My name is John Manley I’m 29 and from Chigwell in Essex. I come from a broken family and even though I never wanted for anything this could be the cause of my rebellion which started at the age of 11. Going into school, signing my name and jumping back over the fence is all I knew about school. By the age of 15 I had smoked my first cannabis joint which I believe was that start of 14 years of drug abuse. At 16 I was experimenting with ecstasy, sometimes taking up to 15 pills a weekend. I was just looking to fit in and wanting excitement. At 19 I got introduced to cocaine not knowing that the next 6 years of my life was going controlled by an addiction to it. By this time I was in a deep relationship with Julie, a girl who was at this time pregnant with my boy. She gave me an ultimatum: her or the drugs. I wanted both. At 24 my son was born but 8 months later Julie and I split up. I moved into my own flat and it was here that I believe I hit rock bottom. I started using crack cocaine and heroin to come down from the high. Before long I was hooked on both. I spent the next three years robbing homes and garages to feed my habit.
Then I believe that God intervened in my life. My uncle Bob who was a born-again Christian and who I hadn’t spoken to in years started speaking to me and my family. He found out about my addiction and got me into Teen Challenge London after about two weeks. Who says God doesn’t use other people? On 4 March 2003 I entered Teen Challenge London with a string of convictions and looking at about three years behind bars. However God had other plans. He delivered me from my addiction on the first day and as a result of that I never suffered from any withdrawal from my heroin addiction. From that moment on I knew God was with me. I went to court after six months for all the cases that were pending against me but the judge was so pleased with the progress I had made that he said I should continue and finish what I had started. Three weeks later I was in South Wales on the next phase of the programme. My last phase of the programme was spent at the School of Ministry and for the next 6 months I was taught how to be a staff member at Teen Challenge. During this time I went to visit the Teen Challenge centre in Swaziland , South Africa . It was a life-changing experience and two years later I can still see the effect it has had on my life. We have so much here to be thankful for. I am now a staff member at Teen Challenge London and life has never been better. I now have a strong relationship with my six-year old son, Liam, which I never thought I have. God has blessed me abundantly and I give Him all the glory.