I was brought up on a farm in rural Darbyshire in the 1950s, the second son of a farming family of seven boys and two girls. We were close, although we were all different, and still continue to keep in contact, meeting at least once a year for a meal together, and sometimes working with each other.
My mother gave us a grounding belief in God, and we attended Sunday school regularly in the village. When I was an fifteen years old an evangelist came to the Chapel, and his words made a great impression on my life. Later he asked me if I was a Christian. I replied that I was, but deep down I knew that this was a lie.
For four years I allowed that answer to keep me from entering into a real relationship with God. Yes I prayed, and wanted to be right with God, but I felt I would never really get to know him. My prayers went something like this, "I know I'm going to hell, for I am unworthy, but please help me to lead someone to you". I had never heard anyone pray like that!
I continued to attend Chapel once a week, making the two mile walk to and from the farm. But it wasn't until I was nineteen that I prayed that God would become real to me. Three weeks after that prayer I attended a Christian celebration at Cliff Collage. This was a Methodist Bible Collage where speakers came from all over the world to share their faith and teach. There were several meetings, both indoors and in tents. It was Whit Bank Holiday 1964.
During the top tent meeting I went forward and gave all my life to The Lord. From that moment my life changed dramatically, and never again did i doubt that I was a Christian. My anger and quick temper were taken away, replaced with peace and love. And I no longer feared death, as I experienced a relationship with the eternal God. My shyness, which had caused me to blush when I spoke to strangers, gradually left me, as I told everyone about the joy I had found in Christ. Jesus became real to me, and his word a living book.
Reproduced by kind permission of Trevor Yates. Extract taken from his book, 'Eastern Block Smuggling'.
This was the beginning of an extraordinary life. Trevor attended Swansea Bible Collage, learning and adopting the life of faith. Later becoming a Wesleyan Reform Minister, he traveled extensively behind the 'Iron Curtain' into Soviet Eastern Europe, risking prison, and possibly worse to smuggle Bibles to those Christians persecuted by Stalins brand of Communism. He also spent years as a missionary to Ghana in Africa where he encounter many dangers, challenging the power of both witch doctors and the violent. Throughout his life he has witnessed the miraculous power of God to change, and restore broken lives, and has experienced the reality of those things written in the Gospel. Trevor is a living example of a man of faith, pointing always to his Lord and saviour, Jesus Christ as the way, truth and life.
As a young Christian I often asked why we didn't see miracles any more. I didn't believe that God had changed, and the gospel spoke clearly of miracles. Yet I had only met one preacher who mentioned signs and wonders. That was soon about to change.
In August 1964 I went on a beach mission with other young Christians. During that time I had the privilege of leading people into an experience with Christ. A few weeks after returning home I was reversing my car out of the garage in the farm yard, but I was unaware that my two year old sister had followed me. As I reversed the car I felt two sickening bumps. At first I thought that my brothers had left a bucket behind the car, but when I looked to my horror my little sister lay motionless in my wheel tracks. Mum ran out of the house hysterical, and dad was frozen in shock. As I looked at the body of my sister I prayed, "Lord, if you are the same today heal her". As I moved towards her the Lord said, "l have healed her". I picked her gently up and she began to cry. We placed her in the car and rushed to the doctors. Before we arrived she had stopped crying and seemed fine. Upon examination there were no injuries whatsoever. I knew from that time there was nothing that God cannot do.
Sometime later I developed a painful bunion on my foot. I placed my hands on the bunion and commanded it to go in the name of Jesus. Two days later I was playing football - and there was no bunion.
It was Christmas 1964, and I felt God calling me into full time Christian work. In May 1965 I was accepted as a full time worker for Project Evangelism. We arranged and held Christian missions, taking the gospel to many parts of England. Many hardened hearts found new life and loving relationship with God in almost every place we were privileged to preach.
One of the conditions of working on the project was that I would have to attend Bible Collage. Early that summer I went down to Swansea Bible Collage. As I entered the grounds I felt that this is where God wanted me to train. I spoke to the Principal, Dr Simmons, but he informed me that the college was full for that year. He asked why I specifically want to go to this collage as I could learn the Bible at any Collage closer to home. "I don't just want to learn the Bible", I said, "I want to learn the life of faith and prayer, and I have heard that Swansea is just such a Collage". "Ah" said Dr Simmons, "now that is different."
Even though the Collage was full I filled in the application, feeling sure that the Lord would make a place for me. Others encouraged me to apply elsewhere, but my reply was always the same, "I'm going to Swansea".
