redemption & restoration
I had a good Christian upbringing and put my trust in Jesus when I was eight. I took it seriously, although there were things that I didn’t agree with as I got older, in that church. When I was in my late teens I began to rebel and then left home at 20. (I thought that I would turn back again at some point, not realising just how hard that was!)
After a few years I was going to London to see the Eagles at Wembley. Instead of my expected friend meeting me at Euston there was a guy called Brian—he had the tickets for the concert. When we arrived at the Maida Vale squat where he was staying with lots of other young people, I was shocked to find that they were all on drugs of one kind or another, but mainly heroin. (I thought I must get right back home after the concert tomorrow!) However, it turned out all the buses were booked up and I didn’t have enough money for the train, so I was stranded there for several days.
It was there that I met Sam—also from Glasgow—and a heroin addict. I heard his friends saying he didn’t have long to live. This really upset me—I knew from Brian that he had had a hard upbringing and was a year younger than myself.
It was then that an amazing thing happened: after years of walking away from God, a verse of Scripture very clearly came to me, where Paul says,
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course… and the blood of no man is on my hands…
—2 Timothy 4:7 [& Acts 20:26]
I thought, if Sam dies, his blood will be on my hands if I don’t try to help him. So I knew that I had to try. I started to go on at him about the state he was in and how would his mother feel when she heard he had died etc.
He was quite taken aback, as he was a strong character and nobody else had confronted him this way. (It was the fear of God which made me do it!) He asked if I would help him, so he got us tickets on the train to Glasgow.
His dad was a violent alcoholic so his home life was a nightmare.
a spiritual battle
After a while we returned to London as he was ‘on the run’ from the police due to drug-related charges—breaking into chemist shops etc. We got jobs and would talk about God and read the Bible together. He believed that the Devil made his friends die of drugs, so there must be a God as well.
We became aware of a spiritual battle going on, and about this time, we were in a pub when this song came blaring from the jukebox:
It is no secret what God can do, what He’s done for others, He can do for you…
Sam was so startled that he ran out the door. (I later discovered that a well-dressed total stranger offered him drugs just after.) It was all so intense I was struggling to cope. We met again later the other side of London.
In the end, we wrote to a Catholic Priest, Father McDermott, who had been kind and tried to help Sam when he had been in Dumfries jail. He wrote back at once to say he had heard Sam was dying of drugs, and had prayed with others that God would send someone to help him. The time that they had been praying for this coincided with when Sam met me! We travelled to Dumfries to see him.
He knew something was going to happen—Father McDermott was very humble and caring. He invited the lady who had prayed with him to come. She told Sam how Jesus loved him and died for his sins. Sam said that all of a sudden everything made sense—he asked for forgiveness and felt washed clean. Turned from darkness to light! This was the day before Easter Friday, 1976.
healing the backslider
I was happy for him and could hardly believe the change in him. However, it took me quite a while to accept that Jesus would also forgive me and take me back, as I was so ashamed of going against my conscience. Then I read in Hosea that He heals the backslider and loves them freely. I realised that He welcomes home His prodigal daughters as well as sons!
Sam gave himself up to the police and was flown down to London where God looked after him in amazing ways, with Christian police officers and a vote of confidence from a Harley Street psychiatrist, no less.
leading others to the Lord
We settled in Dumfries, married, and had four lovely children. Sam was a good evangelist and was used to lead many others to the Lord, including his young sister, who died aged 23-years-old of cancer. He was made a Pastor of a small church in Dumfries with lovely people there. We were all invited to America several times where Sam preached and played his songs. The wonderful friends we made there were a great encouragement to us, and still are today.
Despite being sad when Sam died fifteen years ago, I am so grateful to God for His great mercy to us, and also if it hadn’t been for the grace of God Sam would have died thirty years before.
Although the Lord used me to help Sam, He used Sam to bring me back to Himself.
Jesus, the way, the truth and the life—Hallelulajah!
in memory of
— Sam Lurinsky —
I also want to honour my dear parents,
who not only welcomed Sam,
but treated him like their own son.
Their many prayers for me were answered.
Some thirty years ago, back in 1988, Sam’s own testimony was published (and we present the transcript in full below):
From Drugs to Christ
My name is Sam Lurinsky. I was born and brought up in Glasgow. At an early age I started a life of crime, being nine years old when I served my first sentence in a remand home. This was for ‘assault and robbery’, along with a gang of older boys. After this, I steadily went downhill, becoming more involved in violence, and gang warfare.
In 1972, I was released from Dumfries Prison, having completed a sentence of 4-and-a-half years for ‘attempted murder’; my entire youth had been spent in and out of trouble with the authorities, so by this time I was aware that I would have to change my ways. I had tried “religion” while in jail but that did not seem to work for me. I had become interested in the “hippy” movement, and I thought maybe I would get this “peace and love” through experimenting with drugs.
After three years of much constant drug-taking (LSD and heroin) I was a heroin-addict, regularly breaking into chemist’s shops, and taking many drug overdoses. The so-called “peace and love” had gone sour, and at times I had reverted to violence again in my desperation for drugs.
I was in London, and the doctors had given me only six months to live. I had severe hepatitis and other drug-related illnesses, and had really tried to kick my heroin habit, but just could not do it in my own strength. By this time I was a fugitive “on the run” from the police, having skipped bail on serious drug charges. I had given up hope.
It was then that I met a girl from Glasgow who really tried to help me come off drugs. The more I tried, the more I became aware that an evil power was trying to drive me to destruction. After eight months of hard struggles, I realised that God could help me. I had been brought up as a Roman Catholic and found that “religion” was full of hypocrisy.
Anna, the girl I had met, had been brought up in a Christian family, and was a backslidden Christian. She told me this herself, and she also told me that my only hope was to go to some church and hear the “gospel”. The only person I wanted to speak about God to, was a Catholic priest whom I met in prison. He had befriended me while I was in solitary confinement (for trying to escape from prison) and I trusted him as I knew he was genuine. This man was severely deformed, and in poor health, yet he really cared more about others than himself. So I wrote to him, and he answered my letter right away! He told me that he had heard I was dying from drugs and had asked Christians to pray for me, that someone would be sent to help me. The time they began to pray for me was the time I met Anna (who is now my wife). When I read this I felt as if there must be a God who can so answer prayers.
We just knew that we had to go to Dumfries. I was in the middle of a spiritual battlefield. The devil was trying to destroy me on one side, and God was calling me on the other.
During my time in the drug scene, I had also been involved in witch-craft, and had my fingers burnt, so I knew that Satan was real. One day we were in a pub in London when suddenly from the jukebox came the words: “It is no secret what God can do, what He’s done for others, He’ll do for you…” It was unbelievable—I really thought that God was speaking to me through that jukebox!
I panicked, and ran out of the door, and into the public toilet. There a total stranger offered me a needle and syringe, and I had a bad relapse.
Just after this we headed for Dumfries. There, through the priest, I met a woman who told me how Jesus died for me on the cross. For the first time, I realised that God really loved me, and that Jesus was the Son of God! I cried out: “Jesus please forgive my sins, and help me.” Before my wife’s eyes I was healed and changed into a new man! Praise God!
A few days later, God told me to give myself up to the police, which I did. God performed a mighty miracle, and I was soon set free. Anna was restored to the Lord, in answer to her parent’s many prayers. I have been a Christian now for 11-and-a-half years, and God has blessed us in many ways. We have four healthy children and praise God for His great love and mercy. He has proved to us that “Jesus is the Way”!