My name is Jay and I was brought up in East London. As a kid I was very insecure and I used to be bullied at school because I never liked fighting and I never fought back. It didn’t take long for me to realise that I could get by in life by acting the clown. I hated rejection as well and was so soft-hearted that the slightest thing would easily hurt me. As time wore on I learned to be accepted by acting up and being rebellious. I lost my temper on a few occasions and found I wasn’t too bad at fighting and got left alone after I won a couple. So, all in all, I learned that I could get by being a nutter!
I started hanging around with older kids and by the age of 15 I was smoking and drinking and using ‘soft’ drugs. I was also burgling homes to finance this. This progressed through the years and I got involved in gangs and by my late teens I was a ‘skinhead’. I was getting into fights and started sniffing glue. This progressed to speed and acid as well as smoking marijuana heavily (plus anything else that came my way). Eventually I ended up using heroin. I quickly progressed from simply smoking it to injecting. For some time I was also addicted to cocaine as well. All this time I was financing my habits through the usual means: I robbed houses, shoplifted and even stooped to mugging people. I stole from my own parents and have caused them so much pain and heartache over the years it is unbelievable. I should have died on numerous occasions but I now believe that God had His hand firmly on me. After 17 years on heroin I’d put on so many masks I didn’t really know who I was anymore; I’d built up so many walls against people hurting me, I didn’t care about anyone or anything anymore, least of all myself. I didn’t have any hope for the future and I thought I was destined to always be a junkie. I had tried many times over the years to quit but always ended up back on the gear. After falling off the ladder so many times you just don’t want to climb up anymore. I did several prison sentences but still ended up back on gear as soon as I got out. Then one day I met a man named Javier. He started telling me about Jesus Christ. He seemed genuinely interested in me and he didn’t want anything from me, he just wanted to help me! He also seemed to be so happy and full of life and this intrigued me. He started coming by my flat and teaching me about the Lord and asking me to come along to his church. He said the pastor was an ex-heroin addict and gave me his book, ‘Addicted’. This ‘vicar’ was a nutter, worse than me! And now he was a ‘vicar’! This intrigued me as well. So I went along to the church to check it over. After a few months I finally went up and gave my life to the Lord. I started the Alpha course and started going to church but more or less I was still stuck in the gutter. So after a few ‘ups and downs’ Javier finally asked me to go to Teen Challenge. I had my problems though. My girlfriend of that time left me and I ended up leaving the programme for a while. I was devastated but God showed me that there was nothing out there for me and He has also shown me that although people and the world will let you down, He is faithful and will always be there to help us through.
Since finishing the programme I’ve faced even more pressures and trials in my Christian walk but God has helped me through each one as it happened. For four and a half years now I haven’t touched any drug, alcohol or cigarettes. More than this, I can walk down the same streets that I came from witnessing to the people that I once used to use drugs with, helping them find the same freedom that I now have. I worked for Teen Challenge London for nearly three and a half years before moving to Scotland. My mum and dad have a son they can be proud of at last. My life has been completely turned around. First Corinthians 1:27-28 says “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong and the despised things, and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are.”
I met Lorraine at the annual Teen Challenge Conference in November of 2001. I contacted her soon after and we began to correspond with each other on a regular basis. Lorraine had also completed the Teen Challenge programme and was a regular worker on the streets of Glasgow with the Teen Challenge bus ministry. I went up to Scotland for the 2002 New Year and spent time with Lorraine. We started to visit each other for about 5-7 days most months and in April 2002 we got engaged. We were married at City Gates Christian Centre on the 16 August 2003 in Ilford, Essex. After the wedding I moved to Glasgow with Lorraine and started a new job with the Haven, a similar ministry with close ties to Teen Challenge.
The Lord continues to bless us both in our lives each day. Lorraine already has two teenage daughters, Claire, 18, and Nicole, 15, who lives with us. Both have accepted me wholeheartedly and every day we see the Lord doing more and more of a work in their lives also as He draws them closer to Himself through us. I thank and praise God each day for where he has taken us from and the new places he leads us each day. He truly is an awesome God. Amen.