The Rev Mark James, curate at Christ Church, Widley, talks about finding a purpose and getting to know God, even in the face of life’s adversities.
IF YOU had asked me 20 years ago where I saw myself in 2016, being ordained would certainly not have been the answer.
Back then I was struggling with life generally.
I found myself in lots of debt and I honestly didn’t know which way to turn.
But God found me in the big mess I was in and helped me to see that there was hope for a future and that with him, nothing was impossible.
Having my first son Harrison, now 16, and taking him to be baptised in our local parish church was the turning point for me.
At his baptism I made special promises to help him as he grew up.
I wanted him to know that God loved him no matter what and to make the space for him to be able to come to know God.
But how was I going to do that when I had so many questions about God myself?
I decided to do an Alpha course that was being run by my local church.
It was a safe space where I could find out more about God and ask some of the questions that I had.
Through that I came to believe in God and became a Christian, but I still had so many questions.
A few years later while I was in my garden mowing the lawn, God asked me to be a vicar.
I actually stopped mowing the lawn and looked around but no one was there. My immediate response was, ‘why me?’
There was something about that moment that meant the only answer on my lips could be yes.
Now I’m 44. I was ordained in Portsmouth’s Anglican cathedral as a deacon – a trainee vicar – at the beginning of last month, and I’m really excited about discovering what lies ahead for me.
I’m also excited about discovering what lies ahead for my family and for the community to which I have been sent, Christ Church, Portsdown.
In the past few weeks I have opened a summer festival, survived my first sermon, struggled to remember so many names, and generally began to get used to wearing a dog collar, and forgetting, until a man I met in Costa Coffee asked for a prayer. And I have started to run my own technology business.
I still find myself asking, ‘why me God?’ And the answer I receive? ‘Why not you, Mark?’
n Christ Church, London Road, Widley, PO6 3NB. Visit christchurchportsdown.org.