Jesus Christ is real and He loves you, He changed my life and I know He can change yours!
I grew up in foster homes, children’s homes and institutions from the age of 9, having spent most of my childhood being locked up in an institution or living on the streets. I was first placed in an institution for running away from children’s homes, not for committing a crime.
I have been molested as a child, made a ward of the state and spent most of my life committing crime, using drugs and running from myself. My parents split up when I was very young, I am the second oldest of five children. I have spent time in all of the prisons in Perth, with my last prison sentence ending in 2001 where I served time in Casuarina and Karnet prisons. From a child, up until the age of 31, I was using all types of drugs with Speed or Methamphetamines being my drug of choice.
Every time that I was locked up as a child I used to attend these Christian groups where they came into the prison. I mainly went for the food and to look at the girls who came in. I remember when I was 16 in Riverbank boys Institution we had a Christian group called Broken Chain Ministry, Pastor Alan Sheppard, come into the prison, they played a video called, “The Cross and the Switchblade”, I remember going back to my cell and getting on my knees and calling out to God, “God if you can change his life then you can change mine”. For the first time in my life I knew in my heart that God was real, His presence fell on me in my cell, I remember the joy that filled my heart and the tears that ran from my cheeks as if it were yesterday. “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me”. I used to go around the prison telling everyone about Jesus. God gave me a scripture back then, it was John 8:32 “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free”, it was another 15 years before I was to come to know what that scripture really meant to me. When I was released from Riverbank I stopped reading my Bible and went straight back to drugs and crime. I have been running from me for most of my life. I have been around Australia 7 times trying to change my life but everywhere I went I would end up on drugs then run again to another place and then it would happen again so I just kept running, no matter where I went the same thing kept on happening. In my heart I knew God was real because of what happened to me as a child in my cell in Riverbank at the age of 16. My whole life all I wanted was to be normal, what I mean by normal is living with Mum & Dad, going to one school, going on family holidays and picnics even playing sports and all the stuff that people take for granted. Me, I went to 16 different schools and only really ever made grade 6. I have never played any sports growing up or gone on a family holiday, to tell you the truth I can’t even remember living with my family. My whole childhood was crime, drugs and everything that comes with it. Over the course of my life up until the age of 30 I have spent time in all of the jails in Perth and had been doing drugs and crime. In my heart I knew God was there but I never called out to Him.
In 1999 I was released from Bunbury Regional Prison after serving one year of a three year sentence, when I was released I decided to sell drugs full time and it wasn’t long before I was selling an average of $40k a day in Methamphetamines as well as a large amount of firearms, explosives and other stuff. I awoke one morning after I had just done 16 days straight with no sleep and I had the TRG (Tactical Response Group) come flying through the front and back of my house. They had bullet proof vests on, shotguns in their hands and they were yelling out “get down on the floor, get down on the floor” while the helicopter was flying over the top of my roof. I was charged with possession of two firearms, intent to sell and supply and a couple of other charges. I was released on bail and went back to doing what I was doing and that was selling and using drugs. Like I said before, my whole life all I ever wanted to be was normal, I didn’t want to be who I was, I didn’t want to be doing what I was doing. I’ve got this saying, “You can take the prisoner out of prison but you still have to get the prison out of the prisoner”, even when you’re not in jail, you’re in jail, even though I wasn’t locked up I might have well been. When you get out of prison you try to hang around normal people but you feel like a weed, you feel like you don’t belong so you go back to hanging around all those people you can relate to but the problem is they are all doing what you don’t want to do, but you keep doing it anyway.
I remember my oldest son Peter was just starting his first ever sports game across the road from where we were staying, it was called grass hopper soccer. The deal was the Dads had to stand still with their legs open while the boy had to kick the ball through the Dads legs, if the son got it through then the Dad had to roll around on the ground like a goose to make the kid feel all fluffy, when my son kicked the ball through my legs I couldn’t bring myself to roll around on the ground in front of all them people so I turned my back on my son and began to walk home, I started to cry, I wanted to do that, I wanted to be normal, it was like a battle in me, I went home and told my wife, Amanda, to go over the road and look after the boy.
