WHAT JESUS DID
He died on a cross,
To save you,
If you repented of sin,
He forgave you,
If you pray for confidence,
He’ll brave you,
He’ll set you free,
He won’t enslave you.
Instead of war,
He’ll give you peace,
Instead of chains,
He’ll give you release.
If you’re searching for the one true God,
It’s Christ you’ll find,
He’ll love you forever,
Because he’s kind,
He healed the lepers,
And gave site to the blind.
We are the flock,
You are the shepherd,
We’re guided by you,
Lord of all.
You keep us safe,
You keep us secure,
You keep us happy,
In your love.
You’re always there,
You’ll never leave us,
You are our master,
For all eternity.
You’re the shepherd,
You’re our God,
Who sets us free.
I feel so beautiful,
I feel so free,
Because Jesus Christ,
Is living in me.
He took my sin,
And made me clean,
And now I’m becoming happier,
Than I’ve ever been.
I know Christ is with me,
I know he cares,
His love protects me,
He’s always there.
I used to be so low,
But now I’m rising high,
I’ve been forgiven,
That’s not a lie.
I’d said sorry,
For the bad things I’d done,
And when I gave my life to Jesus,
My new life begun.
He took my guilt,
He took my shame,
He took my deadness,
And made me alive again.
He’s restoring my mind,
He’s restoring my heart,
I’m rising in the light,
I’m out of the dark.
THE JESUS LIST
Is the one who frees us,
Is the one who feeds us.
Is the one who cleans us,
Is the one who redeems us.
Is the one who loves us,
Is God above us.
Is the one who hears us,
Is the one who steers us.
Is the one who protects us,
Is the one who respects us.
Is the one who forgave us,
Is the one who saves us.
Cracks within a once stone heart,
As a rose begins to grow,
But will it bloom to its full beauty,
Only time will know.
For time is the essence of my world,
For I am locked in pain,
Penal system incarceration,
Fighting to keep sane.
Oh yes, its very hard for a new born rose to grow,
Without the love and nurturing it needs,
Still surrounded by poor sad souls,
Rose thorns cause my heart to bleed.
I’m a child of nature,
Yet they lock me in a cell,
Creative mind so beautiful,
Yet here it rots in hell.
All alone, no one to love,
I cannot take this pain,
Tortured mind and soul in chains,
How it hurts the pain.
Free me please,
Oh hear me God,
Won’t someone hear my cry,
Can’t take this pain,
Just feel I want to die.
One day I will be free,
To forget the past,
And what used to be.
The beauty of my soul,
Free to love again.
Back to nature,
Away from steel bars,
Among high streets full of people,
Colours, noise and cars.
Back to the family,
So long I have missed,
Then one day my own,
Beautiful wife and kids.
When Deborah had her first fix of heroin, she says it made her feel whole, secure and safe. She was 15 years old. Prior to that she’d used softer drugs, like uppers and downers, and says that the drugs she used were very popular around this time in the 1960s.
It was heroin though that became Deborah’s main drug. She says it made her feel opposite to the negative feelings she felt because of bad things she’d experienced in life. Growing up in her family had been an unhappy experience. Her dad was Jewish and had had a lot of his family killed in the war, so there was a lot of sadness. Then Deborah was sexually abused by another family member when she was a young teenager. Heroin temporarily helped her to forget those painful experiences and made her feel good.
Because it made her feel so good, Deborah says, “I stole to get drugs. I sold myself to get drugs. I did lots of things. But interestingly I never got caught by the police. I never had a criminal record, which stood me in good favour later on. But it was a very tough time and I didn’t really appreciate what it was going to do to me mentally or physically.”
Deborah said that she later met a man who became her partner and they became very close and would take drugs together, but then he died and was found beside a road with his motorbike.
“Then it came to me,” said Deborah, “That drugs could kill you. I’d never thought of it that way before. It frightened me to death and I decided to come off, just like that. I was going to stop taking drugs, which of course was very stupid, because it actually sent me into a psychosis and I was admitted to a mental hospital and I was ill for quite a long time.”
While Deborah was in the hospital, one of the chaplains would often come and sit beside her bed. He never preached to her or talked about God. He would just be there to keep her company, even if they often just sat in silence and Deborah wondered what his motives were; but it intrigued her and when she got discharged it made her want to examine and find out more about Christianity.
