A thief handed himself into the police after a chat with his mum about God.
Alan Saunders has revealed how his life changed after being left behind by a getaway driver during his final raid.
Alan, who was 22 at the time, was left to flee from the crime scene and headed to his mum’s. Following a chat with her, during which time she prayed, he decided he needed to make changes to his life.
Since the incident in 1986, he has spent the past three decades leading a Christian ministry.
He said: “I had hooked up with a guy I met in the pub a few years earlier. We robbed jewellers’ shops and I’d ask to see items of jewellery, then I’d snatch them and run. His getaway car was a Mini and I’d hide in the boot. But on this robbery the door fell off and he drove off and left me.”
Alan, now 57, escaped to his mum’s house but she was unaware of the crime he had just committed. During his visit she asked her son if she could pray for him.
“I didn’t want to offend her so I agreed,” he explained.
With faith came the need to face his past. Walking past a police station the next day, Alan handed himself in and was arrested. “I had a fantastic night’s sleep because I had peace with God. The next morning, I made a full confession of all my crimes.”
While Alan waited for his day in court, he studied the Bible. It had a transforming effect: he stopped drinking and stealing.
The Crown Court hearing ended in a community service order, but then came an unexpected challenge.
“The judge said, ‘If you’ve really changed, contact the people you stole from and pay them back,’” said Alan.
He contacted every jeweller he had robbed and spent the next 14 years repaying those who wanted this.
After getting married, Alan began full-time Christian ministry, including as a youth pastor and pastor. His true calling, he said, is to share his faith.
He has spent the past eight years in a remarkable ministry, Cross the Nations, walking through more than 30 countries.
Alan walks with Cheshire pastor Mike Vickers and wheels a wooden cross while sharing his faith in the richest, poorest and most dangerous of places.
He said: “As we walk, pray, share the Bible and encourage churches, we’re seeing God doing amazing things.”
“I just want to be in the right places at the right times to point people to Jesus Christ. It happens on practically every walk we go on.”