These are the words that a friend said to me last night. And he should know…………………. 5 years as a £1,500 a day crack addict and the high he gets now is higher than the best the pipe ever gave him. What could be higher than the rush you get off crack cocaine?

And where 10 years ago he’d have been visiting your house to burgle it to support his habit, dealing to fund the £10k a week of crack he was smoking, collecting protection money or steaming in with his firm at the football……..now he is loving reading poetry and visiting art galleries. And planning his return to Uganda where he will work for a pittance as he helps us to finish the ‘Hospital in the Hills’ and build the next very, very, very big project. What could transform a man so totally? The answer is not ‘what?’ changed him but ‘Who?’ changed him.

The answer is ‘Jesus.’ Thank you Jesus. I am so proud of (and amazed at) what you have done in this life.

I am proud to call this man my friend and my brother-in-Christ. I have known him for about 7 years since he wandered into a church I was attending – direct from a rehab centre and directly there from the Big House. (Prison)

And, as with all transformations, whilst it began quickly it has taken a long time for this extraordinary metamorphosis to get this far. He began by identifying the ‘higher power’ that he was told of in Rehab as God. Probably the Christian God. It took him a long time to recognise his higher power, his saviour, his only hope, as Jesus. I have been on the end of a phone praying aloud like a madman with him as he battled with the temptation to score again. I have lost touch with him several times. But two years ago he came out to Uganda as a volunteer on one of our Turn Things Around Camps and he was brilliant – an inspiration to kids in the village of Kigazi where we work and a massive help to us as we constructed the Medical Centre that now treats and heals 500 villagers each month.

After he left Uganda he spent a little time in prison in Thailand through bad luck (no really!) and then returned to the UK of his own free will to serve a little outstanding prison time. The slate is now clean – with the authorities and with his Creator. He has since worked in Germany, Poland, Holland, Canada and, soon, Florida. And along the way he finally gave in and accepted Jesus as his friend, Lord and Saviour. He received healing and forgiveness – and from a life of abuse that started as a child and lasted more than 20 years through prison, drugs and crime this man now loves art and poetry. And (whisper it quietly) he is starting to love himself a little for the very first time.

He has been changed beyond recognition as far as the world is concerned – but I suspect that God IS recognising the new man – as the kind, generous, artistic and sensitive person that God created him to be in his mother’s womb. And that the world then bent out of shape.

My friend is in the UK again for a few days to visit his sick sister before he does his last well-paid work and then flies out to Uganda at the end of this year. He is amazed by the number of people in his home town who approach him and tell him how proud they are of him – how impressed they are by him. I’m not amazed but I’m flipping proud too – of God’s power in this life that had been written off by so many people – AND of my mate for having the courage to surrender to the God that is transforming him.

I have so many things to thank God for. This saved, changed, inspirational life is very near the top of the list. Thank you Jesus. I can’t wait to read the next chapter.