Gary and his wife Mary manage Bridge Books in Exeter and I have been fortunate to work alongside them for the last year. It was a privilege to hear Gary’s story and I hope that you will be blessed by his words as much as I was.
I didn’t have a Christian upbringing. My parents weren’t involved in church. I may have gone to one or two Sunday schools for the odd occasions when I was younger. I lived abroad quite a lot because my dad was in the army in Kenya, Singapore, Northern Ireland before the troubles.
It wasn’t until I was 27 – there were moments before when I was in touch with Christians but nothing of any consequence at all – and I was invited to a Billy Graham meeting in Ashton Gate in Bristol. I think it was ’83 and I thought I’d just go along and all I knew was after he talked it just seemed like ‘yeah, this is right, this is right’.
We were living in Torquay and I saw a bus that was going back to Torquay with the name of a church. That was the Saturday and the following day I found the church and went in, met the minister, told him what happened and he got me straight into a home group and I got involved in many Christian things over the next four or five years.
I was married at that time and had two children, went through some tough times with a separation and divorce and then met Mary a year later and we got married. We’ve been married for 26 years.
It’s interesting, one of the things I always wanted to get into was vocational Christian work. In 1992 we got married and in 1994 I went to Bible College. Both of us were thinking perhaps we’ll serve abroad but in fact the Lord sent us back to Devon. Ten years later the Lord did send us out to China in 2004.
During our Christian walk I’ve been involved in outreach, both of us felt have that wanting to reach out to people with the Christian message. We came back in 2010 and in 2012 we took on Bridge Books.
A reflection on divorce
For me, my wife left me for someone else. I could have been very judgemental or righteous etc. But after a few weeks I said sorry to God for my part in that, for hurting Him, hurting my children, hurting my wife. There was an opportunity for counselling and things like that, but it was not going to change things so eventually I had to let go. I met Mary later on and since then it’s been a totally different thing. If I had stayed stubborn and hurt and angry then I wouldn’t have been and done the things [I’ve done since] and probably wouldn’t be spending another 26 years now married with Mary. If anything that I’ve learnt out of that is you have to admit where you’ve gone and God can work from there. It’s much easier rather than holding resentments. I wouldn’t want anybody to go through that situation. For me looking back, I’ve got two great daughters from my first marriage and two great sons so how can I complain by what God has done through this? It’s only by His grace and His mercy.