MARY KAY BEARD

From bank robber to Christian
BY PAUL WARWICK

MARY Kay Beard was once one of the F.B.I’s most wanted fugitives, for crimes including cracking safes and armed robberies of banks. The Mafia had also put a contract on her life as she’d ripped them off in a diamond heist.

In 1972 at the age of 27, Mary was sentenced to 21 years in prison. And during five months in solitary confinement she began to remember bible scriptures she’d learned as a child in Sunday school, and she began to attend a Sunday school class in Tutwiler prison in Alabama at 7 Am. It was the only time she was allowed out of her cell.

In prison Mary began to wonder if God would save her or was it too late, then whilst reading a Gideon bible, God led her to the passage Ezekiel 36 v 26, which states, ‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.’

That scripture was a wake up call for Mary and she returned to the faith of her childhood.

Mary hadn’t started out in life bad. She was one of nine children, growing up on a farm with a godly mother and an abusive alcoholic father, so she saw her early life as being a bit schizophrenic. Her mother was taking her and her brothers and sisters to church, but her fathers influence was bad and Mary was very bitter and angry and felt resentment towards him.

Mary graduated from high school at the age of 15, and completed training to be a nurse at 18. Then her life took a bizarre and unexpected turn when she met Paul on a blind date, fell head over heels in love, and married Paul nine days later.

Paul was a music producer, which was fairly respectable, but he was also a bank robber, a master safe-cracker and a gambling addict.

Mary had been married before, but it had only lasted a short time and had ended in divorce. Mary had two children from this first marriage.

Her second marriage to Paul though had brought her into a completely different world. Within a short time she was assisting Paul in his life of crime. First in minor gambling cheats, then safe-cracking, and then in armed robberies of banks. And at one point she even staged a prison break to free Paul.

Paul left Mary though when she was hospitalized with an operable cancer tumour, and Mary felt very hurt, bitter and angry about this and she teamed up with a couple of Pauls old partners in crime, and continued committing serious crimes which led to her being hunted by the F.B.I, who eventually arrested her. She was charged with 11 federal and 35 state counts of grand larceny and armed robbery.

Mary was surprisingly paroled after serving just six years of her 21 year sentence. And because of her success with educational classes in the prison, she won a scholarship to Auburn university and gained a BA and a Masters degree in counselling.

In 1982 Mary was recruited by Chuck Colson, who’d set up the ministry Prison Fellowship and she was asked to set up a Christmas project for inmates. In the six Christmases she’d been behind bars, she’d seen that when the women inmates had been given small gifts of things like toiletries by visiting Christians, the inmates would then pass these small gifts to their children. These women ranged from shoplifters, to prostitutes, to murderers, but they all still had a heart and love for their children, and they would give their children the only presents they could.

So Mary was then inspired to set up the Christian charity Angel Tree. This meant that people could buy presents for the inmates children, so that they would receive presents from their incarcerated parents on Christmas Day. And they were presents the children wanted and were bought from the children’s wish list. The whole aim was to make the children feel loved by their parents at Christmas. And from the Christian point of view it helped the children and parents feel the love of Christ during the Christmas period.

The first year that Angel Tree was set up, it was piloted in just one state, and 556 children received gifts that year. The following year it expanded to 12 states and by 2012, 364,198 children had received gifts from Angel Tree in the USA, but also due to Angel Tree spreading globally, more than 6.3 Million children around the world have now received Christmas gifts through the charity.

Mary met a former prisoner, Don Beard, and married him on January 29th, 1984, exchanging vows in a chapel at Tutwiler prison, where she’d previously been locked up.

Mary and Don also founded several other ministries, then Don died in 2006, and Mary died in April 2016. Her legacy though continues. Angel Tree is still thriving and serving inmates children around the world, helping them feel loved by their parents, and helping them feel loved by the saviour Christ.

FROM KILLER TO CHRISTIAN

Daz’s testimony
By Paul Warwick

SOME of The Bible is written by murderers. This may shock some people and enlighten
others, as they will see the redemptive nature of God. A God who can change the worst of
sinners into the greatest of saints. Quite simply, God can make bad people become good.
In 2007 Daz appeared at The Old Baily and was found guilty of manslaughter on the
grounds of diminished responsibility. He was subsequently locked up for four years. And
now at the age of 27, he is a Christian, married and is a father to a one year old boy. He has
two jobs, and runs two Bible study groups called The Freedom Forum. One of the groups is
at Christ Church Anerley, in South East London, and the other is at Christ Church Sidcup.
The groups are for people who’ve been in prison, psychiatric hospitals or trouble with the
police. Six of the people who attend the group at Anerley are schizophrenics. And three of
the people who attend this group have killed someone, including one guy who’d spent many
years in Broadmoore.
Daz became fixated with violence from a very young age. His uncle had taken him to see
a Millwall v Manchester City football match. He remembers being hyped up and excited by
the crowd, and he witnessed football fans ripping up seats and throwing them into the
stands of rival supporters. And even though Daz was a little kid, he was gripped by these
images, and years later he became a violent football thug supporting Millwall.
Daz followed Millwall to other towns and cities, and would cause trouble, fighting other
fans, smashing windows and generally going on the rampage, and there were times when
he got arrested.

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At this stage in Daz’s life, he was fascinated by violent criminals and programs like Crime
Watch, and it made him want to be like the violent people who were portrayed in the
program, and he thought that if people feared him he would have respect, which was
something Daz always craved and wanted.
One Friday night he’d been hanging around the streets with a gang of teenage friends
and drinking alcohol. A man had then verbally had a go at Daz and made him look silly in
front of his friends. Daz then ran all the way home and got a hammer and then he found
the guy who’d made him look small, and Daz then smashed him over the head with the
hammer. Incidences like this gave Daz a reputation and made people fear him, and this was
what Daz wanted.
One day Daz decided that he needed to start carrying a knife and he bought five Stanley
knives for him and his friends to take to another Millwall match up North. During a fight
between both sets of fans, Daz used his Stanley knife to slash some ones face.
On the train back to London Daz and his Millwall friends were hyped up and buzzing as
they talked about the violence they’d committed. But after a while the mood changed and
it went quiet, and Daz suddenly felt as sense of emptiness, like something was missing from
his life.
Daz then started dating a girl who is now his wife. When he started going out with her,
he felt very protective, obsessive and paranoid about her. He heard one night that a club
bouncer had made a sexual comment to her. A couple of days later Daz was drinking in the
club and a fight broke out with Daz and his friends fighting the bouncers. Daz and his
friends then rushed off from the club to get weapons, then when they returned a fight
broke out again and Daz was armed with a garden pitch fork and was trying to stab a
bouncer in the face with it.

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A little while after that, Daz’s girlfriend started asking him to come to church, and that
really baffled him. For one, he didn’t believe in God, and he thought that if God did exist,
‘Why would he want to know a scum bag like me?’
The only dealing that Daz had had with a church before, was when he burgled one and
stole the DJ equipment that they used for a club there.
Daz’s girlfriend kept asking him to come to church and persuaded him to attend an Alpha
course, where he could learn the basics about Christianity and ask questions. Daz had then
said to his girlfriend, ‘If I do the Alpha course, and I find out that there’s no God, I don’t ever
want you to mention God to me again, and I will never ever come to church with you again’.
As the Alpha course was still going on, Daz was still continuing to get into trouble. One
night he stabbed a guy in the intestines and the guy was in hospital for a week, and Daz was
charged with GBH and was due to appear at Woolwich Crown Court at a later date.
Daz was really happy when it got to the last day of the Alpha course, and he thought that
he’d never have to set foot in a church again, and he’d only been attending the course to
keep his girlfriend happy, and he still didn’t believe in God.
On the last day of the Alpha course, a couple who are now Daz’s friends, asked him if he
wanted prayer to receive The Holy Spirit. Daz then started giggling and rolling his eyes back,
thinking, ‘These people are crazy’.
After the couple had asked Daz if they could pray for him, Daz simply said, ‘No thanks’,
and he started walking towards the door. His girlfriend then stopped him and said, ‘Daz if
you don’t go up and get prayer, how are you ever going to know if God is real or not?’
Daz then very reluctantly went forward for prayer and he stood there for about five
minutes and in his own words he said, ‘He felt like a right plum’. And he felt embarrassed,
imagining what his friends would think to see him standing in a church waiting for prayer.

