No less a person than William Wordsworth once said that poetry is emotion recollected in tranquillity. This has certainly been the experience of Paul Bebbington, part time civil servant and poet. Twelve years ago, his friend Mark Darvell invited Paul to accompany him on a church trip to Romania. Neither traveller had any inkling of the changes that would come as a result of their journey.
Mark and Paul were profoundly affected by their experience. Meeting Christians who could finally meet and worship in freedom touched both their hearts. Paul was particularly struck by their beautiful singing. He didn’t understand the words but the message got through just the same.
A year later, Mark left his home in Redbridge to return to Romania, seeking God’s will in mission. He met a local Christian called Florina, they fell in love and started a new life together in Romania. Today, they’re both full-time Christian workers, Mark pastoring a church and Florina running a charity working with local women. They’re parents to two young children and live on support from friends and family which they receive with a Stewardship account.
That’s where Paul comes in. He’s always been a big part of Mark and Florina’s support network, praying for them, setting up a monthly donation with Stewardship and hosting them when they return to the UK.
His epiphany came at a hard time in his life. His elderly mother was ill in hospital and worries were crowding in on him as he sat at home one evening. At this point, he’d written around 50 poems.
“I remember thinking to myself that instead of agonising over the future, which I couldn’t control, why didn’t I use my evenings to explore the possibility of publishing my poems. I wondered if others might be inspired by my work. I looked into self-publishing, collected all my best poems together and it all fell into place. It had to be God.”
Paul’s collection, “Watering His Earth Through Verse” came out in August. “I decided to dedicate it to the Darvells and give all the proceeds to their work. I realised that God had given me a gift and I could use it to help to support my friends. I think our society is often selfish and driven. We make sure we’re comfortable and then give. I didn’t want to do that. I won’t accept a penny from my work – it’s all for them and their work in Romania.”
As well as donating all the proceeds to his friends, Paul has found that creative support raising has enriched his life too. “I had to put my plans to travel out to Romania to help Mark and Florina on hold due to caring for my mother. However, even with the restrictions on my life, I found inspiration for my poems. Many of them are about nature and God’s creation. I can still find that inspiration right here at home, and share my poetry with others, many of whom I’ll never meet. I am so happy to think that my little book can help to support my friends’ work.”
Paul’s sharing his gifts in a truly creative and generous way. As one of his poems, “Sons of Adam” puts it:
“Born with a purpose,
To create and fulfil,
Show acts of kindness
Yet how many will?”
“Everyone can do something to help. I’m using my gifts and talents to support Mark and Florina and I don’t think anyone in this world is without something which can help others. Jesus has poured out his love on me without counting the cost and my prayer is that my book will continue to raise much-needed funds to support my friends as they carry out His good plan in Romania.”