A family’s prayers answered after former addict is baptised.
Justin Battiste’s life was out of control thanks to a cocktail of drugs and mental
health issues which led him in and out of prison. But his Christian family never gave
up on him and prayed continually for his salvation.
Today they are praising God after 44 year-old Justin from Ipswich made a remarkable
transformation through his new-found faith. He was mentored by senior Counties
evangelist Victor Jack and recently baptised at West Road Church in Bury St
When Justin was baptised, his mother Sandra spoke to a packed church saying: “You
will never know how much heartache and division my son caused our family. I
never lost hope and I have prayed constantly for him for over 25 years. Today is a
Here Justin shares his story on how God turned his life around:
“I am the youngest of four boys and a sister. At school I was always quiet, shy and
somewhat withdrawn. I was intelligent and in the top classes for most subjects. But I
felt different and struggled with interacting with other people. In my last ten years at
school I rebelled because I felt let down and harshly treated.
"At that time, I started hanging around with teenagers older than me. I often felt that
I fitted better with them and as a result of peer pressure I started smoking fags, which
soon led on to cannabis. I left school at 15 and started work while at the same time
my drug addiction began to take over. I’d get jobs regularly but just couldn’t hold on
to them due to the drugs I was taking.
"My life was now in a downward spiral as I started taking speed, acid and ecstasy. I
was loving the 90’s and the rave scene. I thought I could control my drug taking but
during those years I lost the respect of my family members. Drug addiction took me
into prisons and mental hospitals and I nearly took my life on many occasions. The
drugs stripped me of all morals and values. I didn’t value my life; I actually loved the
drugs more than life itself.
"I met my wife to be in 1999. At this time my drug taking had stopped and I was happy
when my first child was born. We were married in July and I thought great, I’ve finally
fixed my drug issues. We later had my daughter. But my wife started drinking heavily
and taking drugs again. When she committed adultery and we split up this totally
derailed my whole life. I ended up in a secure physical unit where I almost lost touch
with reality. When I came out I never really managed to take control of my life again.
"I loved my wife and kids dearly but they felt too far away from me. After we
separated I fell deeper into the darkness of drugs using heroin and crack cocaine on a
daily basis. I’d almost lost contact with all of my original family and everything I said I
would never do, I did; such as injecting drugs and stealing from my family.
"Through my whole life, I brought nothing but shame and misery to my family and I
was no longer fit to be a Dad, son or uncle. I could only see as far as my next hit and I
would go to any length to get it. I was banned from all the shops in Ipswich due to
shoplifting so I turned to burglary and petty crime to feed my addiction. All hope I
ever had, had just disappeared. I tried to take my life on a few occasions. I was in and
out of prison and just going round and round in circles and getting nowhere.
"One day I attended a court appearance in Bury. My father spoke up for me and said I
needed help for my addiction rather than being sent back to prison. I was given a
drug treatment and rehabilitation order.
"One morning I woke up and looked outside and watched with amazement the sun
rise in beautiful blue skies. I’d never seen anything so beautiful and so natural
before. A change started to take place in my life and I know it was because people in
my church in Ipswich had been praying for me.
"My mother noticed a change in me, as did my brother who took me into his home
with open arms for the New Year. I spent my first Christmas at home free of drugs. I
continued my drug rehabilitation. I am amazed at how far I have come in a year. I was
homeless, living on the streets in Ipswich with no hope. I am now transformed into a
loving caring father, son, brother and uncle.
"In the summer last year, my mother took me to West Road Church, as she had met
Victor Jack when he was preaching at her church in Ipswich. At the end of the service,
after Victor had been speaking, I committed my life to Jesus with Victor and friend
Mike Coleman. There were tears that day and I know now that with God’s help I can
do anything I put my mind to.
"I have managed to make amends to my family. Thank you God for making my life
whole again and for shedding light on my once darkened life. You have set me free
from the chains of my addiction and I love life now, more than ever before. My
mother and father have prayed a long time for my salvation. Through times of despair
they never gave up hope.
"I have always been a taker and never thought of giving anything back but today I am
truly blessed as I am able to give back to society as I work as a volunteer at the Drop In
Centre at the local church. I am able now to show kindness and love to the vulnerable
and homeless. It doesn’t cost anything but it can go a long way to change a person’s
"I love God and I love worshipping Him with others here in West Road Church. I now
see His creation with new eyes and marvel at it. One verse in the Bible which means a
lot to me is; ‘if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has
come.’ This sums up what has happened to me. This is why I want to be baptized; to
show that old life has finished and my new life has begun. I am excited about the
future. Please pray for me in my new Christian life.”
Counties senior evangelist Victor Jack speaks about his one-to-one mentoring with
How did you meet Justin?
I was asked to fill a pulpit in Ipswich as the pastor was away. At the end of the service a
dad and a man came to me to ask for prayer. They poured out their story about their
son and told me that when he came out of prison he wanted to break away from his
drug cronies and move from Ipswich to Bury. They asked me to look out for him. I
met him in town and suggested he came to our church. His mother brought him the
following Sunday. At the end of the service he came to me and said he wanted to give
his life to God.
Have you seen a change in him?
Since Justin’s baptism he hasn’t looked back. He is now clear of drugs and never
misses church on Sundays, attending both the morning and evening services. He is
actively involved in our home group, and reads his bible regularly. He has become
such a positive and cheerful person. He hasn’t faltered since becoming a Christian and
has shared his story in several different contexts. I keep in touch with him each week.
What would your advice be to other Christians who may be mentoring addicts and
feel overwhelmed or need encouragement?
Listen to them and love them for Jesus sake. They need massive doses of
encouragement and constant reassurance that God loves them. We need to involve
them in some practical work at first in the church so that they feel valued and
accepted. We need to assure them that we are always available to help them without
letting them become dependent on us.
What’s the next steps for Justin?
Justin has been baptised before a packed church and the next step is to see him grow
in his faith and in the confidence that God’s way is always best.