Jesus Did It!
I NEEDED TO GO TO JAIL AND BE HUMBLED!
By: John Elton
My story starts in 1983 …
The chief magistrate in Windsor Magistrate’s Court spoke very sternly as she told me I’d be going to prison for three months, together with receiving a three year driving ban. I had been caught driving in an extremely drunken state and having already been banned the first time for a drink-drive offence, then the second offence being for driving whilst banned, although then quite sober, and now this third time I needed to be taught a lesson. It was the opinion of the bench that the law must not be laughed in this way and that, therefore rehabilitation must take place in prison!
I had not been expecting a jail sentence. Before the Court hearing there had been talk with the probation officer as to whether I was willing to go for rehabilitation. I had thought I’d get a hefty fine and a further driving ban.
I was in a state of shock. My wife Jenny, who had driven me to court, was naturally dismayed, but it was something she had anticipated as a possibility.
As soon as I’d been sentenced, I was led away, being only allowed to see my wife very briefly. I felt embarrassed, but worse still, totally humiliated that I had fallen so low. Only a year or so before, I had been the Managing Director of a successful company that I had started and built up from scratch!
Like many young people, I started drinking alcohol in my late teens. By the time I reached the age of 49, I was an alcoholic. This obviously caused a number of problems to my family and to me over the years.
I was born in Tangier, North Africa, of British parents in 1940, just a year after the start of World War Two. My parents had both been working abroad, both before and after their marriage and my birth. We arrived back in England in 1949 as a family, when I was nine years old.
As the Second World War had finished only two years before we arrived in England, financial circumstances for my parents were very hard and difficult. Because my parents were working for a Hotel Group requiring them to have to travel from one destination to another as part of their working life, and because of their financial circumstances, we had no fixed address that we could call home.
This required that throughout my school years from the age of nine until 16 I had been sent to one boarding school, then another. Also, because I had no brothers or sisters, I grew up as a very lonely child.
From my early childhood I had been brought up to think and therefore believe that I came from a very special ‘well born’ family, which I now realise caused me to think very highly of myself, and that I must be totally superior to many others. I had become a very arrogant and proud individual well into my late forties, right up to the time I was then sent to prison!
When sent to prison, my ‘snobbish’ attitude and pride were totally shattered!
After my sentence and whilst in the prison cell on my own one day, I came across a Bible, which had been left in the cell. Because I was alone and had little else to do, I opened it and began to read from John’s gospel, chapter three, where Jesus is talking to a Jewish leader called Nicodemus about the necessity to ‘be born again’.
Whilst reading this in my cell, I’d heard of this ‘born again’ thing, thinking it just came from America -- never for one moment realising it come from the Bible!
I became really interested, wondering precisely what happened if one does get ‘born again’; does one see flashes of lightning and bangs of thunder, or precisely what?
As you will see, before - if confronted with a Bible - I’d have just ignored itm or maybe thrown it on the floor! My pride and arrogance now having totally gone and currently being a much humbled person, now I was really curious and had started reading the Bible!
I CAME OUT OF PRISON VERY BROKEN IN MANY WAYS
I came out of prison, two months after having gone in, a changed and very ‘broken’ person in many ways, but still an alcoholic.
Two or three months after leaving prison I was taken by my brother in law, together with his wife and my wife Jenny, to hear two speakers giving the ‘gospel’ message, of how Jesus Christ, the Son and the ‘Lamb’ of God, went to the cross and was crucified to death, because of my (and our) sins. They also said if anyone wanted to ask God for forgiveness of their sins and to ask for Jesus to come into their lives, would they come forward?
I was highly impacted and very, very moved at that meeting – almost in tears – and had my family not been there, I would have gone forward. But, because my family were there, I was far too embarrassed (proud!) and so I didn’t.A little over three years after receiving my sentence and having had my driving license finally restored to me, I drove to see a married couple in Crawley, Sussex, for the purposes of selling them a burglar alarm. At the time I’d taken a commission only job of selling domestic burglar alarms. This couple I’d gone to see in Crawley did not buy the burglar alarm, but over a cup of tea, we were talking about spiritual matters (I was telling them I believed in re-incarnation which I most certainly do not now), when the husband told me they believed in Jesus.
This husband’s name was John, and he asked me if I’d like to ask Jesus into my life, and I told him, "Yes, I would!"
This man, John, was a member of a Christian Men’s Group called The Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship, and he had a Christian magazine called ‘Voice’ with him, with a prayer of repentance in the back of the magazine. He asked me that if he read it out slowly, then would I like to follow him in that prayer?
I replied that I would like to, and prayed this prayer of repentance, asking Jesus into my life as Lord and Saviour (the one who saves).
In my case this involved asking forgiveness very sincerely (from the Heart) for my sins to God, in the name of his Son Jesus, then asking Jesus to come into my life, as Lord and Saviour.
Having prayed that prayer with a sincere heart, I felt no different, thanking the couple for their time and driving home.
The following day it hit me. There was something totally different about me! I asked myself, “John, what is it?” Then I realised I’d been totally delivered and unhooked from the addiction to alcohol!
Before the actual day that I had taken the step of praying the prayer mentioned above, my continual habit (because of my alcoholism) was constant. Although we were short of money, I'd say to my wife Jenny, “I must go for a walk”. That “walk” was always down to the pub. I certainly could not go more than a day or two at the most, without alcohol in me.
Because of my extremely bad behaviour, sometimes - when I had been drinking - my wife Jenny had wanted to divorce me on a couple of occasions, but that never quite happened.Just to give you some idea how far away from God or Jesus I had been; I remember once that having been drinking and I had stood in the hallway of our house and ripped her Bible in half (down the spine), throwing it on the floor. After this, I remember shouting something like this: “That’s what I think about your Jesus!”
