Here Steve Bagnall, BCM Care and Resource Centre Support Worker, shares how he came through depression and homelessness to a new life of faith in Jesus.
‘I didn’t grow up wanting for anything. My family worked in Africa, so a brief part of my childhood was spent there until we returned to Birmingham. My parents divorced when I was 14. I did reasonably well at school; I played football and golf to a fairly high standard and after further education I went on and found a job within the recruitment industry. Most of my twenties was spent working hard, playing hard. I was never a bad person but I often made bad decisions. Often selfish. In 2010 I was offered a job in Australia and whilst this was a wonderful experience, the work hard, play hard lifestyle continued. I returned from Australia in 2014 and very quickly entered a downward spiral of depression.
In January 2015 I made the decision to take my own life. I gave up all my possessions, I gave up my place to live and I purposely lost touch with all my family and friends. Obviously I was unsuccessful in my attempt but I awoke in hospital disappointed that I was still here. Then reality hit me that I was homeless. Embarrassed, ashamed and still depressed with no idea what to do next. The hospital released me into a homeless hostel which was a completely new experience to me. I was living with ex-offenders, people struggling with addiction and others with mental health issues. I very quickly had to adapt to my new surroundings. After 3 months I was given a studio flat close to the city centre and the hostel pointed me towards Birmingham City Mission Resource Centre to obtain a food parcel. I remember asking them if they needed any help volunteering and thankfully they said yes. I began working the following week. Out on the van, collecting donations and delivering furniture. It gave me a new sense of purpose and I was surrounded by good people. A year later I went to our Spring Convention at Carrs Lane Church. Our job was to help collect the lighting and audio equipment afterwards. We arrived early so decided to sit at the back and listen to the service. The wonderful John Blanchard was speaking and everything clicked into place for me that night. I became a Christian that very evening!
I was still only a volunteer with BCM so had to make the tough decision to leave and find permanent work. My chosen field was working within supported accommodation. Offering the same practical and emotional support that I received when I needed it most. Then in December 2016 I received a call from Wes Erpen to say that a position was available with BCM, working with both the Resource Centre and the Care Centre. It was an easy decision to return! Every day here has been a blessing and I can never forget how fortunate I am as a new Christian that I am constantly surrounded by fellow Christians in my working life. We have witnessed several baptisms earlier this year from people closely linked with BCM and I realised that was the one thing I hadn’t yet done. The Resource Centre Manager, Chris Fisher, had recently returned to work after suffering a cardiac arrest and I thought it would be wonderful to be baptised by him along with a select few from BCM. When the word spread, I quickly realised that it wouldn’t be a select few! It was only in the days leading up to my baptism that I truly began to realise what it meant. A public declaration that I am a follower of Jesus and obedient to the word of our Lord. As I did that evening, I would like to thank everyone who has helped me in my journey of faith whether through conversations, services, prayer or simply through their actions and it’s an honour to spend every day offering the same in return to others.’