Deborah says, “I didn’t know much about the Christian faith, but I decided to go to an Anglican church, because that is what I though Christianity was all about. And I gradually started to discover more about Christianity. I didn’t make a commitment, but I discovered more.”
Deborah added, “About the same time as this I met my second partner and we got married. Unbeknown to me he was a manic depressive and became very ill, especially after we had our first child, then we had another one, and life became quite difficult again.”
Deborah says that her husbands illness put a lot of pressure on her, but she never turned back to drugs, and while her children were very small she met up with a group of ladies who had bible study in their homes and she discovered what a relationship with Jesus was all about and she made a commitment of faith. Her spiritual life started there when she was in her mid twenties.
Deborah says, “We carried on going, Eric and I, for a long time. But it got more and more difficult to be married to him and when the children were in their teens we split up.”
Deborah felt very bad about this, as she felt that as a Christian, marriage should be for life and she shouldn’t be divorcing. So she felt like she was going against her Christianity. She also felt the pressure of being on her own bringing up two children. She then relapsed and started using heroin again, but only for a short time. She says that during this time she was in a fellowship who were very supportive, and she says, “Thank God I was able to stop quickly.”
As Deborah continued to grow in her Christian faith she says she got stronger and it became easier to resist drugs. And drugs were no longer important in her life. Though she adds that she still has to be careful, as drugs could still be a temptation.
Deborah then moved to an area in South London and started attending a lively church that she still attends. As time went on she found herself serving and doing more and more for the church. She says, “I now lead services at our little sister church up the road. I occasionally preach and I’ve got very much involved in the pastoral side of the church, caring for people.”
As this all gradually happened, Deborah also went back to work, working full time for the civil service. And she felt that she’d became what people thought was a normal person, and Deborah says, “That really its been God that held me and kept me going all these years. And without the knowledge of him I don’t think I’d have stayed clean.”
Deborah met her current husband for the first time when he blocked her in the church car park. They’ve now been married 25 years. Deborah laughed as she said to me, “We got married on the 5th of November, because we knew in our marriage there would be fireworks.”
Deborah retired from her job 12 years ago at the age of 60, to care for her husband full time after he had a stroke.
When talking about Deborah’s previous addiction and now having faith, she says, “I want people to know that you can have a life without drugs, even if you’ve used drugs. But having a life without Jesus is really not on for me now. I need my faith and I need my love of Jesus to keep me going. And I want to say to people, find out about Christianity. Find out about Jesus. If you don’t go to church, try a church. If you don’t read your bible, try reading a little bit. Learn more about this Jesus who cares about you, and he’s prepared to forgive you for anything if you turn to him. He’s prepared to help you lead a new life. And I would say, yes my life hasn’t been easy, but I’ve learnt an awful lot from it.”
As a multi award winning international Christian filmmaker, Jeremy Higham’s career has had its high points and low points. 53 year old Jeremy has been to over 25 different countries and filmed in most of them. There have been times that he’s felt broken, tackling subjects like suicide, terrorism, and one film he made was about an orphanage where young girls were regularly dying of starvation.
Jeremy has also made many feature length documentaries about celebrities, including world boxing champion Prince Naseem, presenter Ulrika Johnson, and racing driver Eddie Irvine, and whilst he was making this film he got to stay on Eddie’s multi million pound yacht.
Jeremy, known as Jez to his friends, had quite a privileged upbringing. He was the son of millionaire parents who ran a business making sheets for the NHS, and his family employed four-thousand people. He grew up in a very large country house in Lancashire, with a five acre garden with a tennis court and swimming pool. Although Jez’s parents were wealthy though, he sensed an unhappiness between them.
At the age of seven Jez had been sent to a private boarding school. He found this estrangement from his family upsetting but was glad that the headmaster there, Mr Molloy, was a loving father figure, who took Jez under his wing. Jez stayed in contact with him as friends for nearly four decades, until Mr Molloy sadly died last year.
At the age of 14 Jez started going off the rails a bit, rebelling and getting very much into heavy metal music and drinking and as he got older he experimented with soft to medium strength drugs.
Jez got into filmmaking in an unplanned way. He’d failed a module of his degree course at Aberdeen university, then a friend of his suggested that they buy a video camera and make sporting videos, approaching places like ski resorts and gold clubs. Jez says that his friends enthusiasm for these ventures was contagious and really motivated him to get involved.
