I was born and raised in England on the 21st January 1978 to Irish parents.
In terms of religious upbringing, I was raised as a Roman Catholic and was brought through the various sacraments that a Roman Catholic goes through -such as being christened as a baby, making my first Holy Communion and being confirmed. Church attendance for me and my family was often inconsistent from my early years. I did at some time become an altar boy, as my friends had joined. In this time, I got into trouble with the priest, as I would laugh uncontrollably during Mass due to boredom. I eventually stopped going to church some time in my teens.
As a teenager, I would often get into fights at school. This might seem the norm for a teenager, but it came to a point where a social worker was sent to my house to get to the root of my anger. I don’t remember much except him taking me through some anger management strategies which seemed to help to a point where I didn’t fly of the handle anymore and didn’t get into any fights.
A few years later a big change came to me and my family. We moved to Ireland in 1995. I was seventeen at the time and had done very poorly in my final exams. So the thought of going to Ireland to start afresh seemed like a change for the better. We had a holiday mentality of how we expected Ireland to be. But when we moved to Ireland the nostalgia wore off and we soon realized that things were not so sugar- coated. I found the change of country and pace of life hard to adjust to and also my friends were back in England. I went to a school in the hope that I could do better and get some qualifications, but it was drastically different from the schooling in England, so I ended up leaving and got a full time job.
Basically, having a full time job gave me an outlet to meet new people and also I now had more freedom as a young man and money of my own, to do whatever I wanted. I would go out with work colleagues and go about getting as drunk as possible and not remembering, the next day, the things I had done. All I know is that for as long as it seems, my life was filled with cycles of drinking a lot and bouts of depression and loneliness.
At some time around 1999, I joined a local rock band called the “Ultimate Wardrobe.” I had dreams of being successful in music, travelling the world and being famous. It was during this time that I became more reckless and started to smoke marijuana and try other drugs. I eventually left the band. During all of these occurrences I came into contact with different religious groups sporadically. I was curious about religion and spiritual matters so I was open to dialogue. One of the groups I came into contact with was the Jehovah Witnesses. They came knocking on my door, so I invited them into my house, as I was interested to hear what they had to say and would converse with them about God and ask them questions. They left Watchtower literature but obviously, whatever they had to say didn’t have enough impact for me to join them.
A number of years later, me and my now wife had joined a group of people who would pray the rosary in the evening, in a church around the corner from where we lived. I don’t know what brought us to this point. But I do know that for a short period of time I put everything into praying the rosary. We would pray to Mary fervently for the souls in purgatory using the rosary and other set prayers thinking that we were doing Gods will and making a difference. Circumstances eventually led me and my wife to leave the place where we were living and also the small rosary group and devotion to Mary. Little did I know at the time that the Lord was being gracious to me and leading me out of falsehood.
It was 2004, around spring time, that I found myself living out in the countryside away from civilization. I was unemployed and depressed and had no purpose in life and found myself watching TV till the early hours and getting up late the next day. It was at this time that my life radically changed. One evening I was flicking through the satellite TV when I came across a channel called Revelation TV. These men were talking about the end times and the land of Israel and how Jesus Christ was coming back again. All I know is that I was shocked at what I was hearing, but I believed that it was true. The men then shared the gospel on the programme. All I knew at that time was that I was being convicted by the Holy Spirit. I realized I had broken all of Gods commandments and had lived in opposition to my Creator and was heading for hell, for eternity. The men continued to explain that Jesus had died to take the punishment for sinners and that He was raised from the grave. They spoke of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus. All I know is that I got on my knees and confessed my sins before God and asked God to save me in the name of Jesus. I became born again by the Spirit of God. I began to read Gods Word as I had found a New King James Bible which had been lying around, for who knows how long. I was reading Gods Word continuously to the point my eyes were getting strained as I hungered to know more of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I would spend hours with the Lord in prayer, worshiping Him and thanking Him for saving me.
At around the same time, my mum and dad became born again, which is another testimony. My dad invited me down to come to his fellowship in an African Pentecostal church as I had told him about coming to the Lord and looking for a Bible-believing Spirit filled church. The trip for me was an hour and a half but it was nothing to me as I was excited about going to a fellowship and worshiping the Lord and hearing the word of God being preached. Sometime after my wife came with me to the fellowship and turned to the Lord Jesus for salvation and both of us were baptized in the local swimming pool.
Sometime after I was looking at the Christian channels and came across Ray Comfort’s, “The Way of the Master,” a ministry that equips Christians how to share the biblical gospel. After familiarizing myself with the simple, but biblical steps of sharing the gospel and much prayer, I stepped out in faith. This was radical for me as I was fearful about talking to people about the things of God. But I just wanted to be a vessel for God and knew that this was the most important message that anyone will ever hear. I was approaching people who were strangers and engaging with them, using the law to bring the knowledge of sin (Galatians 3:24) and then bringing the gospel of salvation to the humble and contrite heart.
It was around two years ago that God had lead me to an open-air preaching ministry called “Jeremiah Cry,” founded by Jeff Rose. I was on YouTube and had come across a number of videos of Christians preaching the gospel in the public forum. They were preaching a biblical gospel and calling people to repent and believe in the gospel. There was power in their preaching and I wanted to go on one of the missions that they were planning to have in Glasgow, called “Thunder over Scotland”. I had never open-air preached or seen anyone do it before in Ireland. Anyhow, I went over there and was a part of that team. I had the opportunity to preach with these seasoned preachers from different parts of the world. They encouraged me greatly and are thankful for the impact they have had on me. It was through Jeremiah Cry ministries that I came into contact with my brother and good friend, Shane Sands.
We started to Skype even before we met in Glasgow, Scotland for the Thunder over Scotland trip. I and Shane have been in continued fellowship for a couple of years now and I have enjoyed spending time with him in prayer and reading the word. Shane has always been very supportive to me and my wife Tracy and has been a great encouragement in the Lord. I have been encouraged by what God is doing through Shane’s ministry, United in CHRIST JESUS. This ministry is active in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost and going to places where others would not go. I am thankful to Shane for bringing me on board United in CHRIST JESUS and to be a part of the great commission spoken of in Mark 16:15.
I finish this testimony with the reality that I am a sinner saved by the grace of God. All the glory goes to the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who died for me, an unworthy sinner. And that it is by faith alone, through grace alone, in Christ alone – that I have eternal life. Amen.
Shane became a Board/team member of United in CHRIST JESUS in 2014. Shane’s heart breaks for the lost. Oftentimes, going only by himself, he stands in the middle of crowds, proclaiming salvation alone in JESUS CHRIST. He is a very tender brother who is burdened to pray. Shane also is quick-witted and funny, seeming to always have a timely remark in almost any situation. Shane and his wife reside in Cork, Ireland.
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