One Step Beyond is the amazing journey from near death to new life undergone by Gram Seed and how Sowing Seeds began.
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One Step Beyond is the amazing journey from near death to new life undergone by Gram Seed.
At nine years old he went into the Newcastle House pub near his home and, on a pretext, got the barmaid to go out the back. He nipped through the serving hatch, grabbed a big bag of crisps and dashed out. But the crisps weren't crisps. It was a cash-bag with some £50 inside. A fortune! So he went straight to the nearest sweet shop to splash out. But the owner saw the bag and informed the landlord. Gram was caught red-handed.
Childish high spirits? Perhaps, but theft became a way of life and at sixteen he was given his first sentence – four months for breaking and entering. He served his time in Medomsley Detention Centre near Consett in County Durham.
He wasn't much good at school so, by now, he had realised that it was easier for him to let his fists
do the talking. Caught up in a spiral of violence, a repeat offender was born.
In the 1980's a lad with a penchant for violence couldn't help but be drawn to the mayhem being caused at football grounds around the country. Gram joined The Front Line, a hooligan gang that followed Middlesbrough Football Club. He travelled all over the country with them – when he wasn't doing time.
Fight followed fight - Injury followed injury:
Between 1980 and 1990 he was jailed a further four times for football related violence, assault, robbery and theft:
After failing to start a new life in Wakefield he returned to Teesside at Christmas 1992. His return was barely noticed and he began to drink heavily. Twenty-eight pints of White Lightning cider a day was the norm. Spirits were taken when he could get them. Cannabis followed, then heroin and crack cocaine.
In 1993 he attempted to take his own life by slashing his wrists. But a patrolling police car found him in the early hours of the morning and he was saved in hospital.
By now home was a bench outside the Post Office on Grange Road in Middlesbrough. Food was begged or scavenged. Sleeping outside in all weathers he would wake up in winter with his shirt stiff with ice from rain and his jeans stiff from where he'd soiled himself.
Even so, when a passing group of Christian evangelists called out that "Jesus loves you" he found the strength to chase them.
Finally, in August 1996 his body gave out and he went into a coma. He was taken to South Tees hospital (now known as the James Cook University Hospital) with a litany of complaints:
The coma lasted six days during which time his mother was advised to prepare to have the machine switched off. Every day the same group of Christians who had been chased by Gram came to the hospital to pray for him.
He was in hospital for two months. He had lost his sight and after seven weeks had to be taught again how to walk.
However, he knew something had changed, but he wasn't yet ready to acknowledge the nature of the change. But he went on his first Alpha Course at The Oakwood Centre in Eaglescliffe on Teesside and a slow healing had started. He has now led more than 100 of these courses himself.
At a quarter to three on the afternoon of November 9th, 1996 Gram welcomed Jesus into his life and sat weeping with joy.
He married Natasha in June 1999 and they now have two sons Caleb (May 5th, 2000) and Boaz (October 22nd, 2003). They live in the Stockton area from where Gram launched his charity, Sowing Seeds Ministries in early 2007.
Visiting prisons and young offenders institutions he brings a message of hope and faith with three main aims: