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T. Austin Sparks - Messages.

Grace Answers a Balaclava and a Gun!
Gospel - The World

>> The following is a cliff hanger story. <<

A story of the wonderful Grace of God that knows no bounds to touch a life that needs him with love and abundant pardon through faith in Christ.

The Lord bless your heart with his great love and goodness as you read this real life story.

The narritive is presented just as written by Graeme with the addition of a few headings.

Graeme’s Testimony – Sydney Australia.

>> Born Somewhere and left on a Hospital Doorstep. <<

I was born somewhere in Sydney and was left on the doorstep of the old Paddington’s Women’s Hospital.

I stayed there and the nurses named me Graeme and that was how I got the name Graeme.

I stayed there for two years and I suppose was waiting for my parents to come back to get me. This never happened and still to this day I have never met my mum or my dad or do I know if I have any sisters or brothers. This is because no records of birth is there.

I do not have any memory of the first couple of years, only that it was a dark place and cold.

At the age of two I was given to a family and was returned six months later. All this information was provided to me later on in my life when I searched my childhood to see where I came from and tried to find my parents or if I had any brothers or sisters.

This is where my memory clears up and I remember being in a long room with a heap of other kids and long rows of beds that we slept in at night. I remember it was fight for what you want and there I stayed till the age of 4 years. There was lot of violence in the home and the belt was used to punish you and you were locked in a dark cold room and left there till you were let out.

>> Beaten and Mistreated. <<

At the age of four I was given to a second family and this was a not a good place and I was beaten and mistreated. This is where I was introduced to the Salvation Army and they removed me from the home on one afternoon and I was black and blue from the abuse and they took me back to the orphanage and I was 5 years old. Just a kid and did not know any love. I was scared and did not want to go back to the orphanage and wanted to stay with this Salvo lady as I felt safe and I knew I would be safe.

This was not to be and back I went to that place for another 6 months till one day when I was introduced to these two people at the orphanage and I was told I would be going home with them.

This is where I stayed and was given the last name Cropper and was put into school and was fed and clothed and looked after till I left at the age of 16.

All I knew how to do was play football and fight to stick up for myself as this was instilled in me from a early age.

Those people were not bad people but I did not trust anybody nor did I know how to love or give love. I was beaten in that home by the man and so was the mother but to me this was normal. I would go to school black and blue and would tell the teachers nothing because I would cop it more if I said anything. At high school I was only good at one thing and that was footy. I was forever getting expelled for fighting and I had no respect for authority.

At the age of 16 I was hoping things would get better but that was not to be. I was on the streets and with no real family or no way to deal with the pain in me I was a very angry boy.

It wasn’t long before I started to use drugs to mask the pain and to feel good and to fill the void in my life. So I was an addict at the age of 17 and that was my way of life for the next 25 years.

>> Lost and Wreckless - A Balaclava and a Gun. <<

For the next 25 years I was a heroin addict and all that went with that. I was in and out of gaol and rehabilitation centres. My life was out of control and I could not stop. Many times I tried to stop and to live normally but drugs and violence and gaol was all I knew and how I survived. In total I was sent to gaol seven times and a total of 11 years spent behind bars. I was a very violent person who would stop at nothing to get what I wanted or to get what you had. It was nothing for me to put on a balaclava and run in with a gun and take what I wanted. The people I was associated with were bad people and guns were our choice of defence and attack. I was mixed up in drug dealing and armed robberies and a lot of violence. In 2004 I found myself back in gaol charged with assault once again and I had broken my parole. I have four children and my eldest daughter, I had promised her that I would not be going back to gaol, and my daughter was letting me be part of my granddaughter’s life only if I stayed out of gaol. This was the final straw and here I was back in gaol. So that was it. I had enough and I had not only hurt my own children by not being around for them but I was now hurting my granddaughter. I had enough of this life and I wanted out. I was a mess and I didn’t know how to change. I was sick of gaol and drugs and this life.

>> The Light Shone in the Darkness. <<

I had two choices. One was to end my life or hand it all over to the Lord and that is what I done. For the first time I put my trust into the Lord and got down on my knees in that gaol cell and prayed and said if you are really up there help me. I was in that cell for a couple of days, and unknown to me was a small blue book, which turned out to be a Gideon’s bible. When I finished praying that day in my cell, that very same Gideon’s bible was the first thing I saw. I then sat down on my bed and knew instantly that I had been given a sign from the Father. Tears were streaming down my face, and I opened up the bible and the first page I came to was which is ‘In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was God, and the Word was God’. Then, my attention was drawn to verse 5, ‘And the Light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended not’.

That was the start of my jouney and I haven’t looked back. In gaol I started to go to church and to read that Gideon’s Bible from my cell. My favourite Psalm is 23 and boy do I know it off by heart. I really like reading the Psalms because they brighten up my day. I walked out of gaol in late 2004 and have not used drugs since, praise the Lord. I still have that Bible and all I walked out of gaol with was the clothes on my back and that blue Bible.

>> A Long Hard Road but Blessed and Sharing It! <<

It’s been a long road and a hard road the last eight years to try to change. There have been many hard times to learn how to survive in this world and to live normal in life. The real world and how it works. I locked myself away for the first two years and only went out to do normal things like pay bills and shop and to go to church on a Sunday. I would not let anybody in. I slowly started to venture out as I was not scared anymore. It’s funny how I have had guns put to my head and been shot and been in gaol and done things and I was not scared but to be in the real world was so scary for me. During the early years the Lord had touched my heart and I decided to get involved with prison ministries as I wanted to help and to give back. I started to go into the gaols to visit inmates and to share my story as the Lord had touched my heart and I knew this was what I was needed to do.

I then was employed to run the mentoring program for ex-prisoners. I loved it and this was what I was passionate about and helping them settle back into the community and working with their addictions.

>> Standing through the Lord's Love. <<

Through the Lord’s love for me and the power of prayer and the support of the church is why I stand here today drug free. I have completed a three year course on drug and alcohol counselling and now am employed by the Hope Centre as a Drug and Alcohol counsellor for the Salvation Army. I have also started my diploma of drug and alcohol mental health that I am half way through at present and will be finished next year. I also now have a great relationship with all my children and my granddaughter that loves her poppy. For a long time now my children are proud of their father and praise the Lord. None of the changes in my life were possible without the Lord’s love and grace and the power of prayer.

I do have a family and it’s the church family and I do know my father and he is the King.