My name is Steve; I was born in the East End of London. My mother was Irish and my dad is Jamaican. I grew up with my English stepfather until the age of 4. By the age of 4 I had become an embarrassment because of my colour so he gave my mum an ultimatum either I go or he goes and my mum chose me. Shortly after my mum met someone else and soon after this my sister was born and he left. It became real hard for my mum so my two brothers and I went into a convent and my sister was fostered. One day I went to school and one of my brothers was fighting a boy from his year; when I asked someone why they were fighting he said it was because he had made fun of me being black. When I heard this I grabbed the boy off my brother and beat him up. After that anyone who said anything about my colour I beat up. I became aware that everyone was white: my brothers, my mum, and the kids in the home and school, the teachers, God, Jesus, Mary the heroes in the bible, everyone! I used to pray for to God to make me white. I couldn’t understand why I was black. When I was ten we went back to live with our mum in London. I went to a Catholic school that was predominately black. It was an all boys’ school and they told me that Jesus was black. I was now proud to be black. I resented the church and society for the lies they had told me and the way they had made me feel and rebelled against them.
From the age of 20 to 30 I spent six years in prison for different convictions. In that time I got into drugs, first weed and hash then cocaine, acid and ecstasy. I also met a girl and we had a daughter. After a year she asked me to look after our daughter Crystal because she couldn’t anymore. My mum and I brought up my daughter. When I would go into prison my mum would look after her until I came out. At the age of 30, while I was finishing a prison sentence, I was told by one of my brothers that our mum had died from a heart attack. I was in shock and felt that it was my fault. I was the only one who had been in prison. When I came out I asked God to forgive me, even though I didn’t understand God I knew there was a God. I asked him to forgive me for breaking my mum’s heart, that my daughters mum had become a prostitute and for the crimes I had committed. It started with burglaries and went on to fraud and robberies where I was using iron bars, ammonia and holding people hostage. I didn’t want to hurt anyone anymore. I wanted the good life but didn’t know any other way of getting it besides through crime.
A friend of mind suggested selling weed or grass saying it wasn’t a bad drug and there wasn’t much risk. So I started dealing. Within no time I was selling kilos every week and making a lot of money. Within two years I was driving a BMW car, had a Rolex watch, gold, designer clothes and my daughter was in private school. I had a nice flat, a girlfriend who would do anything for me and I had turned a part of my flat into a sound studio because I had started going to college for music twice a week because I didn’t want to be selling drugs all my life. I loved the club scene and the drug scene. Then I started thinking that I wasn’t happy, the things I thought would make me happy were not. One day a woman asked me to do crack cocaine with her. I knew about crack and how addictive it was but I though that it couldn’t happen to me. I loved it and thought this is what I needed in my life. But before I knew, it had a hold of me. I was spending everything I had on crack cocaine and in the end I was £6,000.00 in debt. I decided to stop and went to a day centre for drug addicts. I stopped going to the centre after a week because I felt I didn’t need to go. I paid back the money I owed and everything was ok. I was still smoking weed, taking E’s and cocaine but I thought that wasn’t a problem. However after about six months I was back on the crack, for some reason I thought it would be different because I knew how bad it could be.
I was right, it was different! It was a lot worse this time and I lost everything. My car, music studio, gold, watches, and dropped out of college. My sister who I hadn’t seen for 26 years had been looking for us ever since she knew she had been fostered. She was so happy to see us but I couldn’t face her, I was too ashamed. I was all alone. I wanted to die. Fear was in me for the first time in life and I had no control of my life. I sat in my house one night in the dark because my electricity had gone and I cried I asked God to help me. I went out because I didn’t want to sit in the dark. I just walked in the streets thinking of the mess I was in. I was £10,000.00 in debt and I had now been on crack for seven years. It was about 9 0’clock at night and a car pulled up It was an old friend of mine that I hadn’t seen for years. Fiona was a Christian who I thought was a bit mad but her heart was in the right place. As I got close to her and started talking she burst into tears. She asked me, “What has happened to you?” and I told her that there was evil in me and I wanted it out. She asked me if I would go with her to some friends of hers and let them pray for me and I said yes. On the way there she said she didn’t know why she had been driving round for she had been going nowhere but now she knew why. I must of looked a right mess because when I got to Fiona’s house one of her friends, Julie, started crying as she saw me. She started praying for me and a sense of relief came over me and I started crying like a baby. Before that day I hadn’t been able to cry for years. I stayed at Fiona’s for the next couple of weeks and she found out about a place called Teen Challenge. Fiona arranged for me to go there and see the leader, Javier. When I saw him he had this joy and peace about him which I took to straight away. Eventually they asked me to come to the centre but said I would have to cut off my locks which I refused to do. I had them for 15 years! A month later I had some more crack. The next morning I looked in the mirror got a pair of scissors and cut off my locks, it was easy. I started crying again, not because I was cutting my hair but because this had stopped me from getting closer to God and also because God was showing me all the pain I had caused myself, family and others. I rang Teen Challenge and asked them to take me in. A month after being in Teen Challenge I was prayed for to be baptised in the Holy Spirit. I started to speak in tongues. It was my first experience of the supernatural. My daughter is now living with my ex-girlfriend. I sent her a picture because she hadn’t seen me in four months and she said that I look like a real dad. My brothers say I haven’t looked this good since I was 18 years old. I talk to my brothers and sister all the time and I can’t stop telling them all how much I love them all. God has restored my family. The things I have been searching for I have found. I have been set free from all drugs for the first time in 20 years with the blood of Jesus and I give God all the Glory. God is in this place, Teen Challenge.