Jez and his friend got their first break when they were offered freelance work, making films for North Sea oil companies. They then found themselves flown out in helicopters to oil rigs, where they stayed for up to a week and Jez found this exciting, even though they were often just filming things like pipes being welded together. It felt glamorous though to be travelling and working with cameras. Jez’s passion for documentary was then born.
Jez then decided to go to London, as most media breaks happen there. He got offered a job with a company called Black Rod, which was ran by Michael Rod, who was a famous TV presenter on shows like Tomorrows World. He then made high budget videos for various companies. Budgets of up to quarter of a million pounds, for just ten minute videos. It was a chance for Jez to further learn his craft, firstly as an assistant producer and then as a director.
Break followed break, and Jez ended up in Northern Ireland, working as a director for Ulster Television. He was then responsible for making three minute productions which were screened as features after the news.
Jez was then offered a commission to make a feature length production for Channel 4, as part of The Lonely Planet series. He set off for Vietnam with four-thousand pounds in his pocket, the petty cash for the production. He was told by the producer to not come back without something special. He went on to direct a total of five Lonely Planet programs and the series was a great success.
At Channel 4 Jez later found himself working with the likes of Chris Evans, Rory Bremner and Joe Brand, to mention a few. He went on to make single documentaries where he would live with famous people and Jez had once had to wake up racing driver Eddie Irvine when he’d overslept and he’d almost been late for a Grand Prix in Malta.
The documentary about Eddie Irvine brought Jez acclaim at national level and the heads of many TV companies started bombarding him with numerous offers of work. One day he got so many offers and contacts on his pager that he had a panic attack. He was unable to go into the production office where he was working and he asked a colleague if she would come out onto the street and walk around the block with him whilst he calmed down.
The most significant film of Jez’s life was soon about to happen. A phone call from the Belfast production company he’d previously worked for introduced him to an orphanage in Moldova, in Russia. He’d been sent photos of emaciated children. When he got there he witnessed first hand that the girls were starving and dying at a rate of one a week. The girls were often in the dark and some of them were sleeping on bin liners, laying in their own faeces.
Jez then became personally involved, which he feels is always a mistake for a filmmaker. He remembers going to the house of the director of the orphanage and nearly physically assaulting him and Jez begged him to open up the food stores that the production crew had brought for the children. Moldovan law had required that every tin first be counted and labelled by officials before the starving children could actually eat it. Jez was so overwhelmed with anger that he felt like he was ready to shoot someone.
When the children of the orphanage were finally able to eat, Jez describes it as a memory he’ll never forget. The joy on the children’s faces as they stuffed themselves with fresh cabbages and baked beans.
The completed film called Convoy to Moldova was bought by the BBC and won three awards at the Monti Carlo film festival. During the making of the orphanage film Jez also had another powerful experience that would change his life for ever. He became a born again Christian.
Jez had came back to England for a while and had been to a party with a group of Christians and Jez had been intrigued by them and instantly saw them as a group of amazing people who were somehow different. He’d asked to meet them again and went to their church that was running Alpha meetings. On about the fourth week, they asked the people on the Alpha course is anyone wanted to receive Jesus in to their hearts, and though Jez felt a bit resistant to the idea he thought he’d give it a try. A young guy then stood next to him and asked Jez if he’d like to be prayed for, and Jez said yes. The man then said, “Jesus come to Jeremy.”
Jeremy then felt a weight and peace come into his body. It was so overpowering that he couldn’t stand up so he laid on the floor feeling wonderful. After a while he got up again and he went to the gents and looked in the mirror and saw that his whole face was kind of shining bright and he knew something very profound had happened. Jez later prayed the salvation prayer.
As a new Christian Jez now had a passion for God and now had the desire to create films that revealed the life changing and saving power of Jesus, but frustratingly this kind of thing was of little interest to mainstream secular television.
Because Jez wanted to tell Christian stories now though, he set up Cornerstone films with two church friends. Even though the TV world was mainly secular, he managed to get commissioned and make a feature length documentary called God bless Ibiza. The film was about a group of Christians, many of whom were ex drug users and drinkers who’d been into the rave scene, but now as Christians had a ministry evangelising to night clubbers in Spain. God bless Ibiza was shown by Channel 4 at a peak time audience slot.
Another film Jez made was called Exodus, which was a 15 minute film about a group of Russian Christian pastors who had once been drug addicts, bank robbers and gangsters, but were then saved and born again. It’s an extremely powerful film, but it was seen as something outside of mainstream television interest, even though the film was extraordinary.
