8.500 MILES FROM HOME - NO PROBLEM!!

Coming from a Christian family background many people wondered why I should wish to leave home and join the Royal Navy.I guess it's because they thought that most people that join the Navy runaway from bad family situations and of course all I wanted was adventure!.  As a young man at 19 I found myself amongst a bunch of fellow recruits I wondered what on earth was I doing there.

After a couple of years II's it became evidentI was being ‘drafted’ to HMS Mermaid bound for Singapore about 8500 miles away from home. Prior to this I had maintained a church connection at HMS Pembroke in Chatham Kent at St. George's Church under the leadership of the Rev Rowland Webb and his Australian wife Vima. I made a special connection with Rowland and he invited me  to retake Confirmation classes. This served a real purpose both for Fellowship and and in my case pre evangelism. After several weeks Rowland prepared to say goodbye as I was moving on to Singapore with HMS mermaid saddened that this he turned around to me and casually said ‘you never know we may meet again’ 

So off I went and sailed to Singapore stopping at many wonderful places on the upon arrival in Singapore we met a wiry young man named John Cropley (editor of Love Divine), he visited ships that came in and spoke to them about Jesus. He said he was from the Royal Sailors’ Rest and spoke in my Mess about Jesus as usual there was a mixed response but my mess mates or pointed to me as being someone who had ‘church connections’. John looked at me on my top bunk and started up a conversation about Jesus next thing I knew you I was being invited to tea at the Royal Sailors Rest. Who was there as the Singapore Naval Chaplain but my old friend Rev Rowland Webb and Vima! They were regulars at the Sailors’ Rest and were personal friends of John…God’s circle is joining!

GOTCHA!! You cannot run!

KNOBBY in Singapore with other Christians & John & May

It was where I met met John’s wife May and the Head of Mission Reverend John Bentcliff, who was visiting from the Gosport HQ in England. Within a few short hours, ‘both Johns’ explained the Gospel to me in a very personal way to that point it's like and never really heard it like that before. I was told that I needed to turn from my sins & make a personal confession of faith in Jesus admitting that I was a sinner in need of saving and that He was the One who could not only save me of my sins but be my Lord and friend.

 

 

I needed then to share the good news with whosoever!!  I always remember it was midnight Thursday the 24th of September 1974 or when I gave my heart to Jesus and my life to Him. Within a few days I was sharing my faith with my shipmates additionally I was filled with the Holy Spirit through this experience I became aware of Gods presence in my life empowering me to live for him. These were amazing times for me it's like the whole ship became God aware as John had spoken to many of the men and his words were backed by my witness and transformed life that no one could argue against! One thing that seemed to give credence to this testimony belong to to Navel Policeman who we knew as ‘Knocker’ White he was compared with me, ‘ancient mariner’ of note his wife was a Christian we learnt had been praying for him for a long time I share the gospel with him and he to gave his life to Christ thus backing up my testimony period during my trip around the Far East.

I met many Christian some of them were Missionaries in places like Hong Kong the Philippines and of course Singapore I was inspired by them along with John and May back at the Royal Sailors Rest. After almost a year I return to England which was really challenging for me. However I found good fellowship in an Evangelical Church in Harrogate North Yorkshire where was cared for and nurtured in the faith then after a few more years I left the Royal Navy by that time I knew I had a call to ministry of some kind.  I was lead to study at Cliff College which both deepened my understanding and knowledge of the faith. 

 

 

And the rest is history

Following this I entered ministry as a director of a home for homeless young people sadly it didn't work out.  The Lord I felt had spoken to me whilst I was in Singapore that it would take 17 years before I entered the ministry had called me to. This was difficult to accept and I struggle greatly period anyway who am I to argue with God. Eventually I was led to a place where almost 17 years after I was saved I was living with some US Air Force Christians and a Christian service centre in East Anglia just before the first Gulf War this gave me the opportunity to minister to them from my previous experience. Many were a long way from home and we bonded strongly as we prayed study the Bible share their faith and witnessed in the local town. During this time I started writing to a new friend one of my American buddies had put me in touch with in their home church in California. 

Marriage!! A Christian girl called Cecilia and I became good friends eventually I asked her to marry me. By that time my call had became clear I was to be some kind of missionary in the USA! In 1991 we were married. Since then I have served in both lay and ordained ministry as a Pastor of Methodist churches and non-denominational Ministries. Currently we live in Jacksonville Florida where we founded ‘Crosswinds leadership Ministries Inc’ a faith based ministry to men primarily essentially we encourage enable and empower men in their leadership skills and ability as we share faith in Jesus both on the sailboat and up until recently at Strongman rallies.  

I find and the Christian Life amazing wonderful and and a great blessing but but it is also so quite difficult at times. Currently I have been taken to very deep places with the lord through the loss of family period yet I know who I have believed is more than able to get it through. No Mountain is high enough and no ocean deep enough to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

 I hope this encourages someone certainly I give thanks to God for all those who shared my journey both in the past currently and in the future especially my beginnings I give thanks for my parents and Pastor John Cropley and May. 

 

Editor's note

Knobby’s story in his own words, shows how clearly God chases a soul. From Chatham to Singapore God was going to have His man. I am deeply privileged to have shared in this work of God. Could it be that you are having the same things happen to you? That is what has brought you here to Love Divine. I will say this to you…if God has set His love on you then you will keep meeting those strange Christians and He will meet you soon. Like Knobby 8,500 thousand miles is nothing to Him! Brace yourself!! …for it may be you next!! Write and tell me if God has touched you.