After that day weird stuff started to happen, every time I left my house by myself I would hear this voice in my head saying, “follow me”, then the car in front would tap on the brakes a few times and I would hear the voice again saying “follow me”, so I followed. I followed the car in front for a bit then I pulled up at a park and I heard this voice in my head saying, “I’m offering you this”, there was a father and his son playing in the park together. I started sobbing and crying my eyes out in the car. After a few minutes I drove off and it happened again, the voice saying, “follow me”, so I followed it again and this time I pulled up next to a brand new home and I heard the same voice again saying, “I’m offering you this”, I started sobbing and crying my eyes out again in the car. It wasn’t that home I was being offered it was what it represented, A place that I could call home. I have moved every three months of my whole life, from one place to another and all I ever wanted was a place to call home where I didn’t have to move. This happened for nearly a week, every time I left my home weird stuff started to happen, I was led all over Perth and someone was offering me everything I ever wanted, I would see a family playing together in a park and I would hear the voice saying, “I’m offering you this”, and I would start crying again, I kept on telling Amanda what was happening when I got home and she thought that I had lost the plot on the drugs. I went out on my bike one day, it was a near new VN1500 cruiser and the same stuff was happening. Those days I used to be covered in Gold rings and chains with a bald head big beard and heaps of tatts so I stood out a little. I was 30km Perth side of Lancelin probably 15km north from a place called Neerabup road house following this voice in my head when all of a sudden my bike stopped. I pulled over onto the side of the road to have a look, it was a new bike or near new bike, I had heaps of fuel and as far as I knew there was nothing wrong with it but I still couldn’t get it going so I decided to hitch back to the road house to ring my wife for help. I crossed the road and put my thumb out and this young couple pulled over so I got in the back and we drove off. As we were driving along the road the young bloke leaned over the back seat and said to me, “mate I feel that God wants me to tell you that He loves you and has a plan and purpose for your life”, that was it, I just broke down in the bloke’s car there and then weeping. I asked the couple if they minded pulling over to let me out of the car so they did. I got out of the car had a bit more of a crying and then cleaned myself up a bit as you can imagine what a beard and crying does to a blokes looks and had a sleep in the bush for half hour. When I woke up I went back out on the road and put my thumb out and this flat black F250 tray back ute stopped, I looked at the driver and he had long black hair in a ponytail with half of his face covered in tatts now compared with the other car that I got a lift with this bloke I felt comfortable with. We started driving up the road and he says to me, “is that your bike back there?” and I said yep, He said would you like for us to pick it up as we could stick it on the back”, I told him that I just wanted to get home. We kept on driving down the road and again out of the blue he looks at me and says, “Mate I feel that God wants me to tell you that He loves you and that He has a plan and purpose for your life”. I just started to cry and I think I kept on crying until he dropped me off at the road house. I got out of his car and I was all confused, for a couple of weeks now all this weird stuff was happening, I had been led all over Perth being shown everything that I ever wanted and now I had two people one after the other telling me That God loves me and that He has a plan for me. I didn’t want to be me anymore; all I wanted was to be normal. I went inside the road house and took all of my gold jewelry off and threw it in the bin, I’m talking thousands of dollars worth. I went outside and rang Amanda from the phone box, I told her that something weird was going down and I asked her if she could come and pick me up, she told me that she had to pick the kids up from school so I went back out onto the road and started to hitch. A car stopped to pick me up and there was an elderly lady driving it so I hopped in and she drove off. She did the normal stuff like asked me where I was going so I told her then after a few minutes of silence and straight out of the blue she says to me, “I feel that God wants me to tell you that He loves you and that He has a plan and purpose for your life”. Now you can picture what happened next, me I just broke down crying, three people in less than 15km of each other telling me that God loves me and that He has a plan and purpose for my life. The lady drove me all the way home to Bayswater and I think that I cried all the way there.
To speed my story up a bit I got brought to a point a few days later where I had three police holding me down on a road, they had pepper sprayed my face and had two sets of handcuffs on my wrists trying to get my arms together to lock me up, I honestly thought that they were going to kill me if they got me in the van. I was screaming at the top of my lungs. I remember them trying to push me into the van, I had one foot either side of the paddy wagon door and I was thinking to myself If they get me in there them I’m dead. I remember calling out to God for help, I cried out the Lord’s Prayer, well part of it, the part I knew and the next thing I passed out. I woke up the next day in hospital with 13 stitches to my head, a tube in my hand and one in my (you know where). I was confused and scared when I woke up, Amanda was there and I told her I wanted out of there, I grabbed all the tubes and pulled them out then just left the hospital and told my wife that we needed to go and book ourselves into a motel, I had to find a place to think. I went to sleep that night in the motel and woke up at around 3am in the morning, I had had a dream from God and in my dream He told me that I would be telling people how He had changed my life. I woke Amanda up and told her the dream and all she said was that’s nice and went back to sleep.
