Martin Swan used to be a driver for the State Department of America. That meant he drove for past US presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr on their UK visits.
His life took the equivalent of a sharp handbrake turn after disturbing dreams in the early 1990s.
‘I was in bed asleep and I woke up just like somebody had turned the light on,’ Martin recalled. ‘The thought came into my mind, if I died tonight and never saw my wife again, does that make sense?’
The thought worried him. However, he went back to sleep.
‘The next night the same thing happened again, I woke up at midnight,’ said Martin. ‘The thought came, if you died tonight and never saw your children again, does that make sense?’
He was so shaken by these night terrors, his wife Marilyn thought he was having a nervous breakdown. It was unlike him. After all, Martin worked with the great and powerful – his job brought him in regular contact with the Queen, Margaret Thatcher and others. But this experience was something else.
It all came to a head while getting ready for work one day. ‘I just cried out, “If there’s anybody there, can you please help me, because this is driving me mad?”,’ Martin remembered.
From that moment, he felt he became a different person. Others also noticed a change in him.
One of his two daughters had been invited to Sunday school. Martin took her along. It happened to be held at a Methodist church. He heard a simple gospel sermon delivered by Revd Philip Seaton.
Martin shocked the minister by confronting him with the plea, ‘Is what you preached this morning true? Because if it’s true, I’ve got to do something about it’.
Martin started attending church. He asked about the meaning of such terms as ‘hymns and psalms’, ‘prayer at the manse’ and ‘the noticeboard in the vestibule’.
He soaked up everything he could about faith. Eventually he felt called to Methodist ministry. (Read the rest of this article in the Summer 2021 edition of Roof ‘n’ Roots)