Some years later Jez then decided that he wanted to be an ordained Christian minister, but was turned down by the Church of England who felt that he would bring too much creativity and spontaneity to the role. It was quite a blow to Jez to have been rejected and he spent a year after licking his wounds.
10 years ago Jez then set up his currant venture with his wife Esther, a business called J & E Higham, where they make short corporate videos for the websites of organisations, businesses and charities. Jez’s business employs 10 people.
Jeremy had become a Christian 18 years ago now and a couple of years after this he married his beautiful wife Esther. When Jez first saw Esther in a crowd of 500 people, he thought, “Wouldn’t it be amazing to be married to a women like that.”
Before Jeremy had become a Christian he’d had dozens of sexual relationships and described himself as a bit of romance addict. He never thought he’d find fulfilment settling down with one person. Not only are Jeremy and Esther married, but they’ve also spent many years working together. Esther has often been the producer behind Jez’s film productions and Esther has also worked at times as a presenter on Premier Christian radio and also on their internet TV site.
Jeremy now humbly describes himself as having been a bit of a nightmare sometimes to live and work with, but over a period of time their marriage has gone from strength to strength and got stronger and Jeremy says that him and Esther are very much in love and they are both parents to their 13 year old son Asher and their 11 year old daughter Daisyella, both of whom they love to bits.
As a filmmaker, Jez has been on a steep learning curve. Not only has he had to learn the practicalities of filmmaking, but he’s also had to learn to cope with the emotional side. He’s had to deal with some harrowing subjects and at the end of the day he’d sometimes went home emotionally drained and exhausted and sometimes he’d just cried. As a filmmaker, Jez gained a passionate heart and an empathy for human suffering and he’d wanted to use his talent to help, educate and make better in some way some of the things he was seeing.
Jez has also experienced extreme highs as a filmmaker. He’s travelled all round the world to some amazing places, worked with celebrities and other extraordinary people. He’s had experiences that will stay with him forever. But for Jez, the greatest thing he’s experienced was becoming a born again Christian.
Another significant thing that happened in Jez’s life, was 11 years ago when he moved from his house in built up urban area of Brixton, South West London, to a semi rural area of Edenbridge in Kent, and Jez describes the move as, “like being let out of jail.” They’d moved to a modest semi-detached ex council house, and they were later able to get a loan and buy the 14 acres of field land that their house backs onto, after the land came up at auction.
When I interviewed Jeremy for this article, I asked him if there was anything he’d like to say to anyone reading it. He replied these exact words.
“What I’d like to say as a closing thought will sound strange to anyone who has not experienced what I’ve experienced, but I can honestly say, the most essential part of my life now is my relationship with Jesus Christ. Everything good and worth having in it, has come from that. I can’t put it more simply.”
PABLO. FROM ARMED ROBBER TO CHRISTIAN
By Paul Warwick
“Gimme the money,” Pablo said to the building society cashier while he pointed the gun at her, wearing a menacing balaclava.
Pablo was surprised when she answered him sarcastically and he felt she was being deliberately slow while she put the money in the bag, so Pablo then pointed the gun at another cashier and told the sarcastic one that if she didn’t hurry up he would shoot her colleague.
Pablo didn’t enjoy doing armed robberies, and says that doing them made him feel fearful. But he was driven to do them by his addiction to heroin, and he also sometimes took cannabis, methadone, speed, Valium, ecstasy and LSD.
Pablo ended up getting arrested by The Flying Squad and was found guilty of six armed robberies, three attempted robberies and nine counts of possessing a firearm. The crimes were committed against building societies, post offices and shops.
Pablo was sentenced to a total of 67 years, though thankfully the sentences were to run concurrently, which meant he was serving a sentence of 12 years. It was 1990 and he was 24. A year later at the court of appeal, he’s sentence was reduced to 10 years.
Pablo served two thirds of his sentence, as a third came off as remission for good behaviour. Towards the end of his sentence a woman started writing to him and they started a relationship. When he got released on a short home-leave, he failed to return to the prison and went on the run with his girlfriend. He was captured 11 months later and returned to jail, where he completed the rest of his 10 year sentence. During this time he married his girlfriend whilst he was still in prison. And he got released in the late 90s.
Pablo says about his marriage, “The pressures were very great on myself, and I ruined the marriage. It was completely my fault and we divorced three years later.”
