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DAVE FLOWERS
I was born in Plymouth, Devon in 1965 and even from my first few days was covered from head to foot with eczema, I also had severe asthma. Although the eczema eventually went, the asthma had a real grip on my young life. Most of my childhood was spent in hospital where I had many Christmases and was admitted for 3 to 4 months at a time with a few months at home in between. By the age of 8 I had learned to inject myself with steroids 3 times a day. I had slept many nights in an oxygen tent and was taking about 30 pills a day just to survive.

In between hospital visits, I stayed at Woodlands special needs school in Plymouth and was allowed home at weekends. You could say my young life wasn't conventional!

By 11 years of age the steroids had a drastic effect on me, my weight had increased so much that I suffered my first in a series of heart problems in relation to the weight and asthma.

In May 1977 I was sent to a special asthmatic clinic in Davos a region of the Swiss Alps. After a few months I was transferred to another clinic in the French Pyrenees. For the first time in my life I was allowed to participate in sports and games which encouraged me to be a "normal kid”. I had great fun skiing, ice skating, playing football, mountain climbing etc. Although it was tough being 11 years old in a foreign country without my parents or brothers and sister for 14 months. I was however no stranger to loneliness as I had lived ‘outside’ the family home virtually all my young life.

I arrived back in Plymouth in July 1978, fitter, thin and on about half the medication that I was on prior to my time at the clinic. After two days back in the UK, I had suffered my first major asthma attack in 6 months and was rushed to hospital where I spent many months recuperating.

At the age of 13 I enrolled in my first ‘normal’ school (for want of a better word) - I must add that my time at Woodlands special needs school was an extremely happy one where the teachers and nurses had a real heart for the kids. It was very hard though, when after having been in hospital for a few months to go back to school and find even more classmates had died or were too weak to attend school anymore.

At Ford Secondary School, I excelled at art and geography and was able to keep up with the rest of the class because of all the private tuition I had in hospital and I also had a determination to teach myself at home as well.

When I was 14, I had suffered my worst asthma attack and found myself ‘coming round’ on the kitchen floor having had a doctor inject straight into my heart to revive it. I spent several months in hospital with many weeks on life support. This was the 3rd time I had nearly died. An asthma attack can be a very frightening experience where you feel totally out of control, the lungs restrict and it almost feels like you’re drowning. Thank God for my parents and those close to me who could always recognize the signs of a major attack.

After going back to school, I once again delved deep into my art studies and was accepted into the Plymouth Art and Design College. Prior to starting, my dad had an exciting opportunity to take us to South Africa where he would work for the sister company of the one he worked for in Plymouth.

We moved to Johannesburg, South Africa in 1980 and it was a really exciting time, but I still found myself in and out of hospital – only this time it was costing mum and dad a huge amount of money and we soon found ourselves homeless with dad looking for another job. He soon found one working on the gold mines with a brilliant salary and a great medical aid scheme for me. Praise God for the NHS, which we sometimes take for granted here in the UK!

We moved to a lovely mining community in Evander, about a 1 hour drive south east of Jo’burg. I once again took up studying to become an art teacher, but found the going tough as I was continually sick. By the age of 17 (1982) I found myself once again in hospital, only this time, I had given up and wanted my life to end.

After many weeks of refusing medication (I kept ripping tubes and drips out of my throat and arms – they were a complete mess), the doctors had called mum and dad to their office to say that as I had given up on life there wasn't much more they could do for me. They prepared my parents for the worst and told them it was probably a matter of weeks or even days before my body gave up completely.

Looking back, I feel ashamed that I put my family through that ordeal as they never once gave up on me and in many ways their lives had changed and were never the same since I had been born. I am the oldest of four (two brothers and one sister) and they also missed out on so much attention because mum and dad’s time was taken up with me. But I had reached a point where life wasn’t too appealing. I couldn't see any ‘normal’ future for me and this resulted in being physically and mentally tired of life, hospitals, doctors, sickness etc.

The day after my parents had been told by the doctors about my situation, I had a visitor. His name was Bruce and he was originally from New Zealand. He asked if he could talk and pray for me as he believed that God had called him to the hospital that day to pray for someone. I must admit, I thought he was nuts and although I always felt deep down that God existed, I hadn’t given Him much thought and felt a little embarrassed as there were 3 other guys in the ward, one was a huge biker guy who had more metal in his legs than a robot!

As we talked, I realised that this man Bruce was genuine and really did care for me even though he didn’t know me, I also realised that this guy actually knew God and that blew my mind! I allowed him to pray and as he did, I felt like I was going to explode as my body became so hot that the bed sheets were soaking wet. I know now that this was the Holy Spirit ministering to me.

