<H1>CHALLENGES – INCLUDING STEVE JOBS VICTORY!
We completed the first floor of Woking YMCA. It was more than financially viable. We got more programmes than anybody in Surrey. (I nearly said the UK – I don’t want to be evangelastic!) We were doing so much it was phenomenal. Woking YMCA has got about ten paid members of staff and lots of volunteers and interns on the books.
Things just kept increasing as I kept just turning up at my now new office in the completed Youth Development Centre called the Ypod. We were gaining national notoriety – we’d had visits from Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg! We were used as one of four centres in the UK, by the National Youth Agency, as a case study for BIG capital funded youth programmes! Things kept growing as we had leadership training every month and every week for those we were developing as senior managers.
However, I must warn you! Pioneering was like cutting through steel – this was from everything from our bank account, to funding applications – there will be opposition to your mission. I told you about the name Ypod. This came about because we ran a competition about the name and a young lady chose Ypod – we loved it! We had a recording studio, Internet cafe and drop in centre, youth apprenticeships, gig nights, alternative education for excluded schoolchildren and those on the verge of exclusion, dance classes, church for youth on Sundays – wow, lives were getting changed, powerfully.
Then I got a call from Steve Jobs’ top lawyer in the UK. Apple, the computer and phone company, were not happy that we’d called our centre the Ypod! He said we were diluting their brand! I thought and said, ‘C’mon, why not give us some iPods and we can run a completion for young people! We are a charity, helping them.’
The lawyer wasn’t convinced. I was angry that they were giving us this unfounded opposition. I even went to meet the lawyer at Canary Wharf in London. I was with my gracious, wise chairman, Les Taylor, and we were ushered into the big lawyer’s office. They said again that we were diluting their brand. I politely pointed out that, after much research, Apple only had the copyright on the name ‘Pod’ for software, music and computers, not youth development centres. I posed the question: if we converted some old toilets and called them the Pee Pods, would they still be on my case?
We crossed swords time and time again.
We both could see that this lawyer would have to report back to someone. We had not yet consulted a lawyer; the board trusted us to handle it. They instructed me to write to Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs! So, here I was CEO Terry Eckersley, writing to CEO Steve Jobs (this was after the iPhone phenomena but not yet up to the iPhone three, four or five). This was annoying for me although I had kept my decision to live happy and thankfully on purpose, I wouldn’t let this put me off.
Anyway, long story short, after lots of letters and faxes between Steve Jobs and myself, we finally won! Steve Jobs and the Apple giant lost against the small David, Terry Eckersley and the Christian charity the YMCA. I was very happy. I studied the life and death of Steve Jobs years later and have so much respect for the guy.
Everything changes . . .
There had been so many changes in my life, and one of the biggest and best was the change in my relationship with Jill – Janet’s daughter.
Jill came to serve at the YMCA in Woking where I was CEO. It was amazing that I had known Jill over ten years, but now she was seeing me in a different light. We were getting on really well; we would chat regularly on the phone and I would go up north to see her (not just the family); we’d go out for meals and we were getting closer. By now I had become very successful and had all the trappings. I had bought a BMW sports car and a flat in Surrey.
We’d placed an advert with the local Woking churches for accommodation for Jill as a ‘volunteer young woman at the Woking YMCA’. We’d been relying on this advert to get Jill a place to stay. Time was running out and I was just typing an email to another YMCA that provided housing, giving the dates she would be volunteering in the hope of getting her somewhere to stay, when I got a phone call from a local Christian couple who had a room for her. This couple had a large, detached mansion and three spare rooms! They gave the room at no charge and became good friends to Jill and myself.
Jill served on team at Woking YMCA and we were starting to fall in love. Jill had seen another side to me as I had dropped everything to visit her very sick mother Janet. This was a tremendous time for both of us, but equally challenging. We had known each other so long like sister and brother, now it was all changing and we didn’t want to get it wrong or hurt each other. Jill and I were both praying about this and I knew that God was giving me a green light.
Our first date was when I was invited to Buckingham Palace in recognition of the work I had done in the community. I was able to have someone accompany me and Jill’s mum, Janet, who was like one of my best friends and had become like a spiritual surrogate mother, hinted heavily that I should take Jill. So I asked if she would like to come and she said yes! We went through the formalities of security and being commanded by the Lord Lieutenant to attend the Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.
Dreams come true
I proposed to Jill just off Bond Street in London, after a sort of work review! Jill was so surprised she was laughing in shock and I said, ‘You’d better make your mind up; we’re booked into Tiffany’s just around the corner.’ Jill picked her engagement ring from her favourite jewellers and in less than nine months we were married.
I had a one-bedroomed flat that we moved into after an amazing wedding. The first thing I did was buy Jill a new kitchen. I did the same as I did with Tiffany’s – I gave her a budget and then let her pick. And I must say what an amazing homemaker Jill is with her background in home furnishings at Laura Ashley and her own amazing styling.
Back to the wedding, we had a great celebration with our friends. The wedding was everything Jill wanted. We got married in a beautiful Old Village Church in Woking. Jill had sung at so many weddings that were almost a contemporary Christian conveyer belt that we both wanted to be married the traditional way. We had a great service. I arrived on a motor bike and side car, as did my best man John Bradwell. He looked very nervous which was funny as he is a well built, typical mans man! So did my ushers, Dr Nick Tiffin, a top consultant pathologist and dear friend, and Wayne Leigh, an incredible charismatic businessman. Wayne met and greeted all at the church. We had a beautiful dream, sun-filled, love- and faith-filled marriage. I was marrying the woman of my dreams and best friend. After the service we then went to a local hotel for the wedding breakfast. Everyone who came was intrinsically a part of our journey, an encouragement and support to all we had become. I covered this in my Groom’s speech which was part stand up comedy, part evangelist giving glory to God and his people who had been so significant in both our lives. By now I had spoken all over the UK and the world. In Churches, Schools, Prisons, Conferences, Business meetings, in fact anywhere I get invited. Always bearing much fruit.
Everything’s gonna be alright!
So much was happening. I managed to recruit Paul Weller from The Jam as a patron of the YMCA, along with another local philanthropist Chris Ingram, who is also the president of Shelter. He sold one of his companies for half a billion! Yes, half a billion. I became great friends with Chris who even gave me a vintage signed-by-a-celebrity bottle of champagne. Chris is a very good man. He also later supported us in other ways which I will never forget.
Things kept growing and growing and growing, people kept growing and growing and growing.
Then one afternoon I checked the bank balance: we only had £350 in the bank. This was serious, we now had a lot of staff, we had a children’s centre in our building and lots of other charities. Thankfully this was just before a holiday, the pressure was becoming intense.
Jill and I set off for sunny Spain to spend some time at our timeshare. We have had great holidays twice sometimes three times a year. I’ve been fortunate and travelled all around the world, some trips Jill and I did together, some before we got married. I’ve visited USA, Germany, Paris France (to celebrate our engagement), Canary Islands, Sweden. I have taken young people to Strasbourg to see the European Parliament. I led young people on a YMCA Tensing trip in Norway (where the big 1980s band A-Ha came from!). I’ve also been to Kiev on a short term mission and speaking trip to Hillsong Ukraine. I had a girlfriend in Ukraine: she was a chick in Kiev! (Sorry.)
This time we went to Spain and the pressure was intense. For weeks I had printed off and was speaking and praying all of Gods promises on provision. I had also devoured Hudson Taylor’s book on how he founded the CIM (China Inland Mission) on faith and prayer alone! I was still getting no relief. We enjoyed the holiday, swam, had time by the pool, ate in, ate out – intense pressure, failure, fear were banging and screaming at my door. I was spending time alone in prayer, nothing was shifting. We settled down one night to watch a DVD called Letters to God.
This film is based on the true story of Tyler Doherty, an extraordinary eight-year-old boy who faces his daily battle against cancer with bravery and grace. He is surrounded by a loving family and community, and is armed with the courage of his faith. To Tyler, God is a friend, a teacher and the ultimate pen pal. Tyler’s prayers are his letters to God which he posts on a daily basis. The letters find their way into the hands of Brady McDaniels, the substitute postman with a troubled life of his own. He is confused over what to do with the letters but becomes entangled in the boy’s family and journey when he reads them. They inspire him to seek a better life for himself.
