Ken Symington

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I had everything in life. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then suddenly I realised that I had nothing...


I was brought up in a Christian home by a mother who loved Jesus and a father who knew God's Word from Genesis to Revelation..

I faithfully went to church every Sunday morning for ten years.  I took communion.  I tithed and covenanted.  I prayed at the side of my bed every night. Our home even hosted a share and prayer group every fortnight. I did 'good works'. Many a time in prayer I had asked Jesus into my life. I understood and believed the Gospel, (though much, if not all of the Old Testament was a mystery, and seemed in total conflict to the God of love that was taught).

It took ten years and a Mission Praise chorus to bring me to the point where I began to have an uncomfortable feeling that something was wrong.

Dad at 19 with his Bible outside Bangor Elim Church

My father aged 19 with the Bible he knew inside out!

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Tribute to my mum

SO WHAT WAS MISSING?

The simple words of the chorus 'in my life be glorified' and 'in my work be glorified' began to convict me that I was a fake. For as I sang it (with great gusto) I began to see that in no part of my life was Christ glorified. At church I 'behaved' like a Christian. In the house group I 'behaved' like a Christian, and when I prayed I 'behaved' like a Christian.

But yet I never told anyone about Jesus. Never even owned up to going to church, because I knew what my colleagues and friends thought of Christians. In no way had I the right to stand there and sing 'in my life be glorified'.

I was also aware that when safely away from the people I 'behaved' in front of, my life was anything but glorifying to Christ. Until then I had always justified my little 'weaknesses' as I called them, by using the self assessment scales. My good points outweighed my bad points, therefore I was a 'good' person, and therefore fit to call myself a Christian.

The realisation, that in truth I was a fake, confused me to the point that I began to feel very uncomfortable around Christians. I began to argue with them over difficult Scriptures. Over theology. 

And yet I found myself requesting them to sing this same chorus over and over again.  "In my life be glorified"

One Sunday at Communion I cried out to God from my heart. "If You're really there, and you care, help me, help me!"

A few days later I was arguing 'theology' with a Christian employee. "If God is love" I argued, "Why is it every time I open the Old Testament He's always asking for bulls and goats and sheep and lambs to be killed? Where is the love in that?"

"Can you not see?" the Christian replied "can you honestly not see?"

"No I can't see and I wish someone would show me!!" I shouted in total frustration. At which point the unnerved young Christian employee beat a hasty retreat.

That night, that very night, my wife got a phone call to ask her if she would take part in a mime because one of the original team members was ill.

Linda said she would if the other girls in the mime could teach her the part. Later that night the girls arrived at our home to rehearse the mime with Linda in our kitchen, and an hour later they asked me into the kitchen to see their mime. 

I took a chair and sat down to watch them, rather bemused. I had no idea what was in store for me over the next five minutes.

The short mime was set to the words and music of a song called 'Where is the Lamb' and it explained absolutely perfectly, and beautifully, my afternoon's question.

No words can explain how this hit me. 

Not so much the explanation, which was wonderful, but the fact that God had personally spoken to me. My 'theological, doctrinal God' had actually answered my question. 

He had been with me when I shouted my frustration in work. He had brought this mime to my home that night. He was in my home watching my reaction. Wow!

For three weeks I was aglow with this 'experience' but I didn't' know what to do about it, and so the power of the experience gradually faded, and I slid back further than ever. 

I was even on the verge of quitting church attendance altogether. I had accepted now that something was missing, but I didn't know what it was. I thought I had done everything I could to be a Christian. I simply didn't know what else to do.

BUT GOD DID!

A month or two later we decided to go to the Methodist's Annual Holiday Week in Castlewellan Forest Park. I had no intention of going there but that's exactly where God intended me to be, and in a story that is amazing (but too long to tell here) that's where I ended up. 

I was locked away from the world for a whole week, and it changed my life.

I went there as a man who had everything in life.

I jointly owned several successful businesses. Drove a Porsche and a Volvo Estate. Had a lovely family. A room full of business and sporting trophies. Worked in the glamorous, high profile advertising industry with 'lovely' people. I knew the right people. I holidayed in the right places. I loved adventure and parachuted, sub-aqua dived, rock climbed and did survival courses. I was an above average sportsman, running marathons in New York, Belfast and Dublin and competing in the World Triathlon Championship in the South of France.

In the Nice mountains during the 77 mile bike section

The World Triathlon Championship in Nice, France. A 2 mile swim followed by a 77 mile cycle followed by a 20 mile run!

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The world, and I, counted me a success.

And yet, as the week went on, and I got to really know the people I was camping with, I began to see that all my jewellery was on the outside of me, while their jewellery was on the inside.

Award for the best Household Radio commercial in the U.K

Winning a top advertising award at the Grosvenor House Hotel London  

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White Porche with matching designer leather jacket !!

