Transcript of Interview on UCB 2, “This is my story”

On Monday 17th January, I had the privilege of being interviewed live by Ruth O’Reilly-Smith for her “This is my story” show, which is described as a a show about sharing stories of how God’s amazing love has changed lives forever. Here’s the transcript of the interview.

Ruth O’Reilly-Smith
His grandparents’ story is in a new book called Loving the enemy building bridges in a time of war. He’s also minister in church community within the Coventry area, as far as I’m aware of Reverend Andy March who’s my guest on the show today. Hi, Andy.

Andy March
Hi, thanks having me on.

Ruth O’Reilly-Smith
So, where are you minister? Where’s your, your parish?

Andy March
So it’s a parish called St. Christopher’s Allesley Park and Whoberley, which is on the within the city limits on the west of Coventry. So we are very much we are within Coventry City. Just a couple of miles in the city centre, a lovely suburban area. Yeah. And I’ve been vicar here for nearly 10 years, it’d be 10 years in September.

Ruth O’Reilly-Smith
Have you told all your parishioners they need to listen in to UCB 2?

Andy March
One or two. Yeah, it’s, it’s one of those things. I’m not always very good at blow my own trumpet. So I kind of keep things a bit quiet because I just funny got been at the front and say, Hey, listen to me tomorrow. So I might tell them to listen to it afterwards if it’s any good.

Ruth O’Reilly-Smith
Yes, yes. Do that. Well, you know, you could always use that as an opportunity to tell them to listen to UCB 2

Andy March
I certainly will.

Ruth O’Reilly-Smith
It’s not about you. It’s about us.

Andy March
Yeah, sounds good.

Ruth O’Reilly-Smith
Well, you’re here to tell us a little bit about your story. And then also this amazing story. So lots of our listeners have been getting in touch this morning to let us know where they listening in from and what their city is twinned with. So your story has inspired us to look up what cities are twinned with ours. So I know that you mentioned that Coventry is twinned with Dresden.

Andy March
Yeah.

Ruth O’Reilly-Smith
So how did you discover this? How did you know? Was that something that you were aware of when you move to Coventry?

Andy March
Not beforehand? No, I wasn’t aware of it at all. And I think it was quite early on in my time here. There was a day I think that the the archbishop was visiting Coventry, and his passion is for reconciliation. And I picked up through that – because he was doing a series of prayer days in different cathedrals and stuff throughout throughout the nation. And so I think they had a focus on reconciliation and had a focus on Twin Cities, and particularly this lovely relationship that blossomed between Coventry and Dresden over the years, and my ears picked up because Dresden was my nan’s hometown. That’s where she was born, and grew up. And so I discovered the city that I was making my home, had these links, longstanding links with with with a city that was very close to my heart.

Ruth O’Reilly-Smith
And the amazing thing is that your grandfather was from Coventry.

Andy March
No, he wasn’t actually –

Ruth O’Reilly-Smith
he spent –

Andy March
So, was from Liverpool. He went to Dresden in the pre-war period, he came for he was in Cambridge as an academic. And then he had a yearning to build bridges. He was fascinated by all the things that were happening under the Nazis and so he wanted to find out what it must be like to live there. And so that’s what what motivated his his trip to Dresden in 1936.

Ruth O’Reilly-Smith
That’s amazing. But he did. Did he spend some time in Coventry? I thought,

Andy March
No, he didn’t. No.

Ruth O’Reilly-Smith
Okay, that’s just you.

Andy March
The first my family.

Unknown Speaker
but

Ruth O’Reilly-Smith
that’s amazing. But what so tell us a bit about the call to Coventry.

Andy March
Um, it was funny enough, it was almost a decade ago. Last week, we I was in a position where I just finished my time as a curate, an assistant, vicar. And I’d had a conversation with the bishop. And he basically said, yeah, you’ve done all your kind of training, I’m happy to let you go and become in charge of a church somewhere. And, and so, at that point, it’s one of those weird things where the world is your oyster, so you could go anywhere in the world.

We had a desire to stay within the Midlands area because of where our family lived at the time and saw this advert for this church in this parish called Allesley Park and Whoberley, which we’d never heard of before. And noticed it was in Coventry. And for us, Coventry was kind of the outer limits of where we were hoping to go. We were, we were thinking that we’d end up somewhere else in the Midlands and slightly closer to his parents because her parents were in Barnsley. My parents were in Witney at the time, so we were trying to find somewhere that would work.

