Chris Peters: Peace from War
Before encountering Jesus for himself, Chris Peters’ life was, in his own words, “chaos… absolute chaos.” He turned away from God at a young age because of a strict, legalistic adoptive-father and a feeling that someone who loved Chris shouldn’t be allowing the hurt he went through in his everyday life.
After an overdose and being snatched back from death by doctors, Chris just wanted to get through his days, and to get away from living with his adoptive-parents. In this endeavour, he turned to drugs and moved in circles of people not good for him – those with no concern for his mental, physical, or spiritual wellbeing. In this place of darkness and despair, Chris had purposed to cut himself off from the presence of God. The most he believed in God at this point was to sneer and say “I’ll show you!”
When Chris left school, his parents pushed him into the army in an effort to straighten him out. During his two years of service, he was “moulded and conditioned” in the harsh ways of the military – again without concern for his spiritual or mental wellbeing. As a result his mental health took a real battering; “I just broke,” he said, shaking his head. He thought that was it and that he did not have the strength to carry on. Once again, he turned to alcohol and drugs in an effort to numb himself to his hurt and problems, but they didn’t go away.
“I was constantly fighting myself”
After the army Chris fell into a life of crime, drugs, alcohol, and bouncing from relationship to relationship. Periodically, he would get tired of living this way and settle down for a while but would inevitably find himself back at the beginning in “hopelessness and despair” and so the cycle would continue – Chris self-confessedly “had no control” over his life direction. “I was constantly fighting myself,” he said, “by not dealing with those problems.”
Leaving London, Chris went to Attleborough and found his birth parents. Throughout his life, Chris had idolised these people and believed, against everything his adoptive-parents had told him, that they would be everything he wanted them to be.
Once again in a period of settling, Chris got married and had a family. On the surface, things may have seemed to be getting better, but Chris was still an addict. He began leading a “double-life” with drugs; hiding it from his family, but justifying the usage to himself. Due to the drugs and deceit, his marriage broke down and Chris entered his darkest period yet. With another shake of his head, Chris said, “something just shattered… I knew I couldn’t continue.”
He walked to Great Yarmouth and was helped around life on the streets by a kind old man, though Chris was “in no mood for kindness.” Out in the cold, he went through multiple suicide scenarios – but every time, he calculated that someone would have saved him. Some unknown Samaritan would have alerted a hospital to the dying man on the side of the street.
“Something was with me that kept me safe.”
Chris carried on walking along the coast and looked at the effects of his life; how each choice he had made had impacted other people, it was something he had never done before. When the weight of it all overwhelmed him, Chris fell to his knees and cried out to God to take his life; Chris stopped fighting, God could have it all. After that, he lay down in the dunes at Winterton-on-Sea and waited to die, but “something was with me that kept me safe.”
Despite the frigid temperatures and the lack of physical shelter, Chris survived the night and woke up the next morning with the distinct feeling that “things were different.” As he made his way back through the dunes towards Norwich, he felt supernaturally reassured. Words of “don’t worry, it’ll be fine,” and, “I’ve got something more for you,” echoed in his mind.
Chris came back to Norwich and asked a nurse for help with his suicidal thoughts. By exposing the dark voice in his head, the power of it was taken away; giving greater room for the voice of hope and life.
During this time, Chris bumped into a couple of Christians; he wound up staying with them for the weekend. While with them in their house, Chris said “I’ve lost my faith, I need my faith.” It was a matter of urgency for him to recapture a faith in God – but he knew he couldn’t do it alone. The couple he was staying with went to King’s; Chris knew it through King’s Care.
By the time Chris arrived at the front door of the King’s Centre on a Sunday morning, he hadn’t been to church in fifteen years. Nevertheless, he took those first faith-filled steps inside.
“I understood the truth… it just made sense.”
King’s family began to sing praises to God, and the worship instantly spoke to Chris; “I felt something in my soul.” Though he didn’t know it yet, the Holy Spirit was working in him. He prayed, and was hit with the gift of tongues; was then prayed for and his knee was healed from the effect of walking to the coast and back! Chris realised a new found strength to which he now had access. He smiled and said, “I understood the truth… it just made sense.”
Chris started coming to the City Centre site on a daily basis to sit and read the Bible. Back with the couple who took him in, he started to deal with his emotions about his faith, family, and upbringing. When circumstance meant that Chris had to stay with someone else from church family, he was initially suspicious of their kindness, but trusted God and formed a new, loving and supportive family with them.
As this was happening, Chris realised he wasn’t comfortable with the remnants of his old life and asked God for deliverance from it. God gladly did so, as a loving father – removing harmful people and situations from Chris’ life and giving him safer and healthier places to be. This was to the extent that when Chris smoked half of a cigarette he found it so disgusting he had to throw it away.
“When we take control, we make a mess of it; when God takes control, He comes through.”
A few months on and Chris still doesn’t drink, and has been clean of drugs for months. “When God came into the picture, He fixed everything,” Chris said; not that everything is easy, but Chris now knows personally that God is walking beside him every step of the way.
Now Chris has a daily routine for maintaining his relationship with God. He starts the day with half an hour of listening to an audio Bible – which doesn’t just read the Bible out, but also teaches a little each day. He can feel when he has missed a reading as things don’t go quite so well and he walks through the day feeling out-of-step.
His faith in God has opened Chris up to the love and relationships within the church and out among other people who are homeless. In his walk with God, Chris has a vision of purpose for his life by telling people about God. He has a deep-rooted desire to give something back to God and the community. Where before he may have shrugged his shoulders and moved on, Chris will now try to help others where he can and take a personal interest in their wellbeing. “Jesus put genuine love in my heart,” is his heartfelt mantra – leaving no doubt as to the change that has taken place in him. Chris knows, however, that the reason he is so different is down to God’s love and grace in his life, and nothing to do with his own strength. “When we take control, we make a mess of it; when God takes control, He comes through.”