This is the story of Steve Bagnall, Birmingham City Mission’s Care Centre Manager. In his own words, he shares the testimony of his life and how he came to faith in Jesus Christ.
I was never very good at life. I always knew there was something missing. I was hollow. Broken. Incomplete.
I grew up wanting for nothing. I wasn’t spoiled but I never went without. I was fairly intelligent, athletic and popular. When I was 14 my parents separated and my life was different. Mom and I moved to a smaller house and money was tight.
I didn’t rebel as a teenager but when I reached adult years things changed. I worked in the recruitment industry and went from job to job. Girl to girl. Pub to pub. I lived a ‘work hard, play hard’ lifestyle. Drugs and alcohol had a huge part in my life. I longed for the escape of a night out to take me away from the reality of the world. I left a trail of destruction behind me wherever I went. My life was built on lies and deceit. I failed as an employee, a friend, a partner. I failed as a human being. Even worse, I failed as a father. I lived a life full of shame and embarrassment.
In 2010 I moved to Australia. A chance to start a new life. It didn’t take long before I was wrapped up in the same lifestyle that I was trying to escape. The saying ‘You can’t run away from your problems’ had never been more true. They followed me to the other side of the world.
I came back in 2014 and my life collapsed. Depression hit me like a ton of bricks and within 6 months I had hit rock bottom. I made a conscious decision that the world would be a better place without me. Any hurt that I would cause from my death would pale in comparison to the hurt that I was causing long term.
Needless to say, as I am writing this, I wasn’t successful! I woke up in hospital to the reality that I was alone and had nowhere to go. I had pushed away all my family and friends. I was homeless and still unsure if I wanted to be on this earth. I ended up in a hostel, surrounded by drug addicts, alcoholics, people with significant mental health issues, people straight from jail for some serious offences. I had to wake up quickly.
I took the opportunity to get some help and did something called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This helped me understand myself a bit more. Understand my behaviours, my actions and triggers. Understand why I was who I was.
After 3 months, the hostel found me a small studio flat in the city centre. I was referred to Birmingham City Mission for a food parcel and asked them if they needed any volunteers. Thankfully they said yes. I helped collect and deliver furniture. I helped at the food bank. I had a purpose in life. A reason to get up, have a shower and do a good day’s work. I was surrounded by people who didn’t judge. People who went out of their way to help others. I renewed relationships with family and friends.
A year later, Easter 2016, I was in Carrs Lane Church. BCM were hosting their Spring Convention and I went to assist with moving the lighting and sound equipment at the end. As I was there early, I sat at the back and listened.
A man called John Blanchard was on stage and he talked about Jesus. I became a Christian that night. I surrendered my life to Christ and it’s never been the same since. The realisation that Jesus Christ died for my sins was overwhelming. The feeling of peace and relief washed over me in an awesome way.
One of the first Bible verses I read was in the book of Galatians:
‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.’
A friend of mine once said to me that every time he tried to do life himself, he messed it up. He may as well just give it to God. I now realise that myself. I couldn’t do life on my own. Not by those values. But with God it was possible. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control.
If I get to my last day on this earth and it turns out that I’m wrong then I haven’t lost anything. I’ve attempted to live my life the right way. Obedient to God. If it turns out that I’m right, I get to walk with Jesus in heaven. Seems like the safest bet in the world to me. But I’m not wrong.
I now have the honour of working for the charity which saved my life. I manage the homeless project at Birmingham City Mission. It’s not a job. It’s a calling. I received unconditional love and God’s truth when I was at my lowest. What a privilege it is now to offer that to others in return. Not for my own pride. Not to buy my way into heaven (my salvation was paid for by Jesus). But to glorify God.
Our testimonies never end. It’s a lifetime’s journey with God. Learning and understanding. I’m planning to get married and there are still some relationships that are taking longer to restore. But, as God promises, with him, all things are possible.
Steve’s testimony and BCM City Missionary, Anna Maria Kaminski’s, have been printed as booklets to help us all share the good news of Jesus Christ. If you can use these resources, visit BCM’s Kingstanding Shop or contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 0121 766 6603. The booklets cost 10p each (+P&P) and can be viewed here: