christian testimony


William Wade

William Wade was nicknamed the punching preacher after his radical conversion to Christ. But life could have been so different

William Wade can be found on the front line — preaching not only to soldiers on the battlefield but even to members of royalty. The dad-of-two lives in Germany, where he shares the gospel with soldiers in his role as an evangelist for the Soldiers and Airmen Scripture Readers’ Association (SASRA).

“God has allowed me to share the gospel with tens of thousands of British soldiers,” the 43-year-old says.

“l have found that with God, he rewrites the script of your life. It seems that God can take even the ‘wasters’ of this life and turn them into vessels for his service. just last year l was able to share the gospel at the Guards’ Chapel in London with Prince Philip sitting in the front row of the packed church.”

Life could have been very different for William if he hadn’t visited an Elim church one evening as a teenager. As a young man his life seemed mapped out for him. Caught up in the Irish troubles, William had dedicated himself to the loyalist cause and at the age of l6 he was into drink and drugs. His life was on a downward spiral.

“l was born into a Loyalist family in Belfast in I970,” William explains. “The troubles came to shape my upbringing in the form of religious perception, political persuasion and eventually criminal conviction.

“My father was involved in the Troubles and was vehemently pro-UDA (Ulster Defence Association). l remember my mother telling me of the night when the local UDA had taken over a Church of Ireland church and my father was at the front rallying the troops for action. His viewpoints came to be mine, as with most fathers and sons, and this spelled trouble for the future.

“By the time I was I6, I was sniffing glue, was a keen magic mushroom taker, a heavy drinker and a committed young Loyalist. I had given my life over to my father’s cause, and it was
now my cause.

“I had five criminal convictions on my police record and had been expelled from school. At one visit to the police station, I was told by the duty officer
that I would be a ‘waster’ for the rest of my life.”

But a surprise invitation changed everything.

“One Saturday night on our housing estate, two 15-year-old girls gate-crashed a party I was having,” William recalls.

“When they walked into the middle of the room full drunk young men, we were expecting a bit of fun, but they were to surprise us with their bravery. One of the girls turned off the music and they went on to tell us that God loved us, that Jesus Christ died for us and that we needed to get ‘right’ with him.

“They spoke of being saved, born again and of being forgiven of their sin. They told us we could be forgiven too, but that we needed to ‘repent’ and live for God. It was all very bizarre.

“They then left by inviting us to their gospel service the next evening, and we said that we would go, just so that we could get rid of them. They left and we joked about what had just happened, and carried on drinking.

“The next evening the two girls just happened to bump into us and tried to hold us to our promise. We tried every possible excuse not to go with them, but they were fierce in their persuasion. So we came up with the bright idea that we could go and have a bit of a laugh.”

The church was Green-island Elim Pentecostal Church (which later merged with Carrick Elim) and the pastor was Tommy Latimer.

“Seven of us sat along the back row of the tiny corrugated iron hut and made a mockery of all that was going on — right up until Tommy started preaching,” says William. “He addressed us at the back and told us that we were all sinners, but that God loved us, and he went on to explain the extent of that love; the death of God’s own Son on
the cross.

“He challenged us to respond by repenting and giving our lives to Jesus Christ. We left the meeting that night and tried to shake it off, but couldn’t. God spoke to me and two Sunday evenings later, four of us committed our lives to Jesus Christ.”

This set into motion a chain of events which saw William join the Royal Irish Rangers, where he served seven years. Becoming the undefeated Regimental
boxing champion earned him the title ‘Punching Preacher’.

William joined SASRA 12 years ago. “I preached my first sermon in Saudi Arabia, just after the 1991 Gulf War, in front of around IOO soldiers on the theme of ‘you must be born again’.

“I am married to Tulsi, a committed Christian, and have two daughters. And from being someone who was expelled from school, I have since gone on to earn a BTh, an MA and am halfway through a PhD. Praise God – he saves, he transforms and he keeps!”



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