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Daz says he wasn’t really listening to what the couple were praying for him and he was
just about to open his eyes and turn around and say to his girlfriend, ‘That’s it. I told you it
was a load of crap. God is not real’.
Then all of a sudden Daz felt this incredible force surging through his body. It was the
most incredible physical presence he’d ever felt. It was so overpowering, and after a while
he snapped himself out of it and said to the couple praying for him, ‘I don’t need any more
evidence. I know God exists now’.
Daz says that it was exactly what he needed. He needed God to show him that he’s real.
And that’s exactly what he did. Daz had felt the presence of God in an unmistakeable and
powerful way.
For about the next two weeks Daz felt like his life was transformed. He stopped carrying
a knife and he felt an overwhelming sense of love. He no longer felt that something was
missing in his life, and he felt like God had filled the emptiness in his heart.
One night though Daz went to a nightclub with his old friends and him and his mates got
into a fight with some other guys, and Daz had stabbed one of them in the face with a
broken bottle. A couple of months later he ended up being charged with murder, after
another guy he’d stabbed died. Daz was 19 years old.
Daz was then locked up for four years, and during this time he was blown away by the
amount of support he received from people at his now fiancé’s church. And whilst he was
locked up he had a lot of time to study The Bible and think about God, and the guards
commented to Daz that he seemed to have real sense of peace about him.
Whilst Daz was locked up, he also studied to get his first two qualifications, two A levels,
and since he’s been released he’s passed another A level, gaining an A grade.

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Daz was released in 2011 and in the summer of 2012 he married his fiancé, and in
January 2014 their son was born.
If you met Daz today, you would find it hard to believe that he was once a violent killer.
He is now 27 years old. He is tall and slim with cropped dark hair. He speaks articulately
with a strong cockney accent. And one of the first things you notice about him is that he has
a calm and gentle spirit. And its hard to believe that God can change someone so much.
But he has. Daz has changed extraordinarily, thanks to the power of a loving Jesus.
Daz’s pastor Mathew Fitter at Christ Church Anerley says about him, “Daz is now an
incredible blessing to the church, as a preacher and leader of The Freedom Forum for ex
offenders.”
And Daz says, “If God can change me he can change anyone. He has helped me rebuild
my life and have a love in my heart that is indescribable.”

FROM POLICEMAN TO PASTOR

Matthew Fitter’s testimony
By Paul Warwick

BEFORE Matthew Fitter became a Christian, he was very much into Karate and martial arts.
But he let go of this sport, shortly after he gave his life to the Lord. This was because Karate
and Christianity didn’t seem compatible to him. The mind set of martial arts caused him to
have a feeling of controlled aggression and feel ready at a moments notice to defend
himself and be violent to any attacker. Whereas being a Christian evoked in him a feeling of
having gentle peace and faith, and for Matthew the two extremes didn’t gel.
After Matthew became a Christian he became a police officer for seven years, starting as
a beat bobby, then working his way up to C.I.D and becoming a detective. When Matthew
became a policeman he initially felt unease, wondering if it was ok to be a policeman while
being a Christian, because he was arresting people who ultimately were punished by the
law.
However, after a period of soul searching for about 18 months, he came to the
conclusion that it was ok to be a Christian police officer, and that ultimately being a
Christian made him a better policeman. For one, being a Christian meant that he was an
honest cop, who told the truth and didn’t break the rules. And two, Matthew got a chance
to share his faith with some of the people he arrested and people that came through his
police station and the court where he sometimes worked.
There was one guy that Matthew met who’d been sentenced for fraud, and Matthew was
able to have a one to one half hour chat in a cell, and Matthew then led the person to the

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Lord. And Matthew says, “Actually, he sent me a letter from prison some months later,
saying just how much Jesus had changed his life.”
When Matthew worked in charge of court cells he would leave Christian Journey into Life
booklets in the bare cells. A couple of prisoners had got angry and ripped the booklets to
pieces, but other prisoners who enquired if Matt had put them there, would then have
conversations about God with him, and Matt knew that he was sowing seeds that would
later bare fruit.
Matthew had been attending church since he was very young. Before he could walk he
was pushed to church in a pram. By the age of eight he joined the church choir, though only
because he’d been told that at each wedding he sang at, he’d be paid a pound. The down
side of being in the choir though was the fact that he had to attend three church services
every Sunday. By the age of 18 he’d heard more than 1500 sermons, but despite this he
only half believed in God, and though he was committed to attending church regularly, he
wasn’t committed to living as a true believing Christian.
When Matt left home and went to college at the age of 18, he met some committed
Christians there and suddenly he realised that God wanted a personal relationship with him,
but for two years he kept God at arms length, as he wanted to live his life his own way, and
not live in a way that was pleasing to God. After hearing a sermon though his eyes were
finally unveiled and the penny dropped when he realised that Jesus had died on a cross for
him, rose again, and that by becoming a Christian Matt would be saved and would have
eternal life in heaven, and Matthew gave his life to the Lord when people were invited to
come forward for prayer.

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When Matthew walked home that night after becoming a Christian, he felt an
overwhelming sense of God’s love and felt that Jesus was now living inside of him, and he
felt clean and free.
Years later, after Matthew had been in the police force, stationed in Guilford for about
seven years, him and his wife Guen, who he has two sons with, started asking God what he
wanted them to do in the future, and after a few months they felt that it was
overwhelmingly clear that God wanted them to leave their jobs and become missionary
workers.
They both joined an organisation called Youth with a mission, and after a period of
training went to Scotland and went to work in a Glasgow area called Possil Park. It was a
rough area, with a lot of crime and lots of people addicted to drugs, particularly heroin. At
the time they had an old Ford Capri, which regularly had windows smashed when petty
thieves broke into it.
On one occasion Matthew had been due to preach somewhere and stepped out of his
home to discover that his Capri had been stolen. Ironically, one of the local drug dealers
who like Matthew, said, “Don’t worry Maffew, I’ll find out who done it.” And a month later
he shouted through Matthews letter box at midnight, “Maffew. Maffew, I’ve found yer
car.”
He then took Matthew on a short drive to where Matthews Capri was and said, “I told
you I’d find out who done it. I only had to hit him once before he told me where the car
was.”
Matthew and Guen spent six years as missionaries in Glasgow, then felt it was time to
move on. Matthew then spent two years at Trinity college in Bristol and continued to work
for Youth with a mission.

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Matthew has now been in ministry for 29 years and has been a pastor for 15 years. And
for the past seven and a half years he’s been the pastor at Christ Church Anerley, in South
East London, and his wife Guen is one of the worship leaders there, and one of their sons
Jonny also does a lot of work for the church.
Matthew loves being a pastor, but said that the most difficult part of this is that its not a
9 to 5 job, but more like a 24/7 occupation. Sometimes he’ll get calls from people in crisis
very late at night and in the early hours of the morning. And he’ll then need to minister and
pray for these people. People also sometimes turn up on his doorstep with problems at any
time, and sometimes people can be quite troublesome. I’e, people with addictions
desperate for money, who see Christians as a soft touch. But despite this, Matthew never
really feels on edge. As a policeman many years before, he’d had to deal with a lot of heavy
and serious stuff, including disarming knife wielding criminals. He’d also worked on serious
crime and murder investigations, and after being trained for this kind of thing, there’s not a
lot now that fazes him, so he feels that having been a policeman has helped him become a
better and stronger pastor.
Being a pastor though can be stressful at times and one thing Matt does to relax is take
part in sport. He plays football, cricket and badminton. And he enjoys watching sport on
the telly and is a big football fan of Leeds United and Crystal Palace.
Matthew says, “The best thing about being a pastor for me, is whenever I have an
opportunity, if I’m preaching or on a one to one, is actually leading someone into a
relationship with Jesus. Because I know how much Jesus changed my life, and when I see
someone give their life to Jesus, that is the most wonderful thing and privilege to be part
of.”

