* South-East England (UK) Team Leader
By a miracle, God brought me into contact with a godly pastor named Richard Barney when I was 12. As a Finnish Lutheran, I attended his confirmation class where I heard about Martin Luther and his catechism. I also listened to Richard preach the year before the confirmation. I heard sermons from Romans and Galatians and the Gospels and 1 Peter, marvelling at the depth of God’s word. I attended that church for another year and half after that, but I didn’t find many friends there.
My family hated me for going there and I was rejected by many of the youth inside the church as well as outside. I would get on the school bus to a chorus of “Holy-Holy-Holy”. I brought home a “C” in math one term and my father was outraged that I didn’t try harder. “I am not of this world”, I answered. For my father, this meant war with the pastor. Jesus was all I had. By the end of my 15th summer, I had stopped going to church altogether. It seemed that no one could answer my questions.
I had a terrible stuttering problem and could hardly get three words out, teaching me how it is to be an outcast. I wandered in darkness for 28 years. I went to a big name university and overcame the stuttering by having to teach thermodynamics to undergraduates. But I can also verify that the curses of Mount Ebal of Deuteronomy are true. I most definitely felt God’s discipline. He had hedged me in like the foolish wife Gomer in Hosea.
In 2001, my family moved into my wife’s grandmother’s house in former East Germany, in Luther’s home province of Thueringen. On my 43rd birthday, I brought my wife and our two girls to a train station to visit her father in Bremen. We fought for an hour in the car going up to the train station. When I got back, my father-in-law called to wish me happy birthday. My father-in-law said innocently that it was very odd to want to be alone on one’s birthday. His comment really got to me. Instead of slowly getting drunk, I dug out a cassette of a sermon by Richard Barney that I had been given years earlier. I listened to his sermon from John 20, Mary at the tomb. At one point, Richard asked, “Why on earth did Jesus reveal Himself first to Mary Magdalene, of all people?” Because she really loved Jesus, I thought. I got down on my knees and started praying for Christ to help me, heal me and heal my family.
Within a year or two I had become a lay preacher in the Lutheran church and invited Richard Barney twice to come and preach in various venues in former East Germany where he and his wife visited the Wartburg castle and Wittenberg. I was able to assist in ministry in prison to juvenile and then adult re-mandatory facilities. I also got access to the local homeless shelter. They jokingly called me “the pastor”, der Pfarrer, but I slowly won them over with prayer and service. I saw Jesus do amazing things during the three years that I served there.
At the same time, the wheels seemed to fall off of my consulting business that had gone strong for five years. I didn’t have an exit strategy and our finances were slowly eaten away over the course of two years. God crushed me. He broke me. At the end, I got an offer to come to work in Basildon, Essex, the UK in 2006.
I went to the street people in Basildon and made many friends. Through Churches Together Basildon, we formed a food handout program called Project 58:7 (oddly enough). It’s still continuing for ten years now.
I wanted to know if Christianity was real, and I Jesus has confirmed this to me over and over again through incredible trophies of grace. My wife now believes, but my two daughters, 26 and 23, reject belief in Christ. I’ve worked at Ford Motor Ltd. Since 2006, and I am a member of Benfleet Baptist church since 2015. I can testify that Jesus ministers to bruised reeds and smoking flax.
South-East England (UK) Team
Meets regularly on Saturdays on the Romford Highstreet (in front of Marks and Spencer's).
Contact Chuck Bosio for more information.