Steve tells of journey from drugs and despair to hope
Builder Steve Renwick recently shared with a Norwich audience about his journey from drugs and despair to joy. Mike Wiltshire reports.
From school days, Steve was “constantly looking to be loved – I’d misbehave in ‘funny’ ways just to get attention, and was often in trouble”. By the 1970s, Steve was into drugs which “fuelled my nights of debauchery and partying.”
At the age of 40, with by then a comfortable home after earning good money in the building sector, and touring the world with his wife, Michelle, “the love of my life,” Steve nevertheless felt a deep inner emptiness which he simply could not explain. Despite outward success, “I was still hunting for love,” he recalls.
Steve and Michelle had been married as teenage sweethearts, but after 22 years and success in business, Steve’s life "started to unravel" as he slid into depression for eight years.
In the midst of growing anger and depression, he even considered suicide, but could not bear the thought of his wife finding him dead in a field.
Steve’s troubles were compounded by the death of his dad at 67, plus the loss of his ‘two best mates’ in a business dispute, and anger issues. “They and their families just walked out of my life – and 35 years of my life were wiped out, gone! My work was suffering and I had a couple of building jobs that also went wrong.”
At 48, he was about to “throw his marriage away, having lost hope to the point of utter destruction”. At times, Steve’s depression was so bad he wanted to smash the home up. “Michelle asked me why I was so evil? I said I didn’t know.”
Although Steve “had a hang-up over religion”, he once sat in an empty church and simply cried in despair over his depression.
Among his clients was Henry, a successful businessman who was also a Christian, who suggested Steve join Alpha, a Christian discovery course on the meaning of life. He told Steve: “You need Jesus in your life.”
Six months later, Nora, another of Steve’s Christian clients, invited Steve and Michelle to lunch along with an invitation that they visit her local church, Holy Trinity, in Cambridge.
Steve reluctantly went along, “expecting to see half a dozen people and a boring vicar,” but was amazed to find 300 young people and a band in the church.
He was very moved to see how several students quietly prayed for another young person. “It was beautiful - I saw genuine friendship there.”
Steve realised that he, too, could be prayed for – and might also join an Alpha Course. On the final weekend of the course, six years ago, he joined others in a life-changing prayer – and physically felt he was being squeezed in a strong hug “as though Jesus showed me that he loved me. All of a sudden I had found the love I’d always wanted.”
Friends on the course told him: “You’re glowing, you’re shining – you’re a new person!”
His wife Michelle, who is a mobile hairdresser, said later: “The lovely husband I once knew has come back!”
Steve and Michelle began attending church together – “God is at the centre of our lives now,” says Steve, they have seen reconciliation in their family and others “touched by God” as they have shared their story.
“I have never been more alive,” adds Steve, who is now involved in the men’s ministry at his church.
“When I look back on my life, I realise how many times God’s love had rescued me in very tough times without me ever seeing it - or perhaps more truthfully wanting to see it.” He adds: "It's a love story, really - God's extraordinary love for an ordinary man."
In Norwich, Steve was sharing his story at a monthly dinner evening of the Full Gospel Businessmen.
Pictured above is Steve Renwick.