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Matt also loves baptising people. He’s also been invited to Pakistan a couple of times to
preach and teach, and hopes to go back to Pakistan again in the future.
When I asked Matt if there was a final thing he’d like to say to anyone reading this article,
he replied, “Jesus is the one person who can totally change anybody’s life, because he really
is God, who came from heaven and for 33 years lived on earth, preached, healed the sick,
delivered people from demons, died on a cross to forgive everyone for our sins, and he’s the
one that set me free totally. And if Jesus sets you free, you’ll be free indeed.”

FROM MAD MAN TO MINISTER

David Hall’s testimony
By Paul Warwick

DAVID Hall was once a chronic, paranoid schizophrenic. He was admitted to a psychiatric
hospital on many occasions. Then one day in church he was prayed for and a miracle
happened.
David is now nearly 60 years old. He grew up in and has spent most of his life in South
East London and he currently lives in Anerley with his wife Katie and one of their two
children.
David grew up with ten brothers and sisters. David’s mum was a Catholic and he was
brought up in this faith, being baptised and attending a Catholic school.
At the age of 15, David’s mum suddenly gave up her Catholic faith and stopped attending
church, and David and his siblings no longer had too either.
Within a short time David suddenly went off the rails, smoking cannabis and getting into
petty crime, lying and sleeping around. He started getting arrested a lot and at one point
got sent to a remand home for the short, sharp, shock treatment.
When David was 18 he got kicked out of the family home by his mum and dad. He then
went to live in the lake district with his brother. David got a job, but couldn’t really afford to
live there, and he broke into the electricity meter in his bedsit and stole the money. He
then fled back to London. It was 1974.
Because he was worried about the police hunting him for the meter theft, he then fled
again, to Guildford, and he arrived with no money in his pocket and in the pouring rain, so
he then went into a church. In those days churches were always open.

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He then knocked on the door of the vicars house, and David told him that he needed help
and was in trouble. The vicar then said, “Don’t worry, we’ll sort it all out.” The vicar then
gave David a meal. The vicars name was David Pawson, who later became a very successful
author.
The vicar then took David to a house on the edge of Guilford, where he could stay with
five other Christian students. The students immediately started to evangelise to David and
he said the salvation commitment prayer.
Later that night when David was in bed in the room he’d been given, the room was
suddenly filled with light and David started praying in tongues for the first time, and the
students ran into his room excited. They switched on the electric light, unaware of the
Godly light David had seen, and they told David that him praying in tongues meant he’d
been baptised in the holy spirit. For David it was a wonderful and amazing experience as
he’d felt enveloped in Gods love, and he’d never experienced anything like that before.
David stayed in the house for a while and the Christians there helped him out and found
a bedsit in Guilford for him and one of the guys he’d stayed with gave him a loan of two-
hundred pounds, which was a lot of money in them days, and David also got a job as a chef.
David started going to church in the area and gave himself up to the police for breaking
into the electric meter and he was taken back up to the lake district in handcuffs. He told
the magistrate in court that he’d become a Christian and the magistrate let him off.
He continued attending the very large church in Guilford which had a congregation of a
thousand people, but he started to feel dissatisfied as the Christians there couldn’t answer
his challenging questions about God.
David then made friends with his mum and Dad again and they invited him to come back
home, and he started attending a very small church his dad attended in Penge, South East

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London, which had a congregation of about thirty or forty people. David didn’t find the
church to be very spiritual and started mixing with edge members, people who attended
church but didn’t live as committed spiritual Christians, and who were more into the hippy
scene. David started taken drugs with them and sleeping around again, and soon he just
stopped attending church.
David then started getting back into petty crime and went back to live in the lake district
and he got a girl pregnant, not knowing that she was only 15. They both then moved to
Essex and started living in squats. David married his pregnant girlfriend when she was 16.
David said living in squats was crazy and a bit like the comedy program The Young Ones. He
lived with a mixture of hippies, skinheads, punks and hells angels who were into all sorts of
things.
Someone then told him that if he got a job in Durham they would give him a free house
there. David and his wife moved there, he got a job and then a house.
When David’s first son was 18 months old he accidently pulled a boiling hot pot of tea
over himself and had serious burns and nearly died.
When David’s son was 3, David and his wife broke up. By now they also had another
child who was 1. David was heart broken that they’d split, and shortly after, he had a
nervous breakdown. David had lost his wife, his kids, was taking drugs, drinking, and could
no longer hold a job down and his wife wouldn’t let him see his children. He’d reached rock
bottom.
When David became ill he began hallucinating and seeing and imagining things. His
behaviour became very bizarre. He’d do things like eat watch batteries, thinking they’d give
him power. He climbed electricity pylons and ran across motorways at night with his eyes

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closed. There were times when he went walk about and he’d wake up naked in the
countryside, not knowing what he’d done or how he got there. And he heard voices.
This went on for about three or four years before his parents realised that he was acting
more and more oddly, then they had him sectioned and taken into Cane Hill mental
hospital. He was in hospital seven times in three years, twice on a section. He was
diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
David was seriously ill for a long time, until 1989. He’d been released from hospital and
given a bedsit. He was on massive amounts of medication and was still also taking street
drugs and David felt like he didn’t want to live anymore and was contemplating suicide.
David’s bedsit was high up, and one Sunday he’d been thinking about killing himself by
stepping out of his window. He then watched Songs of Praise on TV and he decided he’d
either kill himself or go to church and see if God would take him back. He then went to his
local church, Christ Church Anerley.
For six months David attended the church and would sit at the back, and at the end of the
service he would quickly leave so that he didn’t have to talk to anyone. Then in 1989 the
pastor was preaching about faith and called people to come forward if they wanted prayer,
and David suddenly felt like he had a calling on his life. When the pastor asked David what
he wanted prayer for, David felt embarrassed to say that he had schizophrenia and that he
wanted to be healed of it. The pastor laid hands on David and prayed, and in an instant,
David just knew he’d been healed. He then left the church on cloud nine and he never took
medication for schizophrenia again.
David still got the medication on prescription though, as he was partly scared to tell the
psychiatrist that he weren’t taking the medication, as he feared they’d put him back in

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hospital. But after a year his psychiatrist said to him, “You seem so much better now, I think
we’ll lower you dose.”
David then told him that he hadn’t taken medication for a year, and the baffled
psychiatrist couldn’t do anything, because he could see David was well. By now David had a
cupboard full of medication. Antipsychotics, antidepressants and tranquilizers, and he just
threw them all away.
After David was healed, Christians had given David the scripture, Joel 2 v 25, which states,
‘I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten.’ David was a bit sceptical though
and questioned God, asking him how God was going to do this. David felt sad that he’d had
a wife, two children and had lost them and so many other things, and he couldn’t see how
God would restore these things back to him. However, David then met Katie in 1995 and he
married her and they have two children, a son Isaac, who’s now a young adult and has left
home, and a daughter Rebecca who is now a teenager.
After David was healed he started to attend Cornerstone church in Bromley, and he
started serving as a steward, then being a head of the steward team, and then he was asked
to start preaching sermons. He did that for ten years at Cornerstone, then the minister
there, Hugh Osgood, recommended David to a bible college who were looking for a teacher.
David then spent over five years teaching there.
David then taught at another bible college for a while, but then stopped, but continued
preaching regularly at a number of different churches, which he’d been doing for many
years anyway, not just at Cornerstone. Over the years he’d also led retreats, gave
counselling to people, wrote some books, started a charity for the mentally ill, and created a
lot of art.