And we saw this place and everything about it just seemed perfect the type of church it was; the community in which it was set. We had two very young children at the time. So they were Alicia, my eldest daughter was coming up to age three, and Isabel was coming up to age one. And so we were very concerned that it would be a church where the family would flourish. And a community where they would flourish and feel safe and where they thrive. But in all honesty, when we saw that it was Coventry, that was perfect, but it felt felt like even then it was too far away. Particularly for Liz to feel like she wanted to be there, she wanted to be closer to her parents if at all possible.

So we very much saw this, in the initial stages, there’s a bit of a testing of the water, you know, still got plenty of time to find the right place. So I did the interview. And more and more just had the sense of “It’s right”. And in fact, we were on our way home after the interview and I remember Liz saying, in effect, this is perfect. It’s just in the wrong place.

So I was thinking, Oh, okay, – so I was very much in my mind thinking I’m gonna have to say no, to this place, and just trust that God’s gonna find us somewhere different. The next – this inteeview happened on a Tuesday – the next day I went to morning prayer with my vicar, and we very much kind of praying to into this. It was very much on our hearts and minds. Because by then I’ve been offered the job. And I think much to the guy had offered me the job – his surprise, I said, I actually I need to think about it rather than giving him a straight yes or no.

And I think he was he was in a hurry, because he wanted to go off somewhere. I think he wanted to go mountaineering or something and he wanted to, he wanted it wrapped up as soon as possible. We said we need to, we need to take our time here. This is a really big decision.

Anyway, went to Morning Prayer on Wednesday and very much asking God, what is it? What’s the right place? Is this the right place for us? And I remember reading the Psalm for the day, which said, “Dwell in the land, and you’ll find safe pasture.” And I had a real sense that that had been a Word from the Lord saying, actually, this would be a safe place for you and your family. So I had this great sense of actually, this is was indeed going to be the right place for us.

When I went back after Morning Prayer to Liz, and she was very excited. And she said, “You’ll never get what. … Firstly, the girls have both had a nap in the daytime.” Which was the first time in Isabelle’s lifetime that both girls had been asleep at the same time in the day. And so Liz had space to seek God and ask what God’s will for us and, and she was like, “Ok, God, you’ve got about 45 minutes here. Show me what the right thing to do is.” And the name Rebecca popped into Liz’s head. She’s like, “Rebecca, don’t really know much about that.” So she then went to look at the story of Rebecca in, in Genesis and how I think it’s Abraham servant is commissioned to find a wife for Isaac and they go off and Laban and the servant wrap it up, and it’s a done deal. And then they think, “Oh, I suppose we should consult Rebecca and see what she thinks of it.” And so they then turn around to Rebecca and say, “Rebecca, will you go with this man?” And Rebecca says, “I will go.”

For Liz there was that sense that – she’d probably be able to put it much better than I could – It was like God was saying, “Look, I’m giving you agency here.” Because don’t forget, she was the one who was moving to a new place as a result of my decision, my my calling, my job that she was then, but it had a huge impact on her. And it’s like God is saying, “Look, I’m inviting you to take part in this adventure. And you can choose to take part,” and it was an invitation to trust. It wasn’t a “You must go” but “Will you go?” and very much for her, I think, that was a liberating thing. And having that invitation to trust in God, that that somehow it would be okay even though it didn’t make much sense to go to, to Coventry, which wasn’t really ideal in terms of where it was in terms of our family links, but there’s a sense of being invited to trust that it would be okay.

And, and I remember being wowed and the other, just by that that would have been enough. But what was quite incredible was – the Church of England has a thing called the lectionary, which they have readings, allocated readings every day. And one of my tasks for the day of my interview just the previous day was to choose one of the lectionary readings for the days of about like, I think, six passages of Scripture, choose one, and then relate it to the situation of the church, that you just discern about the church. So it’s kind of one of those exercises, where, how might God be speaking to this church community through this Bible reading for today? So I read all the readings in preparation. And what was incredible, was that one of those readings allocated for the day of my interview, was the story of Rebecca. Which was just gobsmacking. Like, what are the chances of that?

And it was very, it, if we needed any more kind of confirmation that this was God saying, “Trust in me, take this step of faith,” then – it couldn’t, it couldn’t have been clearer had it been written in the sky. It’s one of those absolutely miraculous things. And, and, and looking back on a decade, nearly a decade here, God’s being so faithful.

