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Bruce's Story

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Below is a recent interview with Jo from St Martins Church Seamer:

This month we meet Bruce Clark, who many of you will have seen speak at a recent ‘Word and Worship’ evening service at St Martin’s.  Bruce is a local youth worker, and on average he estimates, he must talk to at least 1,000 people a week about the Good News of God’s love, the majority of them being young people.  Under the auspices of F.I.S.S.(Faith in Scarborough Schools) , Bruce goes into local schools, speaking at assemblies, clubs and during lessons.  The logo Bruce was inspired to use for FISS  is a kite, with a cross at the centre, symbolizing ‘standing firm in the liberty, wherein Christ has set us free’.  An apt symbol too of Bruce’s life, particularly the early part, which like a kite in high winds, was often very turbulent.  His mother moved to the U.S.A., when Bruce was just aged 7 years, and he was sent to a boarding school in Lancaster, Lancashire, at that very tender age.  Quite naturally he felt quite lonely and sad at leaving his own home in Morecambe, which oddly he could see from the boarding school he was in.  To combat the loss, Bruce threw himself into his academic work, pouring all his energies in to his studying, so that he would have a good future and life when he left school.  He succeeded in obtaining ‘A’ levels in mathematics, Further  mathematics, and physics, and headed off to Leeds University to study for a degree in engineering.

It was at this point again, that his life began unraveling, during the hedonistic period of the late ‘60’s early ‘70’s, with the music of The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Captain Beefheart, providing the background.  Bruce became drawn into the drug scene and culture, and ended up leaving the university without finishing his degree, after the second year.  For a period of time, he had quite a nomadic lifestyle, living in a railway carriage at one point, staying with friends, or his father at others.  Eventually Bruce came back to Leeds, where he had a close group of friends, but he was still heavily into drugs.  Someone he met and became friends with, a woman called Helen became a committed Christian, and although Bruce and a few friends, talked her out of it for a while, Helen went back to her faith, and re-dedicated her life to Jesus.  Although initially his friends ridiculed Christianity and ‘all that Jesus stuff’, one by one, they became Christians too.  One friend in particular called Drossos, went on and on to Bruce about Jesus, until feeling worn down, Bruce said a prayer with him. He didn’t really feel very sincere in his prayer to ask Jesus into his life, as he was asking mainly to (as he puts it) ‘to get Drossos off my back’.  He hadn’t been asking for, or indeed expecting salvation, but doing his gardening job soon afterwards in the fresh open air, Bruce said he suddenly felt clean, as if he’d been ‘washed right through’, and ‘had neon lights inside him spelling Jesus’.  He tried to smoke some cannabis, as he had been used to doing, but found he couldn’t, and threw it onto the fire, never to do drugs again.  Bruce emphasizes that it wasn’t the external threat of an angry God that made him stop but the all-accepting, unchanging power of God’s infinite Love that changed him from the inside.

There was Bruce, now a Christian, without having gone to church, or read the bible!  For a while he attended a Pentecostal church, learned how to worship, and began speaking in tongues.  He was at this time, working with the Post Office, and was to remain with them for some 13 years, and during this time he married and had three children.  Bruce felt after a while attending the church, that while he had learned how to be a ‘good Pentecostal worshipper’, that personal sense of God’s presence was beginning to elude him.  He re-discovered at this point that it wasn’t about being ‘Good’ that constituted the essence of the faith but being forgiven by Grace. While Bruce was busy trying to push the lid off with his own goodness God was waiting for him to let the bottom fall out and find all he needed at the ‘foot of the Cross’. This he learned through a little book he bought for 5p called ‘Calvary Road’ by Roy Hession with whom he latterly became good friends. This experience of the Cross has never left Bruce and he will often say in his sermons that the ‘only good thing about Bruce Clark is Jesus Christ – He is ALL my righteousness’!

Bruce prayed to God, asking for advice, as to if he should go to Bible college, and said the answer came back, ‘and what do you want to do?  If it’s Bible College, well alright do it then’.  Bruce took God’s advice, and studied for 2 years in a Bible College in Malton.  During that time he felt The Spirit, was directing him to work in schools with the young people there.  Around this time, Bruce met and became friends with Laura and Paul McWilliams, and the author Graham Taylor.  He worked at Burniston Methodist church for a while, gardening, care and youth work.  When the leaders of ‘Churches Together’, set up F.I.S.S., he began working for them 5 days a week in Scarborough, going into many different schools.  Although the leaders raise money to pay for this work to be done, recently in our difficult financial climate, funding is difficult to come by, and it is often hand to mouth for Bruce, and an impecunious way to make a living.  Although finances are not an important factor in his life and work, as he grows older, and with a wife to care for, he does feel the need at some point to have some sort of financial security.  With this in mind, Bruce is doing a 3 year course in computer web design, which he hopes might give him some support in the future.  The work he does is physically quite demanding, and he realizes that he will not have the health and strength possibly to do this work, far into old age.

Bruce says it is sometimes difficult to know what God wants you to do, when you are caught up in the hectic, busyness of everyday life, and that what is needed then, is the space and time, for quiet reflection, perhaps a retreat and silent prayer.  He describes the work he does, as both a privilege and a responsibility, and when he talks about his work and faith, he seems to be lit up from inside, like a hurricane lamp glowing.  A dynamic and truly inspirational man, he is down to earth and plain speaking, so he may well scoff at my description of him as such, but it was a great privilege to meet him and a responsibility for me too, to write this as best as I can. I wanted to try and show something of the energy and Spirit filled purpose of this very human man, who is aiding Jesus to enter the hearts and minds of our young people in our area.  May God’s blessings be on him and this important work.

Thanks Jo :o)

This was an interview with Karen Inglis, Media Office for the archbishop of York - website