As a result I was well enough to be discharged after a few days! Now I’m not saying that God completely healed me of asthma that day, but something more important than my healing was taking place. I was now thinking about eternal matters, about God and life and was actually for the first time in many years looking forward to the future.

After a few weeks I was able to continue my education and I was invited through a friend to go to their Christian Youth Club. It turned out that this was in the same church where Bruce worshipped. It also turned out that Bruce worked alongside dad, but had no idea that dad had a sick boy in hospital. Coincidence? I don’t think so! Thank God for the Bruce’s of this world who are not afraid to act upon the word of God and allow the Lord to direct them.

About a month later, I was invited to the AOG church where I attended the youth meetings at a special church event where a visiting American Evangelist called Lonnie Frizbee was going to preach. So at the age of 17, I gave my heart to the Lord that night and was ‘born again’. A few weeks later my dad went with me to church as he had seen a real change in me. On his first night there, he too became a Christian!

Life was beginning to be sweet, I got my first job, was training as a youth leader, was part of the worship team, had many good friends, I was getting fitter and had a life worth living.

God has a way of turning your life around sometimes for your own good, even though it may not seem like it’s for your own good at the time. I heard from God very clearly that He wanted me back in the UK – NO WAY!

So at the age of 20, after 5 years in South Africa, I found myself living with my gran in Plymouth, who I loved very much. But I was miserable without my friends and family and my life in South Africa. I started to go out weekends getting drunk and basically ignoring the same God who gave me back my life!

I thank God that His patience and Grace with me is never ending.

After a few months I moved in with my aunt and uncle who lived in Holbury, near Southampton and I decided to get my life back on God’s track. I found a wonderful Methodist church in Fawley where I had 6 lovely months allowing God to restore me. Then I found the Pentecostal Church (now called Lighthouse Community Church) and decided to give it a go the next Sunday. The day I walked in, I knew without a doubt that this was the reason for coming back to the UK, my involvement with this church, a new spiritual home. I soon became part of the worship team and helped out with the youth group.

By the end of 1985 I had developed an interest in a certain Hazel Skivington (I tell everyone she chased me, but it was mutual) We married in 1988 and it was a fantastic occasion made even more special because my disabled cousin, Tanya, managed to walk down the aisle as a bridesmaid and also because my two gran’s and Hazels’ granddad were there as all three had died the following year.

After settling down to married life and being busy in the church worship band and also as house group leaders and youth pastors, and being part of the mighty Christian Rock band ‘4th Dimension’!! we decided it would be good to start a family.

After trying unsuccessfully for a few years, we had to have tests and it was found that I couldn’t father children because of the 20 odd years of being on steroids for asthma and other complications. After much prayer and standing on God’s promises, Hazel miraculously fell pregnant. What a joyous time soon became a devastating time as Hazel miscarried and we lost the baby.

But God wasn’t finished with us yet! In May 1993 Hazel gave birth to Michael and in April 1995 Rachel was born. Praise God that where there seems to be no hope – He brings hope and answers prayer!

1998 was a very difficult year for me as my dad, who I was extremely close to, contracted a very rare heart disease that was rotting his heart. I spent a lot of time travelling to Plymouth to be with mum and the rest of my family. Dad was ready to go to be with his precious Lord and God allowed a very special time where I would be alone with dad so that I could pray with him. Dad was only 54 when he died, but he knew God and was ready. God gave me the words and strength to preach the good news of the gospel at his funeral to many of his friends, colleagues and family.

For the last few years, I have been undergoing various tests for possible liver damage and have been on occasions very poorly with little strength and severe stomach pain, but praise God that I don't have to rely on my own strength as God has proved himself many times and he has promised to never leave or forsake me and I find that as I just rest in his care and his love, that no matter what comes against me will and has already been defeated at the cross!

Recent scans and biopsy's have shown an improvement with the liver - praise God! and I am confident in the knowledge that God is still my healer and deliverer even in the dark and low times and I continue to reach out to him knowing that he knows my inermost thoughts, fears, desires, physical needs and state of mind.
Psalm 139

So to bring this, my testimony up to date, I find myself back to my artistic roots by being self employed as a graphic designer. The kids are growing up strong physically and spiritually, God has graciously blessed us. I am also still very much involved in song writing and leading worship at LCC and using the gifts God so graciously gives and I just love to acknowledge that God is my Saviour, Friend, Comforter, Healer, Encourager, Teacher and Father.

I look forward to adding to this testimony in years to come with more good news of how God makes all things work for the good of those who love him.

Romans 8:28
'and we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose'

Dave

 

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