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A Little Bit of History

I was born in the South Wales town of Neath in 1970 into a close-knit family.  My grandparents were Christians, introducing me to Church when I stayed with them most weekends, to take the pressure off the family home.  My Father was a factory worker, and my mother looked after my bedridden grandmother, as well as looking after the four of us and holding down a couple of other part-time jobs - just to make things work.

 

I guess it was around 14 I started to get more actively involved in Clyne Free Mission, helping to run the youth group.  In a small church, everyone knew everyone, it was more of an extended family than anything.

 

In 1988-9, I really started to press into prayer and trying to discover God, I wanted relationship more than preaching.  Our little Church, was a miners mission, it was literally tin sheets on the whole of the outside and floorboards on the whole of the inside.  Yet faithfully cared for and loved by all who attended.  One weekend I became quite obsessed with what a new Church might look like, what would the building be if it was made of bricks, if the toilets were inside the main building !!

 

The obsession with this new idea brought me to a collision course with our Pastor Len Sparks.  What 'vision' was this ?  How was it conceived?  He believed that the work of the Holy Spirit has ceased a long time back, I was just young, naive and chasing something.  

 

Pastor Sparks was gracious, but I felt disappointed.  It took about 18 months before I started to look to other things.  “I moved to Swansea, set up a print brokerage business and pursued & achieved great success and comfort but fell into a lifestyle that revolved around frequent drinking and drug-taking”.  Two years later his life was in tatters. The business was sold for a fraction of its value, the millionaire lifestyle had gone, I had run up significant debt, was diagnosed with cancer and had been subjected to a sexual assault.

 

All of this spiralled downward and I felt everything was slipping through my fingers - the easy option was to get out of here, take my life and be done with it.  So one evening, a few days before I would be forced out of the luxury leased house I lived in, I got blasted with Drink and Drugs, planning on taking an overdose back home.  The only real thing I remember that night, were the words 'I Love You'.

 

I woke the next morning, trying to put the pieces together, I hadn't taken the tablets, there was puke everywhere, and then this voice in my head again -  'Stop trying to work this out, it's far too simple for you to understand'. I had such an overwhelming sense of peace.

 

A close friend and the only person to have remained in touch from the old church came to visit ‘out of the blue’ and invited me back to Church. The decision was made and leaving his old life behind him in Swansea, I packed a few things into my car and drove the few miles to Neath and moved back in with my parents never to return to the Swansea house again.

 

A few days later was the churches annual anniversary service.   I arrived and found the only available seat, on the front row. Sitting next to Irene Turner (84), she told me she 'had prayed everyday I had been away',  Then I also heard God say to, "Never think of himself more than a product of her prayer". What further troubled me, was Gods suggestion that "The ministry I will lead you into will see 100 million souls come into my Kingdom". That phrase was so far removed from my circumstance over the last few weeks of that time.

 

If I'm honest, I put that thought on the shelf for many years, thinking I could never do what God had said was in effect my destiny.  I started to attend the same small church in Clyne. Within weeks I was deeply involved in prayer and avidly re-reading the Bible in the context of the Holy Spirit working today.  I spent the next 18 months terrorising the Pastor with difficult questions”.

 

A schools ministry visited the church and in 1994 I volunteered fulltime with them and moved to Aberdare to work with “An Open Door”.  My bedroom was the living room sofa for the first year and then I finally got promoted to a single bed (also in the living room)! Seriously though, they were great to me, helped rebuild my life and also helped build my faith”.

 

In 1995 met an African minister Charles Kizito who had been sent by God to Wales to “teach people to pray”, we became great friends and during a weekend of prayer together I had a vision, which I shared with Charles for a missions trip to Uganda. Over the next few days and sharing the vision with others brought dozens of people together to pray for 'the Uganda trip'.   So in 1996 13 people took the step of travelling to Uganda to do schools work and open-air preaching in a country absolutely ripe for the Gospel. It was my first time out of the UK, I even needed to obtain a passport to go. The trip resulted in several further trips, contact with some of Uganda’s largest churches, and over the course of the next few years, “An Open Door” had setup two orphanages.

 

During my time at Aberdare, unfortunately, I hadn’t settled into a church, preferring to devote all my spare time to prayer.

 

Late 1996, it was time to move on and I came back to Neath and joined AOG church there.  It wasn't too long before I was asked to coordinate the church missions department and eventually took up a full-time post. This led to further trips to Uganda as well as Kenya, South Africa, Ukraine, Czech Republic and the USA.  

 

In October 1999, I remember preparing for a trip to South Africa, and God one prayer time saying “one million hours of prayer for Wales”.   Questions flooded my mind, why, when, how....  Unsure at first but then returning from South Africa with a new zeal in his heart for Wales, I threw myself into the campaign. TV ads, 45,000 prayer cards and over 26,000 emails received, it took just five weeks to raise one million hours from people in over 30 nations, by November 2000, the one million hours turned into ten million with over seventy countries involved. It was a time of awe, 'waking up in the morning knowing that this was a day when you were doing something you were born for'.

 

Loads of mistakes along the way, I was unaware that the UK even had a prayer movement, didn't know about denominational politics, or who organisations like the Evangelical Alliance were.    As time has progressed I become heavily involved with several strategic prayer organizations, liaised with prayer networks all over the world, travelled extensively to conferences focused on prayer.

 

I've realised that the purpose of everything has grown out of prayer, it's literally a collision of the destiny of peoples prayer over you and the availability of a person to Yes.   I salute these days people like Irene Turner and what God said -  'never think of yourself more than a product of another person’s prayer life'.

 

I started to work on several projects with a zeal and passion that would mean long hours and lots of travel.  Prayer Week, Sporting Marvels, Prayer Magazine, Prayer Forum......

 

In 2008 I was asked to join United Christian Broadcasters as their Prayer Mobiliser.   A new challenge began, I moved to the midlands of the UK, and began to organise Prayer for and from the UK's largest Christian Media Ministry. Within a year of working at UCB, I was invited to join the Executive Team as their Ministry Director, overseeing all the ministry activity of UCB including Word for Today, Word 4U2D, Prayerline, Youth and Children's Ministry, Looking for God, UCB2GO and the Prison Ministry. This role saw Carl overseeing UCB's relationship with 1.2 million Christians each day in the UK.  This journey also introduced me to Rebekah, we married and miraculously had a son Reuben.

 

During 2015, I was really I remember really being drawn back to the vision of 100m souls.  What would it mean to launch out, when would I take the faith step.  So I took the plunge and gave my notice.  UCB was so great in supporting that transition. 

 

In 2016, our family moved back to my hometown in Wales, I was struggling with some health problems and a bit of burn out, so have taken a little sabbatical after 25 years years of ministry, over 220 mission trips, 300 projects in over 45 countries - you get the idea.

 

As we approach 2019, It's been wonderful to give thanks for the numbers of decisions people have made for Christ over the years, probably over a million right now.  The 20+ Churches built in developing countries, the investment into leaders and the collaboration across many projects for the Gospel.

 

What lays ahead is more strategic thinking, working on closer partnerships, and trying to answer the question, how do we win 100m people to Christ,  If you carry a piece of that Jigaw Puzzle, get in touch : cbrettle@reach100m.com 

 

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my story.

 

Every Blessing

 

Carl.