Ex-crim Eddie Murison helps to stop the cycle of retaliation and self-protection amongst youth
Between the ages of 14 and 29, Eddie Murison spent 11 years in prison on sentences for assault, theft and robbery, but since his life turned around, he has dedicated it to preventing teens from wasting their lives as he did.
When he was just 16, Eddie remembers taking a crossbow to an outdoor carnival to protect himself from being pushed around.
“I was with the skinheads and I said to these bikers, ‘Take one step closer and I am gonna shoot you,’” Eddie says. “I felt like I really wanted to damage somebody because people were saying, ‘You’re useless, you’re not wanted’.
“Today, it is the same. I find that for most of the people who carry guns, it is not because they are hard cases, it is because they are scared and that is their confidence.”
Eddie shares that, when he was young, there were many reasons he felt useless.
“I couldn’t read or write. I had no confidence. I wanted to achieve things in life, but I just couldn’t get beyond my situation. My granddad was one of these old professional street fighters and he taught me so much about boxing and karate. It was the only thing I loved and was accepted for.”
When he was put in prison, Eddie continued to rebel against authority, falsely believing that this was the way to “be his own man”.
“The prison officers would try to get me to buckle under, which would get me even more angry and violent. They were actually scared to come into my cell because I just wanted to do so much damage to them.”
Because Eddie couldn’t read or write all his letters had to be read to him. So when a prison officer waited until Christmas Day to read him a “Dear John” letter written by his English wife telling him she was leaving him and going back to England, it was the last straw.
“A steak knife went missing from the kitchen,” Eddie recalls. “After three days trying to get to that officer, I just thought, there’s no point to living anymore. I went for a random guy who had an English accent. One guy damaged, two officers down.”
Eddie was placed in solitary confinement, his arms and legs chained, and four officers with full riot gear went with him everywhere.
Then one January evening in 1987, Eddie heard a knock at the door and immediately thought, “Here’s round two coming.”
“In walked this little guy with a toothpaste collar,” Eddie remembers. “He said, ‘God’s sent me, God cares for you. God loves you.’”
When Eddie told him to leave, this Christian man responded: “Why don’t you just shut up and grow up. When Jesus was a baby Herod was going to murder Him, so He knows what rejection feels like. And when He grew up, they laughed at him, they despised Him, so He knows what your insecurities feel like. Why don’t you get a life, because He hung on a cross and died just for you.” Then he closed his Bible and walked out.
“I felt as if I had gone two rounds with (Mike) Tyson!” Eddie exclaims. “Somebody had got through all the fronts, hit me with the truth and gave me a bit of hope.”
On that day all those years ago, Eddie knew he had to “get a life”.
“I was so selfish, I couldn’t think about anybody else. My marriage failed because all I thought about was stealing and everyone had to take on responsibility for me.”
Eddie found a Bible and began reading it, and when his prison sentence finished, he began attending a Christian church where he heard the good news of Jesus Christ clearly explained.
“For the first time in my life I felt loved. Then I started caring for myself and for my actions.”
At first it was hard to confront his selfishness, but as he heard the good news that God the Son, Jesus Christ, had taken the punishment he deserved for his sin, Eddie decided to surrender his life to Jesus and trust Him as Saviour and King. Since then, Eddie says God has made him a new man.
“You find out that you’re a heap of rubbish; a human being who has made a mess,” he says. “It has been difficult to take on responsibility dealing with my issues, but when you start changing, you go so far down the road and when you look back, you think, ‘I couldn’t do this’.”
Now a Christian pastor, Eddie works in one of the most violent areas in Aberdeen, Scotland.
“In one shopping centre, people were scared to come out in the evenings because the young folk get so much alcohol. So I meet young people on the street, chat with them, and break up fights. A lot of kids have handed certain things over to me.”
Eddie shows an array of airguns and knives and points out that even an airgun can do a lot of damage.
“The key thing is to educate the families to work with us, so we can save some of these kids from wasting their lives or doing something they will regret for the rest of their life.”
Families tell Eddie that seeing him gives them hope and a lot of confidence that folk can change. Eddie is glad to say that many young people have made changes.
“If I did not know Jesus, I would probably be serving a life or double life prison sentence today. What I have got today you cannot buy today, it is freedom. I’m free from the mess I committed, the guilt, and the shame I used to walk about with. It’s a new life,” Eddie concludes.