James stayed at GrowTH in December 2019. Five months later, he shared his
incredible story from his rehab with his Advocate Worker, Naomi.
In the beginning
“I was always around alcohol. [My parents] split up. Me and my sister, we went out drinking and people would come and drag me off the street as a young kid. I started drinking before my school exams. And then I started getting into cannabis, then ecstasy, then cocaine, and then it just got worse. I was always working… working for myself, to feed my own habits.
I started coming into crime because I was brought up by my friends. It became a sort of alpha male situation… a lot of violence going on. I ended up getting arrested a few times, one with a knife. I did my time; I think 4 years out of the 6-year sentence. I was young… jack-the-lad… I didn’t realise I was wasting my life.
I came out and then I got arrested for something I didn’t do and I done another two years straight after… I was 30 years of age when I come out and thought, ‘I don’t want to do no more prison’. I had a daughter, and then went back to prison…”
“I had an accident about six years ago. I found out what happened and hit the roof. I was thinking evil thoughts to kill the man that had done that to me. I started smoking drugs, like crack. I was homeless, no one would put up with me… doing that all the time.”
A glimmer of hope
“My nan was a full-blown Christian in All Saints Church in Poplar, she always used to take me there as a kid. I used to get excited for the biscuits on a Sunday. She taught me so much about Christianity but I never used to take no notice of it.
I went down[hill] and all of a sudden, I knew the only one that would help me… and I started going to church. I ended up making the teas in there… they started giving me advice: ‘Go down to the Mission.’ I went down Whitechapel (Mission) and Sonia, she phoned you up, lucky enough she did.
After staying in GrowTH in December 2018, James left, unwilling to face his addiction. He reflects, “I become rude and arrogant and moved on ungratefully after the first year.”
At death’s door and second chances
“Then I became worse and I was on death’s door after that year. I had to quit work to come and meet you. I will never forget; you come and spoke to me and I was begging you for another chance. You said, ‘The only way I can help you, is if you go into rehab’. My reply was, ‘I gotta go to work,’ and you said, ‘You’ve been working for 20 years and it’s done nothing for you!’. Tail between my legs, we looked on the internet and applied for two. When I see the Christian one, that jumped out to me. I thought, ‘Follow the light’, and two days later they accepted me and I said goodbye to my family and GrowTH paid for the ticket for me to go from Victoria to Leicester and that was it, that was how it started.”
The first few days
“It was hard. I was judging, moaning; negative thoughts going through my mind. You gave me a Bible; I began reading that. I met some great Christians there. I was beginning to see how bad I was, especially the judgment around other people. I was angry, horrible and realised I needed to change. So, I began to worship… singing and reading the Bible you gave me. I went to another church on a Sunday… all the churches I ever been before were like people with perms, and white hair and robes, but this one was like a modern one, like a soul concert. It was good. So, I became more hungry then.”
Doubts and answered prayer
“It started again, my distractions and thoughts coming, questioning my faith. Every time I questioned my faith, He always answered me the next day, whether it was something in the Book or in another way. I just knew it was Him, talking to me, the exact answer of what I was thinking. It’s funny isn’t it? It’s crazy. I’ve written it down; I’ve got a book of them all. I’ll be loyal for the rest of my life with Him. It’s good news. You polished up a little gem.”
Dependant on God
“I couldn’t take it no more, nothing I could do about it. He was the only one who could do something… A little passage is coming to me now, when He [Jesus] said, ‘My burden put the burden on me’. I can’t do it; more or less an impossibility. After I had my head injury [from the accident], I could hardly walk. The doctors told me I couldn’t walk no more; I had to learn to read and write again and stuff like that. My body has become immense. I’ve started to run, run backwards, forwards, I can run up walls! And they told me I couldn’t walk again. He’s working in mad ways. It’s unreal.”
Ezekiel 36:26: “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.”
“I met a really blinding man [in prison]. We used to have this argument ‘cos he used to go and see paedophiles and stuff like that, and I used to go mad at him. I used to go, ‘How can you do that?’ and he said to me one day, ‘James, do you think you’re better than them?’ and now it’s sunk in what he meant. Because I wasn’t. I was a horrible man. I was in there for knife crime and stuff like that. I was a bully. And it makes sense now what he was saying to me. He was a very wise man and he taught me so much.”
Plans for the future
“I’m going to preach hopefully. I would love to go to churches and explain my life story. Helping others, giving thanks in any way I can for my life. I’m just waiting on Him now. I’m asking Him, ‘What do you want me to do?’.”
All glory to God the Father for lifting James out of the darkness and into the light. We at GrowTH are so privileged to have been part of his journey and we are excited for James’ future.