35 Years 35 Stories
Pr Danaraj Samuel
Ex-drug addict & ex-prisoner, now a pastor of St. Mary’s Cathedral
Being the 3rd generation Christian and growing up in the church was no shield to the snare of substance abuse. I started dabbling with marijuana during school days and later ventured into heroin with a group of my college friends.
In the 25 years that followed, substance abuse became normalcy in my life and I was in and out of prison. I was in bondage, wasn’t a free man. I lost everything – my family, church, friends, a good job in one of the best hotels in town, all my self-esteem, literally everything! In between prison was Petros, Malaysian Care’s halfway home. I was also sent to Green Pasture (a Christian rehab centre).
Still during that time, I never doubted the existence of God. One day on the street, I called out to God, “God, don’t tell me that all these years of me believing in You was a lie. You saved the thief on the cross, why can’t you save me?”
The real change in my life came when I discovered the Gospel. It was during a Bible Study class while I was working as a security guard in St. Mary’s, my home church. I found the true essence of my faith that Jesus came, died on the cross for my sins and my sins were many. If God could forgive me a terrible sinner deemed as nonredeemable by all who knew me, what more could I ask for? I rediscovered my identity in God, made possible only through the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. I was willing to give my whole life to Him.
I went on to study theology and have been a pastor for 5 years now. Moving from the prison to the pulpit was not easy at all. I had to fight stigma and constant sarcasm. It was my love for God who loves me such a terrible sinner that kept me going. I am thankful for Rev Dr Andrew Chia who discipled and mentored me. He saw something in me that I couldn’t see myself.
Are you in bondage? Come to Jesus. There is no other way.