Saul’s redemptionDWIGHT SAUL says the same way God redeemed him, He could help other young people struggling with the issues of life. (Nigel Browne)
By Bryan Walker | Sun, July 08, 2012 - 12:02 AM
You will either end up in prison, or dead!
That was the dire prediction cast on young Dwight Saul’s life as he was leaving secondary school.
And while he was not dabbling in ganja, guns or gangs, he was rebellious, rowdy and disrespectful, with anger and frustration pumping through his veins.
Saul had been excelling academically, enjoying his boy days, attending church and looking forward to a happy family life with his parents and younger sibling.
Suddenly, like a shot from a gun, his world was split in two.
The two adults who mattered most in his life, the parents he thought would be together through thick and thin and be only parted by death, separated and eventually divorced.
He was only 13, but had to grow up fast, too fast for his liking.
“There were a lot of responsibilities, and then you got exposed to a lot of adult things and adult conflicts. Then you had to be leader for your brother who was six years younger,” he told the SUNDAY SUN.
Raging on inside
Amidst all this, things were raging on the inside.
“I had a lot of anger as a result of that divorce and everything else that was going on. Not understanding why your parents would want to get divorced [as], you always think they will be always together and that you will always be one happy family.”
Saul was no longer interested in school and studies as before. He even “stopped down” in fourth form. He had just hit a wall.
“You just found someone at school to hit, not physically, but to get out what was on the inside. [I] went into school and took out anger on teachers . . . . As a result, a lot of my behaviour changed. I behaved rebellious and got into a lot of problems. I would always be in the office for something I said, for cursing teachers . . . .
“Before the divorce I was good, man. I was headboy at primary school, used to play the piano . . . ,” he reminisced.
There were even times he felt like giving up.
“When I left school, the principal had said then, ‘You’re not going to make it too far. You will either be dead or be in prison’,” he recalled.
He was 17.
But his mother kept insisting he not give up; that he could make something of himself, even as he doubted himself and dwelt on the principal’s pronouncement. As he recalled, she “stood in the gap” for him when others felt he would be a failure.
Angry young man
Though he left with a number of CXC certificates and went on to the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic (SJPP), Saul was still an angry young man, filled with emptiness on the inside.
To fill this void, he slumped into heavy drinking with his SJPP schoolmates. Every Friday they would head into Bridgetown.
“One Friday there was the end of school and we headed to town for some drinks,” he said. “We were in the alley by Cave Shepherd and we ate and drank . . . the Heineken, the brandy
. . . . Then we ran out of drinks. So I said, let us go in [the then] Julie’N [supermarket] and beg for some money.
“I told persons how I was poor and didn’t have any money, bus fare or anything to eat; all types of crying. People gave us money; we got a good set of money, enough that we bought a gallon of Old Brigand [rum]. We went back in the alley and we drank fresh again.”
That was when things went further downhill.
“I got drunk that day and I don’t know how I made it to the van stand or got the correct bus home. From what I was told, when I got off the bus where I live, I just collapsed on the ground and fell into a drain right in front Sharon Moravian Church [in Jackson, St Thomas],” Saul said.
A woman passing by saw him face down in the drain and contacted a family living nearby. They revived him and eventually helped to get him home.
Saul said that to this day he can’t recall a thing that happened that evening.
Next morning came the vomiting, the headaches, the scolding.
But he also heard a voice in his head beckoning him to be filled with another spirit.
“I really heard God saying to me, very strongly, ‘You need to change your life. You need to stop what you’re doing.’ I remember my mother saying adamantly: ‘You’re going to church Sunday; that’s for sure!’”
He had not stopped going to church but, in his words, he used to be outside more than inside the chapel.
“That day I went to church and I said I would really try this God thing, because I didn’t ever want to feel that [drunken] way again.”
He faced some ridicule.
“I remember when I was going down to church, some people saw me and were laughing; I couldn’t understand why they were laughing as I had never seen them before. Then I heard one of them say: ‘That is the drunken fella that you see on Friday.’
Saul said he felt that sinking feeling but also vowed to never have that experience again.
So he pulled up his life’s socks and at age 19, gave his life to the Lord.
After leaving SJPP, he went to Canada, where he successfully studied engineering.
“When I came back, I was working and working well; everything was going good, but I didn’t feel fulfilled in what I was doing . . . . I really felt God calling me to be in ministry,” he said, adding that while he was in Canada, he felt the call to be a preacher and would often “preach to the trees”.
But he didn’t want to leave his job – working as the engineer at a well known company. He was 22, with dreams of being married by 26, with a house and all the other material things on his immediate radar.
“So when God called me to go into ministry, it was a little hard for me to want to give that up.
“But there was this pastor who came to visit from the US, Dr Oliver Phillips. He never met me, but he said that God told him that when he comes to this particular church [Western Light Church of the Nazarene, Oxnards, St James], he would see the youth pastor, the young preacher. When he first saw me he said, ‘You are the young preacher.’ That was my confirmation.”
Saul is now the full-time youth pastor at that church. He went on to study for a Bachelor’s degree in theology at the Caribbean Nazarene College in Trinidad where he majored in psychology and counselling. He has just completed a Master’s in counselling psychology at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill.
Saul says he shares his story with young people in and out of church to help them see the light and turn off the road to destruction. He wants them to have a redemption experience like he did.
“It’s been an interesting journey,” Saul, now 30, says of his Christian walk. “It doesn’t mean that I have always walked perfectly. I have struggled with lust; I have struggled with fornication; I have struggled with relationships and commitment [as a backlash from his parents’ divorce].
“I have struggled to always trust in God; I’ve made mistakes . . . but He has always been faithful . . . and has helped me immensely.”
Remembering what his principal had predicted, Saul did end up in prison – but not behind bars.
As part of his internship in the pastorate, he visited HMP Dodds in St Philip for seven months up to April this year, observing and interacting with inmates.
“There is something about persons who have made mistakes that speaks to me,” he said.
“I guess because I have made a lot of mistakes and I really have a soft heart for persons who have made mistakes and who really want to change. I like to work with and help young men and women who have gone through stuff and are battling with the challenges of life; with what to do, where to go, how to do it.”
While that programme has ended, Saul says he tries to mould positive mindsets among the young people under his watch.
“I let them know of the experiences I gained from talking to the prisoners, so they can understand that you may have made mistakes; that you may be struggling with something; that you may want to serve God and are struggling with certain sinful activities.
“I tell them that I understand what it is like to be there and this is how I made it and how I came through, and this is how you could come through as well. I tell them the same way God has redeemed me, He can do the same for them as well.
“It is so beneficial to have a God who can control all things that even when things don’t work out well, He can still be on your side and have your back. So don’t waste your life in all the lewdness and crudeness that is out there . . . . Try God, taste and see that the Lord is good . . . finger-lickin’ good!”
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