For almost thirty years, I've been in the motorcar business, and as a Classic Car Dealer since 1992. I became a Christian about ten years ago, and after five years of trying to live out my life as a Christian in business I was feeling dissatisfied about the way in which my day to day business activity seemed to be taking most of my endeavour and energy, leaving not enough time for God. I had already resolved to get involved in some sort of project with my friend John Gaughan.
John is a Christian singer/songwriter who worked with some of the top bands. We began to write music together and this culminated in the decision to launch Gilead Music. Something else very exciting also happened. I declared to the Lord in prayer that I wished to devote to Him two working days each week. I thought that somehow I would have to detach myself from the business, so there would be time to be used in whatever the Lord wanted to use me for. I know that I surrendered myself fully to the Lord in a way I had never done before. This time it was unreserved submission, and I had a sense of excitement that something would really change. I also remember opening myself to be blessed in any way and by whatever means the Lord chose.
The most amazing thing happened. I just love God's ways! Rather than have two days out of the business environment each week, the Lord brought a stream of people into my business life who were either recently widowed, long term sick, or terminally ill. Not just one or two. I would say about 70-80% of the people who invited me into their homes, mainly to sell their classic cars, were in these circumstances. An absolutely astonishing succession of sick, terminally ill and recently bereaved people. In any other context the proportion would be bizarre. I got the opportunity to witness to them and talk about our Lord. In most cases they were non-believers and I usually got the opportunity to pray with them and I leave them with a little pocket testament containing St John's Gospel and a prayer of salvation. Often I have given a CD with some of John Gaughan's beautiful songs. In many cases they have been frustrated 'seekers' who had been looking for God but had not yet found Him. Some I expect had been seeking spirituality in the wrong places. Many of the stories I tell about these meetings seem quite incredible, but these have been almost daily experiences.
I'll give an example. A local lady had telephoned to offer her partner's Porsche for sale. When I arrived, I was shown into the kitchen where this tiny wasted figure sat in wheelchair. The lady was in her mid-thirties and had suffered from muscular dystrophy for many years. I introduced myself and tried to shake her tiny little hand. The lady had a face mask and she was breathing a special oxygen-rich atmosphere. I came to do some business, but I spent more than an hour explaining about Jesus. It was hard work because she said she did not understand how there could be a God. She thought a loving God would not allow suffering. I asked the Holy Spirit to give me the words, and I believe I was given the words I needed.
When I returned to work I sold a couple of cars unexpectedly over the phone. Then a man called in and waited patiently until I finished dealing with another customer. He introduced himself and explained that he had come over from Leeds to discuss selling part of his classic car collection. This was because of his home circumstances. He said that his wife who was in the car next to our building suffers from multiple sclerosis. A few days later, when I visited them at home, I got the opportunity to talk about Jesus. The lady burst in to tears and shared with her husband for the first time that she had invited Jesus into her life four years ago. Until that night she had kept this a secret from everyone. We prayed together and her husband phoned me later to tell me that his wife had enjoyed a pain-free night after our prayers. He said he is not yet a believer, but he was choked with emotion as he was talking to me.
Later I had an old man call in suffering from oesophageal cancer. He came from further down the East coast and arrived with his wife. He said he had heard I was a healer and wanted me to lay hands on him and pray. I was almost overwhelmed when he said this. He told me that he had heard that a man I prayed with in Beverley was now cured of his cancer. I explained that Jesus is the healer and I praised God that this man had been healed. I was so shaken by this encounter that I rang the man from Beverley to check the story. He thanked me over the phone and said he was having his feeding tube removed and would be able to eat normal food again. He thanked me for my prayer and for a Bible I had sent him.
When I think about what has happened over the last few years , it's as though the Lord has taken me at my word when I said I wanted to do whatever job he had for me. I can remember opening my self to receive whatever plan the Lord had for me, unconditionally and unequivocally. He seems to have given me the job of a businessman evangelist. I had never thought of giving the Gospel to the sick and bereaved. It comes to me so strongly that our Lord's instructions from 2000 years ago remain the same. 'Preach the gospel, heal the sick, look after the widows and orphans. Love one another'. Perhaps in these times there are thousands and thousands of very ordinary business people just like me finding themselves in such extraordinary circumstances.
I am so blessed to have my brother Paul Szkiler, John Gaughan and other Christian friends I can share this with and give the glory to God. As I have re-prioritised, putting God first and business second an amazing transformation has taken place. Although my family are not yet totally alongside me in my walk with the Lord, you can imagine what a powerful witness all this has been to them. They have seen these sick and disabled people come here and heard me tell of the encounters. They may not yet believe as I do, but they can see tangible proof that something very extraordinary has been going on. I don't yet fully understand what God is doing here, but it comes to me just to follow Him like a trusting child and I will learn what I need to know when the time comes. The Holy Spirit is an amazing teacher!
Of course I now realise that I must devote all of my life to the Lord, not the two days a week I had first thought. God is involved in every part of my life 24/7 because I choose to walk with Him. In my every business decision, in everything I do, I want to have the life He planned for me. I now realise that as we humble ourselves before the Lord and ernestly seek his direction for our lives, He really will gently guide us and in His time reveal the plans and purposes He has always had for us.