MP Dovegate, 2011
My name is Scott Reid, I am 26 years old and a prisoner at HMP Dovegate. It is a good thing that I came here because I had an encounter with our Lord Jesus in July 2010 which dramatically changed my life.
Let me explain what my life was like before that. Looking back, I cannot imagine how I managed to get through life without God.
My early childhood was never a 'bed of roses' and was full of ups and downs - mostly downs! You could say I was a 'problem child'! At around 10 years old I was put in a boarding school because my behaviour was out of control. I was continually beating up my brother and sister, and was very rebellious towards my parents. Social Services advised disciplinary residential care for me to prevent my mother losing her other children.
My behaviour did not change. Sometimes I was allowed home for weekends, but nothing changed during my years there, so I was put into foster care. My uncontrollable temper caused me to be moved in and out of different foster homes, but my behaviour did not change. I was an extremely violent person. Despite Psychiatry and Art Therapy, nothing changed. Violence and rebellion were major issues during my childhood. At 15 I went back home and then the trouble really started - not with family this time, but with other people. I started going out drinking, taking drugs and getting into fights.
Fighting became a big part of my life, thinking it got me respect. Every time I went out and everywhere I went I was getting into fights. I soon ended up in jail, but that didn't change things - I just picked fights with other prisoners and rebelled against officers. I started on a rolling programme of getting out of jail, carrying on fighting, getting back into jail and so on. I also became really depressed in jail and needed anti-depressants for years. My life was still full of anger and violence.
In 2005 I was released from my 3rd jail sentence. I was still the same, until I met a woman, Lynsey who had a profound effect on me. It was Lynsey who calmed me down. Life wasn't perfect, but things were much better. As the years went on, we moved in together. We were both working and we had everything going for us. We got married, Lynsey was expecting a baby and we were having a house built. Life was great and we were very happy.
Then one night in 2008 I took the law into my own hands. The anger and violence erupted again and I almost took another man's life. As a result I ended up on this sentence at Dovegate. Looking back - I thank God that I came here! This will be my last prison sentence! I got a life sentence with a parole at 7 years. During this sentence my daughter was born. It broke my heart to think that I would now have to watch her grow up from inside these walls. I only had myself to blame, but it hurt big time. I had to start taking anti-depressants again, because depression had kicked in again. Sadly, I got divorced from my wife. I lost the love of my life and my house. On top of all that I became addicted to subutex which is a heroin substitute. My life was now really messed up. I started self-harming and to top it all off, I wanted to end my own life.
Praise be to God that He knows all our hearts. Even though the drugs were telling my head that I was ok - God knew I was hurting.
I was doing a painting and decorating course here at Dovegate - still on drugs, but trying to keep busy. The anger and violence were back along with fear and worry in addition. It was all getting worse for me.
At the end of the course I got a job in Reception as the painter, and met a bloke named Alan Neil who I found out later is a born again believer. He said to me, "My mate works down here - he'll sort you out!" I started work and another bloke called Simon Edwards came in and we chatted. He was a nice pleasant chap. As the weeks went on I was turning up for work 'off my head' on drugs. No one knew I was on drugs apart from the lad I got them from. One day Simon came up to me, looked me in the eyes and said, "You're off your head!" I was really shocked and carried on painting the ceiling. Then I heard him speaking to another lad who worked there about Jesus and all this 'being saved' stuff, dying on a cross for us and about being 'born again'. I thought, "If I'm off my head, what's this guy on? He's proper nuts!"
I felt uncomfortable and thought about getting another job. But after a while, Simon started talking to me about being saved and what Jesus has done for us. He told me how a friend of his named Darren Bardsley led him to the Lord. So I started asking him questions about Jesus, and I started looking forward to coming to work to hear about Jesus. Simon kept going back to his wing, telling Alan about what the Lord was doing through him and about me asking questions. Then Alan realised that when he had originally spoken to me and said his mate would look after me, it was the Spirit speaking! After a couple of weeks something just came alive in me and I just knew it was the truth.
I started going to the Dovegate Chapel to find out more. Sandie - one of the Chaplaincy team - spoke to me and I just knew I needed to accept our Lord into my life. I came back to my cell and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I knew in a way I was saved, but I was on the same wing as before, still on drugs, and still worried. After about two weeks I knew the drugs were wrong and wanted to be off them. So I prayed to our Father, and gave it to the Lord and just knew inside that I was delivered from it all. I woke up the next morning and knew I was cleansed. I felt new! The anger, worry and fear were gone! The thoughts of suicide were gone. And I was no longer addicted to drugs.
Since that prayer I've never taken drugs again or had any thought of suicide or self harm. Praise God! I also got moved onto another wing - where Allan and Simon were. My life just totally turned round. I started to realise how much God loves us and wants to share the truth. After about 2 months of being born again, my love for God just overflowed. I was able to love my family and friends with real love. I was completely delivered from depression and came off the anti-depressants.
Through reading the Bible and the Lord working through the Prison Ministry team who come in to Dovegate to do courses, the Lord has moved me along so fast. It has been an honour for our Father to use me to guide three other brothers to our amazing Lord. The Holy Spirit guided me to two of these, and they both gave their lives to Jesus. I was really blessed by the third one guided to me by the Lord. He knew that I was a believer, and one day he came up behind me and said "Talk to me." I said "What about?" "God" he said. So I did. A couple of days later I said to him " Do you believe in God?" He said "No. But as I keep coming to you Scott, I believe more." Praise God! He was going home, so the day before he left, I prayed and asked the Father to give me the words and scriptures to give this lad so his heart would be opened. That night he sat in my cell. I had the Word of God open, and shared the scriptures with him. I said to him "I keep speaking to you because the Lord knows your heart and he wants you to believe in Him and be saved. And the Lord guided you to me to hear the truth." He said "I don't need to hear any more. I'm ready." So I said "What do you mean?" He said "I want to give my life." So we prayed together. He was crying and overwhelmed. Praise God!
Through the Lord's love, I have kept a good relationship with my ex wife, I see my daughter, and I am at peace with my life. Thank You Jesus!
A few months ago, my daughter got rushed into hospital, with one of her lungs not working properly, and having difficulty breathing. I shared this with my Christian brothers and asked them to lift her up in their prayers. They asked me if I was worried. To my surprise I said "No" usually I would have been really panicky, but I just praised God and asked Him to watch over her like He says in His word, and just left it in the Father's hands. Glory be to God - she was out the following day - full of life!
The Lord is working through Dovegate in an amazing way. There has been an outpouring of His Spirit and a great revival is taking place here. Over 20 people have been saved in the last 6 weeks. I write this on 20th March 2011 in my cell at Dovegate praising God for the work He's doing.
[In 2011 about 100 men came to faith in Christ at HMP Dovegate through the testimony of men like Scott, Simon and Alan.]
My life got turned upside down and I lost everything in the world, but I thank the Lord for saving my life and turning it back round.
I love my daughter and family loads, but I love my Lord a whole lot more. I know that the Lord loves them more than I ever could. I am able to show them real true love as well.
I would rather be in jail free, doing the Lord's work, with the Lord in my life, than outside in the world, and not have the Lord in my life. I just love the Lord so much!
The Lord has saved my life and I praise Him every day. If I had not accepted the Lord into my life, I don't know where I would be today - either dead or almost dead. But now I am walking with the Lord, living in peace, joy and love. I feel more free inside here than I ever have outside! Hallelujah!
ps - All the people who tried to help me change my life - the system of foster care, my family, the boarding school, the Social Services, Psychiatrists and Art Therapists, even Prisons (although I thank God for Dovegate) - did not succeed. All I needed, which I know now, was JESUS!