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From when David got healed in 1989, until 2001, David was fine, but then he developed
the physical illness M.E, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome. He was 45. It was five
years though before doctors diagnosed David with M.E, and during this time at its worst
David was so weak at times that he couldn’t even put his trousers on by himself or even lift
a cup of tea to drink. He was also in physical pain a lot and rarely got much sleep.
David doesn’t know why God healed him of one illness, the schizophrenia, but hasn’t yet
healed him of M.E. Even though he’s prayed about it countless times over the years, and
also had many other people praying for him. David has learnt to live with the M.E though.
And he’s still been able to give lectures and preach, even though it often made him
exhausted after, and he would then often have to come home and go straight to bed.
David is also philosophical about the M.E, and glad that God still uses him, even though
its limited his life in lots of ways, and he relates to the bible scripture 1 Corinthians 1 v 27,
which states, ‘God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.’
Another scripture that people have given him and what he also relates too and takes
comfort in is, 2 Corinthians 12 v 9, which states, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power
is made perfect in weakness.’
David also relates to Paul the apostle who referred to his suffering as having a thorn in
the flesh, which he begged God to take away, but God didn’t.
David has adjusted to living with M.E. And even though it’s a debilitating and frustrating
illness to have, David feels that God has been kind to him, and one fact that comes to mind
is that David definitely ain’t crazy anymore. And that’s something David is still very grateful
for. And even though he’s got M.E, he still feels very much loved by God.

CREEPERS ( Part 7 )

Will had been on the hospital wing a week when he was sweeping the fourth floor landing, and an inmate Kenny Price looked out of his hatch as Will passed his cell.
“Oi tea boy,” Kenny said.
Will felt slightly irritated at Kenny’s tone and answered, “What,” as he looked through Kenny’s hatch.
Kenny was holding a small piece of cannabis between his thumb and forefinger and he said, “Give this bit of puff to my mate Micky Dingle in cell 39 on the three’s.”
Will stared at Kenny a moment and thought to himself that Kenny looked like one of the most evil people he’d ever seen, then Will said, “Sorry mate I can’t do that.”
“Eh,” Kenny replied looking even more serious, “Whad ya mean you can’t do that?”
“I can’t pass drugs,” Will said simply, “I’m a Christian.”
“A Christian?” Kenny said looking like he was about to explode, then he said, “I don’t care if you’re the bloody pope. Just pass the puff to my pal or I’m gonna do you some serious damage.”
“I’m not frightened of you,” Will said simply, and he turned to continue sweeping the landing.
Kenny’s eyes looked like they’d pop out of his head and angry veins appeared on his forehead, and with a voice that sounded like ice, Kenny said, “I’ll deal with you later tea boy. You dunno who your dealin’ with.”
“Whatever,” Will said unimpressed, and he continued sweeping the landing.

Will went on to the exercise yard in the afternoon. There were about a 150 inmates on the yard. Half the wing at a time. Around the edges of the yard were also some small groups of prison officers.
Will was walking around with Tony Peters, a professional shop lifter who’d just been sentenced to two years. Tony had been put on the hospital wing for observation as he’d asked the prison doctor for antidepressants. Will knew Tony from another prison.
As Will and Tony were walking, Kenny Price suddenly stepped in front of Will and faced him. He was with two other inmates, one black and the other mixed race.
“You wanna get mouthy with me now screws tea boy?” Asked Kenny, his eyes bulging like he was psychotic.
“I don’t want no trouble man,” Will replied as he tried to step round him.
Kenny looked around the yard and saw there were no officers looking in their direction and Kenny suddenly gave a right hook punch to the side of Will face. But Will didn’t even flinch.
Kenny sneered, “You gonna forgive me Jesus boy? Or are you gonna be a man and fight back?”
Will surprised himself by suddenly smiling and said, “Jesus said in the bible that if a man strikes you on the cheek, then turn to him the other cheek also…So if you wanna hit me this side as well, do it.”
Kenny clenched his fist and thought about hitting Will again, but then he said, “You’re a nutter,” And walked away.
Will smiled and continued walking.
When they’d got to the other side of the exercise yard, Tony said sounding frightened, “Do you know who that is?
“No,” Said will, seeming unconcerned, “Who is it?”
“That’s Kenny Price,” Said Tony, looking round nervously to make sure he was out of Kenny’s earshot, “He’s a psychopathic serial killer. He just got four life sentences for killing four prostitutes. The judge recommended that he never gets released.”
“I better start praying for him then,” Will said smiling, “He needs Jesus.”
“I’m being serious,” Said Tony, sounding even more frightened, “You need to get off the hospital wing. You don’t know what he could do to you. ‘E’s never getting out, so ‘e’s got nothing to lose.”
Will smiled and said, “Jesus will look after me.”
Tony still looked frightened and said, “How can you be so calm?”
“I dunno,” Will answered simply, “All I know is that since I became a Christian, I just feel peace most of the time.”
Tony just stared at Will like he thought Will was on a different planet, then Tony said, “I don’t think you realise how serious this is.”
Will smiled again and said, “An’ I don’t think you realise how powerful my Jesus is. If it weren’t for Jesus I’d have been dead already.”
Tony didn’t know what to say.

The next morning Will was on the hotplate on the ground floor serving breakfast with four other inmates and a couple of officers. Will was serving the porridge.
Suddenly Will saw Kenny Price. For a second Will felt tense, but then he suddenly calmed. Kenny looked different. The evil arrogance was gone and he looked slightly nervous and didn’t make eye contact when Will ladled porridge into Kenny’s bowl.
Later on Will was sweeping the fours landing and as he got to Kenny’s cell, Kenny said quietly through the open cell hatch, “Oi mate.”
“Yeah,” Will answered slightly weary.
“I just wanna apologise for chinning you on the yard yesterday.”
Will raised his eyebrows surprised and said, “Don’t worry about it.”
Kenny then blurted, “One of my pals has got a blade in e’s cell. I was gonna get it off him and stab you to death on the exercise yard today.”
Will suddenly looked shocked, and Kenny continued, “After I got off the exercise yard yesterday I was in a rage. I was angry all day an’ night. I really wanted to kill you. I’m never gettin’ out, I’ve got nothin’ to lose.”
Will just stared at Kenny without speaking and Kenny continued, “Then last night I had a dream. I dreamed that you an’ Jesus came into my cell an’ Jesus said somethin’ like. Do not harm this man. He loves prisoners, an’ when ‘e gets out he’ll come back voluntarily into jails to tell inmates about me. An’ those that accept me will become free in my love.”
Kenny looked confused and continued, “I’ve never had such a real dream before. Its like you an’ Jesus really came into my cell.”
Will seemed astonished and said, “Jesus can reveal himself to people in all different ways.”
“I wish I had a future like you. I wish I could get out one day an’ help prisoners. But I ain’t ever gettin’ out. I’ll never be free.”
Will was suddenly filled with compassion and said, “Jesus can set you free in your heart, mind and spirit even if you’re still in prison.”
“How can ‘e do that?” Kenny asked.
“You just have to invite him into your heart an’ give your life to him.”
“Whad’ya mean…Become a Christian?”
“Yeah.”
“How do you do that?”
“You just need to repent of all your sins and ask him to be Lord of your life.”
Kenny looked slightly confused and Will asked, “Would you like to become a Christian?”
“Yeah…I want what you’ve got. You just seem different from most of the other prisoners in here. You can just see that you’ve got peace in ya.”
“Ok,” Will said, “If you wanna become a Christian just repeat what I say.”
Will then said the salvation prayer that the Michael the prison priest had prayed with Will over a week before, and Kenny repeated it word for word. After Kenny had ended the prayer with the last word ‘Amen,’ he suddenly put his hand out through the hatch and shook hands with Will, and Kenny said sincerely, “Thank you man. Thank you so much.”