And there are things that – this book wouldn’t have been written without me being in Coventry. There are things that have happened, that wouldn’t have happened had we not been here. It’s not been easy. And so we’ve needed to go back to those promises, to go back to that, that strong sense of call, I think, to reassure us and to remind ourselves that this was right, on those kind of bumpy times in the journey. So that was such a clear sense of call to, to be here. And, God’s been really faithful.

Ruth O’Reilly-Smith
Because it’s one thing to surrender to the call or to choose the calling, as God gave you and your wife that option to choose. But then to choose it and have a good attitude about the choice that you’ve made, is is also really important, you know, having a heart that’s then once you’ve made the choice, really committed to the choice that you’ve made. And not getting stroppy about when you do go through tough times, or, you know, as in your wife’s case to kind of go well, she’s missing family. And did we make the wrong choice? You know?

Andy March
Yeah, I mean, it wouldn’t be too fair for me to kind of comment too much on her side of things. But for me, I remember quite a key moment to me, looking back, was when I reached the fifth anniversary of my time, here, which felt like a bit of a landmark. And things hadn’t gone quite as I’d hoped or expected. We’d had lots of bereavement in the church, people I’d loved had passed away, and it really felt quite painful, we’d had some changes that were necessary to make, but again, were painful to make, not just for me, but for the church. And I remember, I was coming up to the fifth anniversary and I had this day that I chosen as a retreat day to to look back and my intention was to go with my journals that I’d written over that five year period and to look back and say almost, like have a bit of a pity party, say, “Oh, God, I haven’t gone well, this hasn’t gone well that hasn’t gone well and all that” So I remember, you know, I put all my diaries for that period in my rucksack and the plan was to go for a walk and then stop off at various points and read it and reflect and basically feel sorry for myself and almost feel justified in doing so.

But anyway, I began my walk but thought I’d better start with some scripture you know, I better get myself in the right frame of mind and, and the Psalm in the morning prayer, the first Psalm was “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget not all His benefits.” So I said, “All right God, okay, I better start by giving you thanks for the good things here.”

And I planned this quite long walk – 13 mile walk – I love walking, it’s kind of how I connect with God. And, so it’s going to be a three, four hour walking time. And remember, I started saying thank you to God. Well, firstly, I looked at my journal entry, the last journal entry I made before we moved here, which was a simple prayer. “Lord, I pray that our family will flourish here.”

So I began by thanking God for the fact that he had answered that that first prayer, absolutely, abundantly the children were happy in their schools, Liz was was settled in the church. You know, God couldn’t have done more to answer that prayer. So I started by saying thank you for that. And then I carried on and I thought of something else to say thank you for and, and literally over the next two hours, I was still thanking God. And you know, I was carrying my diaries on my back and I’d got almost until I was about an hour from the train station, where I was going to get back home. And I was walking along the canal. And I’ll never forget this. I said, “Okay, God, I’ve done a lot of talking here. Is there anything you want to say to me?”

And an inner voice said, “You know, that bag on your back?” – “Yes.” – “You haven’t looked at it once. Have you? All those journals and all those things on your back? You haven’t looked at them once.” I went, “No, why, what’s the point?” And it’s like God was saying, “You don’t need to carry that anymore.”

Now I’d carried the weight of the bereavements. You know, the hurt, and it weighed me down. And it’s like God was saying, “Actually, I want to release you from carrying that stuff. So that you can lay it down, I’ve dealt with that anyway.” And it was a really powerful moment. For me, it was a turning point actually. And I think since then I’ve kind of walked with a lot more freedom, and a greater sense of contentment with the present then I had in that point. There was a bit of a journey to fully embrace that sense of contentment, I think, but that was certainly the turning point toward it.

And funnily enough, it was another walk where I’d experienced disappointment about nine months later, when again, I was a bit frustrated with things and I walked. And by the time I came back, I didn’t know what it was, but I just had this sense of whatever is happening is okay. And, “All is well.” There was a sense of contentment with the present that I had. And to be honest, it hasn’t really left me since, even through the pandemic, although the pandemic has been incredibly stressful, I haven’t wanted to be anywhere else. I haven’t had that same sense of looking over my shoulder at what my neighbours are doing, there’s a sense of actually, God is good and, and it is good here where I am. So that was really key, you know, going with the right attitude and it’s taken me a bit of a journey to embrace that. But that was, I think, quite critical, that sense of not needing to carry the weight of that anymore.

Ruth O’Reilly-Smith
Wow. That’s powerful. That’s a powerful story. Andy, thank you so much. Hearing today from the Reverend Andy March. He is a vicar and he’s also author of “Loving the Enemy – building bridges in a time of war.” We’ll hear the story behind the book next.

