Derek relates his own testimony: how he was saved in an army barracks by a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus and the immediate effects that event had on his life. He then tells of how the Lord trained him to take the Word and use it to bring about change—specifically the healing of his body.
I was a fairly—I wasn’t an alcoholic but I was a drinker. And in you know in the British world the pub is the center of everything. So about six o’clock every evening when I was released from duty, I would go down into the local pub. So this day following the day I met Jesus, I didn’t have any prejudices about drinking, and I still don’t in a way. So I walked down to the local pub and when I got to the door, my feet locked. They would not walk inside that door. And I stood there having an argument with my feet for quite a while. Then I realized something. I had no interest in going in through that door. The things that would have drawn me there the previous day didn’t mean anything to me. I was a totally changed person. Not through original doctrinal assent, but through a personal encounter with Jesus.
I tell people everywhere I go, you can join a church, you can say a prayer, you can go forward in a convention and sign a card, and be the same. But when you meet Jesus, you will never be the same. That’s very sure.
Now I want to speak about one particular aspect of success that I learned. Now I had a very highly intellectual education. From the age of nine to the age of twenty-five I was in different boarding institutions. Eton College, Cambridge University and so on. My intellect was over-crammed. My knowledge of people was pretty thin. So the Lord didn’t sent me to a Bible college. I mean, I’m all in favor of Bible colleges. I didn’t need one and He knew what I needed. He put me in the Army.
When I was actually converted, I was a local acting unpaid Lance Corporal, if you can believe there’s such a thing. I was that because I did not want to be a combatant. So I entered the Army on the condition that I didn’t have to carry weapons, which was not on Christian grounds, but on philosophic grounds which I don’t have to go into. And I’ve defined that particular. In the Army order it’s L-A-/U/CPL—local acting unpaid lance corporal. My definition of that is it’s as near as you can get to being a worm without being one. And that’s where the Lord met me. I had turned my back on the gleaming spires of Cambridge and King’s College which is so famous for its chapel and its beautiful backs (?). And I met the Lord as a local acting unpaid lance corporal in an army barrack room in the middle of the night.
Well, then I needed training. I didn’t need intellectual training. Many people do, but I didn’t. My mind was over trained. What I needed was to learn to relate to people, and God provided that in the British Army. I didn’t ask for it. I wouldn’t have applied for it, but for five and a half years I lived next to people who very different in their background, their economic status, and their lifestyle from me. In fact when I went into the army I didn’t know how ninety percent of the people in Britain lived. I never had anything to do with them. But I did when I went into the army. I had to live with them everyday.
And in that way God began to train me for the ministry. I didn’t know. He didn’t tell me in advance. I was in the deserts of Egypt and Libya for two years. I was somewhere in the background of the Battle of El Alamein. But I was medical personnel. And then I developed a disease in my feet which was because I was in the medical corps, I had all the doctors that I needed. Each doctor gave it a different name. But they couldn’t cure it. So I went in hospital, and I was in military hospitals for one year on end. That was a very important part of my training.
Well, I had known the Lord by that time. I’d been baptized in the Holy Spirit. I believed in the Bible and as I lay therein the hospital bed day after day, I fell into a deep depression. I said to myself, “I know God could heal me if I had faith. But,” then I said, “I don’t have faith.” And there I was at the bottom of the valley. But one day I read a verse. Romans 10:17:
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
That was like a ray of light in the darkness. If I didn’t have faith I could get it. Faith comes by hearing what God says in His word. So I decided to go all through the Bible and mark with a colored pencil, everything that had to do with healing. It was a blue pencil. And you know what I had at the end? A blue Bible. You’d be amazed. Until you do it, you wouldn’t realize. But I still had this problem. Here I am a philosopher. The soul is what matters. The body isn’t really important. So God wants my soul but He’s not interested in my body.
Well then I got to Proverbs chapter 4:20–22 and it says:
“My son, attend to my words; Incline thine ear unto mine sayings, Do not let them depart from thine eyes; Keep them in the midst of thine heart; For they are life to those who find them, And health [or medicine] to all their flesh.”
When I read the word flesh I said, “That settles it.” Not even a philosopher can made “flesh” mean “soul or spirit.” And God said His word would be medicine to all my flesh. So I made a decision. I was going to take God’s word as my medicine. Now I was a medical orderly, so I knew how people take their medicine; three times daily after meals. So I said to myself, “I’m going to take God’s word as my medicine three times daily, after meals.” And I did from then on.
After a while I was discharged from the hospital on my own responsibility. The doctors wouldn’t accept responsibility for me, but everywhere I went, three times daily, after each main meal, I would go away somewhere, open my Bible, bow my head and say, “God, You’ve said these words will be medicine to me and I’m taking them as my medicine now.”
Well, Egypt was a bad climate, but I was sent to a worse climate, to the Sudan which is south of Egypt, hotter and drier and basically a pretty miserable place. And there God healed me. God proved to me that His promises do not depend on circumstances. They depend on meeting His conditions. Now I have a little book. I don’t know whether it’s available but it’s called God’s Medicine Bottle. And it’s the story of how I was healed through taking the Bible as medicine.
Well, then I was posted from Khartoum, which is the capital, to a place called Atbara which is on a railway line north of Khartoum. And being a British soldier I traveled in a compartment to which no local people were admitted. I mean, I wasn’t responsible. I consider that a rather unfair treatment, but that’s the way it was. We got to this station somewhere north of Khartoum, and I looked out on the platform and it was just a sea of living beings. Men, women, old men, children, babies, donkeys, mules, camels, chickens, everything. And quite without planning it I said to myself, “I wonder what God thinks of all of these people.”