The powerful testimony of how a violent criminal and drugs addict was transformed by God’s love.
‘I [was] a little, lost, hurting boy, trapped in an eighteen-stone, steroid-filled, violent man’s body. I was broken… I was a mentally insane, chronically depressed, drug-addicted, drug-dealing failure. God… came into that cell and pulled me out of the darkness of shame, bitterness and pain. He poured his love into my heart. He healed my mind and set me free from the cycle of destruction, and equipped me to carry on with life… to be a father, to be respected, to live a normal life. To be a message of hope. I have many failings and I have got it wrong so many times, but if there is one thing I’m certain of, it is that God is real! He is alive and he loves you.’
Taming of a Villain tells of Allen Langham’s rollercoaster life, from an unsettled and abusive childhood to a teenage life of rebellion, drink, drugs, violence and emotional turmoil. ‘When love turns to hate, it’s a powerful force’, he writes in the book. ‘I had got stamped on so much as I grew up that a boy reaching out for love had been turned into a monster.’ He was nearly rescued by the start of a promising rugby career which saw him signed for Sheffield Eagles at the age of 17 – ‘living my dream’ – but this was soon cut short when Allen’s violent behaviour landed him his first of 7 prison sentences at the age of 18. It was the start of an 18 year cycle of crime and violence, with 15 years in and out of prison. Many times, Allen tried to make a fresh start in life on his release from (or during his time in) prison, but time after time, he ended up in a downward spiral of violence, drink, drugs and crime. Rejected by his family, friends, partners and children, he was often homeless, and was once kidnapped and nearly killed. At one point, as a chronic drug user, he was spending up to £500 a day on crack and living in what he describes as ‘a drug induced, delusional world of little reality’ on a ‘cocktail of drink, drugs and illicit dealing’.
In January 2013, contemplating suicide while back in prison, Allen attended a Bible study group and asked God afterwards to send him a white dove ‘to show me that you are with me’; the next morning, the pigeons which sat outside his cell rose and flew away as a white dove came to take their place. Having given his life to Christ that day, Allen was released soon after and began what he calls ‘a one-man crusade to change the world, with plenty of zeal but precious little wisdom’. The years since then, writes Allen, have been ‘a journey of personal revelation as I continue to learn more about myself as well as God.’ Since 2013, he has worked as a fitness coach, a personal trainer, a youth worker, and an assistant chaplain to the rugby team, preached to prisoners, and set up Pink Ladies fitness club and the Steps to Freedom course (for young people abandoned by society). His relationships have been restored with his sisters, his children and even his father who walked out on him as a baby.
Taming of a Villain is the story of how, in Allen’s words, ‘Jesus Christ took a damaged, hurting man and transformed him miraculously’. It is a powerful testimony to the fact that God’s love can reach into the darkest of places and the most damaged of lives.
240 pages, 978 0 8572 1937 4, paperback, £11.99
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