Colin – Wasted Years

ColinColin didn’t have an easy time when he was growing up. His dad died when he was four years old, leaving his mum struggling to bring up three boys on her own. In his early teens he became seriously ill with life-threatening pneumonia and pleurisy. As a student, a bad motorcycle accident ended his dreams of becoming a doctor. Colin says this early part of his life was wasted years — but not for the reasons you might expect.

With all these problems in such a short space of time, Colin could perhaps be forgiven for not knowing where to turn. He did what many people do in extreme circumstances. “In desperation I asked God for help”. But Colin is honest enough to admit, “I soon forgot all about God once I’d recovered.”

After his early struggles Colin had been thrilled to have the opportunity to study medicine at Liverpool University. “There were grants back in those days, which was good because we wouldn’t have been able to afford for me to go otherwise.” Sadly, Colin’s desire to be a doctor never materialised. In his fifth year of study he had a motorcycle accident which shattered his leg and he spent a long time in hospital — but as a patient, not a student. “I just didn’t have the money to re-do the year so I had to give it up.

“In 1957 I moved to Swansea and joined the Swansea Borough Police Force. I married Jean in 1963; we settled in Ynystawe, and had three daughters.”

It was really through his daughters that Colin came into contact with Bethel Evangelical Church. “My mother-in-law’s friend insisted on taking our girls to the church. Jean and I were happy for them to go but weren’t particularly interested in going ourselves.

Divine intervention

“I thought that academic success, alcohol, and playing rugby would bring lasting happiness.”

“But in 1977 God started to intervene in my life. Being Detective Sergeant in the Drugs Squad was challenging work and I spent a lot of time in pubs and clubs where the drug users were. It was around this time that Jean and I were invited by our two eldest daughters to attend a meeting which the young people were taking at Bethel. We had refused so many invitations that we decided to go. I sat there and watched the young people — their faces radiated such joy and happiness. It really moved me. It was such a contrast to the young drug users I was dealing with in my work; they too sought happiness but I know from the many incidents I attended they never found happiness through taking drugs — sadly, many ended their lives.”

A changed life

After that Colin began attending church regularly but it was in the last hour, of the last day of 1977, whilst attending a New Year’s Eve service that he actually became a Christian. “The words of Jesus ‘Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest’ became a personal invitation to me and I accepted Jesus as my personal Saviour there and then, and became a new person in the Lord. From then on I wanted to live for the Lord. My life had changed. I used to drink and I enjoyed smoking but I no longer wanted to do those things and gave them up immediately. What God had given me was so much more wonderful than anything the world had to offer. I went for a walk on the first morning of 1978 and I remember breathing in the pure fresh air and thinking how wonderful creation was. It was a new year and I was a new person.”

Next steps

“I went for a walk on the first morning of 1978… It was a new year, and I was a new person.”

It was not long after becoming a Christian that Colin retired from the police force. He obtained a degree in pharmacy, eventually opening his own pharmacy on Herbert Street in Pontardawe. “All I wanted to do was provide a good service to people.” Since Colin has retired, he’s had two new hips and suffers from deteriorating eyesight that takes him for regular injections at the hospital. He laughs as he tells me, “Every time I go they tell me this injection could give you a heart attack or stroke, or if it goes wrong you may lose your eye — I have to sign a form to say that’s alright.” He then adds, “I don’t worry about it though. You look at things differently as a Christian. I know I’m in God’s hands.”

Despite telling me he’s had a fairly clean bill of health, Colin also suffers from arthritis. “I’m sure that’s a result of playing prop forward in rugby for so many years. I used to play for Liverpool University, Aberystwyth, Trebanos and the police. Rugby was such a big part of my life – it was my priority.

“I look back and wish it hadn’t been so. I wasted so many years. I thought that academic success, alcohol, playing rugby and other things like that would bring lasting happiness. But I know now that everlasting happiness can only be found by accepting Jesus as Saviour. This is my prayer for those seeking happiness in drugs, alcohol and other temporary things, that they would turn to Jesus, accept him and know true and lasting happiness.”