Guide Story 5

Mike Dare serves in Merlin's Bridge, Haverfordwest, Wales

Chaos.  Broken.  Dysfunctional.  This sums up my background, mainly due to my father’s heroin addiction.  I had very little interaction with the church during my upbringing and encountered many difficulties due to emotional damage, pain and suffering my life had been surrounded by.  It was only through my girlfriend, a committed Christian with a wonderful heart (who is now my wife) that I was introduced to church and a different way of life.  I wanted to discover if Jesus was real and whether He would be interested in someone like me.  The single most significant moment of my life was when God showed me how His hand has always been on my life.  I’ve found a living faith in Jesus Christ.  Today, nothing excites me more than sharing the love of Jesus, His healing power, His Holy Spirit and His word.  I have a deeply rooted desire in my heart to help people hear the voice of God in their own lives.

It’s an honour to serve in Merlin’s Bridge, a village situated on the outskirts of Haverfordwest.  Merlin’s Bridge is known for its high levels of deprivation and unemployment.  There is known drug and alcohol use.  That’s probably why you’ll see the police on a regular basis.  Merlin’s Bridge faces a lot of social challenges, a seemingly lack of opportunities, loneliness, financial difficulties and many broken families.  Some might say it’s a place without a sense of meaning, with no future expectation, no vision and nothing to look forward to.  But I’ve discovered something special in Merlin’s Bridge.  There’s an alternative story to be told.  This little border village wants to give families a fresh, new start.  It’s also known as a safe haven to rehouse those who are leaving a refuge or those who have been moved from other areas due to difficult circumstances.  Despite all the difficulties, you’ll find great loyalty towards living in the Bridge.  Many families do support each other well.  This is what I enjoy the most about my role: Seeing families come together and supporting each other through the love of Jesus Christ.  His love makes everything possible.  You’ll notice many cracks and broken people, but it’s only through these cracks that we discover the wonder and light of Jesus Christ.

I’m here to listen to God’s voice, to find new and innovative ways of interpreting and introducing people to the Gospel and to help build up a community with a sense of belonging and purpose.  My greatest aim is to grow in faith and take the message of God’s goodness to people from difficult backgrounds like my own.  I want to help people discover God’s hand in their own lives.  Therefor I live to see people’s lives change and to see people discipled so that they can become all that Jesus had designed them to be.  I believe my role as pioneer Evangelist gives me this opportunity.

I sometimes feel like I have the weirdest job in the world.  If someone asked me: “What did you do with your morning?”  I’d sometimes respond: “You know, the usual.  I went for a coffee with the amazing local charity “Homeless Pembrokeshire”, and ended up going to a boggy march to give a homeless lad a tent, survival pack and Kevlar jacket.”  Supporting their amazing work definitely doesn’t get boring!  In the middle of a bog (while regretting my choice of trainers that morning), I was so blessed!  God helped me to be able to share that despite this young lad’s difficult living situation, God still had a plan for him and wanted to bless his life.  I was able to share with him that despite his situation now, God was showing him how much He loved him – because he had sent help and supplies.  He had the biggest smile on his face when we provided him with this practical help, and I even got the chance to share that I would pray for him when I went home.  It was an unexpected day, and I definitely needed new trainers afterwards, but it was so exciting to be able to share some hope with someone in a desperate situation.

If it wasn’t for Church Army and the support of The Willats’ Trust, I would not have had this wonderful opportunity to see so many lives change because of the Gospel.  “I have great respect for Church Army and The Willats’ Trust and will forever be grateful for the doors that have opened up in my life because of their support.”