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Real-life stories: Perpetrating violence or crime

Junkie Meets Jesus In A Trash Can

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Today Colin Garnett looks like a model citizen. But this was not always the case. He spent years as a violent drug addict. Prison was a welcome break from the struggles of life. Having rejected God, imagine his surprise when Jesus came calling.
‘Right from the start, my life felt like a fight for acceptance,’ says Colin. Rejected by his mother, alienated at school, anger dominated his life. From an early age, he turned to drink, drugs and violence. With such a lifestyle, he faced an unhappy future. But God had other plans.

Born in 1959, he was brought up in a poor but secure home. His parents had a happy marriage. But Colin, the youngest of three children, was emotionally insecure.  ‘If ever there was a bad mood in the house, I would feel responsible, not only for causing it but for repairing it too,’ he recalls.

He attended a Catholic primary school but it wasn’t long before he rebelled. ‘I threw my underdeveloped belief in God and Jesus into the trash can where it belonged, and in my heart I ran out of the school system.’ Leaving school with no qualifications, Colin talked his way into an apprenticeship. His regular pay packet financed his drinking and drug taking.

When his mother died, Colin blocked all emotion. ‘The world around me felt totally empty, worthless and meaningless. Life meant nothing and carried no direction.’ He resigned his job and some months later joined the army, looking for acceptance and a purpose.

Within days he got into a fight and was up before a disciplinary board. During his time in the army he was in and out of military prison. ‘I hated the drink, but it gave me a false sense of calm. I failed to see that the intake of alcohol was at the root of all the trouble, and that the withdrawal from the alcohol was at the root of all the fear.’

Back in civilian life, every day was a struggle. By 1983 he was injecting two or three times a day, stealing to fund his habit. So began a destructive pattern for his life. ‘I was heroin-free only by incarceration. ‘I was a threefold mess; physical, spiritual and emotional.

Every attempt I had made to clean up had failed. I was dying a slow death.’ Colin aborted a suicide attempt when the word ‘GOD’ appeared before him in bold, black letters. He remembers thinking ‘I am simply not ready to face God.’  ‘My past was too painful to look at. My present was a constant struggle for survival. My future was non-existent.’

 Then in 1993, Colin woke in his prison cell with the word ‘Jesus’ repeating in his head. He asked a fellow prisoner, who he knew to be a Christian, what it meant. ‘Colin,’ he said, ‘Jesus is calling you.’ That night a baptism service was scheduled in the prison chapel. ‘I walked into that chapel a desperate soul in need,’ Colin admits.

Placed in the corner was an industrial sized rubbish bin (trash can) full of water. Intrigued by its presence, Colin sat next to the bin. Colin felt the preacher was speaking directly to him when he heard a verse from the Bible (Romans 7 verse 24) ‘who can set me free from this body of death?’

‘He was speaking the language of my heart,’ Colin vividly recalls.  Colin went forward to receive Jesus Christ as his saviour. He was baptised in the bin full of water! Having rejected God as a child, Jesus met this junkie exactly where he’d left him, in a trash can.

‘As I came out of the water I knew, deep within me, that I had just been saved. ‘Jesus had set me free. I was born again by the Spirit of Christ. His life in me was now giving me newness of life. ‘My addiction ended right at that moment. God had removed the desire.’

After 17 years of drug abuse, overdoses, rehab and over five years in 27 different prisons, Colin was free indeed. ‘I was so glad that I had been given the opportunity to bin the other life!’

Colin went back into rehab, strengthened by his new faith. He had much to learn, but with the support of mature Christians, he served his time, found work and a desire to tell others about Jesus.

In 1997 he gained a place at Bible College, graduating in 2001.  He has become a highly effective evangelist with a special heart for those in prison and trapped in drug addiction.

He now runs the Bethesda Christian Rehab centre in South Africa, helping others to find freedom from drugs through a personal relationship with Jesus. You can read Colin’s full account of his life in ‘Junkie Meets Jesus in a Trash Can’ published by Authentic Media price £8.99

Colin Garnett, 2009 

Story and photo by courtesy of Challenge Newsline

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