I’m back again. As you may have guessed Antony writes our Wednesday blog and I do the Saturday one.
I must admit Antony’s blog https://www.catalystyouth.org.uk/post/lockdown-blog-10-when-i-grow-up was very deep and personal and I know we can all relate to what he wrote.
So how do I follow that? It’s hard!
Not too long ago I received a message from one of my youth saying:
‘Hi Darren can I ask you something I’m curious about? Why do you dedicate your life to others happiness and helping out? Like what made you into the person you are today, it's just I really want to do better in life, and you do the best any person can possibly do.’
This got me thinking ‘Why do I do, what I do?’
So here is my story!
I was born in Taunton, Somerset on 13th July 1981. I was my parents second child, sadly my older brother (David) was still born, which meant everyone was nervous when my Mum fell pregnant with me. When I was born it was a sigh of relief, I survived, which made me special in most of my family’s eyes. My sister (Alison) was born 2 years later. Shortly after this my Mum and Dad divorced, I was way too young to remember this, which was a blessing, as divorce can be very hard and even harder on children. My Dad was abusive to my Mum, so divorce was the best option for her.
I was kidnapped! - Well, probably not kidnapped in the way you’re thinking but nearly. During the custody battle my Dad had me and my sister for visitation on one occasion he had to ‘sign on’ at the job centre. He saw my step-nan and she said she would like to take me and my sister for an ice cream, Dad said this was fine and he went into the job centre. My step-nan then bundled me and Alison into the car and took us to the train station, where my Mum was waiting and we were both taken to York to stay with family. So, it has the elements of a kidnapping.
My Dad was never violent towards me or Alison but my mum just wanted to get away because life events were getting too much for her. I must say, I love my Dad as the man he is today, and he is far from the man he was when he was with my Mum.
My Dad was told he would never get custody of me and my sister so he chose to just go for custody of me! A statement I still use today against my sister… brother and sister rivalry, I am sure some of you understand.
My dad did not get custody but the court said he could see me and Alison every other weekend. So, I grew up living in two homes, to me this was normal.
I had a normal upbringing, I attended Lyngford Park Primary school in Taunton, then moving on to Heathfield Community school. School life was normal, I was bullied a little in secondary school, but this was more about my hearing loss than anything else. I best explain…
I suffered from ear infections over and over again and it was suggested by ENT (Ear Nose and Throat Dept) that I should have grommets fitted. This did not help much, it all started whilst I was in primary school and only was sorted when I reached my 20’s. They found out I had Cholesteatoma in my right ear (A cholesteatoma is an abnormal, noncancerous skin growth that can develop in the middle section of your ear, behind the eardrum. It may be a birth defect, but it's most commonly caused by repeated middle ear infections. A cholesteatoma often develops as a cyst, or sac, that sheds layers of old skin). This was so severe I underwent a long surgery to have this removed (6 hours of Sarah waiting around), which meant cutting out a large section of my ear canal, ear drum and part of my hearing bones.
My hearing in both ears was damaged, in my left ear the extent of the damage was so severe I had to have a device called a BAHA (Bone Anchored Hearing Aid from Cochlear). This has allowed me to hear the world, when my ‘Borg’ hearing device was attached on Monday 6th June 2016, I walked out from Musgrove Park Hospital and could not believe how many sounds I could hear.
I could hear a strange sound, I looked around and determined it was leaves blowing in the trees and birds singing. Sounds a normal hearing person just takes for granted. I was experiencing a whole new hearing world! This has changed my life. The sound I hear is not the same as what you hear, it sounds more like a recording play back or a more digital sound. I have a device to share my experience, so next time you see me, just ask me and I will let you experience what my hearing world is like.
Jumping back, now to my early life. When I was at primary school my Mum met my step-dad and got married and soon after in 1994 my half-brother (Spencer) came into the family.
At 19 I got married, my parents told me not to! Did I listen? Did I heck, I knew best, or so I thought.
This later led to divorce. I was a ‘beaten husband’, my wife used to beat me. She even stabbed me! This was the moment I needed to get out. I moved to County Durham and started a new life, but got home sick and returned to Somerset.
I met Sarah in a night club in Taunton and shortly afterwards started a relationship with her.
I got involved in Scouting, I started off as an Assistant Scout Leader and then moved on to Cubs and became ‘Akela’, a Cub Scout Leader. I ran West Monkton Cub Pack in Taunton and did this for a number of years.
Sarah and I were married in August 2007 and went on to have our son Brenden in 2010. My life was complete, I had a mortgage and a nice home, I was married and happy, and I had a good job. That’s all I needed, or so I thought.