As Will continued sweeping the landing after he’d led Kenny to become a Christian, Will’s mind was deep in thought, and he felt overawed. He thought about what Kenny had said about Jesus saying that Will would come back into prisons to tell the inmates about Jesus. He knew that some ex prisoners who’d become Christians, came back into jail with civilian church groups, but he’d never really thought that he’d do that, but right now he realised that he’d love to do that. He wanted other inmates to have what he now had, which was a real sense of love and freedom.
After he’d swept the landing, he went back into his cell, sat on the bed and closed his eyes and with his hands together in prayer he said, “Do you want me to help prisoners Jesus?”
Within moments Will was surprised to hear a voice in his head say, “Isaiah 61 verse 1.”
Will knew that Isaiah was a book in the bible, so he picked up the bible that the priest Michael had given him later in the day when he’d become a Christian. Will turned excitedly to the scripture he’d just heard and read it. It said. “The spirit of the sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”
As Will read that scripture, it was like the bible was a living, breathing book, and the words had leapt off the page. And Will suddenly knew he had a calling in life, and while he was in prison and when he got out, he would help prisoners.

It had been exactly a month since Will had been sentenced to seven years. That day he had a visit from his common law wife Jenny, his co-defendant Peter, and Peter’s partner Kerry. They all sat at a small table in the crowded visiting hall. Will looked at Peter, pretended to scowl and asked, “How come you got three years suspended an’ I got five years for the same crime?”
Peter looked slightly uneasy and said, “Its cos I had a different judge mate, an’ you escaped when we were in the police station together.”
Kerry added slightly defensive, “Its also cos I’d just gave birth an’ Peter’s tutor Paul on the filmmaking course he’s doin’ stood up for Peter in court an’ gave him a character reference. If it weren’t for that, Peter would have probably got five years as well.”
Will suddenly smiled and said, “I’m only pullin’ yer leg mate. But you were lucky man. Some people were saying that you must of bin a grass to get off that lightly. But I said to them…No way man. You’d never grass on anyone. An’ I’ve known you since we were kids.”
Peter suddenly relaxed and added, “I was just lucky man. I had a good barrister as well.
They pause a moment, then Peter said, “What’s all this about you becoming a Christian? I read your letter twice an’ I was gobsmacked.”
Will smiled and said, “Its true. The day I got sentenced I was just about to hang meself in my cell an’ Jesus just appeared an’ told me that ‘e loved me an’ that I’ve got a good future. The next day I saw the priest an’ become a Christian by saying the salvation prayer.”
Peter looked around the visiting hall, then said quietly, “Its alright mate. You can tell me. Are you just pretending you’re a Christian an’ making out you’ve changed, hoping that they’ll let you out early on parole?”
Will looked slightly wounded and said, “Nah mate. I really am a Christian now.”
Peter studied him a moment, then said, “Well you do look slightly different.”
“Whad ya mean?”
“I dunno,” Answered Peter, “You used to always look a bit dark an’ edgy all the time. But now you look lighter. Like you’re shining a bit. An’ you look clean an’ peaceful. I can’t really explain it…You just seem different.”
Will smiled, “That’s the holy spirit in me mate.”
The four of them pause a moment, then Will said, “The three of you should become Christians. It will change yer life. You’ll feel so much different. You’ll feel free.”
Peter and Kerry squirmed in their chairs slightly, and Peter said, “Its not really my scene mate. I can see its working for you, but its not really for me.”
“It is for you,” Will said with certainty, “Jesus is for everyone.”
Peter and Kerry looked more uncomfortable, then Jenny said, “I’m thinking of doing a church Alpha course. I can see that Will really has changed. Its made me curious.”
“Whats an Alpha course?” Asked Peter.
“It’s a ten week course,” Said Will, “Usually two hours a week where you get taught about what Christians believe, an’ you can ask any questions you want about God. Some people become Christians at the end of it, an’ some don’t. No one will force you into becoming a Christian. It has to be your free choice.”
No one spoke for a moment, then Will looked at Peter and Kerry and said, “Why don’t you think about doing an Alpha course…Jenny’s thinking of doin’ one…You can all do it together.”
Peter, Kerry and Jenny looked at each other for a moment, then Peter surprised himself by saying, “Ok…I’ll think about it.”
Will looked at Kerry smiling and asked, “What about you Kerry?”
Kerry looked slightly embarrassed, then said, “Well if Peter an’ Jenny do, I will as well.”
Will looked at them all smiling and said, “Cool. Jesus is gonna set you all free.”

Later that night Peter and Kerry were seated on the sofa of their council flat. They’d earlier ordered pizza and Peter looked slightly puzzled and said, “What do you think about what Will said about becoming a Christian?”
“I dunno what to think,” Kerry replied, “Seems a bit weird to me. But also a bit amazing. I can tell ‘e’s definitely changed. ‘E just seemed different. Like ‘e’s at peace.”
“Do you really think we should do an Alpha course?”
“I dunno,” Kerry answered, “I still need to think about it.”
Suddenly they heard their letter box knock, “Must be the pizza,” Said Peter.
When Peter got to the door he realised the knock had been a leaflet coming through his letter box. He bent down to pick it up and looked at it. He then brought it into the living room and he looked awestruck as he said to Kerry, “This is spooky man. This leaflets just come through the door.”
“What. What is it?”
Peter stared at the leaflet a moment, still stunned and said, “It’s a leaflet from the church on the corner, inviting people to an Alpha course starting next week.”
“Show it to me,” Said Kerry looking half frightened and half excited.
Peter handed the leaflet to Kerry, who studied it a moment, then she said sounding in awe, “I think Gods calling us.”
Peter just stared at her, also awestruck and said, “So do I.”
Moments later the pizza arrived, and when Peter paid the delivery man and gave him a two pound tip, the man smiled and said, “God bless you mate.”
Peter then noticed the small silver cross on a chain around the mans neck, and the penny suddenly dropped, and Peter just knew that Jesus was God.

CREEPERS ( Part 6 )

