From Heroin to HalleluYAH
by Ian Norton,
I landed here in Israel on a one way ticket after a 4 year long party in Greece… crawled off the boat in Haifa with about $10 in the pocket, Guitar in hand and hopeful of a wonderful brand new start just around the (next…) corner… or so I thought. Became an Israeli citizen in 1991 and after some years trying to ‘find myself’ in Tel-Aviv ended up performing in private ‘Live Sex Shows’ … that made a lot of money… but such dirty money would only be spent on dirty living – to anesthetize the reality of my situation (it was not a ‘fun’ job guys).
The serious descent into such a living hell began after diving into every pain killer available to man… to becoming totally ‘hooked’ on Heroin… for many years. Moving into a ‘nice doorway’ for shelter or next to a bush in the park does not take long. The only priority in a junkie’s ‘life’ is getting that next fix – and what full time a job it is trying to feed that habit…. There isn’t anything I would not do…. Sexual stuff, break into houses, steal, swindle or just begging on the streets. From time to time I would ‘come around’ and tell myself “That’s it… enough… today I am stopping!!!” In those rare moments of clarity when a desire to live would once grab hold of me I would go through another ‘cold turkey’ (withdrawal without medication.) They really are the most horrendous experiences – mental, physical and emotional torture – the initial intensity lasting around 4 days. Usually lasting 2 days before relapsing, but on some occasions would stay clean a couple of months.
After about 7 years of sucked down that vortex, these words felt like they were launched from my mouth toward a Jewish friend in Tel-Aviv…. “Get me a Bible and take me near water” – At the time I had absolutely no idea where ‘those words’ came from… He was as shocked at them as I was, but anyway he tried to get me a ‘Tanach’ (Bible) on Allenby St in Tel-Aviv, but there was only a Brit Hahadasha for sale (New Testament).
My friend did not want to buy ‘that’ so I told him “ok forget it… I’ll just go ‘score’ another bag of heroin. Reluctantly he says “OK I’ll get it.” We then headed to the bus station and purchased 2 tickets to the first place a bus was heading where there was water (not the beach) – that happened to be Tiberius next to the Galilee. We started a 20km walk from Tiberius down to the beginning of the Jordan River – seemed like a Mt Everest climb as every step the effects of my last ‘fix’ were felt wearing off quickly, with the ‘horrors of withdrawal’ starting also to set in.
Eventually getting to the Jordan River exhausted and hungry I just collapsed on the banks. Coming round about an hour later I picked up and started to read the book of Mathew, those scriptures were the only thing I owned in this world at that point. The expected pains were starting to increase now but I was still able to stay focused on the Word, which happened to be about John the Baptist at the Jordan River… just at that moment a thick ‘Cloud of Comfort’ that could almost be touched, and most certainly was felt, surrounded me. The typical torture of ‘cold turkey’ pains melted away and I just continued reading. This went on for the whole 4 days and there was absolutely no pain whatsoever felt during that ‘encounter’. Any junkie will tell you ‘that’s just impossible’ – but that is what happened!
‘River of Life’ Recorded in Jerusalem by
The Jerusalem Gift Shop Founder Ian Norton
After that ‘encounter’ I went back to Tel-Aviv and with 30 minutes had purchased a bag of heroin! Then it really struck me… that’s it… this time it’s gonna kill me. Just at that moment someone who knew me came over and said.. “You should go to Jerusalem… remember Sean? Well he found a way out of drug addiction there.” So I got a ‘Sharout’ (mini-bus) to Jerusalem, and as I stepped off the bus Sean (who was not expecting me) was just standing there, holding a Bible in his arms and says “You need Yeshua” to which I responded angrily “No, I ‘need’ to know where to get some heroin here.”
He walked away… then came back, knowing I would not have a place to stay… Thankfully he showed me where I could easily kick open the doors to an office on Ben-Yehuda (that belonged to a religious organization) and sleep on the toilet floor… just had to be out by 6am. By this time all I owned in the world grew from the Brit Hahadasha to this and a tealight candle.. that I lit and continued reading more, knowing for sure whatever had happened at the Jordan River was without any doubt linked to the Words in this New Testament.
In the mornings I would be out on the streets of Jerusalem begging and a (now) brother would come by and speak with me as I sat on the floor with a ‘Hungry and Homeless’ sign… and share YESHUA with me… and as he did… the ‘asymon nofel’ … (the penny dropped) about what had happened at the Jordan river became crystal clear…
This Jewish believer in Yeshua – Mordechai, gave me to live in a safe room where Sean also was and I would start diving into scripture all day with a hunger previously used only to ‘feed’ my heroin habit.
A short time later as everything that had occurred made such sense, knowing what had happened at the Jordan River was not just a ‘weird’ experience I truly came to believe. I accepted YESHUA was the Lamb of GOD who I had read about in the book of Matthew and asked HIS forgiveness for my sin, and invited HIM into my heart.
At that moment the weight of addiction with it’s ‘lifestyle’ every burden of suffering from worldly cares lifted from me and replaced with a pure joy never before experienced.
And Yeshua was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord…”
The next day I was still begging on Ben-Yehuda with a sign covering my face saying ‘Hungry and Homeless’ – Then I felt a commotion building… I looked up (literally from the floor) and saw I was surrounded by a large group of Hassidic (religious Jews) spitting on me and screaming ‘missionary go home’ – At that moment I knew whatever they were so angry about could only be because of what they were seeing my new found faith was showing them – Their rage gave me such joy knowing the ‘encounter’ at the Jordan River was without any doubt true.
Later I went to live at The Bible Institute of Jerusalem (studied HIS WORD seriously)… and got a job making Pizza… It was in that restaurant in downtown Jerusalem, I received a very clear vision from Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) what can only be described as a virtual architects plan, on how to build and establish The Jerusalem Gift Shop. Certainly was not by any ability of my own having had next to zero education and absolutely zero education on computers.
…and I do mean this was a ‘vision’ … NOT just some ‘good idea’
There have been many ‘miraculous’ events since coming to faith in YESHUA… too much to write here… All glory to HIM who sets ‘the captive free’ by the almighty power of the BLOOD of the LAMB of GOD – who restores and cleanses from inside-out all that is not from HIM!!!Share this page with your friends
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