.
Challenged to study
Since graduating from my first degree in 2001, I felt that I wanted to continue studying at some stage. Having explored studying for a PhD in my original subject field, but that didn’t work out, I sought out other study options, but nothing seemed right, so I eventually drifted away from the idea of studying any further.
When studying theology was mentioned in a house group I attended, I felt God nudging me that I needed to find out more, but sadly, I chose to do nothing about it. A while later, I was at a conference and heard the director of a major UK Bible college talking about how theology was for everyone and that good training was important. Again, I felt God nudging me about studying, but again, I chose to do nothing about what I was hearing.
In January 2013, after a gap of a few years, having not thought about studying again, I bumped into a friend from church who challenged me about whether I was studying. After admitting that I wasn’t, he turned around, looked me straight in the eye and told me “You should be studying theology and worship.” Much to my surprise, I knew he was right.
Having searched for more on information on studying theology and worship, I discovered the London School of Theology’s website and having found the details for their theology, music and worship degree, realised that after years of uncertainty, that I had found what I needed to study.
Challenged to lead
A few weeks later, I found myself playing at a worship event at a friend’s church. After the event had finished, a member of the congregation came up to me and told me that they needed to have a word with me and proceeded to share a prophetic word for me:
“You are a reservoir of the Holy Spirit.
Inside of you beats the heart of a lion.”
“You are going to go on to lead thousands.”
In April 2013, a friend of mine was leading worship in church one Sunday evening. Throughout the worship time, I had a picture in mind of me being up on the platform with the piano and a microphone in front of me leading the congregation in worship, whilst being completely comfortable with it (which given my natural lack of confidence and the sense of profound shyness I felt, it was the idea of feeling comfortable with leading that left me feeling more uncomfortable than the idea of leading itself.)
Having decided that the picture could only have been vanity on my part, and couldn’t possibly have come from God, I tried with all my might to ignore it, and decided to tell no one what happened that night. But there was an increasing sense of unease on my part.
At this point, the friend who had been leading worship the night I had the picture, was the only person I’d had the courage to talk to about the idea of studying again. Seeing as I was confident God couldn’t be calling me to study, I didn’t think it was worth telling anyone about what was happening.
Later that month, I received a text from the friend I’d spoken to about the degree originally and who was also leading when I had the picture come to mind of leading worship, saying that she didn’t know why, but that she’d felt God telling her to pray for boldness for me. At this point, I didn’t understand what was going on at all.
Thankfully, God refuses to give up
In the meantime, a friend of mine asked me to share my testimony at the church he pastored. After a little while, I finally plucked up the courage to talk to my pastor about getting help in drafting and shaping my testimony so that it could be presented clearly. But, during the course of the conversation, I was surprised to find myself blurting out about the picture that I’d had about leading worship, fully expecting to be told something along the lines of “Shut up, stop being an idiot.” But, much to my surprise (and I think, almost disappointment, too, if I’m honest), my minister’s response was to smile wryly at me and to say: “A few of us have seen this coming for a while.” Within two and a half months (by mid July 2013), I was leading worship in church . . .
In the meantime, I’d managed to spend a week away on holiday, which was the first time in 6 months that I’d been able to properly pause and reflect on what God had been doing in my life. During the course of the time away, I kept on getting the sense that I needed to at the very least try applying for the degree (despite not thinking that I’d have any chance of success, but I was still left with the increasing sense that I was going to regret not having tried.)
Having returned from my holiday, I started to seek out wise counsel about whether I should explore applying for the degree, fully expecting to hear responses along the lines of “Shut up, stop being an idiot,” again. Much to my surprise, the universal response was to affirm that looking at the degree was the right course of action and that for most people it seemed like an obvious thing for me to try and do.
After a few months (and lots of prayer from me and from friends in church), I finally plucked up the courage to start talking about the possibility of applying for the degree with members of my family. Much to my surprise, they were for the most part very positive about it.
In October 2013, finally plucked up the courage to contact the London School of Theology for the first time and booked myself a place on their Discovery Day for that November. When I turned up for the discovery day, I was taken aback (and if I’m being honest, a bit disappointed!) by just how comfortable I felt at the school. I enjoyed the guided tour, the taster lecture and the chapel service and found myself grudgingly realising that despite my procrastination, I still needed to apply for the degree.
Five years later, I still don’t fully grasp the significance of all I’ve been told, or all that’s happened. But having sought wise counsel from trusted friends inside and outside of my Bethel, the consensus seems to be that the prophecy and the need to study theology, music and worship are all thing that God would say about me / to me.
As of September this year, LST have graciously offered me a scholarship covering 50% of my tuition fees, if I were to study with them full time - which still leaves me with £12,059 to raise for the year, but even after all this time, the urgency to study is still there. I'd be grateful for any financial support you'd be willing to give. Thank you.
Select this reward if you just want to donate to the project without receiving a reward.
If you give £10, I'll send you a copy of an instrumental album I've recorded.
Estimated delivery: 1 January 2018
For a a donation of £25, I'll send you copies of 2 of the instrumental albums I've recorded.
Estimated delivery: 1 January 2018
For a a donation of £50, I'll send you copies of 3 of the instrumental albums I've recorded.
Estimated delivery: 1 January 2018