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Encounters With Faith

18th January 2024: Derek Adams' Guardian Angel
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Our church steward, Derek Adams on reaching 80, vowed to trek the coast of Britain before he was 85 and in the process, fund-raise for the RNLI, BHF and Cancer Research. Now 81, and after five completed legs, he is half way there, having trekked the whole east coast of England and Scotland up to the Orkneys and Shetlands, all the south coast and the west coast from Land's End to Cardiff. He hopes to start the sixth leg sometime this spring. Here, Derek's Guardian Angel gives a fascinating account of his spiritual adventures.

Guardian Angel. No 23697477 -My journey as Protection Officer CPO to Derek William Adams. BA. FRGS.

Within a year of Derek's birth I had a portend of what was to come. I had to deflect a stick of bombs away from the Anderson Shelter in which the family were taking cover. The blast from the bombs shattered the windows and blew the back step off, but the Adams family were safe and Derek and I began our journey together.

In his eighth year my charge joined two life enhancing Organisations, The Scouts, as a Wolf Cub, and the Methodist Association of Youth Clubs. The Scouts helped to equip him for survival and enjoying life in The Great Outdoors, amid the wonders of nature and the security of God's Kingdom.

The Methodist Church nurtured his spirituality, pointing him along the correct path. One influential episode enjoyed with the Youth Club was taking part in an International Youth Camp, in North Wales. This was his first experience of interacting with people from different ethnic groups and cultures. This inspired both his love of travel, meeting new people and living in the Great Outdoors.

Two early influencers I introduced to Derek's life were a Quaker Preacher, with whom he shared a train carriage, and a very long, probing conversation on a journey to Wales, and fellow Northamptonian, Stanley Seamark, also a Quaker Preacher. These friendships and many deep conversations were the catalyst for Derek's involvement with the grass roots of the CND movement, the latter resulting in many arrests, one of which involved being locked in a cell with Bertrand Russell and three Bishops. Bertrand Russell commented to him that "there are times when even our wisest men will be incarcerated for their beliefs. At this moment you are in the right place."

In his late teens/early twenties Derek kept me busy, trekking around Europe and the Middle East, living with people of different religions; Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh. I enjoyed listening to his many conversations and comparisons of the roots of different religions/sects.He was impressed by the similarity between different religions, particularly that between Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths.

Still fresh in his memory (and mine), is an evening spent snowed in, with a Scottish friend, and two shepherds, on the col between the twin summits of Mt Ararat, and a Christmas Eve spent with Syrian shepherds.

Then, in 1990, my charge was invited to join a Commemorative Trek, joining 360 Native Americans to retrace the 180-mile trail to Wounded Knee, where a similar number of their forebears had been massacred 100 years previously. Derek spent two nights, atop Bear Bute in blizzard conditions, prior to joining his friends, ridding himself of all his European norms and thoughts, with the Chinook winds dropping the temperature to minus 81Fverified by the USA Meteorological Office, your freezer should be set at minus 18F as a comparison. The weeks of trekking that followed were very spiritual and despite extreme cold no one complained. Living in Tipis, this band of Christian souls celebrated Christmas Day with a joyous meal of Buffalo, antelope and prairie dog!

The prayers said at the start and ending of each day confirmed to each participant the Lord's blessing and the fact that each was at the right place, with the right companions, doing the right thing.

Now in his 80's and still testing me with his travels, Derek is aware that I am with him on his journey, and that he will never be alone.

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