Who is Doug Barnett?
Doug Barnett is an international conference speaker and evangelist. He is the consummate professional when it comes to public speaking. He has dedicated his life over the last 50 years to studying the art of public speaking, preaching, and has a a special interest in sermon illustration! He is an excellent orator, and his addresses are filled with stories and examples to embellish his subject matter. As Tina Turner would put it: "He's Simply the Best".
Doug is a real Cockney, born and bred in the former Metropolitan Borough  of Poplar, 'Call the Midwife' country, and home to the former East India Docks, East London.
War, Sirens and Evacuation:
The young Douglas was born just before the outbreak of the Second World War and grew up through the bombings of the London Blitz. He would have been very familiar with the sirens of the air raid warning system that cut through the air of London with its rows of terraced houses in the working class, poverty stricken, area of Poplar.
His father worked in a timber mill on the River Thames as a planer, cutting huge logs into planks, and then planing the freshly sawn timber into floorboards, beams, and rafters etc. These were then supplied to the building industry for the much needed repairs to war torn London. As the Blitz continued the Government of the day ordered the evacuation of children out of London to save them from harm and place them with families in the country. Doug was evacuated 3 times in all which included a stint in the village of Barkway, North Hertfordshire, 35 miles from London, and to a small mining village in Yorkshire. Doug says:
"I come from a working class background of poverty. We lived in 3 rooms on the ground floor of a terraced house in Poplar, and I slept in a bed with my two brothers until I was 18! And my sister slept in the bed alongside us..."
After the war ended Doug, and his siblings, returned home to Poplar where they all squeezed in together. They were not a church going family, so he had no Sunday school background or religious foundation in his life. He did go to Grammar school, but looking back on his journey to faith retrospectively he says: "I had no desire to go to church especially after the Religious Education lessons we had at School!" He was not happy throughout his schooling and was very happy to leave!
After leaving school Doug got a job working as an Insurance Broker in the Underwriting Room at Lloyd's Bank in the City of London. There he made friends with a colleague who he would talk to about work and life in general. In early 1956 this colleague invited him to go on a holiday to Eastbourne with him, and some friends, saying it would be fun at the holiday camp and that there would be a lot of other young people there and lots of things to do and see! Doug expands the story:
"...he said it was a holiday camp! It wasn't! It was a National Young Life Campaign conference and holiday week, at Eastbourne. However, it was that week in 1956 when I [first heard the gospel] and came to faith through the preaching of the Word and the story of the Resurrection."
As with all young men of that era, upon reaching the age of 18 they faced conscription into National Service. Accordingly Doug received his call-up papers on his 18th birthday to join the Royal Navy. Throughout his two years of National Service he served aboard HMS Maidstone, and HMS Tyne, (pictured right) and travelled extensively abroad visiting many a port which expanded his horizons and life experience.
During one particular visit to the Caribbean, as other sailors sought out the local bars and clubs, Doug offered to help a friend with a service, during which he sensed the Holy Spirit was calling to full time Christian ministry!
"I was helping with a Hospital service in Jamaica and was unexpectedly plunged into speaking to a ward full of patients. After the experience I sensed that God was saying ‘this is the moment that I have been preparing you for and this is to be your future’"
Moorlands Bible College:
As his conscription drew to a close Doug thought about his life after he was demobbed. He concluded that he would need to study the bible and receive training in the way ahead. Therefore he applied to Moorlands Bible College which at that time was based in Dawlish, south Devon. The college was very different than it is today. It was an all male college with just over 50 mature students. College life was formal and regimented, by today's standards; but as today scripture was central to the life of the college, and Doug immersed himself with both college life and with his studies.
One semester Doug was tasked to be part of a Moorlands Mission team who went to a church in Balham, a neighbourhood in south London, for a week of mission and gospel outreach. It was there that Doug met Sue who was part of the church youth group. Doug and Sue hit it off straight away and continued to keep in touch after the mission. Eventually Doug and Sue married and their partnership brought out the best in each others ministries, always one supporting the other! Sue was an avid 'keep fit' enthusiast and Doug and Sue became widely known for their 'keep fit' and love of running.
Upon graduation Doug served as a London Evangelist with the National Young Life Campaign (now Young Life NLYC] - the organisation which had impacted his own life on that 'holiday camp' in Eastbourne, and through which he himself found faith. He worked there for some time and then felt that God was calling him out to work as an itinerant, independent evangelist.
Doug's ministry grew and he had requests to speak across the country for a number of years until he received an invitation to join the staff at Moorlands College in 1977. By this time Moorlands had moved to Christchurch where it is presently sited. There he set up a 3 year course in Evangelism and influenced 100's of students lives who studied under his tutorage.
Saltmine and Spring Harvest:
"In 1983 Dave Pope invited me at the inception of the Saltmine Trust to be the Director of Team Training and Evangelism. [We] had many exciting, and challenging, experiences in evangelism and ministry across the UK, and the Middle East. During my Saltmine days I was also invited to be part of the originating leadership team of Spring Harvest. I look back upon [those days] as an outstanding time in my life and spiritual growth."
