I grew up on a council estate on the other side of Birmingham. Bournville was a place that we drove through. There were highs and lows on the estate. There was a solid community and I learned what it meant to help people. We looked out for each other. But the estate was poor, deprived and run down. My dad was married with two children aged 17. He was a brick layer. He broke his back in his 20s. It was really tough. My parents went without so we could eat.
Church wasn’t part of the picture, but we went once for a few weeks and I had an encounter in those weeks. I can remember it like it was yesterday.
I left school after my GCSEs and worked with people with dementia. When we had our second child, I realised I couldn’t do that anymore. My sister was a manager at KFC and she said, “Come and do a couple of hours for me”. I signed up for six hours a week.
There was an armed robbery. He fired the gun at me. It didn’t go off. In that moment, I thought I was going to die, but I felt a deep peace that everything was going to be OK.
I was so ill for the next two years. I had PTSD. I had counselling. I never went anywhere on my own.
We decided we wanted to get married in church. We rang up the local church to book a wedding. We went along to hear our banns read. We went up for communion. When the vicar put the bread in my hand, I felt my hand was going to burn off. It became part of me. I felt that same peace. I didn’t understand it. I knew I had to ask some questions.
I’ve been at St Francis for a year and have been ordained Priest for two weeks. Without other people encouraging me, I would be in a different place. I realise that this is what I was born for. Everything that has happened is so amazing.
For me, meeting God in Jesus has transformed my life. It’s transformed everything. There’s a sense of completion.
I have to convince myself that I’m a priest! That was always something that other people did, people who didn’t sound like me, not someone from an estate. I thought God didn’t call people like me.
If God calls me, then God calls all the people and that validates them, doesn’t it? People nurtured me. We do what’s done to us, don’t we? I have had so many people look out for me and that’s all that I have tried to do here at St Francis.
I really believe that God calls every single one of us. God calls us all to ministry. I want to see every single one of the people here be encouraged. I want to grow disciples who can share their story and share their faith.