Pablo hadn’t had a good start in life and had a very unhappy childhood. He says, “At the age of five I was put into a salvation army children’s home ( Along with his sister ) which I stayed at for three years the first time. I was returned to my home, but roughly a year later we were both put back in the children’s home in Whitstable, and I stayed there till I was 12 and returned home and stayed home until I was 15 and I was put in a children’s home yet again, in Croydon. When I turned 16 I was put in hostel, which I left on my own accord and started a long road of bed and breakfast’s and little bedsits, which was a nice time until I reached 18. Things started going wrong then. A succession of girlfriends that went wrong, and I got in with the wrong crowds, doing wrong things.”
“After some years of testing the police and system,” says Pablo, “I was arrested for armed robbery when I was 24. There were nicking’s before that. I was arrested quite a few times, but when I went to court I always managed to get out of it, but obviously on the charges I was brought up on ( Armed robbery ) there was no getting out of them.”
When Pablo got out of jail he took drugs again for many years. A couple of times he overdosed and ended up in hospital, during which times the nurses looked down on him and weren’t that sympathetic, as overdoses by drug addicts are seen as self inflicted. He did later though go into Warlingham Park hospital to do a drugs detox and he says that it was a completely different and therapeutic place, where the nurses and other staff were supportive, kind and helpful.
Drugs though eventually led Pablo to have a mental breakdown about six years ago and since then he’s had a schizotypal illness and Pablo explained how the illness started.
“I really didn’t know what I was doing on a lot of occasions. I thought that people were spraying me with chemicals. And I wouldn’t talk to anyone. I wouldn’t have anything to do. I used to tie my windows up and put extra locks on the door. I didn’t trust anyone. I had a mental health nurse but she couldn’t get close to me, and I was put in The Bethlem ( A psychiatric hospital ) for three months. I was particularly ill, but after a couple of months of taking the medication I got better.”
Pablo was then discharged from hospital and agreed to continue taking antipsychotic medication, which he has by depot injection every four weeks. He’s stopped taking medication a few times since then, but became ill, and he’s taken about 6 different antipsychotic drugs, to see what works best for him, and now he’s currently on a medication called Abilify. Soon after he got released from hospital he moved to Canterbury House, a large hostel in Upper Norwood, South East London, that houses mainly people with mental illnesses. The residents have their own independent living facilities within the hostel, such as large self-contained living rooms with their own kitchen area and toilet and bathroom.
Pablo started coming to church about a year ago, after being invited by Daz to The Freedom Forum, an award winning bible study and social group at Christ Church Anerley, South East London. The group is run by Daz, an ex criminal himself, who’d spent time in prison and hospital, before committing his life to Jesus, and Daz now has a small team who help him run the group.
The social group starts at 12 midday and runs for two hours on a Thursday. This is followed by the bible study group at 2pm, which usually lasts between 60 to 90 minutes. There are sometimes up to 20 people who attend the group, many of whom have been in prison, hospitals, and have mental illnesses. Pablo said he started attending the group at first, because he was curious.
After a year of attending The Freedom Forum, Daz was bringing Pablo to the group in his car, and he asked Pablo if he’d like to become a Christian, and Pablo said, “Yes.” When they got to the church, Pablo said the salvation prayer with Daz and gave his life to The Lord.
Pablo feels that he’s changed a lot since he’s been coming to church and now he’s a Christian and says, “I used to argue and fight with people, but now I’m much less likely to. In fact, since I’ve been coming to church I’ve walked away a couple of times ( From arguments ) which is something I’d never have done years ago.”
And Pablo added that its not easy living with 70 people who have mental illnesses, and says there’s bound to be problems sometimes, but Pablo handles it better now, and says that since he’s been attending church, he’s more humble, calm and at peace.
Paul, one of the people who help lead The Freedom Forum, says about Pablo. “like all new Christians, Pablo is in a transitionary period. I’ve seen a real change in him since he started coming to the group. When he first used to come he would often fall asleep during the bible study, because he regularly gets insomnia. Gradually though he’s seemed to start having more energy and now sometimes helps in the kitchen, making teas and coffees for the group and putting away chairs after. He was also very quiet when he first started attending, but has gradually started to open up more in conversations with people.”
Paul added, “Tara my wife, who also helps lead the group, usually buys snacks for the group each week, like sandwich stuff, sausage rolls, crisps and cakes etc, and now Pablo sometimes insists of paying for the snacks for the group and has also given Tara money for petrol, as she’s the main person who picks people up from Canterbury House to bring people to the group and she drops them home after.”