Thirty year old Will had been sentenced to seven years, the day before. Five years for an aggravated burglary in Richmond, Surrey. And two years to run consecutively for an attempted burglary on a luxury penthouse flat in Knightsbridge, London.
As soon as Will’s prison cell door on the fourth floor landing at Wandsworth prison was open, he was already up and on a high. A natural one. Frankie, Will’s prison pal from the cell next door, suddenly came into Will’s cell and asked. “Seriously…what’s all this about Jesus appearing in yer cell last night? What was you on to make you see that?”
Will ran his hand over his short, dark cropped hair, smiled and answered. “I weren’t on anything. I was just about to hang meself an’ Jesus just appeared in my cell an’ told me not to kill meself…An ‘e said he loved me an’ I had a good future.”
Frankie frowned looking serious and said. “That’s weird man.”
Will smiled again. “Not to me it ain’t…’E saved my life.”
Will then went into the office at the end of the landing and said to an officer behind the desk. “I wanna make an application to see the priest guv.”
The officer smirked and said. “What…You got a confession to make?”
“Nah guv. I wanna tell him about the amazin’ thing that ‘appened in my cell last night.”
The officer reached for one of the paper application forms on his desk and asked. “What happened then?”
Will smiled and said. “I was just about to hang meself an’ Jesus appeared in my cell an’ told me not to kill myself and told me ‘e loved me an’ I had a good future.”
The officer suddenly looked serious. “You were going to hang yourself?”
“Yeah,” Will replied smiling. “I had a strip of sheet tied to the bars an’ everything. Then Jesus just appeared in me cell…’E’s beautiful guv.”
The officer still looked seriously concerned. “What’s your name lad? And what cell are you in?”
“William Morris. Cell thirty-seven.”
“Ok lad,” The officer replied, still looking concerned. “I’ll tell the priest you want to see him.”
“Cheers guv.”
A little later, just after Will had ate his breakfast in his cell, the cell door was suddenly opened and two prison officers walked in. One of them, a short, fat officer called Mr Giles said. “Pack yer kit Morris. We’re taking you to the hospital wing for observation.”
“Eh,” Will asked, looking confused. “Observation for what?”
The other officer, Mr Peters, who was tall and skinny, said. “You told an officer you were suicidal Morris, an’ you’d had a hallucination and seen Jesus in your cell.”
Will looked stunned and slightly hurt. “It weren’t an ‘allucination. It was real. Jesus really came into my cell.”
The officers looked slightly embarrassed and Mr Giles said. “We think your not well Morris. You just got seven years yesterday. You must be in shock, an’ that can do funny things to the mind. We just need to put you on the hospital wing for a little while to observer you…And make sure you don’t do anything silly.”
Will sighed. “Fair enough. I can understand what your thinkin’. But what I saw was real…An’ I’m not suicidal anymore.”
“Look Morris,” Said Mr Peters. “We’ll just put you on the hospital wing for a little while and review you again.”
“Ok,” Smiled Will, suddenly perking up. “But there’s nothin’ wrong with me. I’m ‘appy, an’ you’ll see that.”

On the hospital wing they put Will in a cell on the ground floor of the four story wing. He was in a row of cells reserved for high observation, which meant he’d be checked on by an officer every fifteen minutes. The cells on the hospital wing didn’t have little round spy holes on the door like the cells on the main wings in the prison, but had small open hatches in the doors, so that the inmates could be easily seen and the officers could pass medication to the prisoners without having to open the cells doors.
After Will had been in the cell half an hour a prison officer called Mr Matthews looked through Wills hatch for the second time and Will suddenly said. ‘Oi guvnor, there ain’t any jobs on the wing are there? Wing cleanin’ or some’ink? I just wanna get out of the cell.”
“You’re on suicide watch,” Said Mr Matthews. “You have to stay in your cell so we can observe you.”
Will looked frustrated and said. “I’m not suicidal anymore. Honestly I’m ‘appy now. But I just wanna get out of this cell an’ do some’ink to occupy me.”
Mr Matthews stood at the hatch looking unsure, then said. “Maybe in a few days or something. If you behave yourself and we think you ain’t a threat to yourself or anyone else, we might be able to give you a job then.”
Will felt frustrated, but forced a thin smile and said. “Ok guv. Fair enough, but trust me when I say I don’t wanna harm myself or anyone else. I don’t really understand what’s ‘appened to me, but all I know is I feel different an’ the last thing I wanna do is top meself…An’ it seems weird by I actually feel really ‘appy. I feel freer for some reason, an’ I can’t really explain it.”
Mr Matthews stared at Will a moment, weighing up what Will had said. “like I said Morris, just keep your head down for a few days and maybe we’ll give you a job then.”
“Ok guv. Fair enough.”

Five minutes later the Christian priest Michael Collins unlocked Will’s cell door. He smiled at Will and sat on Will’s bed and said. “I hear you had a visitation from the Lord.”
“Eh…Whad ya mean?” Asked Will.
“You told an officer that Christ appeared to you in your cell last night as you were about to kill yourself.”
Will looked stunned and suspicious and asked. “Yeah…How do you know?”
Michael smiled. “All the officers are talking about it. Some of them think your mad.”
Will looked slightly embarrassed. “Yeah. What do you think though. Do you think I’m mad?”
“Tell me what happened.”
Will took a deep breath, then said. “I got seven years yesterday. I was depressed an’ was just about to hang meself in my cell an’ then I heard a voice say I love you…I turned round an’ see Jesus just standing in the middle of me cell. He then said some’ink like…Don’t kill yerself. Follow me. I’ve got a good future for you…An’ then ‘e just disappeared.”
Will felt more relaxed to see that Micheal was still faintly smiling and Will asked again. “Do you think I’m mad?”
Michael paused a moment then said. “No…I’ve been a Christian more than thirty years and I know God is supernatural. I know Jesus can make himself known to people in a lot of ways…Ok, he doesn’t physically appear to everyone, and its quite rare when he does, but I’ve read a lot of autobiographies of criminals who became Christians, and a couple of them had also said Jesus appeared to them when they were in their cells…One person that happened to was a guy called Fred Lemon, who wrote his autobiography called Breakthrough, which was first published in the early 1980’s.”
They both pause in silence for a few seconds, then Michael said. “Maybe God wants you to write a book.”
Will raised his eyebrows and said. “I’ve thought about writing a book for years.”
They are both silent a moment, then Michael asked. “Would you like to become a Christian?”
“Yeah,” Will said with certainty, then asked. “But how do you become a Christian?”
“You just need to repeat a prayer I’m about to say to you. But I want you to understand first what it means to be a Christian.”
“What does it mean?” Will asked curiously.
“First and foremost,” Said Michael. “It means you get eternal life. When you die your soul goes to heaven and you’ll live there with Jesus forever.”
“Is that true?”
“I believe it is…And it says it in the bible. John 3 verse 16 says, for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
“I’ve heard that before,” Said will.
“its probably the most well known verse in the bible,” Said Michael.
“I would like my soul to live forever,” Said Will. “What have I gotta do?”
“Just repeat this prayer after me,” Said Michael, still smiling. “I’m sorry Jesus for all the bad things I’ve ever done.”
“I’m sorry Jesus for all the bad things I’ve done.”
“Please forgive me.”
“Please forgive me.”
“Thank you for dying on a cross for me.”
“Thank you for dying on a cross for me.”
“Please come to live inside my heart.”
“Please come to live inside my heart.”
“Please take away all my guilt and shame and make me clean and holy.”
“Please take away all my guilt an’ shame an’ make me clean an’ holy.”
“I promise that from this moment onwards I will live for and serve you.”
“I promise that from this moment onwards I will live for an’ serve you.”
“Thank you for setting me free.”
“Thank you for setting me free.”
“Amen.”
“Amen.”
Will and Michael stared at each other. Michael was still smiling slightly and asked. “How do you feel?”
“I feel different,” Will said quietly. “An’ I’ve felt different since last night. I just don’t feel so dark, heavy or depressed. I feel at peace.”
Michael smiled even more. “You’re a new man. The old has gone. You’re now a new creation in Christ.”

