I wasn’t prepared for the impact a trip to Guyana was going to have on my life.
Nine months earlier, I had been walking into my programme, starting my rattle. Yet, here I was, being baptised in the murky waters of the Rupununi River. I knew that day was huge. I felt that those waters were keeping the old Liam for good, and the new Liam was rising up as a new creation, brand new!
I remember having a plan for when I returned to England. I was going to use my chainsaw license and tree climbing and earn an honest living for once. I wanted my own business, and I was determined to work hard for it. But the trip to Guyana changed everything.
I was reading ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ by Rick Warren whilst we were there. It seemed like everything I was thinking about during the day was being confirmed in each chapter I read at night.
We stayed in the grounds of a Bible School and would wake to the amazing sounds of praise and worship every morning. Each student would study in the morning and then learn a practical skill, like farming, cooking or mechanics in the afternoons. Once finished in the college they were sent out as missionaries into Guyana to tell people about Jesus.
I loved the thought of this, and it wouldn’t leave my heart.
I began to question and pray about what my next move would be, I thought I had it all worked out, but this trip was messing it all up. God was stirring me up for something else.
I began to feel that I’d been given a second chance for more than tree surgery. Whilst planting about 400 pineapples in the mid-day heat, I sensed God begin to speak.
“ I didn’t pull you out of the mess to get a chainsaw. I pulled you out of the mess to go back into the mess and pull others out for Me”
These words spoke into my heart as clear as day. I couldn’t escape them, and they nagged at me. I knew what I needed to do once we returned to England.
If I was going to go back into the mess and tell people about Jesus, I knew I needed some kind of training. I knew God was asking me to go on a mission. I went to Guyana wanting to do one thing and I returned with a call on my life that I couldn’t shake off.
As soon as we got back, I started googling mission training college. It turned out there was only one with that description: Redcliffe College in Gloucester.
On the website there was a picture of two men I’ll never forget. The first man, sitting on the street in his sleeping bag, looked tired and in need of help. The second man, next to him, was sat with his arm around him. I knew right away I was going to that place.
In September 2006 I walked into rehab, in a mess, in need of help. In September 2007, I started a degree! Only God could do this. I completed my degree by God’s grace and with lots of prayers. I spent a year as a chaplain in the local hospital. I went back to Guyana for six weeks. I even worked on the same streets I had seen in the photo, in Gloucester, with city mission. I took every opportunity to continue to grow and to prepare for whatever God was planning.
It’s nearly 16 years since I came back from my first trip to Guyana. Every day I’m reminded of His call to go back into the mess and pull others out. Right now, I have the privilege of serving the people at Hope Community Church in Bournemouth. Every day we try to build bridges with those around us, pulling people out of the mess. We want to let people know they are worth a second chance, to give people hope. Those people find hope and begin to bring hope to those around them.
That’s my way and it came from Guyana.
For 16 years, Liam’s life was a mess and then his faith journey began. Now he leads Hope Community Church in Bournemouth and is becoming a regular speaker at our Fixed conference.