I love the Indian brothers and sisters. I can’t imagine what would have happened to my life if I hadn’t gone to India and stayed there. But the time came when we had to think of returning to England.
When Meg’s mother became weaker because of old age, Meg felt it was her responsibility to look after her. So in 1965 she returned to England to care for her old and unconverted mother, while I continued my ministry in India. She bought a cottage in South Ireland for the price of £1,600. In 1968 I spent some time there to make several necessary improvements and to enlarge it. We rented it out during winter. Early in 1970 when we were together in South Ireland we received a police report that Meg’s mother had collapsed and was in hospital. We went there immediately. Soon after, she passed away. Meg inherited her cottage, in Abinger Common, near Guildford, and so we sold our own cottage in South Ireland. For the next four years we lived in Abinger Common. After that we sold the cottage and bought a house in Guildford. Again five years later, in 1979, we bought a lovely cottage in Sidmouth, where we stayed until Meg’s home call in December 2000.
From 1971 I used to work in India for nine months a year, while Meg stayed in England. We continued like this for four or five years, until in 1976 I knew my time in India was over and I returned to England, where we continued to live in Guildford.
I wanted to say farewell to the saints in India and so we went back for a visit in 1976. I wanted to explain to them that I was not a Pentecostal, because that was what was reported by some. The reason I was called Pentecostal was that I had introduced some new choruses which had some Pentecostal association perhaps—I don’t know. I didn’t introduce them because of any Pentecostal associations; I just thought they were nice choruses. I introduced them, because I felt we had room for some new songs. They were so much against Pentecostals, because Bakht Singh had spoken so much against them.
During a meeting at Jehovah Shammah I was sitting at the front on the floor, facing the preacher. I wasn’t asked to speak. However, I did get up at the end of the meeting before they had the final prayer. I said I was sorry that I was misunderstood and that I had never even been to a Pentecostal meeting. I didn’t say very much, but one brother reacted very violently and told me I was being irregular and acting out of order—speaking without being invited to do so. My intention was only to say farewell and tell all how grateful we were to be back and share what the Lord had been doing for us.
David Pawson rather influenced my departure from India. He is a man fully acquainted with the work of the Spirit I would say, and he came to Hyderabad at my invitation. He was on his way home to England, coming from New Zealand. I asked him, “Please drop in for a few days on your way.” In his ministry in Hyderabad he did to some degree major on spiritual gifts. It was a good ministry, but it gave the opposition to me some ground for saying I was Pentecostal. We travelled back to London together.
Meg and I felt the Lord wanted us to go to Israel to a new area of work and after having received two invitations we decided to go to Joppe. Later on we moved to Jerusalem, but after six months we were not able to renew our visa, although we tried several times. We concluded the Lord wanted us back in England and therefore we returned to Guildford.
When we came back it wasn’t exactly to settle down. I didn’t come to the same spiritual environment; it was all very cold, traditional and there wasn’t any sparkle like I had seen and enjoyed in India. People were very serious and they didn’t speak so freely of the Lord. Of course, we hadn’t done that either before going to India; India loosened us up and enabled us to converse in the joy of the Lord. But after being back I used what opportunities there were. People didn’t seem to be interested in India; I was not bombarded with questions by anyone. People were quite indifferent and merely accepted the fact that I had been serving among the Indian folk and that was it. I had to adjust to what was here, which we all have to do whenever the Lord makes changes. We must adjust to a certain extent, but we must also retain a positive attitude and action. We should not relax and be lethargic and lazy, or indifferent to the circumstances that are around. I did immediately associate with those who were praying for my country, which is so needful, because we are in a desperate condition morally and spiritually. God is left out; He is not included in our policies, He is never consulted on anything as far as one sees. Prayer meetings do not precede the meetings for ministry, or business meetings. There is no prayer. It is rather a pathetic state and consequently we are far away from the Lord.
When we came to Sidmouth we attended an Anglican Church. Some of the Indian brothers thought I had gone off the rails. The reason was that I am not a pioneer to start a church; it is not in my nature, it is not my gift. I also felt there were already enough churches in England. We were never members of the Baptist or the Anglican Church. In these two churches however there is the word of God and sometimes I had the opportunity to minister. We identified with what was ‘alive’ in the place.
One always has to be very positive. We stayed in Ceylon, e.g., with a lady whose husband was responsible in a very small assembly. One day I said to her at breakfast time, “I suppose that at some times you are disappointed when you go to the services, because you don’t get much there.” She answered, “Oh no, no, I get a blessing everyday.” I learned a lesson: do you give any positive contribution? You don’t have to stand up and preach, but be there with a positive attitude to contribute privately or publicly. We have to be in situations where things don’t exactly suit us. But it is God’s provision and we are blessed if we can approach it positively and not in any judgmental way.
When people move and look for a church in their new place the advice we give to them is to seek for a place were there is some homeliness about it and where the word of God and prayer have their proper place; that may be God’s house for you. I don’t tell people where to go, but let them find their spiritual home for themselves.
I haven’t had many invitations for ministry, but have enjoyed the Lord’s word myself. My ministry was mainly outside Sidmouth, among Indians, Nepalese and Chinese. The groups to which I have been going are keen to hear God’s word. I continued this ministry until in 2007 I had an accident and fractured my left thighbone. This has been troublesome ever since and I am not free from pain yet. When it comes to walking, sitting or lying down I have no pain at all. I do have pain when I put any weight on my left leg. That means I am now limited to a wheelchair for some outside visits or a three-wheeler which I push in front of me for short walks.
I have enjoyed going to these dear folk. I had no idea when I came back here that there were any Telegu people in England, when suddenly one day a carload of Indians descended upon me and I was introduced to my Telegu brethren in England. From then onwards I started visiting them. They are concentrated mainly in Ealing, West-London, and I used to go up by coach to visit them.
My healing process has made sufficient advance that I can visit again the Telegus, Chinese and Nepalese. The Nepalese group is growing. They are originally Gurkhas, good folk, people of character and they are going ahead. It is good to be with them.
Holy Convocation proved to be very helpful in India and so they are in England. We had the third Holy Convocation (28 – 31 Dec. 2007) in London, sponsored and arranged by the Telegu folk. Jabez David and his family are living there and they are very active. There were around 150 people together and we enjoyed the fellowship for those days. Celebrating the past, giving thanks and committing ourselves to the Lord. The Lord gave us a verse in Exodus 23:20: “My angel shall go before you, …” , and verse 23: “I will send my angel before you, to keep you in the way, and to lead you in the place I have prepared.” So with that we moved into 2008, confident that there is much to discover and much more that we have to learn; how to give to one another and to the Lord. We are determined that He shall have the pre-eminence and that we shall be a testimony wherever we are.
We have contacts with other Indian brothers and sisters scattered away from London; some in Coventry and some in Leicester. I visited them, but now they are really beyond my scope. They did come to the Holy Convocation and that’s the advantage of having Holy Convocations, like it was in India. People came from distant and often lonely places and saw the church expressed in a body of believers, worshipping and praising the Lord and working together.