This film really spoke to me – it was as if the world stopped and the emotions of the characters in the film were how I was feeling. I cried out to God angrily, ‘God you’re supposed to be my loving father and I feel lonely, angry and abandoned!’
Suddenly, the whole room filled with the presence of God. I was weeping once more under the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit. I knew that everything was gonna be alright, and maybe this is applicable to you right now. Get real with God and he will answer you in a very real and tangible way. I had been doing everything I could do to try and help God – casting my care, praying, confessing provision scriptures – and yes, this is all great. However, at the end of the day and the start of the day, his mercy is new and everything comes by faith and prayer and surrender!
I shared with Jill. Everything’s gonna be alright, I told her. God Almighty had touched me. I felt as light as a feather. Everything was gonna be OK, even though we had only £350 in the YMCA bank account!
We now had a great holiday, enjoying time by the pool, in the sea and on the beach, meals out in a local tapas café. We managed to squeeze in a few shopping trips for Jill who always needs more shoes and handbags! I’m only teasing; Jill always comments that my wardrobe’s much fuller than hers. I nod and smile. I always have the last word in our house . . . yes dear!
We had a tremendous holiday and were soon travelling back. I love flying and I love travelling around the world – I feel like this is what I was born for.
I went back to work at my office based at the now thriving Ypod Centre. I had a coaching session with a great friend of mine, Rich Thorby. I was being a guineapig for him in a weighty academic coaching course he was now doing after a successful business career as a commercial CEO. I’d met him at Hillsong Church London. Richie was also on the board of a major international ministry, Derek Prince. Although Derek has passed away, his teaching is still relevant and applicable for today.
Back to Rich: Rich is a deep thinker, caring, meticulous, his cogs are always going, he’s very intelligent and articulate. He started to coach me: ‘Do you have one major challenge we can look at?’ I shared the naturally impossible financial problem we had of only £350 in the bank. However I was in faith and shared this with Rich. We talked about what we could do naturally speaking – chase bad debt, etc. – and then packed up for the weekend. Naturally speaking we should have closed the project but thankfully my chairman at that time, Adrian Fortescue, was also in faith; we knew there had to be more!
I had a voicemail on Saturday morning. It was from Lynne Coutts, the lovely ex YMCA training executive who I’d employed to work for me two days a week fundraising. I rang her back full of expectation. She was overjoyed as she told me, and I wept tears of joy and relief; we had won £500,000 funding for all costs for five years! This was the manifestation of the miracle. Thank God for his faithfulness as we follow and trust him!
Next was a brand new 24-bed housing project I’d been working towards with the local council and another Christian charity, Shelter.
I had been meeting sporadically with the chairman of a local housing charity. He knew I had a great relationship with local councillors and the CEO of the council, the charismatic, big-thinking Ray Morgan. Ray had overseen the development of Woking and had become a good friend, still political, but a dear friend. He had made Woking a world leader in all things green in the UK and all around the world. This also brought much jealousy and opposition. WARNING! Success brings many things including – what I find hard to understand – jealousy! Ray, like me, had his fair share of critics! I have to forgive and bless them – so, I do – and I’m gonna try and not mention them. Bless them, Lord, they know not what they do!
So, I had a call from the local council and the housing charity, and we were offered a chance to start developing plans for a shared housing project. I ran this by the board who were, in majority, in favour of taking this project forwards. I had visited the building which was a brand new complex of flats (like penthouse pads!) with a new chairman. We prayed outside in my car and the presence of God filled the whole car, so we were very convinced (‘fully persuaded’ the Bible calls this in Romans 4). One member of the board was very angrily opposed to the project. Worryingly, she was later to become Chair after continuously challenging the new chair. (He later developed cancer. We prayed together and by the grace of God he was healed.)
The head of children’s services wanted two bed spaces and would pay £30K a year. Things were going from glory to glory. We soon had this housing project up and running! We got all free beds from YMCA England. Provision just kept coming and coming and we soon had £50K in reserves and a very strong team continuing to develop. James Alexander, a lovely guy, who had come to me via a local lawyer, hurting from a bad employment experience, was now running the housing project very successfully.
