Familiar has become common “I need a slap”
Having grown up in a vibrant church, I am used to the familiar ‘drugs to Jesus’ tales testified by so many men and women. I have almost become desensitised to the shocking stories and just smile when the person gets to the inevitable ‘then I gave my life to God’ part.
Awoken by a miracle “Welcome to the real world”
So I was awakened with a sharp jolt when one Sunday morning, I listened to the testimony of a young man who had done everything shameful and was now doing the things he would have called ‘sissy’ years before. Living in the heart of Yorkshire, it was pleasant to the ears to hear a bold, southern accent far more cockney than my own, talk so passionately about how Jesus turned his life around and how amazing it is that he is even alive. But this is a testimony with a difference. The change that has taken place in this young man’s life is nothing short of miraculous. Of course they all are, but I find this one particularly special.
He was full of anger, hatred, fears and multiple insecurities. Growing up with a lack of fatherly affection left him emotionally drained and void of the love of the man he looked up to as Daddy. His hero. His father wanted him to be a man’s man. Never mind being only 7, if some boy in your class looks at you funny, you ‘take him out’.
Daddy dies with a knife on his tongue “The curse of bitterness”
He tried to be the rough lad, but never came near to meeting his dad’s expectations. Just before his death, his father showered him with a tirade of insults littered with swear words.
No shaky hand on the head, imparting a blessing. No encouragement for him to cling to when he was gone. Just an echo filled with evil proclamations that haunted him wherever he went.
Crunch & munch with friends “The surrogate family”
Rob Joy had seen the effect that drug abuse had on his sister and vowed never to go down that same path. But at 16, on a drunken night, he was offered some sparkling white powder and became hooked.
This instant addiction fueled his growing anger and insecurity of every kind, so it’s not surprising that by 18 he was caught up in the violence that gang culture offers, together with the obsession about when he was going to get his next fix. £20,000 worth of cocaine was sold every week and this was done with the help of 5 cohorts he had working for him. The death of his father left him with ¼ million pounds but that dwindled to nothing very soon.
I hate Jesus “Christians are brain-washed nutters!”
His mother was a Christian, very concerned for her son’s increasingly disturbing behaviour. He loved his mum, but hated God, Christianity, church and anything connected to it. So he fought against it with all his might. Like many boys of this age, he saw Jesus as his enemy and cocaine as his best friend.
Off to jail “To watch the footie”
At 19 years of age he was sent to a young offenders institute to begin his first prsion sentence. Someone had punched his friend, so he taught the man a lesson by hitting him so hard on the head, that he fell into a coma. He wasn’t too bothered about that. “If he dies, he dies. He shouldn’t have punched James.”
So an 18 month sentence began for Actual Bodily Harm, Grievious Bodily Harm, and carrying an offensive weapon. It felt great to wound someone. Justice. Vengeance. Because he was a ‘Paki’. Because he was a ‘Kraut’. Football matches were a hoot. What better place to start a brawl than at a match? He grabbed his canister of gas and set of to the game, eager to find a German before kick-off. A young blonde lad with high cheekbones was walking down the street towards them. “Here’s my chance!” He said with delight. Gas was forced out of the can in front of the stranger’s face, faster than steam from a pressure cooker. As the man grimaced and screamed in agony, Rob realised that the English language accompanied by an English accent that was heard coming out of this poor fellow. He had attacked a compatriot just because he looked like he was from a different country. As for those guys with dark skin and black shiny hair, well on a brawly night, ‘one of those’ was carried out of the pub on a stretcher, nursing a broken jaw, mulitiple gashes, a fractured skull and a lifetime of epilepsy ahead of him.
Prison palace “But I’m still the same”
But by Rob’s own admission, prison did not change him. In fact, he rather enjoyed it. Having been to 5 different jails under 2 separate sentences and having escaped incarceration many times owing to a court technicality, ( his mother’s prayers) being told he was off to prison again, only fazed him one day because the World Cup was on. He was 21 by now and had hit a man round the back of the head with a gun. When told he was going to be locked up again, he exclaimed, “But I’m going to miss the England/Brazil game!” To his delight however, televisions were now part of cell furniture, so he settled down to watch the match in peace.
Schizophrenia “To the edge of edginess”
The drugs and involvement in other things that causes a person to be followed around by demonic spirits, took it’s toll and Rob began to become paranoid. He was so sure he was being watched that a mate had to accompany him to the toilets when out in public. He then took 2 of his best friends hostage at knife-point for 3 hours and put another man in a coma on the High Street. He was violent beyond degree, psychotic and eventually diagnosed with Schizophrenia.
Praying Mother “The bucket is tipping”
But through all this, his mother never stopped interceding for him. Praying, crying, pleading up to God for his mercy and protection on her precious son. His two sisters had become Christians by now, so they were praying for him too. He wanted none of it and wished they would just stop.
Suicide “A shock for that lorry driver”
Crack Cocaine is the crystal form of cocaine that is usually supplied in powder form. Being 75 to 100% pure, it is far stronger and more potent than ordinary Cocaine. It reaches the brain more quickly and therefore brings an intense and immediate high that lasts around 15 minutes. But the thoughts that go with it last longer. The desire to die. The self-loathing and hatred of everything good. It was 3 am and Rob was standing on a bridge looking down at the passing traffic. The thought of lying under one of those vehicles, strangling on his own blood, with a shattered spine and large clumps of his brain protruding from his skull, made him smile. Only his mothers early morning prayers prevented him from jumping. But there was a constant high pitched laughter in his head. The cackles were demonic and filled with mockery and accusation. They were loud and getting louder each day.
SO WHERE IS HE NOW?