In the morning I told Amanda that I felt that we had to go to church, now I had never been to a church in my life so we got all dressed up then left the motel looking for a church. We drove around all day from one end of Perth City to the next, from one church to another. I would pull up at a church and I heard this voice in me say, “not that one”, so we went from one church to the next when at about 2pm as we came into Morley this voice said, “that church”. It was the New Life Church in Morley. I looked at the board and the service was not till 6pm so we went for a meal and came back at 6. The second that I walked into that church I was balling my eyes out, He was preaching on David and Goliath, I remember the words as if it were yesterday, “how dare that uncircumcised philistine defy the army’s of the living God”, when the pastor gave the altar call I went forward to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour.
I have been a Christian now for just over 10 years and everything that God showed me He has given me and even more. After being released from Jail in 2001, I went to study at Riverview Bible College where I studied full time for three years obtaining an advanced Diploma of Theology. While studying at Bible College I decided to start a gardening/lawn mowing business and within three years we had 6 staff and three vehicles turning over more than $500k per annum just weeding gardens and mowing lawns. I have been with Amanda for over 23 years and have been married for 18 of them, we have two children Peter aged 16 and Rhyan aged 12 who both go to Swan Christian college and have only moved schools once and that was due to my older son going to High school. I also have a very precious daughter Tosha-Lena aged 23. Having lived the life that I have, I had to go through a long healing process where I had to ask forgiveness from many people whom I had hurt in my life with Amanda being one of them, at the same time I also had to forgive many people that had hurt or done stuff to me. Amanda came from a normal home, completed year 12, was head girl all through High School and even did her work experience as a police officer. I thank the Lord my God for her everyday to me she is the greatest treasure that God has given me apart from our Lord Jesus Christ. The growth process in my life as a Christian has been amazing from glory to glory but at the same time it has been extremely hard; as I spend time with God in prayer and His word He continues to challenge me to raise me up to new heights. Every day is a gift, how can I put it into words my love for Jesus Christ and what He has done in and through me. I know what I have done in my life, I know how many times I have let Him down or disobeyed Him and yet He still loves me, He still helps me, I love Him so much it brings tears to my eyes just thinking about Him. There are so many things He has done in us as a family and so many places He has taken us, over the last 10 years we have travelled throughout Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, China, India and Vietnam. For just on five years I was a volunteer chaplain at Acacia Prison two days per week. If I were to list everything He has done and how He did it we would be writing chapter after chapter.
Back when I was 16 years old in Riverbank God gave me a scripture, John 8:32; it says; “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free”, it wasn’t until I went to Bible college in 2001 where I learnt about it in context, in other words what’s before and what’s after. John 8:31-32 says; “If you abide in me and my word you will know the truth and the truth will set you free”. God told me at the beginning of Bible College, “to abide means to live in, to make your home just like your body needs food your spirit needs food”, every day since I was released from Jail in 2001, I start my day with the Lord in prayer and in His word, when I don’t want to pray I still pray, when I don’t want to read the word I read the word, when I don’t want to go to church I still go to church. I honestly believe that it is through keeping the spiritual Disciplines that I have that He has grown and stretched me into who I am today, it’s not about being religious it’s about having a relationship with a living God who loves us and I mean really truly loves us more than we could ever comprehend, it’s about being a Christian on an everyday basis. It has been through these spiritual disciplines that He has empowered me to overcome all the battles that I used to face as well as still face such as, alcohol, smoking, addictions to drugs, the words of my mouth, the thoughts in my mind etc, even right down to paying my taxes on every cent that I earn, to tithing. Who I am today is not the person I was three months ago and who I will be in three months from now will not be the person I am today, I am growing in Christ Jesus my Lord every day and will continue to Grow as long as I am in this body. What an awesome God we serve, what a mighty God. The Bible says in, 1 Corinthians 2:9; that no eye has seen, no ear has heard and no mind could conceive what God almighty has prepared for those who love Him for those who have been called. That’s not just for heaven that is for the here and now that is for today!
If you are reading this pray with all my heart and soul that the love, grace and power of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ fill you to overflowing so that in all you put your hand to He will be magnified in and through your life. You are loved by God; He has called you by name.
John 3:16, For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have an everlasting life!