Mark Greenwood

Up for a laugh

Don’t you just love having a laugh? I do! There’s no better experience in the world than laughing so much you end up crying. Mind, it can go wrong. The number of times I’ve nearly come a cropper because I was laughing so much. I love a good joke or true-life mishap. I love watching brilliant comedy actors and stand-up comedians. Spending an evening with friends who make me laugh is fantastic.

Humour has always been part of my life, watching comedians and impressionists on TV and being envious of their ability to make people laugh. Now I’m able to do it myself.

I remember as a youngster, disappearing into the cellar at the end of a family meal and coming back with a flat cap on backwards to utter the immortal words, “Mmm Betty!” (Frank Spencer, for the uninitiated). My school reports read, “Mark is always happy at school… Could try harder.” They had a point. I couldn’t help it, though – the thought of a ready audience!

I’ve managed to do a bit of stand-up comedy in recent years. I remember my first gig – how nerve racking was that? It was a great feeling getting that first laugh and then the applause. I now have the amazing privilege of being able to combine my love of laughter with my love of God.

Up North

My life has been pretty average. I was brought up in Bradford, West Yorkshire, in a working class family. I have a brother and sister, and I had a cracking bunch of friends around me. I live in the Midlands now and have a great wife and two wonderful children. I never thought I’d leave the North but I’m very happy where I live – though Bradford still has a place in my heart.

My parents divorced when I was about eight years old. I don’t remember much before that. Mum was amazing, bringing us up on her own for the next few years. I don’t remember her showing any signs of tiredness or stress but she must have felt them. She had a part-time job in a chip shop – we thought it was great, having fish and chips so often. I’m sure we even had them for breakfast once! Life didn’t feel particularly tough, apart from having to wear hand-me-downs. You might think: what’s so bad about that? Well, my sister was older than me.

Growing up, I wanted to be a footballer, but I resembled the football more than the footballer. I thought about being a policeman but you had to be 6ft tall and I was 5ft 5in. When I left school, I became a butcher. I’d worked at the market since I was 14 on Saturdays and during holidays, so I was lucky enough to walk straight into a full-time job. I enjoyed the work; chatting to customers and making them smile a bit.

I’ve had some successes in my life and I’ve had some failures. There are things I’m glad I’ve done and things I wish I hadn’t. I guess I’m just your average person, doing my best to get along in life without hurting anyone along the way.

Up for adoption

What is the greatest act of love someone has ever done for you? For me, it would be when Jimmy Greenwood said he wanted to adopt us. When I was about 10 years old, Mum got remarried to a brilliant man by the name of James Greenwood. I remember it like it was yesterday – it was one of the most amazing days of my life. Jimmy sat my brother, sister and me down and told us he wanted to adopt us. I was very excited at the thought of having someone to call Dad again, as my blood father wasn’t on the scene. Our day in court came. I went in a Radcliffe and left a Greenwood. All of a sudden I had a new identity and a new future. I still feel privileged.

You could say I was adopted twice in my life! Later, a day came when I realised there was someone else I could call Father. It was an amazing feeling when I realised God had given up His own son on the cross so I could become one of His children.

The Bible says to any who believe in His name, He gave the right to become children of God. Now I had an even greater identity and future. I was up for adoption – twice!

Up for God

I wasn’t bought up in a Christian family although I did kind of believe in God, I think. I certainly remember praying occasionally. My early experiences of church didn’t exactly warm me to the thought of God. As you now know, I’m someone who loves laughter and fun, and I never associated that with Christianity. My first three visits to church did nothing to alter that opinion. The first time I went to church was for my christening – which I don’t remember! The second was for a wedding, and apart from the vol au vents at the reception, I was bored. The third time was for a funeral, where they said lots of nice things about the deceased – a fairly miserable experience.

Would you blame me if I’d never gone to church again? But I did. In 1982 a man by the name of Brian Hardaker came to our home. He was a Christian, and there was something about him and his faith in God that was real. As a family, we started going to the church he attended. It was there that I saw so many people who looked like they were enjoying God and Christianity. I saw something in them that was alive. On 19th June 1982, I heard that by turning away from living life without God, I too could know God in the way they did. That was the day I decided I was up for God.

While following God has its challenges, I can honestly say I wouldn’t swap the worst day of my life as a Christian for the best day of my life when I wasn’t a Christian. I’m so glad I didn’t miss out on God because I was put off by my previous experiences.

Up for the ride of your life

I’m telling you my story because I’m so grateful for God’s forgiveness and love. The knowledge that God is there in the good and the bad, in the certainties and uncertainties of life, brings peace in a world where there is little peace. I don’t know what your story is, but I’d love to hear it (you can email me at the address at the end of my story). What I do know is that part of my story can become part of yours. God cares for you so much, He wants to become part of your story, whoever you are and whatever you’ve done or haven’t done. He’s the missing piece that makes sense of life. He’s the answer to the questions we all need answering: Who am I? Why am I? Is there more to life than this?

We’ve all done wrong and left God out of our lives. God wants to forgive us and clean us up. When you allow God into your world, He can do that. He wants to give you an amazing story to tell others. It really is the ride of your life!

Up for it?

God is only a “yes” away. You can change your destiny and the outcome of your story. Saying “yes” to God means that you are asking His forgiveness for leaving Him out of your life. You are acknowledging that Jesus’ death was for you as well as for me. It means that with God’s help you will live life His way.

If you’ve said “yes” to God, please let me know. I’ve written a little booklet you can have for free that will help you. I can connect you with other people in your area who can tell you their story, too. If my story has made you think a bit more about God and you’d like to find out more, I’d love to help you. You can get in touch with here:

www.revmarkgreenwood.com

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