Announcer
Songs for worship and words of wisdom. This is UCB2

Ruth O’Reilly-Smith
We’re hearing today from the Reverend Andy March vicar and author of “Loving the Enemy – building bridges in a time of war”, you can find the book online. Otherwise, directly from Andy on halwillpublishing.co.uk That’s h a l will publishing.co.uk. So, I know you you don’t want to tell the whole story because you know, people need to get the book. But just tell us a bit about your grandparents. What did you know, you know, growing up, what were they like?

Andy March
So I had a very close relationship with my grandmother, Nanny, as I referred to her. She was – we had a very – Yeah, we were very close. She was bubbly. She was fun. She would always go out of her way to help us enjoy life when we stayed, you know, she took us to football matches and football – I was football mad. And so she she kind of took me to places where I could play football. And she was always very engaged, very hands on. She was a brilliant cook, she had a lovely garden, she very much made a special place. I remember, when we were growing up, me and my cousin were into Lord of the Rings. And we referred to my nan’s house as Tom Bombadil’s house, because it’s a place of hospitality. And it was a place that we really, we both really treasured at that time. And I always did.

My grandfather was – there was a 13 year age gap between my grandmother and my grandfather. So he was older, he was a bit more remote. And, and so we didn’t have that same connection. And I didn’t know loads about him really, until his funeral, when his brother delivered this extraordinary eulogy, which told about my grandfather’s life, and he had this remarkable life. He was a working class boy from Liverpool, but he was a brilliant academic – won prizes and scholarships at every stage to get to get into the grammar school. And then when he was still 17, on his 17th birthday, he’d found out he’d won one of the few scholarships to get into King’s College, Cambridge.

Most – at that time, King’s College, Cambridge was sort of the place where Etonians would go, and they’d go from Eton to King King’s College, Cambridge, and my grandfather, was a fish out of water, he had a Liverpudlian accent, his name didn’t really fit, because people weren’t called Fred at King’s College. And so he was, they suggested that perhaps a name, like Francis or Hillary might be a better, better name, but he stuck with Fred and while he was there, he flourished academically again, he won, he won lots of prizes. And he managed to win some, find some, some good friends. One of whom was Alan Turing, who became known for his code breaking, they were pretty close. And Alan Turing referred to my grandfather as the most learned man that he ever ever met, which I found just extraordinary.

Ruth O’Reilly-Smith
Yeah. Amazing.

Andy March
But also, he, he was, he hungered, not just kind of for more learning, he hungered to make connections. And so he travelled to Austria to to Vienna to pick up the culture that there was there and to learn, he was a linguist. So he wanted to learn another language and picked up German – picked it up very quickly. He stayed with a Jewish family there. And later on, he was responsible basically, for saving these two boys’ lives. As they, he managed to get them onto the Kindertransport in 1938. And when things were getting more and more difficult for Jewish people in Austria and Germany, he responded to a cry for help from these boys’ mother, and he did what he could, pulled the strings he could and and ultimately, they were alive because of him.

And so, that was before he was 30. He had this longing to build bridges and had this fascination with Hitler, and wondering how on earth people could live under such and such a man. And so that was the motivation for him to go to Dresden in 1936. He had this sort of journalistic idea of finding out firsthand what life must be like under the Nazis and he managed to find a place on this teacher exchange programme, taught in a school for a year where he was welcomed by this family, who invited him to become a house tutor for the two boys who were struggling academically. And he made lots of social visits over that year and made some deep friendships, particularly with the youngest son, Wolf, and that was a friendship that continued until the war broke out.

My nan doesn’t really fit into the picture there because she was the youngest child in that family. But she was only 10 at the time, in 1936. And so what happened was, the war broke out, and they lost touch. They went their different ways during the war. My grandfather was codebreaking in India. He came back after the war. And he wrote back to the family to kind of say, Well, how was your war? Almost? How are you all? And it was my nan now aged 20, who wrote back. And from there, a correspondence began, which led eventually to their marriage.

Ruth O’Reilly-Smith
Wow, that is fascinating. It’s called “Loving the Enemy – building bridges in a time of war. Andrew March, the grandson is, is the one who’s pulled us all together. Must have just been extraordinary researching. I mean, you heard this eulogy at your grandfather’s funeral. But then what was it that made you want to put pen to paper and actually write it?