Five minutes after the priest left, Mr Matthews the officer Will had spoken to earlier, suddenly opened Will’s door and said. “We shouldn’t be doing this Morris, as you’re supposed to be on suicide watch, but I’ve just spoken to the priest and he thinks you’re ok…If you still want a job, we’ll move you to the fours, as we need a wing cleaner on that landing.”
Will smiled and said. “Sweet guv. I’m up for that.”
Five minutes later Will was in a cell on the top fourth floor landing. Will was over the moon, as from standing on his chair he could look out of the cell window and see over the wall again. This time he could see Wandsworth common, where he used to go fishing as a kid.
After briefly looking out of the cell window, Will got on with his new job and swept then mopped the fourth floor landing. When he’d finished he went back to sit in his cell, but with the door open. A little while later, Mr Matthews came back to his cell and asked Will. “Do you want another job Morris serving food on the hotplate at meal times.
“Yeah,” Will said happily surprised again. He’d worked on the hotplate before in other prisons wings and knew that not only did it add a few quid to his prison wages each week, but also there was often extra food left after the inmates had been served, and this extra food was shared by the inmates who worked on the hotplate.
“Ok then Morris, you’ve got two jobs in one day,” smiled Mr Matthews, then he added. “Come down to the office a minute Morris. A few of the officers want to know what happened to you last night.”
Will walked into the ground floor office with Mr Matthews. There were another three officers there and Will told them what had happened last night when Jesus came into his cell and stopped him committing suicide. Afterwards the officers looked gobsmacked and an old officer called Mr Kelly, said. “I’ve been in this job thirty-seven years lad and I’ve heard every inmate bullshit story under the sun…But what you’ve just said lad takes the biscuit.”
Will immediately looked hurt and deflated and said. “Its true.”
Mr Kelly looked sceptical. “I suppose you’ll tell me you’ve become a Christian next?”
“I have. When the priest came to my cell earlier.”
Mr Kelly rolled his eyes. “You only got seven years yesterday lad. It’s a bit early to pretend you’ve changed, to get out early on parole.”
Will didn’t know what to say and Mr Matthews suddenly laughed and broke the tension. “Don’t listen to grumpy guts Morris. Mr Kelly is one of the most cynical officers in this jail.”
Will and the other officers suddenly smiled, except Mr Kelly who scowled and said. “When you’ve been in this job as long as me Mr Matthews, you’ll know all about being cynical.”
Will was surprised to hear himself suddenly saying. “I’m gonna start praying for you Mr Kelly.”
“Yeah Morris. Pray I win the bloody lottery, so I don’t have to work in this dump anymore.”
Will and the other officers suddenly started laughing, and even Mr Kelly suddenly smiled.

After Will had spent three days on the hospital wing, Mr Matthews came to Will’s cell and said. “You don’t need to be on the hospital wing anymore Morris. We can see that you’re well.”
Will smiled, pleased at the confirmation that the officers didn’t think he was mad or ill.
Mr Matthews continued. “You can either go back to a mainstream wing for a couple of months till they ship you out to another prison, or you can stay on the hospital wing, keep your job as a wing cleaner and hot plate worker, but we also want to offer you a job as the officers tea maker. It will give you an extra five pound a week, and with your wing cleaning and hot plate job it will mean you earn fourteen quid a week. And your cell will be unlocked from 7.30 in the morning till 8.30 at night.”
Will raised his eyebrows. “You really wanna offer me a tea maker job?”
“Yeah Morris. All the officers really like you. And they can see from reading your prison record that you’ve suddenly changed,” Mr Kelly smiled and added. “You used to be a right scum bag. I saw on your record that you even assaulted a couple of officers before. You often refused to work. You’d escaped from custody three times. And you’d been suspected of smuggling in and selling drugs on the wing.” Mr Matthews smiled again and added. “Now I haven’t even seen you smoke a cigarette.”
Will smiled and said. “This is gonna sound crazy, but ever since I saw Jesus in my cell, I’ve only lit one cigarette an’ immediately put it out. It made me feel sick, an’ I’d smoked all me life…I just don’t want cigarettes anymore, an’ I don’t even miss or want drugs…I just feel clean now an’ I’ve never felt so good.”
Now Mr Matthews raised his eyebrows and said. “If that’s true Morris, there is hope for you yet. If you can stay away from drugs, you can stay away from crime. Most of the crimes you committed were to pay for drugs…So I really hope Morris, that you can stay drug free and you don’t waste anymore of your life in places like this.”
“I swear guv, an’ I’ve never been so sure of it. I’ll never take drugs again. An’ I’ll never commit crime again. Jesus has gave me a wake up call. An’ I’ve never felt so alive an’ excited about the future…I just wanna put the past behind me, stay out of jail and be there for my missus and kids…Being in an’ out of prison an’ on drugs all these years has been breakin’ their hearts. I’ve suddenly realised how much damage an’ pain I’ve been causin’ myself an’ other people. I was livin’ in a world of selfish hate, but Jesus opened up my heart, an’ now I feel love…I feel free now an’ I’m out of addiction.”
“I believe you Morris. I really believe you.”
Neither of them spoke a moment, then Mr Matthews asked. “Do you wanna stay on this wing then Morris and accept the tea making job?”
“Yeah guv,” Smiled Will.
“In that case,” Smiled Mr Matthews. “You might as well start now. I’ll have a milky coffee with one sugar.”
Will laughed slightly. “No problem.”

TO BE CONTINUED

CREEPERS ( Part 5 )

It was May the 1st, 2005, when Will sat in the dock of The Old Baily, flanked by a prison officer either side of him. Will ran his hand over his cropped, dark hair, and his tall, thin frame was slightly hunched as he sat in jogging bottoms, a tee-shirt and trainers.
The prosecutor Malcolm Reed outlined the charges against Will and he told Judge Royston, “Your honour, William Morris, thirty years old, of Earlsfield Road, Wandsworth, South West London, did an aggravated burglary at Welbeck Road, Richmond, Surrey, in August last year.
“He’d done the aggravated burglary with an accomplice in the early hours of the morning and had woken up the victims and had threatened to kill their two teenage daughters if the couple didn’t open a safe for them. The two defendants then fled the premises with forty-thousand pounds worth of jewellery and eight-hundred pounds in cash.
“William had been arrested for this crime and remanded in custody. However, William and three other inmates managed an audacious escape from police custody, then earlier this year he attempted to burgle a Penthouse flat in Knightsbridge, South West London. He was confronted by police officers on the roof of the luxury block of flats, then in sheer desperation and fear of going back to prison, he attempted to commit suicide by throwing himself off the roof and scaffolding lining the building. It was only by the grace of God that he survived with just a dislocated shoulder after he landed on a mattress in a skip containing builders rubbish.”
“Does the defendant have any previous convictions?” Asked Judge Royston.
The prosecutor continued, “The defendants offenses go back to the age of nine, when he was first arrested for shoplifting. And by the age of twelve he had regular court cases for crimes including burglary. He first got sent to a detention centre at the age of fourteen for burglaries and robberies where he’d snatched handbags from females, and since then he’s had a number of custodial sentences, the last being a three and a half year sentence, again for aggravated burglary…He’d only been released for six months when he’d committed the Richmond crime that he’s in court for today.”
“Thank you Mr Reed,” Said the judge, then he looked at John Hargreaves, Will’s barrister and asked, “Mr Hargreaves, what are your clients mitigation circumstances?”
“Your honour,” Said John, “My client has had a very difficult life. He was placed in care from the moment he was born and never knew his parents. He grew up in children’s homes, so found himself in the company of many other unruly children who committed crimes from a very young age, and due to peer group pressure he felt obliged to join in.
“He also took soft drugs from when he was a juvenile, and as an older inmate in prison he was introduced to harder drugs like heroin, crack and ecstasy. For many years my client had used these drugs, and became particularly dependant on crack cocaine and ecstasy, both of which my client says he was addicted too. And because of this addiction he felt the desperation to commit the crimes he’s in court for today. So his prime reason for committing these crimes was to pay for drugs.
“Your honour,” John continued, “My client knows he is facing a custodial sentence today and I simply ask that you deal with him as leniently as you can under the circumstances. My client is so traumatised by the years he spent in prison that he tried to commit suicide the last time that he was arrested, rather than face going to jail, and these kind of thoughts have not gone away. He is a real suicidal risk while he is in prison and I fear that a long custodial sentence may plunge him into despair and tip him over the edge.”
After a brief pause Judge Royston looked at Will’s barrister and said, “Thank you mister Hargreaves,” He then looked at Will sternly and said, “William Morris, I’ve listened to the prosecution and your defence lawyer. I understand that you committed the crimes you’re in court for today because of your addiction to drugs. However, you need to learn your lesson. You have a list of previous offenses going back to your childhood and you’ve had many sentences, the last being three and a half years, and you’d only been out six months when you committed the aggravated burglary in Richmond. You then had the audacity to escape from custody and you were arrested again after you tried to burgle a flat in Knightsbridge.”
The judge seemed to stare even sterner as he continued talking to Will, “People need to learn that if they commit offenses again and again, their sentences will get longer, which will hopefully be a deterrent. I therefore sentence you to five years for the Richmond aggravated burglary, and for the attempted burglary in Knightsbridge I sentence you to two years to run consecutively. Therefore you are sentenced to a total of seven years.”

