As we officially launch our latest Eden team in Parkfield and Oxbridge (Stockton), we caught up with team leader Ste to hear how God transformed his life from one of brokenness to one where he boldly shares the gospel in every conversation!
Hi Ste! Can you share with us a bit about your story and how you came to know Jesus?
When I was just 11 years old, my parents had an accident which meant I had to be their carer and look after my siblings. Life was tough, and to try and calm down between organising my parents’ medical care, sorting the bills and cooking for the family, I started to take drugs.
As the years went on, I relied more and more on drugs until I got stuck in a cycle of violence and crime. I ended up hitting rock bottom and found myself homeless and out on the streets. I’d given up on life as I’d tried everything to get off drugs and nothing had worked. But one day I met a Christian from a ministry in Stockton who offered me a place in a rehab centre and I grabbed at the chance as I knew the way I was currently living was killing me. There I got the support I needed and learned so much more about Jesus’ love for me and about having my identity in him.
Leaving rehab, I was placed in a hostel but was surrounded by people who were taking drugs and I knew I couldn’t get through staying in the hostel by myself – I knew I needed God to help me. I prayed that God would come into my life and give me the strength and support that I needed and I was in the hostel for 6 months and didn’t touch drugs once!
How did you get involved with Eden?
After I left rehab, I was looking for some more support to get back on my feet so got in touch with a local charity. There I met Peter who used to head up Eden Ragworth and he introduced me to some of the team. I felt so welcomed, loved and accepted that I started to help out with the Eden team and went along to the prayer groups. I knew there and then that God had grabbed hold of my life and was doing something really cool to use me and my story to share his love with those around me.
Fast forward three years and it’s really funny to see how God works because now our Eden team is actually based in the upstairs flat of the building I used to sell drugs out of! I used to spread death and destruction but now God is using me to spread the good news of the hope and peace he offers to those around me on the estate.
Parkfield and Oxbridge has a high crime, drug and prostitution rate with many families struggling with brokenness, mental health problems and poverty. It’s a really forgotten area but God is doing something here, turning lives around. And the team have already hit the ground running, sharing Jesus’ love by organising Love Where U Live mission where we did garden makeovers, church services in the middle of the street and BBQs around the estate. And God has helped us have great conversations with those around us and we’re starting to see a ripple effect of people coming to know Jesus, bringing along their mates to our activities and then they become Christians too!
We can’t wait to see what God is going to do in coming months and do be praying that people will catch the heart and vision of Eden and want to get involved with our work!