Why I gave up crime for good
Claud Jackson lived a life of crime and became a mentor to present that he was changing his life for the better. This wasn’t originally his intention, until he met a humble man who showed Claud the real meaning of strength.
Can you tell us about the moment when everything changed?
Claud: I was a volunteer mentor for my Borough Council. So I was mentoring young offenders, ironically, and it was a good opportunity because I hadn't had a job for 17 years. The police knew I’d been in trouble again and I needed to find something to do. So when the opportunity to mentor voluntarily came up, it seemed like the perfect alibi.
There was one particular man who was the manager of the Council and he would always say Good Morning to me and ask how I was. This wasn't a normal pattern for me because no one really asked how I was or took an interest in me. I'd always dress flamboyantly in £350 pound jeans and a £400 pound jumper.
I was so empty that I was constantly having to show everyone how much I'm worth externally because I was so empty internally. At lunchtimes, I would invite everybody or anybody out to lunch with me. Of course, I was going to pay for it again, to show everybody how much I'm worth. My manager would always politely decline, because he'd have a packed lunch or he was waiting to get home for dinner.
A final example is that I always drive into the car park and park outside the office windows so everyone would ask who owned the convertible and he would cycle to hook or just catch the tube. I just remember thinking he was just really grounded, practical, and full of humility, and I was ego, arrogance and attitude. We were totally opposite.
Jesus changed my life.
One day came along when we had to have a team-building day and whether you’re a volunteer or in full time employment you had to go along to this team building day, so I reluctantly went. We all had to do an icebreaker, which consisted of introducing yourself and saying one thing that nobody else knew about you. I was totally out of my comfort zone and eventually, it came to my manager’s turn.
He stood up, introduced himself, and produced a very small box from his trouser pocket. He opened a box, produced a crucifix, held it in the air and said ‘What nobody knows about me is that I'm a Christian, and Jesus changed my life’. I was really struck, like right between the eyes. This humble chap here, he was such a grounded earthly guy and he was bold enough to stand up, produce a crucifix from a box, and declare that he was a Christian. From that point I realised that he had nothing that I had, and everything that I wanted.
I used to sleep under the stairs, I've been on the run, I've been in police chases and I've conditioned myself to be fearless. Yet, he was much more fearless than me and I wanted to know where he had this strength from without the money and the power over people. That was the point I knew I needed to find out more.
I offered him a lift home repeatedly even when he politely declined. I eventually begged him and I said I needed to know more. He suggested I look into the Alpha course, so I rushed home and found a course starting the next day and enrolled straight away. That was my first attraction to, if we will, the thought of Jesus.