Paul also says, “When I found out that Pablo was an ex armed robber I was stunned and so surprised. As though Pablo is quite a cool character, he is also very softly spoken and comes across as very gentle in spirit. He is also very likeable and I’m sure God has got good plans for his future.”
Pablo is hoping to do some voluntary work soon and has recently had a couple of interviews with an organisation about doing some volunteering to help people with mental illness.
I asked Pablo if there was anything he’d like to say to anyone reading this article and he replied, “I would tell them not to get into a situation where they turn into someone they’re not, cos its so easy. It only takes one or two problems, and that will happen. Especially people that are really young. I’d tell them not to take drugs. Its true what everyone says to you that it only ends one way. It does. So other than that, just take life as it comes, don’t strive for what you can’t get, just be happy with what you’ve got, and try to do it legally, and maybe with The Lords help as well.
FROM DRUG ADDICT TO EVANGELIST
By Paul Warwick
God not only saved Julies soul, but also saved her and her husband Malcom from being possibly killed by gangsters. Malcom was a large scale drug dealer at the time and had fifty-eight-thousand pounds worth of cocaine stolen from his car. This meant that he was in debt to the gangsters, and to show they meant business about what was owed to them, they murdered one of Malcom’s friends.
Julie and Malcom were terrified, and as a new Christian, Julie helped with one last drug transaction, leaving Twelve-thousand pounds worth of cannabis in a bin for the gangsters to pick up. And Malcom had also done a few other deals to pay them, but this still left them in thirty-thousand pounds of debt.
About this time, Malcom went into Yeldall Manor, a Christian drugs rehab, but mainly to hide in there and get away from the gangsters. And Malcom later became Christian in there. God also worked out a quick housing transfer for Julie and her three children to make a fresh start in a new area, where they were safe. Regarding the move, Julie says, “I needed a housing transfer and I said to The Lord in prayer that I wanted it to be in South Croydon and that I wanted it to be in a proper road, perhaps by the end of a cul-de-sac. I asked for it to be semidetached. I wanted three bedrooms. I wanted a bathroom bigger than the average size bathroom. And I asked for a garden six times the size ( Of her old tiny garden). And I said I wanted curtains up at all the windows ( Because she was still scared of the gangsters looking for her ).
Amazingly, God answered Julies prayer and the house was exactly all the those things that she specifically asked for. It was all spot on. Julie and Malcom were later able to buy the property and get a mortgage.
Julie hadn’t had a good start in life and she’d had an unhappy childhood. She says, “When I was born I was number five of six children. I was very uncertain about why I was here and what was my purpose. I didn’t feel like my parents wanted me around and my dad told me that my mum only wanted four children, and I was number five. And my dad hadn’t had any sisters or anything and he was not really very good with girls and he didn’t seem to like me being around very much, and I think I grew up with that being upon me, thinking that I was in the way. I started taking drugs when I was 12 years old and I think my searching back to wondering why, leads me that, that I just didn’t feel that I should have been here. I started taking cannabis and glue sniffing, and that lead on to amphetamines and by the time I was 15 I was injecting heroin.”
Julie says that she sought her acceptance by being seen as cool. As a teenager she hung around with older people, and while people her own age often stayed at home, she was out all the time taking drugs and being daring, doing things like watching horror films at the cinema while tripping on LSD. She felt this made her friends look up to her.
One day though she injected an elephant tranquillizer, and ended up seriously ill in hospital with hepatitis B. Her liver swelled up to three times its size, and for three months she was so drained and incapacitated that she could barely lift her arms. It was then that she had a vision of Christ, which at the time she put down to delirium, due to all the drugs she’d taken for years.
Julie says, “I actually I saw a vision of Jesus, or it may have been an angel, but this Jesus or an angel said, are you ready to come now? And I was saying, no, no, no, no, no, I’m not ready to come and if you make me well I’ll work for you and I’ll this and that. And the next day I began to get well.”
In hindsight Julie now believes that this was a real spiritual experience of an encounter with God. She was 19 at this time. Julie says though that having taken drugs for years had started to affect her mental health, the initial things like having extreme paranoia and a distrust of people.
Later Julie began regularly using cocaine and ended up in hospital as a result of becoming psychotic. But despite all the problems that drugs had caused her, she still felt a pull and an attraction to taking drugs.
