A THIEF and drug addict from Leamington has turned his life around and is now a church pastor.
John – not his real name as he wishes to remain anonymous – found himself stealing from friends and family to fuel his drug addiction, which was costing hundreds of pounds a day. His addiction, which he said quickly got out of control, started with smoking cannabis before progressing to ecstasy.
But when he ended up in prison after stealing, he met a chaplain who changed his life.
He said: “I had a loving family and enjoyed playing sports and hanging out with friends like any other kid. But that all changed when I started smoking cannabis. I always wanted to be out with my friends smoking weed.
“I was ripping people off, taking drugs and not even paying. It got to the point I was even stealing from my family. I felt confident, chatty and that I could engage really easily, but the comedown was very depressing and led me to some very dark places.
“A real low point is when I walked into Argos to the jewellery counter and picked the most expensive thing I could find and asked to try it on. The moment I got the bracelet I took off and ran 300 yards down the road to my dealers house and swapped the bracelet for drugs.”
When in jail, John discovered a close friend who was homeless on the streets of Leamington and suffered from alcohol addiction, had killed himself. The shock was the wake up call he needed.
After a visit from the prison chaplain he was given a Bible and a book detailing the life of a man who lived on the streets before finding God and becoming a Christian.
John said: “My friend’s death was like a wake up call. I broke down in floods of tears with the chaplain. He gave me a Bible and a testimony book called on these streets. I was on my own with nothing to do and gradually I started thinking about the Bible. Everyday something was screaming out to me to read it. At first the Bible didn’t grab me but the testimony book did because I was reading about a man who had a similar experience to me.
“I asked God to help me change my life. That day I knew I had a purpose in life and I was not destined to be a worthless drug addict who would one day die of an overdose.”
When he got out of prison John joined a church in Wales and eventually became pastor. He also runs a rehabilitation house which supports vulnerable people and those with addictions
He said: “I had a new opportunity to change lives of other people.
“As a church we have a real heart to see drug addicts change and have a new life. This is me saying I did all this stuff but I’m using all that and turning it around. It’s the greatest privilege in the world.”