Andy March
So it was, um, going back to this Coventry Dresden connection. So I learned that a trip was being organised on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Dresden, and that members – the civic leaders – the Mayor, the Bishop of Coventry, the Archbishop of Canterbury, were all going to be in attendance at these commemorations plus, yeah, other sort of not quite as important people and I just had this real sense that I needed to be there. I couldn’t really articulate why, I just had this hunch I needed to be at this. And so I said to my bishop, I said, I said, “Do you think I could go on this trip?” he said that that’d be a brilliant idea.

And so I I went to the trip and I, I wrote a blog about it. And I explained why this felt personally significant explained it was my grandmother’s hometown. And then the blog was reposted on the diocesan website. And then it was picked up by the Church Times. And and there was an article that appeared in there. And then there was a German national television television programme that interviewed me. And then I was interviewed live by them in Dresden around the time of the anniversary, and found myself on Radio Five Live as well. So it was all very bizarre, that suddenly they were interested in this story that I was telling. And probably the biggest privilege was sharing the story about my grandparents in German. In the Fraunenkirche – Church of Our Lady, in Dresden, on the anniversary of the bombing, the Archbishop was in the congregation, he was present and so was my bishop.

So it was a very surreal experience, but a real privilege to, to share the story. And I had a real sense after that, that God had given me this story to share. And, you know, he’d laid this burden on me in a good way. And I got into conversation with someone in the diocese who organises sabbaticals, which is study leave, we can take three months out, fully paid study, leave to research or write or whatever, or just have to have a break from parish ministry. And I was eligible for one the following year. And I said, “Well, if I did a sabbatical, I’d do it on this.” And again, to my surprise, she said, “That would be a really good thing to do.”

And so that’s what I decided to do, I’d use my study leave to, to do research and went into my parents’ attic and discovered a whole – a couple of boxes full of my grandfather’s notebooks that he’d written almost his memoirs in, piecemeal form, so all over the place, but he’d written memories of his time in Cambridge and Dresden and all that. He’d written a book in 1943, which was a semi autobiographical book, about his experience in Dresden, which was published by one of the publishing houses in England at the time. So I had that. And I also, vitally, had their letters that they wrote to each other, which were in German, and God was very gracious and gave me the gift of someone who translated them all freely for me; all the letters translated from German into English for me.

And over the sabbatical, I spent the first month of the three months do my research. I went to Cambridge and I, I typed up lots of notes and stuff. And then we did a family holiday to visit Vienna and Dresden, which was amazing, and then the next six weeks I spent frantically trying to write as quickly as I possibly could and ended up managing to bash out 75,000 words in six weeks, which which became my first draft.


And, I mean, that was five years ago now and then over the next five years, just chipped away. It’s been a lovely project that I’ve been able to do with my mum and my dad. And, and they’ve been wonderful in reading various different drafts of the book. And then, obviously, with the pandemic, everything had to be laid down because there was so much to try and get your head round and help the church keep worshipping and keep connected with the community at that time. But things were quieter after Easter 2021, so I was able to take some time to finally get this book finished and invested some time in putting it together. And yeah, and that became, “Loving the Enemy”.

Ruth O’Reilly-Smith
Was the title something that you came up with? Or is that from the –

Andy March
I had help from a few other people. We had, we went through different ideas, different people chipped in their different thoughts. And actually, it was a combination of this chap, Rowan Somerville, who was kind of helping me hone the manuscript, who thought that actually it’d be a good idea to echo the words of Jesus. He’s not himself a Christian, but he thought about “Love your enemy” as the title. And then I shared that idea with Liz, my wife, and she said, What about “Loving the enemy”? And then, and then that clicked and the “building bridges in a time of war” is one that we’ve had for a while, but that sense of expressing that yearning to build bridges that my grandfather had.

Ruth O’Reilly-Smith
Well, you can find it online, on halwillpublishing.co.uk. It’s called “Loving the Enemy – building bridges in a time of war”. Of all of the research that you did, and all of the editing, what were or what is the thread that stands out for you, that kind of really penetrates you and that you carry with you. If you think of their story?

