20 September 2017

Insider Out! – John Lawson

John Lawson was born in Glasgow in 1966. Here he spent the first three years of his life before his parents moved to South Africa in 1969 where his father was a law enforcement officer. In 1972 his brother Alex was born and it seemed like happy families. Four years later after a family trauma John’s parents split up. His father remained in South Africa and his mother had no option but to move back to the UK with the children.

John moved to the roughest housing estate in Europe (Drumchapel, just outside Glasgow) and that is where he learned to use violence, for the first time, to solve a situation!

A few years later John moved to Merseyside and he got interested in Martial Arts and became pretty good at it. John started work as a bouncer and then moved into bodyguard work, getting involved with a highly professional group of ex-soldiers from various countries who became an elite team. Their employer would use them to clean up troubled nightclubs, in which, ‘hit them hard and move on’ was the motto. John said of this period of his life, “I kinda always felt I had the moral high ground — I think I watched too many John Wayne movies when I was a kid. I made a lot of stupid decisions because of that mentality.” Working with big bands like The Rolling Stones, REM, AC/DC, only gave John the desire for the high life, and it was not long before he ended up doing some serious debt collecting for some of his close protection clients, which quickly moved into choosing their own ‘jobs’. He was soon involved in international kidnapping of men that had stolen from some of his clients. He became embroiled in a world of shotguns, kidnapping and money! He made a lot of cash and money was his god. Subsequently, John ended up in prison serving a 5 year sentence for extortion.

John’s wife left him, his home was sold and all his worldly possessions were confiscated by the state, but he did not care, he was so arrogant! He figured he would do another job when he got released and be back on top. However, it was the persistence of a Nigerian friend in prison that led John, one night in February 2005, to the Christian Fellowship in Saughton prison. Initially he was reluctant until he found out the meetings were stocked with sugary treats! He admitted: “I thought Christians were weak, vulnerable, pathetic people — I planned to fill my pockets as soon as they were all praying with their eyes closed.”

John Lawson amazingly encountered God that night as other hardened criminals sang gospel songs. He wept like a baby behind the song sheet as he felt a sweep of emotion overcome him. He woke the next day in his cell and just felt that everything was going to be okay; he had an amazing sense of peace. He read the story of Jesus at the well with the Samaritan woman in the Gospel of John, chapter 4, and he was intrigued. As he continued to read more he felt God’s presence in his cell. He was excited the following week as he headed back to the Christian Fellowship group meeting. The combination of his mother’s prayers, the prison Pastor and most importantly the Grace of God, led him to turn away from his old life and surrender to Jesus. Now, John has realised that the greatest place he could ever have gone to, was prison! He says: “Prison can take many forms — you don’t need to be locked up, to be in a prison.” There are no walls that can ever hold John again for he is ‘free’ indeed!

After his release in May 2007, John was desolate. With a criminal record, he couldn’t get a job and was living in homeless accommodation, but he was determined to keep on the straight and narrow. Since that time the Lord Jesus Christ has blessed him in so many ways. He now has a beautiful Christian wife and a full time ministry position with Avanti ministries. Today, John travels around the world going back into prisons to plant the seed of The Gospel. “God has amazing plans for all our lives and I thank Him every day for saving a wretch like me! My desire, God willing, is to continue to do God’s work and fulfill the command of Jesus Christ in Mark 16.15 to: “Go out and preach the Gospel to all nations!”