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……….And a breath-takingly huge, generous, kind, faithful and gentle personal God and Saviour.

The scale of God’s generosity and kindness is sometimes overwhelming – and today has been one of those days.

The story so far – self-centred, alcoholic, adulterous pig (me), turns his back on wife and kids and moves with also-married lover to the back-end of beyond. Specifically a place called Aberystwyth, a small town on the west coast of Wales. More years of alcoholism, adultery and other destructive behaviour follow before, after a series of miracles (as a patient and loving God chases this pig of a man) I find myself in a church called St. Michael’s in Aberystwyth. There, for reasons I still can’t fathom, God continues to pursue me until, on an Alpha Course weekend away in 2004 by the side of Lake Bala, I finally admit that I have fallen in love with Jesus – who I had previously despised. I commit my life to him. Three weeks drunk celebrating (don’t ask) and I am then healed of my alcoholism, God leads more people to faith as i help run St. Mike’s Alpha courses and I eventually end up running and funding a charity called J10:10 in Uganda.

Five years later having exhausted most of my own money I started a business called Passion for Jesus (U) Limited and a brand – Passion4Africa – farming passion fruit and employing 50 people in order to fund the running of the nursery school, primary school, maternity unit, hospital and medical centre that God has had us build in rural Uganda. To make the business work we really need to start exporting.

We make loads of mistakes. We learn a series of expensive and demoralising lessons. Stress levels are high and I am struggling with self-doubt. Is this of me or of God? Have I heard clearly what he wants of me – is this a Jon-thing not a God-thing? And so I start praying a prayer that Charles Spurgeon wrote:

‘If this is my work – then end it
If it is man’s work then break it down
But if it is your work Lord then revive it.’

We correct mistakes and the new orchards look promising. Now to start exporting. A potential UK client asks for a sample. I then realise that even for a sample we need the extensive certification – phytosanitary cetificates, certificates of origin, blah, blah, blah….I drive (yesterday) to Kampala bearing the fruit samples, and a contact sets up a meeting with some government bloke called Erissa who can inspect and certificate. We arrange to meet this morning in Kampala. My experience of government around the world and in Uganda doesn’t mean that I head to our meeting place with a particularly light heart.

This Erissa seems like an all right bloke. He tells me that he did a Masters degree in UK. Always good news because it anglicises them a little and makes it less likely that my strange sense of humour will offend him!

And then he tells me that he did his Masters in Aberytstwyth. And that his faith became real in a church called St. Mike’s. He raves about the worship. About the then Rector who helped mentor me. We know loads of the same people. He did a flipping Alpha Course in Aber-flipping-ystwyth. And he too met with God by Lake Bala. The chances of this are several billions to one.

Nearly twelve hours later I am still stunned by this meeting. Still charmed by meeting a stranger who turned out to be a brother. Still amazed that the biggest challenge we faced (getting fruit certificated in the middle of the night before flying it to Europe to meet clients demands that they have the fruit within 60 hours of harvest) will no longer be a challenge. And still amazed that the God who created the universe could be so intimately involved in the life and faith of someone as insignificant as I am.

I love my Lord.

I was also oddly encouraged that after my extraordinary faith-affirming meeting with Erissa, not one but TWO pickpockets tried to steal my wallet and passport. That doesn’t ever happen to me. I exude an air of menace that puts people off!! But two tried today. And they both failed. Fortunately, even as the enemy tried to dampen the feeling of gratitude and vistory, God was protecting me.

And so the first Passion4Africa passion fruits are on their way to the UK. God is good. SO SO SO good.

The dash to Kampala means that I have failed to take all the photographs that I promised in last week’s blog. I’m sorry. Like all my school reports ‘Must try harder’.

Please join with me in thanking God for encouragement, protection, care and never-ending love. We still have along way to go…..but if God is for us who can stand against us? Nobody. And I know now that He is. Wow.