COLIN Witkowski and Lorraine Cheape had been together for four years when a friend had suggested they try heroin ‘for the buzz.’
“I thought ‘I’m not going to get addicted'” explains Lorraine. “But we didn’t realise what it was like. The buzz soon stopped and we woke up ill, because we needed another hit. Then we realised it had got us. After that, we couldn’t start the day without a hit and went from smoking to injecting and shop-lifting to get the money. We both got caught and sent to prison.”
Things went from bad to worse. One day in 2000, they came home to find they’d been evicted. Their belongings were out in the street and the locks had been changed.
“We sat on the step, needing drugs and wondering what to do,” says Colin. “That’s when I said ‘we need two miracles!'”
Unknown to them, God was already preparing their miracles – through the Northampton Jesus Centre.
Because their faces were well-known to police and shopkeepers in Corby, Colin and Lorraine decided to move. In 2002, they landed up in Northampton – homeless, addicted and with no friends.
Within a few days, on her 31st birthday – 28 June 2002 – Lorraine was arrested for jumping bail. A week later, Colin was sent to a different prison.
“We’d already met Jesus Fellowship people in Kettering, cooking hot-dogs for the homeless,” says Colin. “A guy called Shaun told us he’d once been a druggie but got free when he became a Christian. That gave us hope. But we moved on before we could accept his invitation to a meal.
“Just before we were arrested in Northampton, we met Steve, from one of the Northampton Jesus Fellowship houses. At first, Steve didn’t think I was serious when I said, ‘We want to change.’ Steve knew about addiction. He’d been an addict, himself. But when Steve read my letter from prison, he realised God was at work.
“When we left prison, Steve was there for us and so was the Jesus Centre. We spent most of every day there. We found friends who cared about us, prayed for us and helped us through detox. Best of all, we found God!”
On Saturday 28 June 2003 – Lorraine’s 32nd birthday – Colin and Lorraine played an important part in the Jesus Fellowship’s “Jesus Festival” in London.
Lorraine turned to Colin and said “Do you realise: this day, last year, we were homeless on heroin. This year we’re, standing on stage, clean, in Trafalgar Square, telling our story to thousands!”
A few days later, Northampton Council gave them the keys to their own flat.
“When we moved in,” says Colin, ” we had nothing – just two mattresses from our squat. People from all over the church sent us stuff. The amazing thing was, we didn’t tell anyone our flat was green – but everything matched!
“God’s done so much for us and we can’t speak too highly of the Jesus Centre. From the day of our baptism, our whole lives have changed. Honestly, I could go on about it forever!”
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