It was 6.30 in the evening. Will was seated in a large holding cell in Wandsworth prison with about forty inmates who’d been sentenced that day. The sentences ranged from two months to life. Crimes that ranged from shoplifting to murder, and everything in between.
Every now and then inmates were called out to see a doctor and be processed through reception. When it was Wills turn to see the doctor, the doctor said, “I see you got seven years today.”
“Yeah,” Answered Will, emotionless.
The doctor then glanced down at Will’s file, then said, “It says on your record that you’re suicidal. How are you feeling now?”
“Fine,” Said Will, hiding his feelings.
The doctor looked puzzled and said, “You just got seven years. Are you sure you’re feeling fine?”
“Yeah,” Will said simply.
“Are you still suicidal?”
“Nah.”
“What’s changed then?” The doctor asked, studying Will intently.
Will shrugged, “I dunno. I just don’t feel suicidal. I feel alright.”
The doctor looked at the prison officer beside Will and said, “He’s fit for the main.”
Will smiled slightly. His plan was working. He’d successfully avoided being put on suicide watch on the hospital wing and would be going to a mainstream wing. On the hospital wing he’d have been checked every fifteen minutes. On the main though the night watchman would look through the cell door spy hole about 9 Pm, then wouldn’t look through the spy hole again until about 6 Am the following morning. Will was planning to hang himself after the 9 Pm check.

After Will was processed through reception he was taken with a dozen inmates to B wing. The wings were four story’s high. There was the ground floor and level two, three and four had narrow landings about three feet wide, outside the cells and edged by four foot high railings. Stretching across from each side of landing one was safety wire mesh to prevent people trying to commit suicide by jumping off the upper landings, and also to protect any inmates or staff that may have been thrown over.
Will had arranged to have a single cell and had lied to a prison officer saying he snored really loudly, and that in the past he’d ended up fighting with cell mates because his snoring had annoyed them when it had kept them awake.
About 9 Pm the officer on night duty started walking around the four landings, peering a moment through each cell door spy hole before moving to the next. Will was on the top landing, the fours.
As soon as the officer had looked into Wills cell, Will sat down at his small table and chair and began writing a suicide note to Jenny, his long term common law wife and mother of his children.

Dear Jenny,

I’m so sorry babe. But I’ve decided to kill myself. I can’t survive in jail for another seven year sentence. I feel like I’m already dead. This sentence has finished me.

I’ll always love you and the children, but I just can’t cope with jail anymore. I’ve been in and out of jail since I was a kid, and now I’ve had enough. I feel like I’m buried alive.

Sorry
Love
Will x

Will stared a moment at what he’d written. Tears came to his eyes. He then picked up one of his bed sheets and tore a strip about an inch wide for the whole length of the seven foot long sheet. He then put his chair against the back wall of the cell, stood on it and began tying the strip of sheet around the cell bars set behind the small window, high up in the wall.
As Will was on the top landing he could see over the prison wall and in the distance he could see the tower blocks behind the Arndale shopping centre just over a mile away, with their lights shinning in the darkness. Apart from the time he’d spent in prison, Will had lived in the Wandsworth area all of his life. He’d had friends who lived in the tower blocks he could see. For a moment he stared at them, replaying warm memories in his mind. Memories of being with school friends when he was a kid, mixed with memories of getting high and scoring drugs from friends who lived there when he was older.
The darkness of despair came back when he suddenly remembered he’d been sentence to seven years. He shivered and started tying the noose to put around his neck. He was still facing the window and was about to put his head through the noose when he heard a soft voice say, “I love you.”
Will turned around, half shocked and half surprised. Standing in the middle of his cell was Jesus Christ. He was dressed in a white robe and Will had never seen someone shinning with such brilliance. And as Will stared into Jesus’s eyes he felt mesmerised by their beauty and warmth.
Will stepped down from the chair and just stood there dumbfounded and Jesus spoke again saying, “Do not kill yourself. Have hope. Follow me. I’ve got a good future for you.”
And then Jesus just disappeared. Will stood there for a moment, utterly stunned. Suddenly Will heard three thumps on his cell wall. Then he heard a voice out of the window from the next cell, “Yo next door.”
Will didn’t answer for a moment, and he heard another three thumps and the voice said again, “Next door.”
Will stood on his chair again and answered, “Whad’ya want?”
“You got any cigarettes?” Asked Frankie, the guy in the next cell.
“Nah,” Will replied, still feeling surreal from what had happened.
There was a pause, then Frankie asked, “Is that you Will?”
“Yeah,” Will replied, “Who’s that?”
“Its Frankie…Frankie Williams. Your old cell mate from Pentonville a few years ago.”
Will was deep in thought a moment trying to remember, then he said, “Frankie. Yeah, I remember you. How are ya man?”
“I’m alright,” Said Frankie, “I thought I recognised yer voice.”
There was a moments pause, then Will said sounding awestruck, “You won’t believe what’s just ‘appened.”
“What?” Asked Frankie, “What’s ‘appened?”
“I got seven years today and was just about to hang myself an’ Jesus appeared in my cell an’ told me not to do it and told me he loved me…I can’t believe it. He saved my life…I really would have topped myself.”
There was an awkward embarrassing silence, then Frankie asked, “You smokin’ some’ink?
“Nah.”
“You on a trip?”
“Nah.”
“You on an E?”
“Nah, straight up. I’m not on anything.”
Again, there was an awkward pause, then Mental Micky, a big fat black guy who’d been listening on his bed from the landing below, suddenly came to his cell window and shouted out the cowboy phrase, “Yee haw,” Then added, “Hallelujah. Jesus saved another soul.”
Frankie then said, “Oh no. You’ve started mental Micky off. ‘E’ll be talkin’ out ‘e’s window for another hour now.”
“I heard dat,” Said Micky.
Frankie then said to Will a bit quieter, “I’m gonna read my book now mate. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Alright man,” Will replied.
Frankie then said softly, “And don’t worry about yer seven year sentence man. With remission you’ll do just over four. Or if you behave yerself an’ your lucky you could be out on parole in less than three. It may seem depressin’ now, but its not that long.”
“I’m not depressed man,” Will said smiling, “I told ya, Jesus just came into my cell an’ told me I’ve got a good future.”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Frankie replied suddenly sounding a bit irritated, “I’ll see ya in the mornin’ mate.”
“OK,” Will replied still smiling.
“Praise the Lord,” Shouted mental Micky.
Will got down from his window feeling slightly amused. He laid down on his bed. Mental Micky and several other inmates then started joking and talking out of their windows. You have never guessed that they were in a prison full of hardened criminals as some of the inmates acted like big kids.
As Will laid on the bed listening to them, he still had a smile on his face. But then he suddenly wondered if he was going mad. He’d been taking drugs for many years, and maybe seeing Jesus had been an hallucination. A flash back he thought. But then he just knew that Jesus had been real. And he’d never ever felt such a presence of love as what he was feeling now. Earlier he’d been so depressed and feeling such despair that he’d wanted to die. Now he was feeling so high and blissed that he felt like he was in heaven. And more than anything he felt hope again and he’d never felt so loved.
After a while, Will disentangled the strip of sheet from around the bars. He then changed out of his prison clothes, got into bed and closed his eyes. Forty minutes later for the first time in years he was sleeping without fear, without worry, without despair. He was sleeping so peacefully and so relaxed it was like he was a baby. He was in the safety and comforting presence of Christs love.

TO BE CONTINUED