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.