Surrey Youth Consortium
Woking YMCA gained £500,000 funding from the Lottery and then shortly afterwards a housing project with the local Council and County Council and another Christian Charity. We also won a bid of 10 more youth centres with about 300 seconded staff from the Surrey County Council!
I remember going to Woking and praying that I wanted to influence great leaders in and around Woking and Surrey, and the UK. And now I’m influencing key Muslim figures in the UK, in relationship with them, and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ through amazing doors and opportunities. I’m influencing guys at top level in government, I’m influencing church leaders. I mean, amazing, I could share some names with you which just like blow my mind!
I also got involved in bringing one of the world’s leading brands into the UK: it’s the second largest coffee company in the world and they give to compassion and mercy ministries at all levels. It was amazing how that door opened. My wife Jill gave me a contact and then I met the guy. I told him that I was the man, for sure, to help him roll this out in London and the south of England. I just wanted to serve the vision. Through this, I’m meeting some incredible people in spheres of influence, so I’m really leading in four levels, in overseeing four things. If Richard Branson can do it, why can’t I? You know, if Donald Trump can do it, why can’t you do it? If the lady from Body Shop, Anita Roddick, who I met, can do it, why can’t you do it? Think about it. If we are Christians we’ve got the gifting and the power of the Almighty God. Remember the utmost level: they’re just living at the most level; we can live at the utmost level. One of my role models and mentors Tim Storey coined this phrase: ‘An utmost God wants us to live utmost lives!’ I believe it.
Somebody said to me, ‘How do you do all this, Terry?’
I asked, ‘Does Richard Branson fly planes?’
He said, ‘No.’
I told him, ‘You don’t need to fly the planes; you can train other people to fly the planes.’
It’s about time that we had some Christian philanthropists and entrepreneurs rise up in the UK ‘for such a time as this’. If Cadbury can do it through chocolate, why can’t Terry Eckersley do it through media music?
When I was at Portsmouth Family Church this word got right in my heart and my spirit, and I suggest that you write it down, you study it and you put it at the bottom of every prayer that you pray. Paul was talking to the church in Ephesus about the grace – and he knelt before them, and he prayed for them that God’s love would fill them, and they would know how wide and long and high and deep the love of Christ is.
But then he says, he’s done his best, he’s prayed his greatest. He says, ‘Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us’ (Ephesians 3:20). So, the ‘according to’ is like my car: its speed is according to the power I put down on the accelerator. And it’s the same with God: according to how much power you’re letting him work in your life, according to your belief and faith level – God’s not putting a lid on your life, he’s able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.
It’s time we started asking again, it’s time we started imagining again. The Bible speaks about witty inventions. I know this guy called Wayne Leigh. I mean, come on, if you want to be inspired go and talk to this guy for five minutes. He has invented coat hanger pens, he has laser pens, you name it he has it. He’s also such a funny guy, a natural salesman and Bruce Willis lookalike since he’s gone bald! He’s got six kids, a great wife called Adele. He runs a successful promotional gifts business. Should he work hard? Should we? Absolutely, but he’s yielded his imagination and his gifting to God. There are no limits or constraints on our lives, only the ones we put on them. I have Andy Elmes to thank who was my Pastor for five years whilst on the south coast.
Even what you’ve done up to date, it’s nothing. God’s able to do immeasurably more. This is not for us to be selfish – no, we can bless people. We can live to be a blessing. How many poor people do you know? How many broke people do you know? How many people could you help and encourage if God blessed you? I’m not just talking about finance, but about peace and prosperity of soul, lasting prosperity, health, you know, joy, motivation, being a giver rather than a taker.
- Remembering the Steve Jobs Legacy (domo.com)
- Terry & Jill Eckersley Newsletter yearly 2013 update Glory to God in the highest, Peace on earth, to all men and women on whom His favour rests! The story begins. Christmas Newsletter 2013 BORN READY After the end of an era always comes a new one (terryeckersleyblog.wordpress.com)
- Terry and Jill eckersley Christmas newsletter 2013 (terryeckersleyymca.wordpress.com)
- Terry and Jill eckersley contents page from book (terryeckersley2013.wordpress.com)