Gareth Thompson has gone from a life of despair living in a skip to hope thanks to his faith.
When he was 15, Gareth Thompson was living in a skip behind Currys in West Yorkshire. After a childhood of caring for his brothers, sexual abuse by his cousin and bullying and fights at school, his alcoholic mum had thrown him out.
His life today as a debt counsellor and professional wrestler seemed utterly unimaginable.
“That was a really dark time,” he says.
Gareth’s road to a brighter future was not easy.
“I found a job, had a girlfriend and earned enough to move out of a homeless hostel I’d found. But I struggled to keep my job and started racking up debts.”
Amid his struggles, a friend invited him to church.
“During the singing, I found myself with tears rolling down my face.
“Afterwards, a guy said he’d seen me crying. He said, ‘You just felt love for the first time in your life and you didn’t know what to do with it. You need to give Jesus a chance.’”
Gareth began to explore faith. But then his world collapsed when his grandmother died, his wife had an affair and he lost his job.
Disillusioned, he distanced himself from church. But a friend refused to give up on him and set him the challenge of his life.
“He said, ‘Let’s deal with all your hurt, anger, bitterness and unforgiveness. We have to get your life back on track.’”
Gareth contacted his mum and found his father. But he hit a brick wall when it came to his cousin – after jail time for the abuse, no one knew where he was. Then Gareth offered God a deal.
“I prayed, ‘If you’re real, I need you to help me forgive the guy who put me through so much pain. If you do that, I’m all in.’”
At work the next day, Gareth had a huge shock. God answered his prayer when his cousin appeared in the queue before him.
“I served him, then as I handed him his change, I grabbed his hand and said, ‘I forgive you.’ It was like I’d been carrying an elephant on my back and it just dropped off.” That day Gareth’s life really began to turn around. He turned his lifelong love of wrestling into a career. Now a professional Christian wrestler, Gareth runs GT Ministries and tours the country, sharing his story during his own shows.
And having turned to debt charity Christians Against Poverty for help, he began working for them to help others in similar situations.
“I’m able to sit alongside people as a friend because I’ve been there. I’m able to share what Jesus has done in my life.”
Gareth told his story in a video for BMF Life Stories. Find it and more stories on Life Stories At Lunch on YouTube