Looking for some inspiration? Us too. In this strange and particularly uninspiring time, there were moments in which many of us had to deal with doubt, and with feelings of not being good enough. We therefore thought that we needed some advice from people who’ve seen their lives transformed by faith. Maybe a meaningful conversation about life, faith and hardships could restore our hope.
That’s why we reached out to eight well-known Christians in the United Kingdom, and asked them to share their stories with us. How do they deal with hardships? What keeps them motivated? Have they ever dealt with doubt?
The responses we got were truly unique. These have been captured in eight touching episodes that make up the first season of ‘The Origin’; it’s our first independent UK production. In each episode we hear a different faith story, and we witness God’s incredible power on a person’s life journey. In this article we’re presenting the line-up of our speakers. All of them have had their lives massively transformed by Jesus, and they have to tell us a lot about forgiveness, trust, faith and hope.
Episode 1: Simon Holley
Walking into freedom myself, and also learning how to set other people free
Simon Holley is the lead Pastor at King’s Arms Church in Bedford, and also a father of three. Simon became addicted to pornography at the age of 12, and he got involved in petty theft as a teenager. His conversion to Christianity took place when he was 19. One day, while his father was reading the Scripture to him, Simon realised that everything he had done so far was wrong and he repented. After a few key encounters with God in open visions, he realised that his mission was to lead people into finding their faith. He has set people free of several passions and addictions, but he sometimes still struggles with himself; both as a pastor and as a father, he tries to be less controlling.
Episode 2: Steve Uppal
Steve Uppal is the senior leader of All Nations Church, Wolverhampton. He grew up in a Sikh Indian family, and he came to faith when he was five; his dad had told him that if he ever experienced feelings of fear, he should call Jesus into his life; and so he did. From that day, he’s devoted his life to faith. Of course, the fact that Steve’s parents became Christian was seen by their extended family as a rejection of their culture, so they were ostracised. When he was 11, Steve got his calling to ministry. Now in his 40s, he has preached all over the world and he’s very well-known for his authenticity. Steve and his wife, Esther, have four kids. Steve dreams of making as many disciples as possible, and of getting his church ready for God’s Revival, God’s appearance in order to transform our society.
Episode 3: David Devenish
From international banking to international ministry
In the third episode of ‘The Origin’ we meet David Devenish. He and his wife grew up in a Christian separatist sect which they both left when they were 21. After leaving the sect, Dave founded his own church, along with a group of believers. By his 30s, David was already an established senior manager in the field of international banking. He made the decision to quit his prestigious job when he realised that his true calling was to lead people to Jesus. From the 90s until today, Dave has planted numerous churches in the UK and the Muslim world. He and his wife have decided to live in Russia for at least three months every year. There, they have witnessed the incredible ways in which God works in order to change the world.
Episode 4: Rachel Gardner
Being radically different
Rachel Gardner is a well-known writer and a youth worker. She has written several books that give dating advice to Christian people. Rachel chose to become a youth worker when, one day, while she was at a boring lecture at university, God asked her “Rachel, who’s going to tell them about me?”. As a youth worker, she works with emotionally and sexually traumatised young people and she provides advice about navigating the world of relationships as a Christian. To Rachel, by the very nature of belonging to Christ, we’re radically different; therefore we don’t need to fit in norms that sexualise us or make us feel weird about the choices we make because of our faith. Rachel is married to Jason, and together they have adopted two children. She hopes that someday the church becomes a place where everybody is welcome, and where more leadership positions are given to women.
Episode 5: Kika Ashanike
The voice of God as normality
Kika Ashanike is a Christian speaker, author and minister. She grew up in a rough estate in Hackney, as a member of a Nigerian single-parent family, and gave her life to Jesus at the age of 17. She later went to Law school, but she left university when she realised that God’s plan for her was full-time ministry. Kika’s family was predominantly Muslim, but they converted once they witnessed the power of her faith. Kika is the founder of Pure Hearts Foundation, a ministry which aims at showing women that they are loved, seen and heard by God. She organises Christian retreats for women in the UK, as well as around the world.
Episode 6: Paul Cowley
Thief, prisoner, soldier, priest
Paul Cowley had a traumatic childhood, growing up with two alcoholic and emotionally abusive parents. As a teenager, he got involved in petty theft, which led him to prison. He later became a Sergeant in the British Army. The idea of God had never even crossed his mind, until a colleague of his in the Army got saved and told him about Jesus. That’s when Paul gave himself to Christ. Paul is now a reverend in HTB church, and his parish is located in an estate in Northern Kensington. He has founded Caring for Ex-offenders, a charity connecting ex-offenders with local churches. Paul is Bishops’ Advisor to Prisons in London, and he has been awarded an MBE for his work. He is married to Amanda and he has two children.
Available for streaming on the 29th of March
Episode 7: Mimi Ajala
A story of crazy faith
Mimi Ajala is a Christian preacher. Her ministry organises really big events and conferences, aiming to empower women and to make them realise God’s calling upon their lives. Mimi grew up in London, in a single-parent Nigerian family. Her brother got shot in cold blood when she was 15, from someone who wanted to rob him off his car. That made Mimi furious at God, and she never expected that she’d ever return to faith. But God works in mysterious ways. Mimi now runs a very big ministry, she’s married to a wonderful husband who’s supported her tremendously, and they have two little children.
Available for streaming on the 5th of April
Episode 8: Chris Lee
The OMG effect
Chris Lee is a vicar and an Instagram influencer. He studied Business management at university, but, after graduating, he started feeling a lack of purpose in his life. That’s why he decided to join a friend on a Christian mission in Tanzania. There he found his true calling, he gave his life to Christ and he got ordained. He returned to the UK to receive further theological training, and, while at Cambridge, he met his wife, Jenny. After having experienced several miscarriages, today they have two children. Chris is an internet phenomenon, as he has more followers than the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury: around 180k! He believes that his Internet fame is part of his calling to serve Jesus and evangelise people, and that is what keeps him grounded.
Available for streaming on the 12th of April