From the day I was born, I have had a criminal element around me, let me explain how.
When my mum was pregnant with me, my father committed a capital crime and was sentenced to life in prison. My mum decided to forgive him for what he did and give the marriage another chance, but when my dad was eventually released, he never stayed faithful to my mum. We decided to leave and move closer to my mum’s side of the family, and, after a little while, my mother remarried into a family that was widely feared in the community. As things progressed, a close friend of my stepfather’s became the drug lord of the area. I was still only 10 years old, but quickly became enveloped into the circle of crime our family belonged to. With this sort of upbringing – seeing my biological father in prison all my life, having crime as a commonplace part of my upbringing – it’s no wonder that I fell into it myself. As I was growing up, I was part of many criminal endeavours myself and started stealing, drink driving, selling and taking drugs, getting into fights and committing robberies. I found myself struggling with addiction pretty soon after.
I was out on a job one day, a fairly standard robbery, when things suddenly went very wrong. A man died because of me. I was arrested on murder and eventually charged with manslaughter, attempted robbery, and possession of a firearm.
At the time this incident occurred, I was still on licence from my previous conviction, so things didn’t look good. I got remanded into prison for the manslaughter charge and genuinely thought my days were over. I was facing life in prison and was very much at the bottom of the pit. Emotionally and mentally, I was wrecked. I wanted to say sorry for everything that I had done wrong, over 40 years of fighting against everyone and everything. I felt as if I was in the wilderness and couldn’t break away from the hurt, pain, anger, frustration, and resentment I had caused. All of it, 40 years’ worth, going around and around inside my head.
I wondered how I might go about saying sorry for everthing, what would that even look like? I pressed the bell in my prison cell and an officer came. I asked them if I could see the prison chaplain. That day, I explained everything to the chaplain and said that I wanted to say sorry for everything. I broke down crying. I sobbed and sobbed that day in a prison cell, and at the bottom of the pit, I gave my life to the Lord. My Saviour. His name is Jesus.
I was still on remand at this time, but I started to go to chapel on Sundays and I attended bible studies. Over a period of six months or so, I began to see a change in myself. The way I thought and spoke was different, as was the way I came across to others. My heart had changed. This is how I recognised that the Lord, my God, had started his work in me. He began to make me holy, set apart. I needed to tell everyone that Jesus had saved me. I was advised to keep praying, and reading, and worshipping the Lord. I remember praying one prayer over and over, “Lord, our heavenly Father, I’m sorry for everything that I have done wrong. I take full responsibility for my actions. Please, Lord, don’t let the judge give me life in prison. I ask this in your name, Jesus. Amen.”
I was approaching my trial and the barrister asked me to write a letter to the judge. The barrister said that he had no means to fight my corner. I was still on licence for GBH, supply of cocaine, possession of a firearm, among others. I was stuck and didn’t quite know what to say but I eventually pieced together a letter and gave it to the barrister. After reading it, he said “One thing I’m going to say Scott, it’s straight from here” – he pointed to his heart – “this letter has come from your heart.” Except, it wasn’t my heart, it was God’s, it was Him living in me. God had changed my heart and my life, and I was a new creation. “The old has gone and new life has come” – 2 Corinthians 5:17.
I was sentenced to 12 years with a five-year extended licence after my release. Over a period of 40 years, I have had 57 criminal convictions on my record.
I spent roughly nine and a half years in prison, making a few mistakes along the way, but Jesus has told me that He will never leave me nor forsake me. He has never shut the door on me. In fact, He has been opening doors for me recently, one of which was Renewal North West in Stockport. I have been in contact with Renewal since 2018 and had met with them a few times before coming here. I was released from prison in February 2022 and have been with Renewal since. I believe it is part of God’s plan for me to be here and share His love with other people. I’ve only been here for five weeks so far, but it’s been a great experience. The Renewal family have been such a massive support for me, it’s been so inspiring, and everyone is so loving and kind. We come from all different backgrounds, but we are one family under God. A family I am now part of as well. If you’ve not been, come and have a look around, try the coffee and cake – I recommend the rocky road – and feel the love that Renewal North West has for you.
Love and Blessing in Jesus,