As a teenager he lead people to Christ and grew his youth group to 80 plus people. After falling out with the church, Lyle ran as far as he could from God.
One night, lying in his own sick, God spoke to him.
Could he really return? Was it really time?
When I was 16 years old, my friend Shane and I ran our youth group. We had no leaders, so we did it ourselves. We were quite passionate about evangelism and outreach and we ended up growing the youth ministry up to 80 kids.
We had an event where I had the opportunity to preach for the first time. I got to share my story, to share about Jesus. It was a scary situation because 80% of the audience were from my high school. I shared, and the response I got from my peers at school the following week was quite surprising. They respected my stance as a Christian; however, the church that we represented didn't like what we did.
The elders of the church reacted to what we had done because we got the wrong sort of people along to church. As young leaders, we were confused about their reaction. We thought we were doing what we were supposed to do, what we were called to do. So we just spat the dummy and decided to leave church. From there, I went on a journey away from God for about four or five years.
I was good at art, so I went to art school in Dunedin. It was during that time, where I was away from God, that I started having problems with my eyes. I was diagnosed with keratoconus, which is where the cornea on the eye grows oval rather than round. The end result was that I had a cornea graft, which is where they take your cornea off and they replace it with a donor cornea.
I was away from God and I didn't understand why I was going through this. I remember that on my 22nd birthday a friend came over. He said, "Lyle, let me take you out. I've got some joints. Let's go get drunk. Let's go and do something fun." Later on that night, at 2:30 in the morning to be precise, I was lying there on a mattress in my art studio. I was covered in vomit because I was that sick. I was a mess. It was horrible.
And as I was lying there, with my head spinning, a light filled the room. I heard an audible voice. I heard God say to me, "Lyle, you've been away from me now long enough. It's time for you to come back to me now or don't come back to me at all." Instantly, the fear of God came on me. I was instantly sober. I was wrecked in the sense of being at a point where I had to make a decision.
A few days later, after that encounter in my art studio, I got a phone call from a friend. She said that an acquaintance of ours had given his life to Jesus, and she wanted me to give him a Bible. I said, "Sure, I can do that. Where do you want me to go?" She gave me an address in High Street, in Dunedin, and some instructions.
So that day came and I was standing at the bottom of the hill, looking at the hill and thinking, "Oh gosh, I can't be bothered walking up there." As I was standing there, deciding whether I should go or not, my two flatmates appeared beside me. They just happened to be walking past at the same time. And they said, "Oh, we'll come with you." And so all three of us walked up the hill.
We got to this house and went in. Turns out it was a Christian small group meeting. The pastor there, who was leading the group, told everyone to stop in the middle of the worship. "Stop worshiping. Stop singing." He looked at us, the three that sat down, and he said, "I wanna pray for you three." He prophesied over me saying that I'm called by God to be an evangelist, to preach the word of God.
For the next three days, I couldn't sleep. I was awake for three days. All I could think of was this guy and what he spoke over my life and the conviction of God on my life. So I tracked down this pastor's phone number and I rang him up. I said, “I was at your house a few days ago and you prayed for me." He said he remembered me. And I said, "Dude, I haven't been able to sleep for the last three days since you prayed for me."
So he came around and saw me. He started talking to me, and I unpacked what went on that week. I told him what happened in the early hours of Sunday morning. I told him how I ended up at his place. Then he looked at me with a smile on his face and he said, "I think it's about time for you to give in to God. I think it’s quite obvious that God is on your case. And I think you need to make a decision right here and now to follow Jesus." So I prayed with him. I prayed the sinners' prayer and I gave my life to Jesus.
And for the next two months, he came around to my house at eight o'clock in the morning. What he did for the next two months was change my discipline practices of how I slept, how I walked, how I lived. He opened up the Bible. He would read it with me. He would pray with me. He would talk with me and that was awesome.
Then the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said to me, "Lyle, I left everything for you. I left glory. I left heaven. I came to earth and I died on a cross naked for you. I gave up everything for you. Why can't you give up everything for me?" And right then, I walked around the room and I fell on my knees and I prayed. I said, "Jesus, I give You my dreams. I give You my desires. I give You my possessions. I give You my family. I give You everything. Everything that makes me me, I give to You Jesus." I lay it all down and said, “God, it is Yours.”
And it was at that moment, when I yielded that stuff, that something significant happened. That night at church, my knees began to shake, sweat began to come down my forehead, and I heard the word of God. I heard my first prophetic word for somebody in the church. This person that I knew the word was for responded. They came and got significantly hit by the power of God. They got healed and restored and things took place.
I learned that because I laid down my life and let go of idols that I was holding onto and gave myself to Jesus, I was then able to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to do something significant. And I got released into a prophetic ministry. I saw something that day that just changed my life.
Just a few years ago, He said to me, "Lyle, I've called you to be a mouthpiece, not an eye piece. Forget about your eyes. It's not about your eyes. It's about your mouth. I want your mouth. I want you to preach the gospel." So whether I am blind or whether I see, it doesn't matter. I just want to serve Jesus.