Phil Turner is part of the leadership CCK Team and is primarily involved with running the Alpha Course. He is married to Mel and they have 5 children. Phil is very passionate about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and in this interview he talks openly with Yohaan Philip about why and how he came to be so excited about Jesus.
YP: Can you tell me a little about how you came to know Jesus?
PT: Before I became a Christian I worked at Lloyds TSB for 17 years. I wanted to build a career, get promotions, good money, a flat, a car etc and find some sort of safety and security in my life. I hoped for the day I'd be really happy and never look back. But, the problem was that inside it was like a storm that I couldn't get away from. I had great parents and a safe home. But there was an inner turmoil in me and as I strove for these things , even if I did get them, it left me feeling more empty, more fearful, more anxious about what the future had in store. I turned to astrology, trying to find out what the future had in store. I wanted to be happy, but never was.
After a broken relationship, a storm took place in my life that really crushed me. My safety nets were collapsing and I didn't know where to turn to. I turned to alcohol and clubbing, trying to find a way to escape the reality of the world, thinking I'd find freedom and happiness. But the problem was that the next day I was back into the reality of everyday life. One Friday night, I remember being down in a night club on West Street with this storm really raging inside of me. I had never read the Bible at this point and was far from any understanding or looking for any form of God. And that Friday night I just said, "Jesus, I really need your help. Can you help me?" Then, this Christian friend of mine started talking about Jesus to me. I had always envied his life - whatever storms that seemed to surround him, it never seemed to affect his peace or happiness or security. I never had any security. He invited me along to CCK to a Paul Oakley concert one Friday night. I saw people worshipping and putting their hands up. Initially it seemed a bit strange, but one thing I noticed as I came out of the meeting was that these people seemed to know Jesus personally and have a depth to them. My life with all it's clubbing and pubbing seemed very superficial. People I met made friends based on star signs. But at the church, I found a kind of safety that I had never experienced before. It was quite remarkable.
That lead me on a request to discover this Jesus. I read the Bible and the thing that nailed me was the resurrection of Jesus. There were over 500 witnesses that claimed that Jesus came to them. I realized that Jesus was really alive. On the 8th of October 1993, I became a follower of Jesus. I've never been the same since.
YP: Wow! That's quite a story. So how did you become involved with CCK?
PT: I quit Lloyds TSB about 6 years ago and had an opportunity to work at a training consultancy. The advantage of that was that I got the same pay as Lloyds, but had to work for only 2 weeks a month. I made a decision to serve and help CCK more during my free time. As soon as I became a Christian I felt that that God would call me to work full time for Him in a Church as an "Evangelist." I didn't know what an Evangelist was at the time. All I knew was that God put a passion in me to tell everyone about Jesus. The day after I became a Christian I went back to Lloyds and told everyone about Jesus and earned the nickname, 'Phil the Baptist'! I worked for the consultancy for 3 years and during those 3 years, I felt my passion for the Lord grow and I learned to pray and to seek Him and to serve. At the end of the 3 years, work dried up at the training consultancy. By this time my family was growing. God spoke to me amazingly at Northampton one day that I would never work for that company again. A few days later the consultancy called me to say they were making me redundant. In the year 2000, a preacher from India, Ram Babu, came and told us (CCK) that he had never had to find a job and God had provided for all his and his family's needs as he travelled India and the world talking about Jesus. When I heard this, I turned to my wife, Mel, and whispered to her asking her if she thought we could live this way and trust God to provide for our every need. And so, when I got made redundant, I decided to serve God and the Church full time and trust God to provide for our every need.
During that period, the provision of God was extraordinary. We learned to pray together as a family. There were times when we were so hungry and had no petrol for the car day - we were right down to the wire. We were living on baked beans. One time, the mortgage was due the next day. We all prayed as a family and a thousand pounds came through the doorway! God provided! We have lovely stories of how God used our children. One night my oldest daughter, Molly, had a dream where God told her that someone would put money through the door next day - and it happened!! We did endure some suffering, but we knew that God loved us. So during that period we grew closer as a family and learned to trust the plan God has for our lives and to follow Him in obedience. There were sometimes when we were fearful but we felt God's love for us every time.
YP: So would you encourage people to live like this?
PT: You need to really know the call of God on your life to do this! But there are so many areas in life you need to step out of the boat and just follow Him. You don't want to be irresponsible in this. You need to have a peace of heart and faith to know God's in this.
YP: Tell me more about the Alpha Course you run?
PT: initially I used to be involved with Alpha on the estates, but then more recently, we've gathered all our resources and shifted all our Alpha courses to the heart of Brighton city. This is the 3rd Alpha course we've run under my leadership in the city. It's going fantastically well. Last week I shared on the resurrection of Jesus which is a passion of mine! We complete on the 8th of December with a Christmas celebration. We want the alpha course to be more than just a place where people can make new relationships and discover Jesus. We want them to get stuck into Church and really grow in their faith. The next Alpha starts in spring next year.
YP: What are some of the influences in your life? What keeps you ticking?
PT: One of the major influences in my life has been a guy called Mike Springer. He was passionate about talking about Jesus. When I first began come to Church he took me under his wing and had a huge impact on me. Ram Babu, from India, is another one. I'd never seen a miracle before! But through people being miraculously healed, I saw God working through him. Joel Virgo coming in has made a huge difference in the vision of the church. Tim Keller is another huge hero of mine. Sharing Jesus in a city is a lot more complex than what I gave credit for. I have found his teachings on engaging people and honouring and then challenging their objections very helpful.
I think what ultimately keeps me going is to keep going back to the cross and the resurrection. Everyday.