A former nightclub in Hartlepool has swapped booze for the Bible after being converted into a church.
Living Waters has turned the old building into a refuge for recovering addicts, as well as hosting church services, a café and community centre.
The church has around 40 people attending every week, the majority of whom are new Christians.
Many of the addicts who have come to the building have found a life-transforming faith that has removed their desire for the drugs. Several are going to college later this year, and, in an incredible turnaround, others are working for the rehab.
It’s been so successful that agencies in the area are ringing up regularly to try to help addicts and alcoholics get a place, but the church is so full it often has to turn people away.
Mark McNeil has been at the centre for ten weeks, and had previously been drinking heavily for 16 years. He was so gripped by the addiction that when he came to the centre in early January, he could hardly walk.
“I was gripping the handrail to come back upstairs,” he said. “On January 11, I gave my life to Jesus, and it’s just turned my life around.”
Steven Iverson was a heavy drinker who had twice been in prison for GBH before he started attending – then everything changed.
He said: “I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and accepted him as Saviour. I’ve been here for three months now. It’s been absolutely awesome, I read my Bible all the time.
“It blows my mind how awesome God is. Friends of mine have now got a relationship with God that I prayed for. Family members are talking to me again. It’s all down to the power of Jesus that’s helped me. It’s all about God’s timing. It’s always perfect. It’s amazing, it really is.”
The project’s leader, Pastor Colin Sawtell, told New Life: “I’m amazed at some of the things we’re doing. We’re seeing lives changed. I’ve seen God move in the past but I’ve never seen him move like this.
“We preach the death and resurrection of Jesus and have an altar call every service, you’ll have to see it to believe it. This is 24 hours a day, the doors are getting knocked down by people who need help.”