(Photo: Cavendish Press)
A British ex-convict who was once heavily addicted to heroin but was able to turn his life around attributes his success to finding God during a religion course in prison.
Darrell Tunningley, who has described his former life as being "like the Antichrist," now serves as a pastor at Hope Corner Community Church in Runcorn, Cheshire, England.
"One day a bloke with a clipboard asked me if I wanted to join the Alpha Course and I basically went because they offered free coffee and biscuits and I wouldn't have to spend my afternoon in my cell," said Tunningley to the United Kingdom publication The Sun.
"There were two nuns and I gave them a load of abuse but they were very patient and seemed to listen to what I had to say … That night I said the first real prayer I have ever said and told God I needed Him to prove it and take away my drug addiction."
In an interview with The Christian Post, Tunningley spoke about how different a human being he is now compared to then.
"The contrast between the life which was and now is, they are polar opposites," said Tunningley, who wrote about his story of redemption in a 2011 book titled Unreachable.
"A life consumed with hate and anger to a life now full of God's grace and compassion. Everything I had become was the exact opposite of who God is."
Tunningley also told CP that his upbringing was not a particularly religious one, as he only knew of faith via the religious education found in an English school.
"I didn't really have a religious upbringing other than attending a Church of England Junior School," said Tunningley, adding, "I guess believing in God was never the issue, I just didn't think it had any relevance to my life at all."
Tunningley currently serves as a pastor at Hope Corner Community Church, a growing congregation affiliated with the Assemblies of God and belonging to the Evangelical Alliance.
"The sole basis of our belief is the Bible, comprising the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments," reads the "What we believe" section of their website.
"We believe that the Scripture in its entirety originated with God and that it is infallible and inerrant in the original manuscripts. They are the unique, full and final authority on all matters of faith and practice."
Hope Corner was founded in 1993 by Mark and Karen Finch. The congregation recently completed the construction of a new center, estimated to have cost ₤900,000.