Having come from a non-Christian background, I was converted, aged 14, at a school Chrisitan Union Summer camp. One night, on my 3rd camp, I felt that (for once) I should listen to the message. It made sense! Boys do things wrong, persist in doing so and can’t change themselves. So far, so logical, I thought, no faith yet - but then came the crux of the message. So God sorted it Himself. He did? How? I hadn’t been listening before! By sending Jesus to take the rap for us. A decent deal and one which many of those I admired – the prefects and sportsmen above me – had gone for, so, hands up, I decided to join them.
However I fell away at university and for 8 years (from 18 – 26) I’d effectively walked away from the Lord. If asked during my “sabbatical” whether I believed in the Trinity, the Resurrection and other essentials I’d have remarked YES. But I’d stopped doing anything about it : no Bible reading, minimal Church, no other fellowship and prayer only if feeling guilty! My life took on a mistake-laden secular character, interrupted only by an absolute crisis whilst working as a junior surgeon at Papworth hospital. God got through to me finally in a dark room at a medical party. Alone, messed up and unable to turn the light on, He simply said, “You’ve gone away from Me.” I had to agree and did Him a deal : you take all my problems and give me back Heather – a girl I’d walked away from 3 years previously, assuming the grass was greener. Do this and I’ll never leave you again. Within 6 weeks His side of the deal was done. Everything had changed and Heather allowed me another chance. If ever I had doubted that a) there was a God in heaven and b) that He cares and gives second chances – I could doubt no more! My side of the bargain was to follow Him forevermore – something I have done to this day!
Medically, I have worked as a surgeon, GP and evangelist in India and parts of Africa, as well as in the UK. Since becoming a GP and moving to Margate in 1998, I have been particularly interested in the spiritual aspect of health, presenting the Gospel in thousands of consultations and seeing patients move forwards and make commitments to Christ. Working with TFM since 1999 has hugely enabled my work as a GP-evangelist. I have been a team leader since Walk Isle of Wight (2001), and have worked with TFM in Maasailand, Kenya, since 2002. I also completed the Society of Contemporary Evangelists course (2004-6) and founded Evangelistic Medical Missions Abroad (EMMA) in 2010. EMMA came into being following a request from Kenyan Pastor David Kereto for a medical mission team, rather than simply sending another TFM purely evangelistic team. Since then, EMMA has worked with him in Maasailand, Kenya as well as in India, Ghana and Liberia. This Summer (2017), we’ll be sending a medical team to Sumatra, with a second mixed EMMA and TFM team off to Kenya in January 2018.
As a doctor by trade but an evangelist by inclination, for some 7-8 years I’d prayed that God would enable me to become more significant in this nation. I also prayed that if He wished, I was open to becoming a full-time evangelist. I had no idea how and when He would answer both prayers – but He did in unexpected ways! Taking me at my word, He allowed two bad things to happen, that His Glory might be manifest. Firstly, He allowed me to be warned by the General Medical Council for discussing faith with a patient. Fighting the case with the aid of Christian Concern enabled not only issues of trust and proclamation to be publically-aired, but led to a book, “Christians in the Firing Line”. I wrote the book on behalf of Christian Concern, examining the cases of 13 UK Christians, myself included, who have run into considerable trouble for standing up for their faith, with royalties supporting that fine organisation.
The GMC case took almost 2 years to complete; during this time, I developed bowel cancer. Off work for 10 months following surgery, radiotherapy and 2 bouts of chemotherapy, the Lord graciously allowed me to remain well enough to pen a second book, “God – I’ve got Cancer”. This book built on the GMC case, detailing the statistics proving that faith benefits health – and has led to several speaking opportunities on mission, in breakfasts and evening meetings and at one conference so far. Physically, I remain well after treatment, with scans and scopes clear – as they will be : early on, I received a word from a Pentecostal physiotherapist – that this sickness will not end in death. So having tried to take my job and then my life, the devil has, once again, scored an own goal!
The Lord then answered my second prayer. Having become a trustee of TFM, He unexpectedly opened the door to becoming leader following John Hibberd’s return to ministry with the Church of England. Now 2.5 years down the line, I continue to work in conjunction with the other staff to meet the challenges ahead, using existing methods and in new ways as we seek to reach Britain and Ireland with the Gospel.”
You can find more about EMMA by visiting their website.
Richard's two books mentioned above can be purchased from Amazon.
ISBN 978-0957572515 ISBN 978-0957047365