I was born in Durban, South Africa, next to the Indian Ocean, where the sun is hot, the surf is good, and nets keep the sharks at bay. My parents were loving and our home was happy, and the more I hear of other people’s childhood experiences the more grateful I am for the way they raised me.
Football and the beach were my early loves, but the happy contentment of my childhood was shaken in my teenage years when I heard a man preach on the parable of the prodigal son. I hadn’t done anything conspicuously evil, but I trembled under the acute pain of the conviction of the sin of my heart that alienated me from God. I knew that I was the prodigal who needed to return.
That began a long and difficult period of spiritual struggle, characterised by earnestly seeking peace with God but inadequately responding to His insistent call. Peace finally came in a moment, when I discovered that I could be accepted as righteous by God through faith in Jesus Christ, on account of the perfection of Christ’s righteousness and not the quality of my response to God.
After school I studied architecture at university, and then did two years’ compulsory national service, courtesy of the South African Defence Force, during which time I married Carolyn. I then worked for about ten years as an architect, spending much of that time working on the development of hospitals among the fever trees in Zululand. It was the best job in the world, next to Christian ministry.
Encouraged by my church I left architecture and prepared for pastoral ministry by studying at the London Theological Seminary in North London while Carolyn worked in Oxford to support us. A semester lecturing in Ethiopia followed, and then we moved to Reading, and I have served Caversham Evangelical Church as its pastor since 1995. My first love is preaching God’s word.