‘I’m All Shook Up’ is a new book by Belfast born Elim Pastor, Bill Dunn, which will be launched at two events happening at the end of October. The first one is planned for The Victoria Hall, Victoria Street, Carrickfergus BT38 7YL on Saturday 29th October 2022 at 7:30pm. The second will be at Newtownards Elim Church on Sunday 30th October 2022 from 7pm.
In his book, Bill shares his story of growing up in the Greenville Street area of East Belfast where Van Morrison and broadcaster and musician, George Jones were neighbours and close friends.
All three boys were obsessed by music; an early love for the Skiffle sounds of Lonnie Donegan quickly gave way to what Bill describes as ‘the big sound from the United States’ known as rock ‘n’ roll.
Artists such as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and the Everly Brothers became the inspiration for Bill and his friends to form rock ‘n’ roll bands of their own.
As the Showband era dawned, Bill worked as a painter and decorator by day while touring the country as a Lead Vocalist and Guitarist at nights and weekends.
The young performer was searching for fame and fortune but admits that his attitude to life was becoming ‘dark and detestable.’
Bill continues: “I was a heavy smoker and drinker who was always searching and trying to find what life was all about. I wanted to be as famous as the big bands and singers were and I thought that was where you found life, but I discovered that it was the slippery slope to a bad life.”
“I went to Sunday school as a child and came from a good family, but I saw Christians as these people with suits, black Bibles and long faces.”
Things began to change for Bill when he met a Christian friend through work who made a positive impression on him.
Another key moment was when his father became ill in 1965 and ended up in the Belfast City Hospital.
Remembering that time, Bill recalled: “I visited my father every night with my girlfriend, Iris, whom I would pick up on the motorbike and we would go and sit with my mum and dad. Throughout that whole week, God was really speaking to me through circumstances, leading that whole situation. I told my mum that I was going home early that night. Iris lived in Oldpark on the other side of Belfast. I left her off and drove home while my mother stayed at the hospital. By the time I got back, it was nearly 10pm. I switched on the television but there was not anything interesting on; it was a 14-inch black and white set with BBC1 and BBC2.
“Finding these boring, I turned to my record collection of different rock ‘n’ roll singers and the last one I picked up was by Elvis Presley and it contained four gospel songs – it is the only record I have ever kept. And as I sat there, smoking and listening to the words Elvis sang: ‘Let there be peace in the valley for me some day, oh Lord I pray, no sadness, no sorrow, no trouble’. God used those words to speak into my life because it was the picture of my life so I just got down on my knees and cried out to God.”
“There were two voices speaking to me, we call it our conscience, that was God speaking to me. However, there was another voice – one from the dark side – saying: ‘you will never keep it, you couldn’t stop drinking, smoking and all that stuff. This was the Devil. Satan was right, I couldn’t keep this. but I wasn’t being asked to, I was being asked to give my life to the Lord Jesus Christ and He would do the rest. I got down and prayed and something happened. All I know is that he touched me, and He gave me hope.”
“I was also born with chronic bronchitis, which affected me to the point where if I got into a pillow fight with other kids, I would have been gasping for air within a minute, I took up smoking which made things even worse. Throughout the week after a got saved I noticed that I was able to walk much faster and my breathing had become much easier. God had touched me and in doing so He had both saved and healed me.”
Three months later, Bill attended a Christian event with his future wife, Iris where a Billy Graham movie on the Chicago Crusade was shown. It was through this that Bill first felt the call to ministry.
Six years passed before he entered the Elim Bible College. It was during this period that he and Jimmy Richie, another future Elim Pastor cut their teeth as communicators while they played as part of a guitar-based Christian group called ‘The Evangels’
After Bible College, Bill pastored churches in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, latterly in Brookborough.
Nowadays, Bill travels to congregations of every denomination, sharing his story of hope.
I’m All Shook Up by Bill Dunn is available priced £9.99 from all good bookshops or from www.billdunn.co.uk