In and out of 42 state institutions including boys’ homes, mental institutions and prisons, Kevin Mudford knew life could be different after his brother became a changed man
Frizzy beard to below the neck, spiky bracelets and leather vest, an open upturned Bible on his bald, tattoo-covered head as he exclaims"It's good to be alive!"— Kevin Mudford is not your typical evangelist.
Nicknamed "Mad Dog" in his past life, Kevin spent years behind the bars of a total of seven New Zealand jails, struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, and underwent regular psychiatric treatment.
Now, he roams the streets of Australasia on his Harley motorcycle sharing what he has learned: "You do not need alcohol to be someone; the only one who can fill your need is Jesus Christ."
Violence at home had pushed Kevin and his brother to the streets as boys.
"I never knew what it meant to have my father, my dad, put his arms around me and say, 'Son, I love you!'" Kevin says.
"And when little boys don't hear those words they go out into the streets to look for it."
At the age of 15 he was in juvenile detention and, after a brief escape and crime spree, he nearly strangled a guard to death. Upon his release more than five years later, Kevin became a chronic alcoholic.
"I drank in hotels with bikers and gang members," Kevin recalls. "If I couldn't get drunk somewhere, I wouldn't go. We were companions in misery; the old 'poor me, poor me, pour me a drink,' was my attitude."
After three and a half years in and out of mental asylums and battling his addiction, Kevin heard about a dramatic change in his brother, who had spent 10 years in jail himself.
“If I couldn’t get drunk somewhere, I wouldn’t go”"My brother, who had the same background as me, had given his life to Christ, so that's what first got my attention. The change in him was like night and day," Kevin says.
"Because it was my brother I guess I trusted him. The way he changed made me realize there is a way out for me."
The biggest change in Kevin's life was he no longer needed or wanted to drink alcohol.
"If I hadn't become a Christian I would have stayed drinking in the park or sitting in hotels drinking with gangsters in their gumboots and fully tattooed guys.
"Initially, I really didn't think I could remain faithful to God, but God was faithful and He spoke to me and gave me a job to tell people about Him and about my story.
"I don't really look like a Christian, do I?" he asks his audience in the street. "Well I really am. I said, 'Jesus, if you're real, you take away my alcoholism and I'll preach for you'."
True to his word, Kevin preaches. He holds up a twenty-dollar bill in front of a group of street kids and says, "First one to grab it!" Then he explains, "That didn't cost her anything to get. All she had to do was reach out and grab that twenty dollars— it's hers. That's what having Jesus is like. It's a free gift. All you have to do is reach out and ask Him to come into your heart."
Kevin's gaze is grave as he warns."Jail is a pretty good place to stay out of. Being on drugs is not fun. Being an alcoholic can really mess your life up."
His face brightens into a smile."My advice is, give your life to Jesus Christ. Buy yourself a Bible, buy yourself a Harley, and you'll really live." •