Andy March
I think it’s, um, is the courage to pursue love, when hatred would be the easier course. I think, for me, is what I see – they both had immense courage, both of my grandparents in pursuing this relationship, my grandmother had immense courage in coming to a new country, barely knowing this man, that she had only written to. And she stuck with him. They were married for 51 years. It wasn’t easy. My grandfather had struggled severely with his mental health. And she, she kept him going. And actually, she had immense courage. And I think she needed to, to mine those depths of courage, not just when she moved to England, but throughout their marriage, I think it’d be fair to say, so that sentence, that that courage to pursue love when when hatred or giving up on that would be the easier course. So, not necessarily just hatred. But sometimes loving is hard, isn’t it? And, and it’s, sometimes it’s easier to walk away. But God calls us to the right thing, not necessarily the easier thing. I think, I think for me, that’s what I’ve learned from them.

Ruth O’Reilly-Smith
Big moves, that is something that’s quite a key part of your story, Andy, we don’t have a huge amount of time for you to go into the details of that. But the reality is that your family moved when you were young, and it impacted you as a whole family, you guys have moved as your family, you know, and then your your grandmother moving to this country. Just tell us a bit about loneliness and some of the heart ache, loneliness that you suffered as a child because of these moves and how God is actually now on reflection of your life. And maybe it plays really nicely into your song choice as well. Just about how that’s one element that you can see on reflection, how God has redeemed that but also used those times of intense loneliness because you were in a new city for you as a young boy, having moved schools and coming away from family and so on and what you’ve seen in, in your wife’s story and in your story as a family and then your grandparents as well. How God has used that to help in your work now as a minister.

Andy March
Yeah, so I think the key moment was when I was eight, I have a very settled life in Wiltshire, in a little town called Chippenham, and we were very happy there. We had a good – I loved school life, I had my my best friend Ben. We were had a great church that we were part of and God called my dad who was in the career’s service to this role in Canterbury in Kent. And which was a massive move. And so it was, I was, it was 1989, we moved. And it was a very unsettling time generally, because it was both the recession back then and there was problem selling houses. And we ended up not really having a long term place to live we, we lived in a very small house, that one of the churches just said, Oh, you can have this for a few weeks, while you find somewhere a bit longer term. And then we we moved into this bungalow, which was, was a condemned bungalow, kind of because they were they were threatening expansion of the road, that it backed onto. So it’s like, well, you can stay but we don’t know how long you’ll be able to stay here. So it was a very unsettling time. And I only got my school place confirmed a few days before the academic year was due to start. And it was the kindness of the teacher who – there was space in my brother’s year group, because he was moving into year six, and I was moving to year four. But I would then become the 36th child in the class. And so I found myself – I wasn’t bullied at that time at all. It’s just that sense of I just didn’t know anyone. And I did feel incredibly lonely almost that entire year. I mean, I did form some friendships towards the end of it, but it was a really tough time. But what was interesting was the following year. So now, year five, a boy joined our class who’d come from Holland. And he’d been moved, I think his dad worked for Esso, one of the oil companies. And so because of his dad’s work, he was moved to Kent. And he joined our class. And I instinctively welcomed him. And we were very close from that point on until he until the end of end of primary school. And it’s almost like because I knew what it was to be the outsider. I, I instinctively look for them. And I yearned to kind of build the bridges towards towards him. And actually, that’s what I’ve done ever since – and also I think I’ve become better at making deeper connections with people quicker. Because you realise you don’t – sometimes you don’t have much time. And so there’s no point beating about the bush. Sometimes you just need to get your roots down quickly and make the most of relationships that you have.

So for me, there was that sense of of wanting to reach out instinctively, look for the people who are on the edge and and see whether I can I can connect with them. And one of my friends Rob, he’s a wonderful singer songwriter – Rob Halligan in Coventry. And he did a garden concert for me on my birthday – I turned 40 in July – and we managed to get a little party happening. And he was talking about Scargill House and the ministry that they have. And he said, Scargill is often said to be a safe place to say difficult things. And he said, “My experience of Andy is that he is a safe place to say difficult things.” And I think it’s because I have that desire to reach out and to connect to those who are outside and uncomfortable, I think I can help people in that sense and connect with them and help them to feel safe. And I think it probably is the way that God has worked through giving that that quite formative experience of being the one who’s been an outsider to then actually, I don’t want that – I know what that’s like. So I think I can help people and hopefully, help them to feel like they can connect and that they know that they can find a welcome and find love and friendship.

Ruth O’Reilly-Smith
It’s been brilliant hearing your story today. Thank you so much. Just can tell the love of the Lord through you and your pastor’s heart. And we really appreciate you, Andy. Thank you so much for sharing your heart and your story with us today. Some of your story. You can find out a bit more about that. story written by Andy about his grandparents “Loving the enemy – building bridges in a time of war” – find it on halwillpublishing.co.uk.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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