Carl was a typical pastor’s kid; going to church on Sundays with his two brothers, attending Boys Club every week and helping out his dad with odd jobs around the church building.
From an early age, it was clear that Carl was the ‘rascal’ of the family. His parents used to joke that babysitters never came back to their house twice – His big personality and spirited nature meant he was quite a handful.
At age 8, Carl gave his life to God. Surrounded by the positive influence of Godly people in his church, he understood what it meant to be a true follower of Jesus.
Fast forward just a couple of years and Carl encountered a new group of friends at high school. They were nothing like his friends at church and he found himself inhabiting a double life; Attending church on Sundays, then secretly smoking and drinking with his ‘other’ friends whenever he could.
Carl will never forget the look on his mother’s face when, at age 14, he told her he didn’t want to go to church any more. He recalls the tears of heartbreak rolling down her cheeks. But he was tired of living a double life. It was time to make a choice.
He progressed from smoking cigarettes, to pot, then he moved onto speed and ecstasy and then the needle. His life was on a downward spiral, with a crescendo at age 17, when he got his driver’s license. To Carl, this meant complete independence. He no longer had to report his whereabouts to his parents and he could take off whenever he felt like it.
Carl started an apprenticeship as a carpenter by day, and partied by night. Earning only $163 a week as a first year apprentice, his wages simply couldn’t support a drug habit, so he started committing crime.
He tried turning his life around a number of times, heading interstate for a while to get off the drugs, but then he’d come back and it would all start up again.
At 24, Carl was caught red handed by police driving a stolen truck, loaded with stolen goods.
He found himself in a cell, awaiting sentence in Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre and that’s where he met Prison Chaplain, George Stubbs.
Carl was caught in a vicious cycle that saw him in and out of prison for around 12 years. Each time, George Stubbs would faithfully visit him. Carl recalls the comfort of seeing George’s friendly face each week, reminding him that God still loved him, even here… inside. It was a pleasant reprieve from the negativity of prison life.
Carl started attending church services in jail and soon he recalled that moment, when an 8 year old boy gave his life to Jesus. Was it too late to honour that promise?
Carl made the life changing decision to sever ties with his old friends and run head first back in the direction of his childhood faith.
On release from prison, Carl paid his way through University and worked hard to get his builder’s license. Not easy to do with a criminal record. Now he provides building services to temporary accommodation for patients flown into the local hospital from rural properties.
Today, you’ll find Carl sitting with his mum and dad in church, just like he did all those years ago.
And on Sunday April 10th, Carl’s dad had the great privilege of baptising his son at Southport Church of Christ. His ‘Prodigal Son’ had returned to him and Carl’s mother watched on, this time with happy tears warming her eyes.
Carl wanted George to be there, to witness this moment and so George sat in a pew and watched Carl make the physical declaration of his faith.
Stories like this are the reason why George does what he does. And thanks to your support, stories like this are made possible.
Watch Carl Newton’s testimony and baptism: