As a child I grew up in a very bad neighbourhood full of drink, drugs and violence. My father was an alcoholic and my mum used to be a professional darts player. This led to us doing a lot of travelling. I spent much of my childhood staying at my grandparents home which left a mental scar on me. They were always drunk and fighting. I was being physically abused by one man during this period while left in his care.
The other part of the problem was my father’s drinking. This led to my father beating up my mum & me on a daily basis. As a result, my Mother started taking her anger out on me.
I was caught in the middle.
From an early age I was allowed to run about on the streets doing whatever I wanted. By the age of 11 I was in trouble with the police on a fairly regular basis, however I did not care as I was doing what I wanted to do (or so I thought).
Things got much worse over the next few years.
At the age of 17, after being involved in some illegal activities I received my first jail sentence. During the court case I found out that my mother had left my father, a few years earlier, seeking a divorce. This was a real blow to me and I felt deeply hurt and rejected. This led to me trying to take my life on number of occasions.
At the age of 23 I met a couple of people who welcomed me into their home and lives. Although I did not move in, I started following there direction and I was soon doing work in the local community centre running a games club for kids. Over the next 4 years, my life really started to change. Unknown to me God was working in my life. I had been doing work as a youth worker and had taken courses in computer skills and social care courses. I even went on to do a supervisory management course, which I completed after starting my own business.
Although I was doing all these things, I still had some other illegal activities in the background and the main one was drug dealing. Through drug dealing I had made a lot of ‘so called’ friends and I always had plenty of money. It came to an end in February 1997. I started getting into serious debt with other drug dealers. This led to people trying to kill me for the sake of drugs and money. My so-called friends had deserted me by this time and I was under real stress. God was working! One of my friends tried to help me and we went on a week’s holiday visiting Inverness and Stornoway. He hoped to see his family and friends. I wanted to make some cash selling drugs.
While in Inverness, I met some Christians that my friend’s girlfriend lived with and we started talking. I soon realized that they had something that I needed. I did not know what it was but I wanted it. We left Inverness and went to Stornoway. My holiday was ruined, as all I wanted to do was get back to Inverness and find out more about this man Christ Jesus. When we returned, I asked if I could stay with them for a few more days to find out more. Much to my surprise they agreed!
The first night I stayed, we sat and had a long talk. Unknown to me, some people were in the next room praying for me. As we were sitting, Barbara (a Christian) laid a bible on my knees. I fell silent! As I picked it up and flicked through it, my whole life flashed by my mind and I broke down and cried. I saw my need of Jesus Christ as my Saviour Redeemer as never before.
We prayed and I accepted Christ into my life as MY Saviour.
Following this I moved to Inverness, where a process of change started to take place. This was difficult for me as I had left my family and friends behind and I only knew a few people. I found this new culture very difficult to deal with. I felt like I had walked into a brick wall! Completely stunned from what had happened. This led to some difficulties within my church environment and with my new Christian friends. To be fair to them, they had been very supportive towards me, however they just did not know how to deal with someone coming from my type background.
An example of my faith being tested happened when I moved to Inverness. I had moved from Falkirk where my belongings remained. I had received new accommodation in Inverness however my furniture remained in Falkirk. The local council had asked that I move my belongings before a certain date.
Some friends and I went to check out how much this was going to cost. I nearly dropped as it was going to cost a fortune. I soon realised that I was not going to be able to get my belongings. Unless a miracle happened, it would all be dumped! After much searching in trying to get the money, my girlfriend (Barbara) suggested that we pray. This had been last thing that had been on my mind! I had only one day to go! On our knees we committed all our cares to the Lord.
Next day I received a letter through the door from the Department of Health and Social Security in Falkirk telling me that they owed me money. It was the EXACT amount that I required for the removal of my belongings. I was taught a very valuable lesson in that we should always turn to God first, as He is our provider.
Although I had accepted Christ as my Saviour, I was still immature in my way of dealing with things and I quickly found myself trying to deal with situations by using my life experiences. This led me going through a few jobs as I tried to settle down. I quickly became homeless, and this made me wonder what was going on in my life!
God was using me to witness to other homeless people. Though we have problems we still have Christ. I can still remember one situation. I was staying in the Salvation Army hostel. I had been to a weekend Christian camp at Kilrock castle. When I came back, I was taken into the staff room and I was given a telling off. The reason given to me was that I was starting to depress the staff as I was always happy and content and that they could not understand this. (Quite comical, yet sad).
Being homeless I started working with the Highland Homeless Trust.It was through this that I had started meeting other Christians. I was found that even being a Christian, there was still something missing in my walk with God. I was becoming extremely exhausted in all that I was doing with my life and yet these ‘other’ people seemed to have something that kept them going.
I was told about prayer support from others around me. Though I was a Christian I still needed God’s power to keep me going through times of trial. I had wanted to do it all in my own strength. I failed! This led to me to attend the King’s Fellowship in Inverness. The people there were really open and honest with me. They did not beat about the bush! This proved to be a real challenge to me. At long last I was heading in the direction that God wanted me to be going in.
Through attending church, I have learned that serving others is what God has truly called me to. I am grateful for the encouragement that people have, and still are, showing me.
It has been 4˝ years since I accepted Christ into my life. Things have really turned around for me. So far the hardest part of my Christian walk has been accepting other people’s love for me. Having experienced many hurts from my past, it has been hard to accept this love. I thank God that He has shown me how to surrender my all to Him. I now feel that God is going to use me to help others. Others who have experienced similar things to me.
As I prepare for this, God has, at this time led me to study Theology in college for the next year. I hope this will give me a solid foundation in His word. I am also attending a Baptist church where I am surrounded with people who genuinely love me. Even though the last few years have been hard, I have discovered that this is only because I was fighting against what God had in store for me. I can now say with all honesty that I am content with life. The reason that I am content is through having a knowledge that Jesus Christ has saved me from eternal peril. There is Salvation in Jesus and in Him alone.
I can without a doubt tell you that God is real. It is only through His Son, Jesus Christ that this transformation can and has taken place. I would encourage anyone who is going through problems, whether it be family or personal, to turn to Jesus, as He is the way , the truth and the life.