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From nightclub bouncer to city gospel worker

December 2019 | by James Tredgett

My name is James Tredgett. I was born and raised in northeast Essex. Life was good at first: I was the biggest kid in primary school, my family lived in a big house and every day seemed fun. As a teenager, life started to fall apart. My parents divorced and my mum and I moved to a dingy flat in Clacton-on-Sea.

I had issues at secondary school; I didn’t gain many friends or achievements. I also lived a double life – being dragged to church but hating Christianity. I longed for something more.

So, once I hit 16, I joined the Army, working as an ‘Ammo Tech’. My role varied from counting bullets to disposing of bombs. Sadly, I never felt settled in the military and the novelty wore off. I left and entered my early twenties trying to figure out what life was about, ruled by a desire to ‘find myself’ and be as happy as I could be.

This desire became more costly both to myself and those around me. I got involved with the wrong crowd time and time again. Relationships came and went, and a particularly bad one led to an unexpected pregnancy with an even more unexpected abortion. I felt my life was out of control, and my search for meaning took me to some dark places.

I worked in the security industry and was a bouncer at various night clubs. This corrupt and sometimes violent world introduced me to hard drugs and petty crime. Still, none of this satisfied me and I hit rock bottom, spiritually and emotionally.

I did everything the world told me to do and it failed to deliver on its promises of peace, security, love and more. I confessed this to some family members who I’d avoided over the years, only to be told to try church! With nothing to lose, I did.

Upon visiting church for the first time in many years, I heard the gospel preached again, but this time the Spirit opened my eyes and it all made sense.

I’d tried to live a good life, but I’d just hurt myself and others. Because of my sin, I deserved the wrath of a just God; but then seeing the same God incarnated in Jesus and taking the punishment in my place, 2,000 years ago on the cross, before rising from the grave three days later to show my fine was paid in full – seeing all that, accomplished for me, changed my life.

In fact, it brought me life anew! I found the security that I’d looked for in money, in the arms of the Father, who promised to never leave or forsake me.

The peace that I once looked for in drugs and other experiences I found in the Holy Spirit – he who promises to keep me and make me more like Jesus, the Prince of peace.

The love which I’d sought in casual relationships was finally found in the one who knew everything about me and yet still chose to give up his perfect life for me.

All these blessings were mine by grace – the grace of a God who was once my Judge but was now my loving Heavenly Father.

God filled the hole that had been in my heart since I was born. His love changed my life. I began to love the things I formerly hated and vice versa. With God’s help, I gave up the addictions and finished the unhealthy relationships because I had something infinitely better in Christ, and this newness of life was something I longed to share!

After moving to London from my flat in Ipswich, my evangelistic heart grew. I found myself being discipled in a church in southwest London which had an ex-London City Mission worker as pastor. He directed me to the London City Mission (LCM) and I grasped the opportunity.

Over the years at LCM, I moved from part-time positions where I could train to my current full-time position working in East London on the Isle of Dogs, where I now live and help train other missionaries.

I came to Christ in August 2013. Shortly after that, I met my best friend Abi, who has allowed me to be her husband for four years and counting! We have a beautiful one-year-old daughter called Charis and are expecting another child in May. God has been so good to us, giving me not just a new heart, but a new family!

I’ve been a Christian for six years now, and have worked for LCM for five. During this time, my love for outreach has developed, particularly in the direction of reaching the Muslim community. I’m committed to sharing with them the love of God that comes through knowing Jesus as the true Son of God.

I also study part-time at London Seminary and I’ve enjoyed going deeper into Bible study and developing my understanding of ministry. We’ve looked at everything from Hebrew to Hebrews! I am three quarters of my way through the four-year course.

1 John 4:19 tells us that, ‘We love, because he first loved us’. This has been my motto ever since being brought from death to life in Jesus. My prayer is that others would know this love too, both through the life I now live and the message I preach of the one who came to seek and save the lost – lost people like I once was.

James Tredgett