Two weeks before term started I felt that God was confirming that I was to go to Swansea. I telephoned Dr Simmons and told him. He was polite, but said that I should apply for next year.
The night before term started I was reading my Bible. Exodus 23:20-23, jumped out. 'Behold I sent an angle before you, to keep you in the way, and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.' I thanked and praised the Lord that I was going to start collage the next day.
The next morning a letter arrived from Dr Simmons. There had been a cancellation and he offered me a place at the Collage.
The Swansea Bible Collage were called upon by a number of churches to supply students to preach at weekends. During my second year some of us had taken part in a special day of meetings in Gorsenen near Swansea, where we gave our testimonies and sang.
The minister had a rich anointing on his words, and we were greatly blessed. We traveled back later that evening in an old covered lorry. The Spirit of the Lord was with us, and we began to pray for revival. The presence of God was very real, and none of us had experienced anything like it before. When we got to collage the driver and passenger jumped into the back to join us.
Amongst the duties of the head boy was to check the grounds before bed. When he arrived at the lorry saw a glow surrounding it. He rushed to bring another student to witness it, and he also observed the glow. Both were afraid to come near. During that term God led ever student into a deeper relationship with Himself.
One day a lecturer came to give a course on evangelism. He arrived at the classroom to find us all praying. He didn't disturb us for almost the entire lesson saying that he realised that God was doing far more than anything he could have taught us.
For the two years I was at Swansea I had been writing to my girlfriend Margret. We wrote at least once a week, and she would share with me what God was teaching her. We never planned to read the same passages of the Bible or study the same subject, but it seemed that the Lord was saying exactly the same to both of us. This happened so often that when the Lord showed me something from his word I would share it with my room mate, and told him that God would share it with Margret also. Sure enough when Margret's letter arrived it contained the same as God had shared with me. My room mate was amazed, two hundred miles apart and the Lord was teaching us alike. Margret and I were married three weeks after I left Swansea Collage.
It was 1966, and the first summer break from Bible Collage was to effect my life forever. From 1966 to 1981 I spent five to six weeks every year in the Soviet block behind the infamous Iron Curtain. I traveling through East Germany, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Romania.
Religion was frowned upon by the Communist authorities, and Bibles were banned. Nevertheless we took Bibles with us to give to the underground Churches. The Mission provided us with the appropriate Bibles for each country, and the address where we were to deliver them. Yet we could not ask for directions to our destinations, for if we were to be reported to the authorities we may have been in very serious trouble, but we were very much aware of the presence of Holy Spirit and His direction.
Once, after searching for several hours in a Romanian town without success, I felt prompted by the Lord to write the name of the street I was looking for on a separate pice of paper. Strangely I somehow felt directed to speak to two soldiers walking towards me. I used sign language and showed the address to them. One of them took it and walked into a shop, while the other stayed with me. I was then led to a bus stop and introduced to a young man, and the soldiers insisted I go with him. I had left my wife and her friend with the car and neither of them could drive, so I made the soldiers understand that I would rather walk, knowing that I would more easily find my way back, but to no avail, I was made to get on the bus.
I watched carefully at every turn noting the direction. At the first stop a man got on the bus and started to talk to the younger man. Although I didn't speak the Romanian language I understood more than I wanted. The man was saying that I could be a spy as I hadn't given the full address. I was asked for the house number. I felt very uneasy as I didn't want to share that information and bring trouble to the people there, but I felt I had little choice. So praying that the questioning would stop I made out the number 99 by tapping on my watch. This seemed to ease the tension.
When we arrived at the destination both men escorted me off the bus, and we walked down the street, stopping outside number 9. To my relief they seemed to have misunderstood. I felt much easier when the man who had thought I might be a spy left. But then I was taken further down the street by the younger man to another house. I prayed that he might just leave me at the door, but he rang the bell.
The door opened and I was led inside where he spoke with the occupants, then he introduced me to them. The home owner went over to a cupboard and brought out a copy of the New Testament. Remembering that the soldiers had passed me to the young man, I was by this time very concerned. I asked the young man, "Are you Christian?" It turned out that he was a member of the Christian Fellowship I was looking for, and probably the two soldiers were Christians also, though I never found out for sure. But our God knows exactly who to direct us to when we need help. Three miles away I had been directed to a Christian brother at exactly the right time.
After collecting my wife and her friend we all shared a meal and later gave out the Bibles we had brought. That night, although we could not understand each others language, we had lovely, blessed fellowship as we worshiped in the presence of God.