- 6 feet under, pushing up daisies?
- In prison awaiting the 12 June 2014 World Cup?
- On a psychiatric ward singing nonsensical songs?
- On the run – in another country hiding from the British consul?
- In an alleyway with purple limbs, sores on his body and vomit down his tee-shirt?
NONE OF THESE
Pastor “And good at it”
He’s living happily with his beautiful wife and gorgeous son, in perfect health, of sound mind and…he’s pastoring a church. Church? What, a spiritualist one where they try to call up the dead? No. A God-fearing, Jesus believing, people loving, happy and very clappy congregation of normal people who recognise the need for their creator to
be in their lives.
SO HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
Submission “Bent like a reed in a whirlwind”
His mum couldn’t stand it any longer. She turned up one day and dragged him to the hospital demanding that they section him or else he will kill himself or someone very soon. But it wasn’t just the hospitial staff she dragged him to. She lay him down at God’s feet and screamed in desperation, “Please do something, now!”
Rob’s heavenly father looked at him intently. He knew he would never humble himself willingly so he had to be humbled. Rob’s sister had begged him to accept prayer from a male friend she knew. Rob, in desperation, agreed without a fight.
Vision “The muddy bath”
Just before prayer, the man told him that he had a vision of Rob sitting in a bathtub full of muddy water. He was smiling. The water was up to his neck but the grin on his face was still there. Suddenly Rob was about to take his last breath before being immersed completely in this thick sludge. He was enjoying himself, unaware that this breath was going to be his last. Rob was visibly shaken for he knew what this vision meant. It was now or never. God or a death that would render him eternally separated from his maker and tortured by the enemy of his soul.
He knew it meant he was enjoying his sin while being unaware of how close he was to dying.
No fear, just fear.
This was the point at which a healthy fear of God was put into him. A reverence and respect. A sorrow for making his daddy, real daddy, cry. Over the next few days he asked God to prove himself to him and received a peace he’d never felt before in his entire life. God had told him. “You can get out of this mess if you want to. I’m not going to control your life but I can lead it if you let me.”
A different sort of fighting “Smack the one I was serving”
By his own admission, Rob acknowledges that he was born with a fighting spirit. He now realises that he was created to fight for something different. He fought for the devil and now he’s doing a different kind of fighting for God. He’s channeling his energies for something positive, instead of being a burden on society. Even the local police were shocked. They knew of the years of misery he had inflicted on his locality. They knew how cocky, arrogant and unashamed he was of his disgusting lifestyle.
“Yea, right!” I hear you say. “He’s just hiding behind the bible so if he has any outstanding charges, the judge will be soft on him and won’t send him back to jail.”
Er…no. One night, in desperation, Rob cried out to God and asked him to help him.
Christian jargon bit “Repentance, Grace, Mercy”
There is a word Christians use that refers to being genuinely sorry for doing things that displease God and making a conscious effort to turn away from that lifestyle and go in the direction God created you to go. It is also acknowledging that you cannot do this on your own and that you need the help of Jesus to do it effectively. This is called repentance. Well Rob was truly repentant. From time to time, a child murderer with a wake of several grieving families, who is serving a life sentence, announces to the world that they have ‘found God’ and could they be released now please? That raises significant alarm bells. When you wake up to the reality of who you really are, what you have done and how you cannot repay your debts back to God, you humble yourself and stay where you are, serving the community around you, knowing that you can never, ever, ever make up for all the evil you have done and all the suffering you have caused innocent people. You don’t start demanding freedom. You know that you do not deserve it and should it be granted, you humbly crawl out, keep your head down while working tirelessly for the outcasts who need a friend.
Those who are aware of how rotten they are compared to God are also aware of how much they have been forgiven. And this awareness makes the person aware of how much they got what they did not deserve (Grace) and how much they were spared from what they do deserve (mercy).
Rob is very aware of God’s grace & mercy in his life and he is now passionately living for Jesus, telling people that no matter how low you fall, if you reach out to God and accept that he sent his son to pay the punishment for our wrong doings, it will save you from yourself, the devil (who is a very real person that hates all mankind) and from the Hell that was not made for humans.
Some things changed overnight for Rob. Everything that represented his life, violence, addiction, immorality was swept up in that early morning when he cried out to God in despair. He had prayed to God while sitting next to an empty Crack Cocaine pipe, with a knife taped to the wall, pornographic magazines at the bottom of his bed and a gun under his pillow. On awakening, he wanted none of it and the cravings were gone. Even the foul language that his earthly father would have been proud of, had disappeared without effort.
So here we are today with a changed man who is now giving back to his community. Rob Joy is full of joy and is the head pastor at a church in Wellingborough. It draws in people like himself and because he has almost been to Hell and back he can relate to them, have empathy with them help them practically, support them spiritually and encourage them that there is a way out of the dark pit of despair.
His book ‘Satan’s Lost His Grip On Me’, tells his full story, but Authentic Media Publishing have revised it and there is now has a new title for this story. The details are below. There is also a link to a YouTube clip where Rob tells his testimony better than I have done here.
Hope for all “Very good news!”
To conclude, the final part of this story is simple. That there is hope for you and your loved-ones no matter what they have done are doing right now and no matter where they are. That is all there is left to say. That in life, God gives forgiveness through acceptance of his son Jesus and because he took the punishment for our sins upon the cross, there is hope.
I will say it once more. There is… HOPE.
Since this publication, there have been some changes, but I am not going to elaborate.
You know, when everybody else gives up on us, it is usually our mothers who will stick by us till the very end – so I am going to join her in declaring that Rob Joy is still a mighty man of God and will bring glory to God all the days of his life.