Former international inline hockey player gains freedom from drugs and mistaken self-belief
Prior to his $500-a-day meth addiction, Paul Murphy was raised in a loving, non-religious family and recalls having "the world at my feet" as a junior inline hockey sportsman for WA state and Australian sides.
"I was named assistant captain of the Australian Junior Men's team that competed in the world championships in Detroit, USA and Dusseldorf, Germany," Paul recalls.
Unwise experimentation with drugs and alcohol from age 15 led to regular weekend meth use after high school and dramatic changes in his behaviour and relationships.
"I was manipulating people, lying to family, stealing from my family and stealing in general to feed my habit, which caused me to lose my job," Paul admits.
He kept up his drug habit by trafficking meth around Western Australia before he was busted driving into Esperance in September 2014.
"I hit rock bottom; I knew my time was up," Paul remembers feeling after 24 hours in lock up and charges of drug possession and intent to sell or supply.
He obtained bail, talked with his family and applied to the Christian-based Fresh Start recovery programme in Subiaco, Perth.
In their rehab centre in Northam he was confronted by the dramatically different lifestyle and beliefs of the men there – especially Joel Hamman, the leader of the voluntary Bible study classes.
Paul comments that previously "I found it nearly impossible to believe in God due to a non-religious upbringing."
However, he became determined to learn about God, he says, "because I could see what God was doing in lives of guys in the rehab centre. I felt as though I was gaining a second chance at life."
Four months after starting, he remembers, "I asked the Lord Jesus to take control of my life and from then on I have felt a joy and happiness, like a massive burden was lifted from my shoulders."
“I have felt a joy and happiness, like a burden was lifted from my shoulders”Paul admits he is "still learning" about what living for Jesus means, and adds, "I have faith Jesus will provide me with full time work once I get my car license back and that He will be with me however long my jail sentence will be."
Since attending a welcoming church, Paul reports, "I have been blessed with a beautiful girlfriend, and her Christian parents have blessed me with their love and support – I cannot thank them enough."
Paul thanks rehab worker Joel "for helping me confess my sins and turn to Jesus", as well as Keith Ford "for teaching me every week about the Bible and who Jesus is".
He shares a public apology to his family: "I am truly sorry for what I caused over the years but I am thanking you for the love, support and not giving up on me. I know that God will always be making changes in my life to provide you with the son that you have wanted back for years."
Now as he serves his prison sentence, Paul says, "God and having faith in Him really helps me to stay positive in the situation as a whole and being at peace with it."
Therefore, he says that rather than praying that his parole will be approved, "I pray for the will of God to be done in my life, and ask Him that whatever happens He will give me the strength to deal with it."
As he reflects on his life, Paul concludes, "I have realised there's so much more to this world than just myself and what I want.
"This perspective helps me to look forward at a new life with God, rather than back at all my mistakes, because I know I am forgiven."•