Finding God through the wrong turns

God took John on quite a journey before he started work at Webber Street as a Mission Associate. His experience in overcoming addiction and homelessness has helped us greatly in the work we do. And we thank God for his life.

John grew up in Southwest London, in a normal working class family living on a council estate. His father – a soldier in the army – was a forceful but loving man who died when John was around 12 years old.

The loss of his father sent John on a self-destructive path that would lead to a battle with addiction that would last for decades.

“I rebelled after my father died. It was during the punk era, and I ended up playing music with garage bands. It was during this time that I got into drugs and continued taking them throughout my teen years,” John recalls.

First detox at 19 years old

“I had my first detox when I was 19 years old. Back then I just thought you could just detox, get all these substances out of my system and then just get on with my life. But that wasn’t the case.

“I actually went on travels abroad, but I took myself with me as they say. I couldn’t escape my addictions. There were no drugs where I went, but then I just found myself around alcohol.”

Throughout his 20s John battled with addiction.

“They say addiction is progressive. And it is. It never got better. It always got worse. I tried different treatment centres and I managed to find a 12-step fellowship.

“But I kept relapsing. And it was a real physical and emotional rock bottom. I was on the edge of death. My own mother would plead and look into my eyes, begging me to stop. And I, with every fibre of my being, would say I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’ve had enough. I’m done. And I’d mean it.

“But the next morning, instead of going right, I’d go left and end up at the dealer’s house. Not even the pleading of my mother could stop me.”

The turning point

No human intervention could stop John from falling into his old habits. But then something happened on 8 August, twenty years ago.

“I fell to my knees in desperation and just said help. Help me. At the time I didn’t know if I was talking to myself, or the universe, but I got a moment of clarity. I heard a voice that told me to find God, to clear house and to serve others,” says John.

“And that was the last time I ever used drugs.”

Searching for God

John picked his life up. He got a degree. He started a job. He also went on a voyage to find God. He went on Buddhist retreats, went to Indian sweat lodges, walked on hot coals, but it would be ten years before he walked into a church.

“I just didn’t think Church was a place for me. Then one night I had a dream of Jesus. And Jesus said, come to me and lay everything at my feet.

“I told my sponsor at the time. He was a Christian who never enforced his views. But that was his moment.

“He gave me a book on the sermon on the mount. What attracted me was the way Jesus cared for the poor and stood up to the Pharisees. He turned things around and I wanted to find out more.”

Finding Jesus

At that time there was a church near where John lived and walked past all the time.

“And there was this huge picture of Bear Grylls pointing down to this word called Alpha. So, I phoned up this church and they said they were going to start the course in 8 days,” John recalls.

After ten years and 8 days since his search for God began, John walked into a church. And during the Alpha course, he came to a better understanding of Jesus and through the power of the Holy Spirit, John was saved.

Life now

“When I did all those weird things, like walking on hot coals and things, I would feel better for a day or two. But this was different. As the days went on, I realised all I needed to do was stop, pray and be with this Holy Spirit,” says John.

“I felt differently. Saw things differently. And I woke up in the morning for the first time, without fear in my belly.

“The biggest difference is the acknowledgement of God’s love. When I walked into church for the first time after all that had happened, and I saw everyone singing and worshipping the same God, I realised that was what I searched for.

“I realised then that I had come home.”

We are so thankful for John and for his testimony. God has placed him at Webber Street day centre for a purpose.

John helps provide breakfast, tea and coffee, showers, clothes, and support with any issues our guests may face. He also loves to share the gospel with them whenever the opportunity arises and leads the optional weekly bible study.

"I see potential in every person that walks through the door at Webber Street – they are children of God, and my vision is for them all to find freedom in Jesus and be the best of themselves,” says John.

In a place where we see lots of people at rock bottom, we are seeing how God is using John and his experience to show what’s possible through Jesus. We’re so glad you’re home too, John!

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