Fields Of Life. Ch. 1.
I arrived in Birmingham, Warwickshire, England, during a cold Winter month in 1963.
That was the particular point in time when I was born.
My life’s journey began in Barton Croft, Hall Green, a part of the leafy suburbs of England’s second city.
Having Christian parents, I and my sisters, Deborah and Allison, were never unaware of God’s hand in our lives.
His provision was always evident.
Early on in life, however, I experienced a trauma that could have easily tested my parents’ faith in God.
When I was only four years old, I was rushed to the Birmingham Children’s hospital by ambulance.
There, the doctors diagnosed my illness as diabetes.
It’s quite probable – I may have been born with the gene that causes diabetes to develop sometime after birth.
The disease wasn’t triggered though, until family members were taken ill with an influenza virus.
Even so, at this young age, I was hardly aware of the gravity of the diagnosis.
It was hard for me, a mere child, to understand or grasp the doctors’ verdict.
Yet they said for the rest of my life that I would be faced with daily injections of insulin.
So, my future appeared grim!
Needless to say, my condition was grave.
It was a chapter in my life I rarely talked about, but one that resulted in medication, diet, and urine tests which became a way of life for me.
Living with this trauma daily would be devastating for any young child.
I was no different.
Such a condition invariably took its toll on my parents, as well as my siblings.
Fortunately, I did not allow it to hinder me too much as my life’s journey progressed.
I resolved to be strong!
My routine, consisting of practicing piano, drawing, painting, and other challenging artistic interests allowed me to be less aware of a physical condition that, no doubt, would have effected even an older, stronger person more deeply.
I was blessed!
One of the greatest interests that I’ve had through life, is the ability to play the piano.
I was privileged from a very young age, as my first piano tutor was Chris Bowater.
I was one of his first students.
What a challenge, imparting keyboard skills and musical knowledge to me!
At the same time, he also gave lessons to my elder sister Deborah.
Incidentally, we always had an upright piano at our home – and although my parents never played, my mother was always the singer in our family.
As a consequence, soon after learning to read, write and have a basic knowledge in arithmetic, I began to tinkle the ivories.
In later years as Chris moved from Birmingham to Lincoln, I had to find a new tutor.
I have clear recollections of visiting an old lady – Mrs Faithful.
Each lesson in the old lady’s front room in Scribers Lane, became very intense – as I and her piano became completely enveloped by begonias, geraniums, cacti and numerous kinds of potted plants!
What’s more, most of the time slot allocated for piano lessons became aggravated by either feeding the old lady’s rabbit, weeding her garden, or mailing letters in the post box at the end of her lane!
Accordingly, although I learnt much about people skills, my keyboard skills saw little progress!
However, after an especially long delay – my keyboard skills improved somewhat, when my parents sort the assistance of a professional piano tutor – Mr Arthur J. Williams.
By this time, Deborah had long since given up on the piano.
Somewhere along the line, she had started to show great interest in playing the guitar.
It was now my younger sister Alison who took up the exciting and creative challenge of learning to play the piano.
In teenage years I finally reached grade five in theory & practical.
What a journey!
And this, dovetailed with voluntary work for the St. John Ambulance Brigade, where I quickly gained experience as a junior officer.
All the same, it became apparent later in my life that the graphic arts field would become my really big interest and, ultimately, a great ambition for me.
After leaving the sixth form at Pitmaston School, Hall Green, I enrolled in a two-year diploma course in graphic design at Bournville School of Art.
Incorporated into the course was the added bonus of achieving qualifications in communication skills.
While at Bournville School of Art, I became the vice-president of the Christian Union – under the banner of Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship.
This was a network of Christian students, staff and supporters from a wide range of backgrounds and churches which supported evangelism in higher education through affiliated Christian Unions.
Anyhow, for me time moved on, and after qualifying in 1982, I began work in an offset litho commercial printing studio in the back streets of Birmingham.
Little did I realise as I methodically carried out this irksome job as a black and white paste-up artist, that things would change for me.
God had a plan far greater in store for this little guy from Hall Green.
After only nine months striving to meet the requirements of both client and studio manager, I suddenly found myself confronted by a daunting fact.
I was faced with unexpected termination of the use of the printing studio.
The company had to use its assets to discharge its liabilities.
In other words, the company had gone bust!
I found myself without a job!
Unfortunately, episodes of unemployment in the early eighties became quite common.
Many people found themselves going through such difficulty.
Having a job in the graphic art field at that stage was truly an asset, but keeping that job was a different story.
Anyway, I found employment in a specified capacity, from time to time – delivering milk.
Was I fully conscious that God, during this time, had greater plans for me?
Likely I was too busy driving my neighbours mad by my incessant piano playing!
Nevertheless, at around the same time, I was given a new responsibility in my home church in Shirley – the function of publicity director.
It was also around this time that I began attending a home-group held on a Friday evening called AD29 – a youth ministry of Renewal Christian Centre, Solihull.
Life, for me, was pretty much on the go.
I was engaged in continuous activity.
And to think: God’s intentions are not always ours, and He does not go about things as we do.
His thoughts and His ways are above and beyond us.
The Voice Bible.