Mike Wright's life lay in tatters. Awarded custody of his two daughters after divorcing their mother who ill-treated them, he suddenly found himself primary caregiver and sole provider to the girls, who were four and two at the time.
At the end of his rope, he approached his old church for help and support. He found neither. Instead, he was shunned by the people he thought were his friends. Nobody would testify as to his character or how well he looked after his daughters. The experience left him bitter and disillusioned.
For the next few years Mike focused completely on making money and found success. He remarried. He was making a good living. All was well.
And then one day, the police told him one of his daughters had been caught selling drugs on the school bus. Suddenly, life had him in the wringer again.
That was when his new wife Tammy suggested it might be a good time to go back to church. Mike balked – it was the last place he wanted to go.
"After my experience I never wanted to go back," he says. "My church had been legalistic and judgemental and I was raised to believe I would be punished every time I did something wrong." He also believed his divorce made him a lost cause.
"But we had come to a point in our lives that we didn't have many better alternatives, so Tammy and I began attending a church called Abundant Grace." It was the turning point.
"I'll never forget the evening I sat next to an elderly woman in the group when we started to pray," he says. "My heart felt constricted. I wasn't used to praying.
"But then this woman began to pray for me and I experienced a new dimension where God allowed me to see how much He loved me. It wasn't about laws and formulas but about a relationship with Him. That touched my heart. I began to experience God's love and my faith began to grow."
Things improved but the challenges weren't over. Another family crisis unfolded when the daughter who had been caught selling drugs, now 16, became pregnant.
"But this time it was different for me," Mike says. "Because God had changed my heart and my life, my reaction to her was completely different.
"I held her and told her that I loved her and Jesus did too, and that He would somehow help us through it. I didn't have to rely on my own ability; I could now trust my Heavenly Father. We knew God would guide us and help us and He did. We grew closer through this crisis."
Mike's granddaughter is now in her twenties. "She's coming to Amsterdam soon to visit us," says the proud grandfather.
When Tammy's work brought the Wrights to Amsterdam, Mike and a colleague founded an organisation in which Christian businessmen could encourage each other in the workplace. That group was called 'At Work on Purpose' and grew into an enormous network that soon connected with Christian Business and Marketplace Connection (CBMC) International.
Established in 1937, CBMC International is an association of Christian business & professional leaders in 96 countries who share a passion to impact the global marketplace by the life they live as followers of Jesus.
At CBMC, Mike soon noticed those who did not speak Dutch could not attend all the meetings. Encouraged by one of the leaders there, he Mike began organising meetings in English.
Today, he is one of the outfit's team leaders who leads a monthly study group of local businesspeople aimed at helping them conduct business using wisdom from the Bible.
"You can't grow spiritually if you don't step outside your comfort zone," Mike says. "I want to be available to God, and He's free to disrupt my agenda any moment ... My time as well as my possessions belong to God."
As the Bible says: "Beloved friends, what should be our proper response to God's marvellous mercies? I encourage you to surrender yourselves to God to be His sacred, living sacrifices. And live in holiness, experiencing all that delights His heart. For this becomes your genuine expression of worship." (Romans 12:1)•