After leading a drug-fuelled violent life Rob Joy turned his life around after finding religion – now he’s written a book about his experiences, become a pastor and formed a new church in Wellingborough.
As a gang boss in Hertfordshire, Rob spent some his late teens and 20s in and out of prison.
After growing up on a tough estate his life began to spiral out of control during his teens after he started drinking heavily and taking and dealing drugs.
He got involved in a series of violent fights, some of which resulted in him receiving custodial sentences.
He said: “I was one of the top guys of a big drugs gang – I went from dark to much darker very quickly. I was strongly addicted to crack and cocaine for 10 years.”
But it was only seven years ago after reaching his lowest point – being diagnosed with schizophrenia and told he’d need to go on medication – that things eventually changed.
After not sleeping properly for about three years due to his addiction to drugs, Rob said he decided to pray.
His mother had found religion years before and had pleaded with him to follow her example.
He said: “I know what it feels like to be totally at the end of yourself. For three years I didn’t sleep well and I was sleeping with a gun under my pillow. One night I felt like I had enough and I said ‘Jesus, if you’re real is there any chance you could change a man like me?’.
“For the first time in years I had a good night’s sleep and I woke up with no desire to touch a drug. Inside something had changed.”
Rob, now 33, soon joined a church and moved to Newcastle in order to remove himself from his former life and influences.
He decided to write a frank account of his life and his book, Internal Revolution, was released by publisher Authentic. He’s currently working on a follow-up.
He said: “I wanted to de-glamourise the gangster lifestyle because films always show the glamour of it rather than the bad side.”
The father-of-two recently moved to Wellingborough where he is enjoying his new life. “I haven’t got an improved lifestyle, I’ve got a new life,” he said. “I have repented and I have been on a journey of restoration and forgiveness.”