'I'd been sleeping on cold concrete in the park'

Raymond’s story | Meeting Jesus, the chain-breaker

“Six years ago, I lost my wife and family to drugs. I ended up a full-blown junkie, sleeping in a park in Redbank (Brisbane), homeless.

I started using drugs at eight years old. It continued through my teenage years and early adulthood. I stopped using needles for a while in my 20s, but I continued with the alcohol and smoking weed. Then I got sucked back into the needles. It was really addictive. After that, it took me three months to lose everything I had – my house, my work as a foreman, my wife and family.

Our marriage at the time had been toxic. I was a nasty person on the drugs. My wife ended up taking out an AVO against me and we didn’t speak for a couple of years.

I had no faith in anything.

But then she contacted me out of the blue, while I was sleeping in the park. She said she’d found some of my stuff, so we met up and started talking. Afterwards, she took me to Goodna Youth Services so I could get a shower and a hot meal. It was amazing. They organised a bed for me at a shelter nearby. I tear up now, telling you about it. I’d been sleeping on cold concrete in the park… and they took me in. At the centre I met a good bloke who took me to AA and then to a Salvation Army church.

Before that, I knew nothing about God or Jesus. I had no faith in anything. I thought life on earth was someone’s silly joke or that earth was some kind of penal colony. I lived a dark, horrible life. Then the bloke took me to AA. I’d seen AA in the movies, but I didn’t think it was in Australia. I went and they started talking about a Higher Power. Then the bloke took me to a Salvation Army church. And that’s where I found Jesus.

To be honest, the first time I went to church, I was very shut off to the whole idea of God or Jesus. I walked out at half-time. But I went back the following week. I don’t know why, but I got in the car and went. I sat through the whole service, and I actually enjoyed it.

I’ve been going for five years now! At the beginning I really liked the testimonies. In the second half of the service we always hear someone’s faith story. They have some amazing testimonies. We get a lot of people at church who’ve been in rehab or prison, and they’ve been changed by Jesus. That’s what started me going back every week, to hear the stories. After a while, I just opened my heart and mind to God. I believed in Jesus and what he’d done for me. I recognised the power of prayer.

I love the fact that I have Jesus in my life.

One night at church I asked a friend to pray for one of our kids who was in trouble. He prayed, and in that moment, as I walked out of church, I got a phone call from our kid, ringing to say he was okay. That was the turning point. I believed in Jesus and the power of prayer. I knew God cared for me and I could talk to him.

Today, I love the fact that I have Jesus in my life. I’m living a clean life. I have full-time employment again. I’m back with my wife! We’re really, really happy. I love being married to her. She started coming to AA and church with me as well. She really enjoyed it. She loves me!

I want to say to people… if you’re struggling, don’t be ashamed to ask for help. There’s always help out there. For me, I’ve only recently started reading the Bible, so I don’t have a favourite verse, but I love the song, Chain Breaker, about Jesus. “If you’ve got pain, he’s a pain taker. If you feel lost, he’s a way maker. If you need freedom or saving, he’s a prison-shaking saviour. If you’ve got chains, he’s a chain breaker.”

Raymond’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click here for more Faith Stories.

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