Here in LA at my churches 50th year anniversary conference. Had lots of time to think about things. And I have been thinking about how even though yes I have questioned God fiercely and deeply regarding why John died and how God could let it happen, and yes it has been a quieter relationship with Him than before John died, because I haven’t known what to say to God. But there are still things that are UNDENIABLE regarding John’s life and my life that cannot be or should be ignored.
In 2003 John was a drug dealer and addict, he was heavily in debt to very serious people due to his gambling addiction, and found himself at an impasses regarding one of his debts, he was on £3,000 worth of cocaine a week and people were coming for him to get money he didn’t have. He was stood alone in the butcher shop he worked in and he heard the audible voice of God tell him he needed to get out of the life he was in. He rang his mum and she told him to come home. She reached out to a friend to see if she could get him in a rehab, and her friend knew of a church that ran a recovery programme for drug addicts in Manchester. It was the Victory Outreach Mens Recovery Home. The next day John was literally smuggled with a blanket over his head in case any one recognised him into the men’s recovery and was the start of a new journey for him. They told him if he reached out to God in prayer he would have no withdrawal symptoms and sure enough he prayed and had NO withdrawal symptoms. He put his trust in God in the men’s home and God softened his heart. When you read the letters he wrote to his mum from that time you can see the change happen in the words he writes. He apologises to his family for all he put them through, he starts to want to see other people’s lives change. He experiences the provision of God and he longs to be a blessing to other people so that God can be involved in their lives too. When he graduated the men’s home he started doing just that. Blessing people so that they would be open to God in their lives. I met John in 2008 over the internet. He picked me at first cause I only live 40 mins away! When he told me his testimony I knew I had found someone as serious about God as I was. I had read some Christian biographies like Jackie Pullinger and also Nicky Cruz (I was totally unaware of how close Nicky Cruz was to Victory Outreach at that point, having never heard of them before). And I loved that John was a person God had radically changed. We dated for 3 months, I had UNDENIABLE words from God confirming our relationship. After 3 months dating we were engaged and 6 months after that we were married. When I first married John he still had street debts that he was paying off. My mum had passed away a few years before so I had her inheritance, so before we were married, so that we could have a clean slate I paid off his remaining street debt, and put down the deposit for our house. It was a miracle that we got a mortgage as John and ripped off so many banks due to his gambling addiction, he knew God was involved and providing for us. He believed he was blessed to be a blessing, and from the moment we were married he was just that, a blessing to many far and wide. Many people can testify about how God used John to bless them. He was the most amazing giver. He gave ALL the time. He hated to see people (ESPECIALLY people with children) go without. And he worked SO hard so that he could earn enough money to be able to give away as much as he could. Being an amazing salesman in the meat industry enabled him to earn well, and he was able to give, food, money and pay for resources for people. And I loved it. I loved the kind generous heart God had given him. Many times I found him on the edge of the bed in the middle of the night crying over people who had little or who were in some kind of need. UNDENIABLY God had changed John’s life from gambling for money to get more and more, to earning money to give it away.
So why is a grieving widow 6,000 miles away from home at a church conference (when she finds church incredibly difficult at the moment) where everyone is excited and praising God for 50 years of ministry. Because for 7 years, 7 months and 23 days when I woke up everyday I got to physically see how much God had changed John. It was an UNDENIABLE reality that he was no longer a gambling, drug dealing addict. He was a new creation. He had the most kindest generous heart I have ever seen. He thought and treated people with such compassion. And if it hadn’t of been for God using this ministry I would never have been married to him. I would never have had the awesome privilege to be his wife. So I am here, yes, it’s is overwhelmingly bitter sweet. Am I still grieving? oh yes possible more so, cause John was SO grateful God had used this ministry in his life, and it is UNDENIABLE to me. I wish he could be here to celebrate this, more than anything in all the world. Part of me is representing him here, part of me is thanking God for using this ministry to changed John’s life, part of me is here to thank God for the people in this ministry He used to bring about change and development in John’s life. There are SO many people here that John looked up to and respected, and it is hard to see them if I’m honest, cause I know how much John loved and respected them and I just wish he was here. Part of me is here to acknowledge all that God did while we were married and to say thank you to Him for John and our marriage. (It breaks my heart to write that in the past tense) And part of me is desperate to hear from God about what I am to do now.
These are some of the main UNDENIABLES, there are others. But I cannot ignore these.
Please keep me in your prayers. I am grieving and have jet lag, not a good combination. I am doing my utter best to be strong and to try and enjoy myself. I know I have more than enough reason to not be strong but I don’t want to be a blubbering mess all the time.