I've been public speaking for over 25 years now, clocking up over 2,700 messages. Travelled over 2 million miles, across 45 countries. Many of the details have blurred now, but it's been such a privilege.
Below is a picture of one of my first mission trips to Uganda in 1997. I am standing with Wilberforce Okumu, who at the time had given up his day job to become a full time evangelist. We've had a friendship now for over 20 years. He's planted and built one of the largest Churches in Eastern Uganda. - God is faithful. I was so skinny at the time, that if I'd turned sideways could have been mistaken for a golf club.... LOL
Over the years there have been many memorable moments, from being in that Banana Plantation in Buweri in Uganda in 1997 preaching up in the mountains of Eastern Uganda, to sharing in Jentzen Franklins Church in Atlanta to thousands there.
I've never been one to seek out the largest numbers, but know from experience that helping introduce the heart of one eager soul to the transforming power of God can set them on a course to touch countless lives.
Sometimes I've felt inadequate to say the least, when asked to pray for a person in the final stages of life, or indeed dedicate a baby as it embraces what this world has to offer. I'm not qualified or ordained to do either. Don't get me wrong, I've had opportunity to accept honorary doctorates and to study my way through to Rev. status, but none of them felt right at the time. Who knows perhaps I'll embrace that now I'm coming to my fifties !!
One thing has been a constant in ll these journey's and opportunities, the fire inside of me has never subsided. Just last weekend, I was speaking in a Church in Devon. Up and awake at 4am, pick up my good friend Gareth Killa, to drive, stop on the way and do two interviews for BBC local radio, and get to a Church of 25 to preach my little heart out and drive home again. If one person caught the message, and did something to spark transformation in their locality, it was worth the effort.
Many speakers these days get the inviting Church or Ministry to fill in a 'rider; which is basically the minimum requirements that the Church, Ministry or conference must meet in order fo them to come. Over the years I've seen my fair share of 'riders' and it was often a marker for me to de-invite a person who was so celebrity driven they would bring the wrong DNA to the folk they were invited to speak to.
From Business Class airfares, to hotel suites with extra rooms for their entourage. From a minimum income guarantee, to classifying the font that would be used to print their name when we advertised. A rider can specify details right down to the temperature of the mineral water served to the person speaking - it's become ridiculous.
Most of the time this happens at bigger conferences, but some times bigger Churches. In our expertises and blessing we often overlook the basic privilege of what we've been led to do. I've often heard preachers say, God has not called me to Africa or India. My view is they are people living in another country - if God called you to people, you'd go.
I sound like I'm moaning, sorry. My main point here is to express my humble and sincere thanks to God for the opportunities I've had over 25 years. I've met some amazing people, been to amazing places and spoken to one and then tens of thousands. It's been so far a rich life, and it feels like we're just getting started.