We had Brenden baptised at the outside chapel at Huish Woods Taunton. It was after Brenden’s Baptism I felt drawn to church, something was missing from my life, I felt lost.
So, I decided to go to church and explore it further. The church I attended was running a course called OMG, but used in the right context. It was from attending that course, that was run around the ‘Alpha Course’ idea that I found God.
I know you’re probably reading this thinking, OMGoodness what is he talking about?
I found a place that I belonged and was welcomed.
After this course and attending St Peters Church, congregation members and I looked at what my role within the church could be.
I felt a strong calling to work with youth and others also felt the same, so I took a chance.
I started my training at Bristol Baptist College in 2012 and when I was qualified, I gave up my job and became the part-time Children & Youth Worker at St Peters.
In May 2015 I became the Children, Youth and Family Worker at Alive Christian Ministries, which I still serve at today.
I love what I do, I love the young people I serve and I will do anything to make sure they strive and become the best they can be.
For me, it's not all about bringing young people to faith, that part is great, but it's more about building a relationship with them.
I am not here to turn you into a Christian, but to help guide you and should you find faith along the way that’s great, if you don't that’s fine as well. Everything I do, I do because of my faith. I try and show Jesus in all that I do.
So, what is the point of this very long blog?
Well it’s this, summed up in 16 words (this would of been a short blog if I just used these 16 words):
Just be the best you can be
Think of others before yourself
Help someone out everyday.
Have you noticed the above sentence? It’s the Cub Scout law:
‘Cub Scouts always do their best, think of others before themselves and do a good turn every day.’
I made this promise when I was at primary school: I promise that I will do my best. To do my duty, to God and to the Queen. To help other people. And to keep the Cub Scout Law.
I have kept hold of this promise throughout my entire life and even now at *cough* 38 I still follow it. The Scouting movement was founded upon Christian teachings and started by Robert Baden-Powell. He ran an experimental camp for 20 boys, from different backgrounds (from poor, middle class to those who are rich), on Brownsea Island in Dorset, based on the ideas he had begun to formulate. From that first camp in 1907 the Scouting movement started and for that I will be forever grateful, he changed my life and introduced the Christian faith to me. Although I never really got it till I was in my late 20’s.
I am a Christian
I am a child of God
I am here to follow Jesus
I am here to show others Jesus in me
If you decide to follow Jesus that would be awesome, but if you don’t, just follow those 3 simple directions: 1) Just be the best you can be, 2) Think of others before yourself, 3) Help someone out every day. If everyone did this, this world would be changed for the better.
Stay Blessed and Stay Safe,
This week’s resource
Song/Video: Together - For King and Country & Story behind the song
Can be found: You Tube - Official Music Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lR1Hk0FVi_k and Official Lyric Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3HvgoWQpVQ Story of the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw3lmWfz5-g&list=WL&index=68&t=0s
About: Award-winning Christian music outfit FOR KING & COUNTRY new anthem “Together”.
A fit-for-pandemic rallying cry from the Australian-raised, Nashville-based duo, the video outlines how for KING & COUNTRY wrote, recorded and released “Together." The group enlisted Christian music mainstays Kirk Franklin and Tori Kelly for the collaboration, which debuted earlier this month.
The seven-minute clip — featuring interviews from for KING & COUNTRY members (and brothers) Joel and Luke Smallbone — takes viewers inside the studio and to rehearsal spaces as the group brings “Together” to life.
“I find it amazing that a song that we couldn’t finish back then is really dealing with the core issues in (regards) to what I think a lot of people are struggling with right now,” Luke Smallbone said in the video. “They feel isolated, they feel like they’re lonely.”
Joel Smallbone said, “We were in Canada in the beginning of March when everyone recognised that this was a pandemic.” He later added, “When we were in Canada, we played the song live and I remember the second night, Luke walking off stage and going “did you feel that? There’s something about singing this song together now that was really poignant.’’”
“From that day,” Joel Smallbone continued, “it has been our primary focus.”
Watch the story behind “Together” exclusively via The Tennessean below.
Kelly and Franklin joined the brothers for a socially-distanced music video that featured listener-penned messages of struggle, strength and humour captured during self-isolation.
Roughly 2,000 fans submitted notes.
"I reunited with my family who loves me," one poster said. "God is good."
"My dad died from COVID-19," another wrote.
One poster shared, "We couldn't get married due to the lockdown, but we'll have a massive celebration once we're through this."
With a booming chorus — “"And if we fall, we will fall together/ Together. And when we rise, we will rise together/ Together,” it sings — the “Together” music video tallied 1.1 million YouTube views and nearly one million Spotify streams at the time of publication.