John Gates

John Gates1Bankrupt but Blessed!

   Becoming bankrupt was probably the most harrowing experience of my life. I owned a thriving television and electrical business with a staff of thirteen. Then troubles began to pile up in a serious way.

   In my personal life there were big changes, too. Many years before my business collapsed, I had been a sincere Christian with a close and loving relationship with Jesus Christ. But my faith grew weak and I deliberately walked away from Him. My only concern was myself. I became so hard-hearted that I didn’t care about anyone. As long as I was OK, then everything was fine. How this hardened heart was changed was quite dramatic. It started with my health. I will never forget the night I developed severe chest pains ending up in the hospital for heart surgery.

Robbers cleaned me out

   Then things started to get worse. I discovered that threats were being made against anyone who was seen buying goods from me. This was because I had often spoken against the Orange, Black and Mason’s Brotherhoods as “not being Christian.”My words backfired on me.

   An IRA bomb just two doors away wrecked my shop. Then robbers cleaned me out of what good stock remained. I was never fully compensated. Finally, after I got the business running again, I was twice broken into and robbed at my shop and at my home, all within a month.

Saved by Angels!

   There was a Loyalist day of protest planned – and I knew this meant trouble for me. On the evening before my wife, Esme, and I stood in the shop and simply asked God to place angels there to protect us. The day after the protest, almost every shop window in town had been smashed. My window grills were pulled off, but amazingly, no window was broken. Later it was revealed in court that the men wrecking my shop had seen angels and had run away in fear! Why did God let me end up bankrupt? Oddly enough, I understand now that this tough lesson was good for me. I realize today the truth of the Bible, which says God can turn trouble round and bring good out of it if we trust Him. But at the time, I and my family with two young boys were absolutely penniless. Our electricity was cut off; we had no heating oil; no telephone; no food. I was 50 years old and a failure. What future was there for someone in such a mess?

God would provide for us

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    My wife became suicidal and lost her faith. I had no one to turn to except God – and amazingly, my faith slowly grew stronger. I tried to reassure Esme not to worry because God would surely provide for us. Then money started to come through the door during the night. Food appeared on our doorstep. A tanker drove up and starting filling my tank with heating oil, so I ran out saying, “I don’t have any money to pay for it.” The tanker man said it was already paid for. Later, I was given a car.

   This was a great lesson for me. God turned a disaster into good. I realized this experience of divine supply was worth much more than money itself. In the end, we were able to stay in our home. My wife found a job in a bread factory. I joined a job-search scheme, set up by the government.

God speaks by prophecy

    Christians sometimes receive prophetic picture-messages from God. A friend came to me because he had one of these mysterious revelations, which he believed was for me. He ‘saw’ a steam engine which made three stops before it finally got going on a longer journey. I realized that I was the train and would have two temporary jobs before a third more lasting one appeared.

   My first job was a seasonal one in a food canning factory, but six months later I was out of work. Then within a week, I found a job as a bread salesman – which I hated. Finally, I found the third job in a factory making electrical heaters. This was work I loved – and I was good at it as well.

   I was able to tell colleagues about my faith. I was able to say how I had experienced the goodness of God. I worked at that same factory until I retired. Today, having recovered from heart surgery, I am cheerfully serving in the community which I see as service to a Boss who has never let me down because He promises in the Bible: “I will never leave you, nor forsake you,” (Hebrews 13:5). That’s great news, isn’t it?

John's Hearing His Voice Testimony

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