When I left school I got a full-time job as a slaughter man. I was there for 16 years and bought my first house.
I had a mortgage up to my neck – a lot of my friends were using drugs, so I saw dealing as a way of earning a few extra quid on a Friday night. One day I dipped my nose into the bag and it was a downward spiral. I got heavily into using crack cocaine. I lost friends, and relationships with family broke down. My life became a nightmare.
I met Charlotte, my partner, through the drug scene. When we first met, she wasn’t using drugs as much as me, but I was a really bad influence on her. I was coming towards what looked like the end of my life. The doctors said my kidneys were so bad I needed dialysis, but I would never go to appointments because I didn’t want to be here.
The turning point
We were in huge amounts of debt by this point. I didn’t fear the bailiffs as I didn’t care. But the thought of me dying and Char being in trouble really hurt, so I said: “Char, you need to get yourself sorted. I’m not going to be about long.”
Char went down to our local MP’s office and there was a guy in there called Kev White. He’s a Christian and he said: “You need these guys – Christians Against Poverty,” so Char called them up. The first two or three times they came I hid in the shed because I was high, and I didn’t want them to see.
Char said that Elaine, the coach from CAP, took every bit of paperwork – mine and hers – but needed to see me for me to sign things. I was in the shed one day when the CAP befrienders, Angie and Steve came in. Steve said: “We thought you were the invisible man!” It broke the ice perfectly and we chatted for a while. Before they left, Steve asked: “Can I pray for you?” I said yes and then he prayed.
‘Why are they being so nice?'
Elaine did all the work; I just signed the papers. I didn’t care – I wasn’t listening, if I’m honest. Char wanted the help, but I still didn’t want to be around people.
God really worked through CAP. They helped us sort out our finances, and pay our debts back. After their help, we never missed a payment.
They were really persistent – Angie, Steve and the church. Every time Steve called or tried to come in, I wouldn’t answer the door. He would just shout through the letterbox: “Mate, I have left you a pack of sausages outside.” We never had much food, and I started to think: What’s wrong with this guy? Why is he being nice?
Steve read our situation perfectly. He didn’t judge and we could be open and honest with him, so eventually I said: “Look, when payday comes, I really struggle.” Payday for an addict is the worst day of the week as you go and get absolutely nailed. So on payday, Steve would say: “Right, guys, do you fancy going out?” We would then go and have coffee and cake somewhere.
One Sunday they got us to go to church. I was used to being hated, so I went in there and said: “Oh, you don’t want to talk to me, I’m an addict,” but the more I said it, the more love they gave.
I was still doing drugs, but probably only once a month. I was really trying. I thought: If this guy’s real, I’m gonna ask him into my life. I’m gonna say: “Jesus, can you help me out of this?”
On a Tuesday morning we went to the church coffee mornings, where we’d be around pastors, prayer teams and people coming in for the food bank. Tuesday night was home group, Wednesday night, Celebrate Recovery. Thursday night was another home group.
I got to a point where I recognised a presence in my life. I said to our pastor, Tim: “I want to be baptised. I want to wash my past away.” I wanted to move on with Jesus. Mine and Char’s baptism packed out the church 100 times over – there were loads of non-Christians and Tim said they’d never had a baptism like it.
Cleared for transplant
I was meant to be on dialysis – how I never died, I don’t know. Your eGFR rate is how many millimetres of waste your kidneys can filter in a minute. Anything less than 90ml can indicate chronic kidney failure. Mine was 10ml. The doctors thought I had two weeks to live.
I managed to go six months without using drugs and then I messed up once. Angie and Steve talked me into going into hospital. I went in, they took my bloods and my eGFR was still bad. They said: “You might want to start dialysis.” I said no but did go for regular blood tests from then. About six months in, the doctor noticed some improvements and said, “We feel you might be able to have a transplant.” But he also said: “To be honest, you shouldn’t be here at all.”
I had the kidney and pancreas transplant operation. It’s meant to be a six-hour op. It was nine hours, but I’m absolutely fine. I’m on no meds bar a little anti-rejection tablet a day.
Char and I now lead a home group on a Wednesday evening. I’m at Tilsley Bible College at the moment – it has Christian ministry modules, so I’ve signed up for two years. I’m also doing maths, English and BTech at college.
Me and Char are just scraping by but we’re doing it and we’re hopefully going to get some better jobs at the end of this. I got my driving licence back and we’ve got a little car because I have to go to Oxford every other week to check my bloods. I’ve got a future ahead of me, and it’s looking bright. It’s not easy. It’s probably one of the hardest journeys I’ve been on… but the most rewarding.
Dave Meek was speaking to Claire Musters
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