Tag Archive: alcohol

when change happens

It’s one thing to see someone make significant change in their lives, it’s another when they reach out to help someone else do the same. Today, Geordie offered a young homeless man some hope in a desperate situation. Listening to him make the offer just blew me away.

I have known Geordie for a little more than two years. We met when he was in prison, referred to us by an alcohol worker there with whom we had built up a good relationship. He moved into a shared house and began volunteering with the company, quickly able to turn his hand to a number of practical skills that he has continued to develop.

Last year he moved into his own property, which he keeps in exceptional condition.

Other residents listen to him. His understanding and advice has been invaluable, and he is an inspiration to people looking to make the same changes in their own lives that Geordie has made in his. His journey is not yet complete, but he has come a long way and he has hope and confidence for the future. I am looking forward to seeing where that takes him.

a sense of loss

My colleague and close friend Carl Taylor, founder and visionary of Faith Hope and Enterprise, died earlier this month.

Carl was a quite remarkable man. Someone of whom, in my estimation, the world was not worthy.

His compassion for the poor and his commitment to helping people turn their lives around against the odds was absolute. He enabled people to overcome abusive childhoods, mental health illness, learning disabilities, addictions and their past offending behaviour to find a meaningful place in society. He worked for the benefit of others at tremendous cost to himself.

Even in hospital, in the last week of his life, he would talk to me about the future of the company and the people we currently work with. He never once switched off.

He was the kind of man who said it the way he saw it. He could be uncompromising and intimidating. He was honest. He lived out the call of God on his life for the whole of his life. In the last days we remembered God’s promises to “make the Valley of Trouble a door of hope” (Hosea 2:15), “to proclaim good news to the poor…to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” (Isaiah 61:1,2).

We remembered the promise of Jesus to the man next to him on the cross, “today you will be with me in paradise,” (Luke 23:43). I know that Carl has also heard the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21).

Friendships like ours don’t happen very often in life. We were open hearted with each other, we shared common values and purpose, we felt that God had brought us together for a reason and we pursued that vision with everything we had.

I will miss him. I will miss his warmth and his love. I will miss his humour and his clarity of thought. I will miss his wisdom and understanding.

Carl leaves an amazing legacy in the lives of the many people that he supported and the many different projects and enterprises that he was involved with. His vision continues and his ministry lives on.

Well done, my friend.

overcoming addiction

I’ve just read a couple of books telling the stories of two men encountering Jesus in the midst of drug addiction.

One Step Beyond: One Man's Journey from Near Death to New LifeOne Step Beyond is the story of Gram Seed, a man from Middlesbrough who was written off by his family as his life spiralled out of control.  He was involved in shoplifting, football hooliganism and violence, alcoholism and drug addiction.  Two Christians got to know him when he was living on a bench and went to find him in hospital when he wasn’t there one night.  Gram was in a coma and the doctors were wanting to switch off the life support machine when the Christians found him.  He had been in a coma for six days but opened his eyes after they prayed.

Once an Addict is the story of Barry Woodward.  Brought up in Manchester, Barry drifted away from a good familyOnce an Addict: The Fascinating True Story of One Man's Escape from the Murky Drugs Underworld into drug dealing and heroin addiction.  It seems a surprisingly simple journey with stunning repercussions.  In and out of prison and different relationships he becomes an isolated figure, haunted by the vicious voices he hears everywhere he goes.  And then one day he meets a friendly man on a bus, a man who invites him to a church meeting the next time they meet.

Both men come to know Jesus in powerful encounters.  Their lives are transformed and now they both have thriving Christian ministries.  Both books are amazing reads.

I am drawn to stories like this of course – I spend a lot of my time with people who have overcome, or are overcoming, addictions to drugs or alcohol.  We do what we can, but what these men’s stories make clear is that only Jesus can truly transform lives in this way.  And Christians have a vital role in making Jesus known.  It may be by spending time with people in great need (as Christians did with Gram Seed) or it may be inviting someone you have only just met to a church meeting or alpha course (as Christians did with Barry Woodward) but we can all play a part in making Jesus known.

I highly recommend these books to you.  You will be challenged and amazed!

I work with people whose lives have been affected by alcohol, so when I saw this film on the BBC website I was very moved.  It’s part of a report on a children’s news programme which suggests that nearly a third of children are scared when they see adults drunk or drinking heavily and that half of 1,234 children surveyed had seen their parents drunk.

I’m not opposed to alcohol (I enjoy a social drink) but I am distressed to see the impact of uncontrolled drinking on the lives of people I care about.  The lives of children and of adults.

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