At the same time Julie was also searching spiritually. She’d read the Bhagavad Gita, the Koran, and also mixed with witches and dabbled in the occult, reading tarot cards to people, and going to parties where people would hang cross’s upside down. She’d actually said the Christian salvation prayer at the age of 16, when her older brother Steve had become a Christian and told Julie that if she gave her life to Jesus it would make her life better. But though she prayed the salvation prayer, she didn’t feel any different, and automatically dismissed the Christian faith as not being real.
Years later when Julie had by now had three young children and was pregnant with her fourth, she started attending a mother and toddlers group at a church and met Maureen, who was also a friend of Julies brother Steve.
Julie says, “Maureen was a Christian, and I was anti Christian and I was anti Jesus, because I didn’t see if there was a God I’d have been not wanted. So I didn’t believe there was a loving God. And this Christian was kind of hounding me and hanging out with me and I was trying my best not to like her, but actually she was quite an attractive personality and she would make me laugh and she was just really nice. She came round and we’d do things in my house, like her helping me with curtains or doing a bit of washing up.”
Julie added, “Maureen was ok, and was probably the only person I’d let in my house who wasn’t a drug user, because I didn’t want people to kind of tell on me for taking drugs when I was supposed to be looking after my children.”
“Maureen also used to read pieces of bible to me and I would put up with it. One day I went round her house having tea and her husband said, look I’m fed up with all the conversations we’ve had, basically you don’t believe in Jesus, you’re going to hell and that’s that. So I was furious with that and swore at him and I went to leave the house. So Maureen gave me a book and said, could you just read this page, and the book was Basic Christianity by John Stott. And I took the book from her because I felt a bit guilty actually because I’d just sworn at her husband, and she had always been so nice to me, and I left and went home.”
When Julie got home she saw that Malcolm had kicked in her letter box, smashed up her phone and done things to the house. Malcolm wasn’t a Christian at this point, and like Julie had been, he was very anti Christian and hated Maureen and the fact that Julie was spending time with her.
Julie then decided that she was going to end her life by committing suicide. She planned though to make it look like she’d died from an accident, as she didn’t want the children to think that she didn’t love them.
When she was thinking about all this she was sitting up on her bed and her hand suddenly flopped down to the side and touched the book that Maureen had given her and as an automatic reaction she picked up the book and opened it to the page Maureen had asked her to read, and it was the Christian salvation prayer, which she repeated. Unlike the first time though when she’d said the salvation prayer, this time was different.
Julie says, “When I said the prayer the room suddenly became light. I was overwhelmed with a feeling of being loved, of security. I was kind of stoned in a way, but it was like a stoned that was really pure. But here I was, not having taken anything, but feeling completely right.”
Julie was four months pregnant at the time and because she’d been taking drugs through her pregnancy, she feared her baby had died because she hadn’t felt it move and she said to Jesus, “I think my baby’s dead so if you are there please make my baby move. And the next moment the baby moved from one side of the womb to the other.” And Julie unmistakably felt this. And she just knew that Jesus was real.
From that moment Julie never took drugs again. And she never had any withdrawal symptoms, even though she’d also been taking Valium daily for a long time, she just stopped taking all drugs instantly and felt well. She’s now been clean for more than 20 years.
Julie and Malcom got married after they’d become Christians. And Malcom started his own painting and decorating business and Julie has worked for The London City Mission, Christ Central Church as an outreach worker, and later trained to work there as a pregnancy crisis counsellor. She now works in mental health for South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, and is also employed as an outreach worker for The Jericho Road Project at King Church in Catford.
Will is addicted to crack and taking ecstasy at raves. To fund his habit he does aggravated burglaries, robbing rich people.
Peter is an ex-prisoner who’s going straight and studying filmmaking at college, hoping to become a music video director.
Will asks Peter to commit a crime with him and Peter reluctantly agrees. They break into a mansion in Richmond in the early hours of the morning. Then a series of events happen that will change their lives forever.
About the author
Paul Warwick is a 51-year-old Christian who suffers from schizophrenia. He became ill after spending many years of his youth in prison. ‘Creepers’ is Paul’s fourth book to be published. He is also a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in many national newspapers and magazines. And he’s an award-winning short film maker. Paul is married and has two grown up step-children and two daughters. You can see more of his work at www.paul-warwick.co.uk.