After praying the prayer that I did as mentioned earlier, I had then been set free – totally – from the addiction of alcohol, and I had become born again by the Spirit of God, which is what Jesus talks about to Nicodemus in Chapter 3 in the Book of John passage from the Bible!
"ONCE AN ALCOHOLIC, ALWAYS AN ALCOHOLIC?" NOT ME!
Some people say: ‘Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic’. Not with me, because I have no desire to drink alcohol in any way. For instance, very occasionally, my wife Jenny & I might go out in the evening for a meal at some friends’ house or with one of our family. If offered a glass of wine with the meal, I might have a glass and maybe even a top up. Once that is finished then that’s it. I have no desire whatever for more; absolutely none. Alcohol has no hold over me any more!
My family relationships are now perfect in every way and couldn’t be better.
I shudder to think what would have happened to me if I had not had the things occur that did occur, then Jesus stepping into my life. The end result would have been almost too unthinkable and really horrible.
From being an alcoholic and a person so completely opposed to Church - Jesus - or anything like that; I became a totally new person.
Soon after becoming a Christian I began going to Church regularly, being baptised by full immersion at the age of 49, and soon after going ‘door to door’ of my own free will with papers containing published testimonies of others, who – like me – had been set totally free of any addictions, or maybe had simply found an entirely new way of life with Jesus as Lord of their lives.
Soon after, I was offered full time work by a Christian Mission in Brighton; going door to door telling people about the ‘gospel’ of Jesus Christ, leaving literature and calling back, as appropriate.
I also had become a member of the same Christian Business Men’s organisation – a different branch - as the one that John in Crawley belonged to, being the man who had suggested I prayed the prayer of repentance, when I visited him and his wife in Crawley. Now I am a member of the Business Men’s Fellowship.
"IF ONLY YOU KNEW HOW MUCH PRAYER WENT UP FOR YOU ..."
When living in Berkshire - shortly before and then after receiving my jail sentence - my wife Jenny regularly attended the Baptist Church in Ascot. Both the pastor there and the congregation had been praying for my conversion to the Christian faith.
At the end of my sentence, we as a family then moved to Shoreham by Sea, in Sussex, where again my wife became a member of a local Baptist Church, and there again, many of the members, together with the pastor, were praying for me as well.
I remember, when having been set free and becoming a Christian in Sussex, I was passing a woman I knew slightly, and who was a member of the local church there where we lived, and she said to me as we passed, “If only you knew, John, the prayers that went up for you …”
When the members of the Ascot Baptist Church in Berkshire, came to be told of my conversion by the pastor there, I’m told they all clapped!
In summary, the following circumstances were key factors that impacted me ... some profoundly:
1: My extreme pride and arrogance were totally shattered when sent to jail.
2: Having become very humbled, whilst in jail I read with interest the account of Jesus talking to Nicodemus about the total need to be born again (In John chapter 3). By then I was curious.
3: I had been taken by my in-laws and my wife, Jenny, to hear the message of the Gospel. That impacted me very, very strongly.
4: Finally and totally vital, at the suggestion of a man I had never met before, I prayed the prayer of repentance and asked Jesus into my life.
Here are some thoughts that I believe God wants me to share to help someone reading this:
Regarding point 1, above: The words of Jesus, taken from the gospel of Luke, chapter 18, verses 15 to 17:“People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the little children to him and said,
‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Regarding point 2, above: Jesus talking to Nicodemus, from the gospel of John, chapter 3, verses 1 to 8.
“Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no-one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him”.
“In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no-one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
“How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”
“Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no-one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
Regarding point 3, above: I quote from ‘Romans’ chapter 10, verse 17: ”Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”
I heard two speakers giving the ‘gospel’ message, of how Jesus Christ - the Son and the ‘Lamb’ of God - went to the cross and was crucified to death, because of my (and our) sins. So I had heard the message, which impacted me profoundly!
The gift of faith is a gift from God Himself, for it states in Ephesians, chapter 2, verses 8 & 9, …”For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no-one can boast.”
Regarding point 4, above: I had actually acted and prayed the prayer of repentance.
Here I must add what is probably the most famous Bible verse in the world, it’s from John chapter 3, verse 16, being the words of Jesus when talking to Nicodemus:
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
About the word ’believes’ in the above verse: From the dictionary, this is classed as a verb and therefore an ‘active’ or ‘doing’ word, and states:
1: “To accept as true or conveying truth”,
2: “To have (religious) faith; to have faith in; to have confidence in.”
Therefore, the word ‘believe’ is not something we can say to ourselves, “Yes, I can see that and accept it”, and then do NOTHING about it! As it is a ‘doing’ word, being a verb, if we do “believe”, then we must act on what is said by that person, or a representative of that person, and actually ‘DO IT’. Otherwise if we don’t - we clearly do NOT ‘believe’.
Jesus’ words from Luke chapter 13, verse 5. “… But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Jesus used those words in a different context, but essentially the message is the same. Had I not repented and accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour, the One who saves, I would be dead long before now. If not dead, then certainly on the streets and out of touch with my wife and family. (Remember poor George Best?)
I believe God wants me giving one last scripture. From 2 Corinthians 5:17, the words of Paul the Apostle:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he (or she!) is a New Creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
On my death I shall be going to heaven for eternity and NOT the other place.
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"And this gospel of the
died for sinners] shall be preached in all the world for a witness
unto all nations; and then shall the end come."
(Quote from Jesus Himself: Matthew 24:14).
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