Both the Saltmine Theatre company and Spring Harvest continue to have an major impact on the local church across the country. Over the last 40 years of Spring Harvest thousands upon thousands of people have been influenced in their faith through the rich teachings of the Spring Harvest team and their keynote speakers. For many years Doug, and his wife Sue, were involved with the leadership team both in the UK, and also at Spring Harvest in France. Just before the turn of the Millennium Doug and Sue were asked to oversee one of a number of new smaller family camps in Weymouth, Dorset. The Theme was 'The Prince of Egypt' and Doug is pictured above in one of his classic jumpers. He always knew how to hold an audience in wrapped attention.
Pastor and Preacher:
Doug was invited in 1996 to become Pastor at Twynham Chapel, in Christchurch (now Twynham Church), where he and Sue had been members since moving down to work at Moorlands College. It was a very different role from those he had experienced before and he admits that in giving up his teaching role at Moorlands and stepping into a pastors shoes was uncomfortable at times and he found himself stretched and fully reliant upon God! He says:
"I was outside my comfort zone many times in pastoral ministry but I was blessed with a brilliant support team of Elders."
However, he loved preaching and teaching people about the bible, and actively studied the art of public speaking, the great preachers, and sermon illustration! His oration skills grew through his ability to tell a good story which illustrated the biblical point he was talking about. Doug remained in the role until 2003 when he turned 65 and decided to retire from Pastoral ministry. He and Sue asked to remain in membership at the church as they were happy there and were still involved with ministry and Sue's many keep fit events.
The Itinerant Ministry continues...
Since his retirement from pastoral ministry Doug has been serving in an independent, itinerant minister. He travels widely preaching, teaching and training both leaders and leadership teams across UK, in Middle East, India and Zambia under the pastoral oversight of the present pastor and leadership team at Twynham Church for the Community, where he remains as both a member, preacher and adviser to the eldership.
The Middle East:
The Middle East plays an important part in his ministry and he works primarily with a group of Arab friends in the Lebanon who operate a holistic ministry among children, young teens, and lately - the many Syrian refugees that have streamed across the border.
He has spoken in Northern Iraq, which involved 2 Conferences aimed at teaching and training Christians from churches in war-torn Baghdad. He spent time in India helping in the teaching and training of YWAM mission teams. In that same year he travelled to Zambia teaching at 2 retreats for school teachers, a pastor's conference, and an Easter evangelistic outreach in Kitwe, the second largest city in Zambia.
Lebanon: from Beirut to the Bekaa Valley
Over the years Doug and Sue have done many things to raise funds for the ministries they are involved with in the Lebanon. In 2004 they prayer-walked the length of the UK, from Lands End to John O'Groats, all 874 miles in 40 days, to raise funds for the first Arab Children’s Workers Conference in Lebanon. In November 2005 Doug ran, with Sue of course, the Beirut Marathon to raise funds for the ministry in Middle East. Then in May 2009 he and Sue Prayer Walked the length of Lebanon, all 143 miles in 5 days, praying for the Nation, and the church, in Lebanon. They met so many people along the way who they were able to pray with and minister too! It was truly a remarkable feat and one that God blessed as they called upon His name to move in power within the Country.
A Life Committed to Inspiring Others:
Doug continues to inspire others, through his teaching and preaching. He and Sue served in ministry together as a team for 53 years, until she was promoted to glory in October 2018. They had two sons together and Doug now revels in family life especially when he is being granddad to his two grandsons and two granddaughters. He continues to keep a fairly strict exercise regime although his days of running for the Poole Runners are over. He loves watching old Tarzan and Western films, and still reads as widely as possible!
As usual I will leave the last word to Doug:
"I love watching western's and all the old Tarzan films on TV, and I still love reading!
I have a special interest in the art of preaching and sermon illustration, and am a lifelong supporter of Charlton Athletic Football Club. My ambition is to keep on living to the full - right up until the moment I am promoted to glory."
Note: This article comes from an interview with Wessex Filling Station Director: Brian Edgeley.
- The Metropolitan Borough of Poplar was subsumed into the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in 1965. see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metropolitan_Borough_of_Poplar
- East India Docks: see http://www.portcities.org.uk/london/server/show/ConGallery.39/What-is-left-of-the-old-port-the-East-India-Docks.html
- National Young Life Campaign Christian conference: See: http://younglife.org.uk/
- Conscription to National Service: see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscription_in_the_United_Kingdom
- Saltmine Trust: see The Saltmine Trust is a Christian Charity and theatre company based in Dudley. Saltmine's mission is to be a centre of excellence; releasing, empowering and equipping people through the creative arts. see: https://www.saltminetrust.org.uk/
- Spring Harvest: Spring Harvest began as a week long festival at Pontin's in Prestatyn, Wales. Each year Spring Harvest has grown and now is one of the major Christian Conferences held over the Easter period. It is there to equip the Church for action through a range of events, conferences, books and resources. See: www.springharvest.org
- Twynham: This is the old Saxon name for Christchurch! It means ‘between two rivers’, or 'where two rivers meet'. Twynham was changed to 'Christchurch' after the completion of The Priory in AD 1094. Christchurch lays between its two rivers, the river Stour and the river Avon, and was traditionally in Hampshire until 1974 when the county borders changed as part of the re-organisation of local government. Then it became part of the administrative county of Dorset. For more information see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christchurch,_Dorset and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christchurch_Priory
- Twynham Church for the Community: Twynham Church began life in 1860 in Christchurch, It has been on its present site in Barrack Road since 1948. See: https://www.twynhamchurch.org/blog/church-history and http://wessexfillingstation.co.uk/events/venue/venues-twynham-church