A white Porsche with matching white leather jacket !

Then on Thursday morning, the conference speaker Rob Frost spoke on Philippians 3 verses 4 - 12. 'If any man thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh I have more'

Here he described how Paul had achieved everything in his world that the 'flesh' could want , yet he wrote 'but whatever I had, I count as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ!'  

This from a man locked up in in a dirty middle eastern prison!

In a moment I saw clearly that my 'treasures and pleasures' were worthless. I was, quite simply, the poorest man there. 

In a moment I saw that everything I had done was in the flesh. And could now see clearly that the praise of men, and wealth and position were worth nothing, absolutely nothing. 

I was Lord of my Life and had merely stuck Jesus and 'Christianity' on to the outside of my life as one more 'achievement'. One more right box to tick off in life.

My invitations to Jesus to come into my life had been invitations from my head and not my heart. 

I ran life my way and I thought I could invite Jesus to come into my life to sit on the passenger seat while I kept driving.

AND YET, EVEN THEN, I STILL DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO DO!

Born again!

The day I was born again in a tent at Castlewellan Park

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Until the next day-when Rob Frost asked anyone who wanted to make a commitment to Jesus to come up and kneel at the front.  I squirmed as he said this.

My head filled with different arguments.   Confusion reigned.

Then he said "Come now", and I leapt up and made for the front. There I truly gave my life - 'lock stock and barrel' to Jesus, and the relief was immense. I surrendered. I wanted him to have all of me, for ever. I asked him to take this empty life and do something of real value with it. And praise the Lord, who was kneeling next to me.. but Linda, my wife! Quite independently of me, she had also reached the same decision.

Suddenly, I had ..heartbeat.gif (4940 bytes)..a new heart!

The next day the 'Lord' entered my heart in dramatic style, leaving me in no doubt that my invitation had been faithfully accepted. Faith gripped my heart like a vice. The Bible came alive. Praising Jesus brought a lump to my throat.

And I literally could not stop telling everyone and anyone about Him. Especially in work. The Holy Spirit shone his light on the Old Testament and I revelled in it's dramatic beauty. It seemed that there was never enough hours in the day to feed the new spiritual hunger within.

For six months I was on a 'high', and then for a whole year (all but three days) the Lord 'allowed' satan to throw everything at me but the kitchen sink. I went through what is often known as 'the dark night of the soul'. Under the Lord's hand I emerged a different man. Pruned. Shaped. Wiser. More than ever I knew who I was in Christ. More than ever I understood the reality of the spiritual realm. More than ever my faith was rooted in Him and in the Scriptures. It was also this time in my life which left me with the burden to see God's people released from any darkness that may be in their life and to see them restored and released into their rich inheritance of liberty and obedience in Christ.

The scripture which the Lord gave me then (and is now the baseline on all my ministry notepaper) was this. 'Go stand before Pharaoh and say 'Thus says the Lord of the Hebrews, "Let My people go that they may serve Me"

The Lord led us to West Church in Bangor to learn much under the wise leadership of David Baillie and it was during one of his life changing 'Life in the Spirit' seminars that we received the Baptism of the Spirit and the lovely gift of tongues. (Mark 16:17)

Since then I have seen Jesus save, deliver, heal, and restore.

What I realise now as I look back, is that I thought I could have a divided Jesus.

Conveniently have him as my Saviour, with me still firmly on the throne as Lord. 

One foot with Adam.  And just to be safe, one foot with Jesus.

But now I knew the liberating truth at last..

Teaching in Poland

The privilege of teaching God's Word in Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Russia, Hungary, USA, Germany, Sweden, New Zealand, France and Australia!

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The Bible makes it abundantly clear that if you don't have Christ's Spirit within in you, you don't have Christ (e.g. Romans 8 verse 9 and 1st John 4 verse 13) and if you don't have Christ's Spirit then you aren't born again, and if you aren't born again then you remain where you are without God, without hope.

Christ only comes where He is Lord. Because He is Lord. If the wind, the waves, and even the demons obeyed Him but we don't, what does that make us? It makes us rebels against Him.

If Christ isn't your Lord then He isn't your Saviour - and yet sadly I recognise others in the position I remained in for all those years. The hardest ones to reach because they believe they're saved. Through what they 'do'.

To believe in Jesus is simply to accept the whole Jesus. To bow the knee and proclaim "My Lord and my God"

Oh how I wish I had realised this truth years ago!

Ken Symington

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N.B. As I retyped this personal testimony - originally written in November 1991- it brought these events back to me so vividly, stirring my heart afresh and bringing tears to my eyes.

It truly is life changing stuff!

Thank you Jesus!    For everything!

 

Ken and Linda 2013

 

plus..

The remarkable story of my health

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