I have much to thank God for
My father died when I was 4 years old and shortly after, my sister Lesley, (who is kindly responsible for this web site) was given away to foster parents who for many years treated her with unimaginable cruelty. The fact that she had become a Christian years before I did, shows how the Lord graciously placed His hand on our family.
In his book “The Forgotten Children”, my friend David Hill explains how thousands of unsuspecting parents were persuaded to send their children overseas to Fairbridge Farm, nearby to a small country town called Molong in NSW Australia. The promise was given to single parents who were struggling to survive with a house full of kids, that their children could be put in care, treated well and given a good education. Potentially they were to train as farmers and the girls for farmer’s wives. They were even meant to be able one day to be able to purchase their own land or farm! If only!!! This was a great deception and only now is the deprivation, sexual abuse and cruelty to the children sent there, coming to light.
However, my mother was one of those struggling single parents who were advised to give away her son in the hope that he would be given opportunities that she could never give him. So at the age of 6, I was sent away from my family. With absolutely no idea what was happening to me, I was put on the P&O Strathnaver in 1954 and travelled from England to the other side of the world and arrived at Fairbridge in Australia. What a shock that was! Nothing in my small life could ever have prepared me for what I was about to experience during the next ten long years of my life!
For the next 6 years I lived with 14 other boys in a sparse wooden cottage with a cottage mother who I’m sure was the inspiration behind the cartoon character “Cruella Deville”. She successfully managed to suffocate and crush our little spirits before they had a chance to even surface. We were beaten, intimidated and filled with such fear that our lives would never be normal again! Somehow I found some solace in winning a scholarship to Hurlstone Agricultural High School in Sydney where apart from my holidays back working on the Farm I spent three years. Eventually when I left Fairbridge at the age of 17, I was insecure, unskilled and socially inept. I was unable to open a bank account or even use a telephone. The lack of loving nurture and parental support had taken a heavy toll over those early formative years!
I joined the railway and worked in small towns such as Narromine and Coonamble in NSW and eventually joined a pop group in the country city of Orange. A year or so later I went to Sydney and joined another group called the Cavemen as their lead singer. The musicians were John Elmgreen, John Beshelle, Quentin Belshaw and Peter Stevenson. (I’m still looking for my old friend Michael Hollick who originated in Narromine.)
After a mad whirlwind season of drugs and rock and roll, in 1968 I thought that if I could find my mother who I hadn’t seen for 14 years, I would discover who I really was. It wasn’t to be so. I travelled to the Northern Territory and worked for 7 months to earn enough money to travel back to England. I did the ‘hippy trail’ up to Singapore, India and Kathmandu. With long hair, a dilly bag and a flute I couldn’t play I wandered through Northern Asia until in October 1968 after what seemed like years on the road I arrived in England and came face to face with my mother!
The reunion I’d so longed for was a disaster. I was a ghost from the past who’d come back to haunt her. She was a deeply hurt and angry woman and in no condition to entertain a young man who she had given away when he was only a child, (not to mention that I was stoned half of the time!) The combination was as harmonious as water and hydrochloric acid.
One night when I was quietly smoking a mixture of opium and hashish, I found an old black Bible in my bedroom cupboard. Someone had told me that you could have a real trip reading the Bible whilst stoned on drugs. Where should I begin reading? The beginning seemed cool so I opened it at Genesis. I had always believed in God, but had never known or experienced Him. A man way back in Australia called Nev Digby had witnessed to me but apart from sowing the seed of God’s Word in my heart, I hadn’t listened. However now as I read, I was mortified. I came under the sense of a deep conviction of sin and knew I was in serious trouble. When I came to the part in Genesis 27, Where Esau realised he’d lost his birthright because of his Godless appetite, I slid off my bed with his words on my lips, “Bless me, bless me father. Haven’t you a blessing for me?”
I cried out to God to do something with my wretched life and forgive me. Instantly I was filled with inexpressible joy and an overwhelming sense of peace that I’d never known before. It was more amazing than any experience with drugs or anything I’d ever had known in my whole life. However, there was no way I could explain it to my mother, or to anyone, what had just happened to me! An Anglican couple, Vic and Thelma Dallymore took me under their wing and showed me from the Bible that every rotten thing I’d ever done, every sin and evil thought, had been laid upon the Son of God, Jesus. When he had died on the cross He’d actually taken my place and died for me. He took my place. Even my heartaches and deep emotional pain and the effects of my rejection and abuse, Jesus had taken on Himself, and carried them for me! When He died, I had died, and when He had risen, so had I. Now I was a brand new creation. The old things had passed away and everything in my life was brand new!
How can I possibly begin to explain what had truly happened to me? I was saved, born again, healed from my gnawing internal pain and delivered from a million fears – I fell into the arms of Divine Love! Nothing I had even dreamed of had ever felt this good. Jesus came into my life and I was utterly changed – ask the people who knew me back then! Now, some 40 years later I’m still blown away at the grace of God in my life.
I cried almost non-
Eighteen months later I enrolled at Elim Bible College for two years, and then did practical work in the ministry for the next three years. I was ordained in 1975. Shortly after, I began my first pastorate at Lane End, High Wycombe. It was at this time that I was approached by a group called MGO (Musical Gospel Outreach,) and asked if I’d like to make an L.P. Someone had given them some tapes of a number of recordings I’d made in college with Helmut and Elizabeth Kaufman. No one was more surprised than I was, when my records began to sell worldwide! I thought I’d left all that behind when I’d been saved. However I had to learn to give what little I had and place it in God’s hands. My “five loaves and two fishes” didn’t seem much to me, but somehow a miracle took place and soon I was receiving invitations to sing and preach all over the world! Unbelievable!
I met and fell in love with Heather, whilst she was studying at Gipsy Hill Teacher’s Training College in Kingston, in 1976. It has been a joy to work together as a team, serving the Lord. She plays keyboard and has written many of the songs we sing in worship. We have two now grown-
Our church that we currently pastor is linked to a group called “International Gospel Outreach”, and we call ourselves “Grace Ministries”. Some have asked if they are able to download some of the Grace messages. We are working on that at the moment. Also available will be 2 more CD’s – one that our son has recorded of his own material, called Follow the Gleam, and the other of some worship songs that my wife has written, called Grace. They will be available on this website soon and we trust that these will be a blessing and encouragement to you –
Lots of love
Len and Heather
By the way, some people I would love to hear from would be:
Geraldine Whinn – ex Fairbridge (I’d like to tell her how sorry I am for the way I spoke to her as a child)
Douglas Hershal Fincher – ex Springfield, Missouri, USA (Always encouraging! Introduced me to America.)
Idris Jones – ex ‘The Mixtures’. An Australian Band. (Played on my first album, while his heart was broken!)
Beryl Daglish – ex Fairbridge. Now in a wheel chair. Beryl, you are a special girl. Please call out to Jesus.
John Clark – ex Hurlston kid 1960. (Were you and your mother Christians, or just really lovely people?)