He was brought up on one of the roughest estates in Manchester. His father was an alcoholic. He left school at fifteen. He ran away from home. He lived on the streets. He joined a gang. He got involved in crime and ended up in prison. When he came out, he joined the army. He went through two divorces.
In 1994, he walked into our church and did [Alpha]. He encountered Jesus and was filled with the Holy Spirit. He started visiting prisoners. He joined the [HTB] team to head up the work in prisons. He started an organization to care for ex-offenders. He set up a homeless project. He started a course to help those with addictions and courses to help those struggling with depression and debt.
Under his leadership, Alpha for Prisons has spread through the prisons in the UK and seventy-six countries around the world. Thousands have come to faith in Jesus Christ. Hundreds of men and women have been placed in churches through the ministry of Caring for Ex-Offenders.
Paul Cowley, author of [*Thief, Prisoner, Soldier, Priest*] is an example of someone who was the good soil on which the seed fell. He has a noble and good heart. He heard the word, retained it and by persevering has produced a crop hundreds of times more than was sown (Luke 8:8,15). He encountered Jesus as his Savior, Sower, and Shepherd.
Paul’s choices are an example of a life surrendered to Christ and committed to others, bringing countless people to God’s love and His forgiveness.
And that’s the memo.
By Nicky Gumbel