About Ish

IshcathedralIshmael / Ish  (Rev’d Ian Smale) has been travelling around internationally in a ‘full time’ music capacity since 1970.

Having completed a couple of years training at a Pentecostal theological college, he went on to spend some years in the Elim pastoral ministry in London and the north of England.

Following that he moved back to West Sussex and for 16 years as well as travelling he was also part of a ‘charismatic new church’ leadership team.

He has written and recorded over 400 songs (inc. Father God I Wonder) released around 40 albums of his and other writer’s songs, having produced 15 of these.

He has also released 5 music DVD’s.

Ish has authored 11 books and 3 booklets, some of which have been translated into German, Dutch, Czech, Danish and Romanian.

He has been on national television / radio many times.

Up until recently he has ministered at all the ‘Spring Harvests’ except 2 (due to illness) and nowadays when not at the Cathedral his travelling time is divided into preaching, teaching, evangelistic concerts, Sunday morning all age services and family musical celebrations that he calls ‘Praise Parties’.

In the past Ish has committed most of his time overseas to the USA and Germany but he has also visited Finland, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Denmark, Switzerland, France, Holland, Sweden, Gibraltar, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, Czech Republic, South Africa and last but by no means least a trip to visit the work of Education Plus (who we are honoured to be Patrons of) in Costa Rica.

Ish and his wife Irene have three grown up children Joseph, Daniel and Suzy.

Ish was ordained into the Anglican Church in 2007 and is now licensed to Chichester Cathedral as their non-stipendary, ‘Missioner Deacon’ and is affectionately known to the Bishop, Dean and Chapter, and congregation as ‘Deacon Ish!’

He was diagnosed with Leukaemia in 2008 but is now well into remission having completed 3 years of chemotherapy treatment. He now still visits his old hospital ward as a volunteer Chaplain and also spends time praying for and encouraging many cancer sufferers.

He is now well and truly back on the road for Jesus…Praise God!

Ish’s Mini Stroke Story

I must start with a great big thank you for your prayers, as you can see, they are being answered. Thank you to the wonderful NHS and of course thank You to Almighty God the healer.

But I would also like to assure you that none of this happened because I had been overdoing things, as you’ll see the medics confirm later. 

I WAS definitely overdoing things before I had leukaemia, but I learned from that and ok, I still may overdo my mouth a little, but I have been much more careful looking after this ageing temple since then. I rest a lot and rarely do anything I think would overexert it, and with all I do I try and avoid anything that could end up being stressful. To be honest, most of my life I spend  in cheerful / relaxed mode.

My greatest ways of relaxing can come by doing a few things. For instance, it can come gently by sitting quietly by a stretch of water with my binoculars and Irene and watching boats and birds, or it can come a tad more energetically through playing golf regularly with chums, (but NEVER taking it seriously). 

But I definitely feel at my most relaxed when I am standing in front of people with my guitar and talking and singing about Jesus and any that have seen me ‘perform’ recently, I’m sure would confirm that. I am so fortunate that one of the things I most love doing in life…is the same thing that God has called me to do!

Diary of events

Sunday Nov 13th

Late afternoon cutting the grass

Realised my left side was feeling odd especially my left hand. It dropped everything, couldn’t do my buttons up and when I tried to play my guitar my right hand could strum but my left hand could not find ANY chords, it was like it was refusing to do what my brain wanted it to. My brain and body had stopped communicating with each other.

I told Irene and she and my son Dan noticed that the left side of my mouth had fallen and my left eye enlarged. She said I needed to get straight to hospital. No time for an ambulance call, within 15 minutes I was at the hospital A&E and within 30 minutes I was being examined and having a CT scan.

I was told I was not going home but needed to stay a night or two for observation and also to check what the scan revealed and to see if I needed to be rushed over by ambulance to Southampton Hospital for an operation. I was then wheeled to a ward where 6 other elderly gentlemen were already residing. 

Sadly, some were suffering from dementia and were rather noisy others whilst others were silent and hardly were able to move. All were bedridden. I did feel a bit of a fraud as I seemed far less ill than any of those around me.

Another odd thing was the ward I had spent many weeks in many years ago with leukaemia was just round the corner from this one.

Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much what with the noise, nurses testing me and feeling very confused by the whole thing.

Mon November 14th

Irene posted up what had happened and many of you wonderful people started praying for me and sending me such encouraging posts which really cheered me up. I was also added the Cathedral sick list which guaranteed I would be announced and prayed for at least 3 times each day.

The following morning, I was relieved to hear that no Southampton visit was necessary and that my left side and brain seemed to have made friends again which meant my hand was functioning fairly normally although my left leg still dragged a little. The worst thing was I’d lost all sense of concentration and was very restless. This meant that I could not sit and read or bother to watch anything. This concentration problem lasted for over a week.

The Doc and medical team saw me that morning and reassured me that I had not brought this onto myself by overdoing things, these things sometimes just happen. It was a small brain bleed not a TIA (clot) but I was also to have an X ray and MRI. Also, both my cholesterol level and blood pressure were higher than they should be. So, for 2 weeks my blood pressure needed to be taken 3 times a day and sent to the GP. Also, I should be careful what I eat. Again, exercise was prescribed because that helps the brain but nothing too energetic. Jokingly I asked if that mean that I would have to cut back playing squash then realised the last game of squash I had played was with Duggie Dug Dug when he thrashed me well over 30 years ago!

Tues November 14th

Late afternoon I was allowed home with more pills to take for life. I was thinking next time I get up on stage I won’t need percussion because if I jump up and down, I will rattle like a maraca!

Reminder. Part 2 will be posted up sometime before the England / Wales game later today

Once home Irene had some very very strict rules, understandably, as she was more shaken up than me by what had happened. I think I may have mumbled and moaned for a bit, but I knew deep down these rules and the rest that she suggested / demanded were very sensible and for my own good. All in all, I might not have been a particularly happy patient, but I think I was a fairly obedient one.

Wednesday 16th

Time was passing very slowly. No driving, a really painful neck and back ache, my voice was almost inaudible and my head was full of Qatar, or is it spelt catarrh . I still felt a bit of inspiration though and started writing my little Scripture songs again, but I could not sing them because I could not make out any tune as my voice was so quiet and hoarse, it was sounding far worse than Lee Marvin with serious laryngitis.  

God hadn’t stop speaking to me though, and one thing He did reveal to me very clearly was that He wanted me to pick up my volunteer chaplaincy role again. I had not done this since Covid began, obviously because of Covid but also because I have difficulty hearing people wearing masks. So, during this week I popped back into the hospital to visit one my older Cathedral friends who I knew was in there in a bad way. 

What made me laugh though was I was recognised by a nurse who said what on earth are you doing back here, we only sent you home last week! She was smiling thankfully.

I informed one of the senior full times Chaplains of my intentions to return to visit at least once a month and he replied with these wonderful words.

‘I am so pleased you are coming back. Your faith experience and understanding of life (and death) will be a true blessing to anyone in the hospital’.

I also had a face to face with my GP and again he assured me that this hadn’t happened through me overdoing things and his advice to prevent a reoccurrence was to stay active, get lots of exercise and stay positive and try and get back to being and doing normal things asap. And of course, you will need to rest up when your body tells you it needs it.

I also had a phone call from a physio who prescribed exactly the same.

A week ago yesterday I returned to the Cathedral to be at the 8.00am communion service. On arriving I told the Cathedral Priest who was celebrating I would help him out with the chalice but that I might drop it. He looked horrified until I smiled and said only kidding!  

I have always loved this service and can think of no better way to start each day. I’ve been there every morning since and in the quiet short service with no singing I sit and praise and thank God for keeping me alive yet again, it seems He still has some more exciting things lined up for me to do down here.

So that brings me up to date. Each day I wake early, go to the communion service followed by exercise in the mornings and then have a short sleep in the afternoons and go to bed fairly late at night..which to be honest is exactly the same as I have done for years. The normal life it seems is already beginning to return to ah…normal.

Yesterday was my last day of blood pressure checks and I’m now back to around normal. I’ve a check-up CT scan in a few weeks and an MRI in a few months but certainly there are no negative indications of the bleed not healing. 

Well, it seems that the Doc’s, me and most importantly God are of the same mind that I need to get back to my ‘normal’ life and doing what I love doing most as soon as I am well enough. AMEN! 

And don’t worry, for the time being I will be resting and recovering. I will not be rushing back into things but I have set a target to aim at….but I’m not telling you what that is!

I close once again by thanking you for your friendship, care and prayer.