A former drug dealer once jailed for cocaine smuggling will begin a full-time ministerial post at a Baptist church in Wales today.
Pastor Brian Morris was jailed for 12 years back in 1995, but he gave his life to Jesus shortly after being arrested.
A student at South Wales Baptist College, Morris joined Oakdale Baptist Church in southern Wales, about 150 miles west of London, on a part-time basis last summer.
Morris helmed the church for six months before the congregation voted unanimously for him to lead them full-time.
That post officially begins on Sept. 1.
“It’s a great endorsement from the church,” Morris, a married father of five, told The Baptist Times. “I’ve always been very open about my past. So much has happened.
“To get voted in with my background shows people still trust me and that anyone can be forgiven.”
Morris’ remarkable life is the subject of a book, “Chased by the Dragon, Caught by the Lamb.”
It tells how his heroin habit cost him 100 pounds per day (about $163) and how he was arrested by police in a hotel with more than a kilo of cocaine.
At the time, Morris felt suicidal. However, when he was waiting to be interviewed he heard a “little voice.”
“It said, ‘This doesn’t have to be the end.’
“It was like God shaking me awake and saying, ‘Have I got your attention now?'”
Morris received a 12-year sentence and was locked up in Dartmoor, a prison in southwest England.
But Morris began studying for the first time in his life and launched a prayer group for other prisoners.
He was freed on parole exactly five years after being sentenced. Upon his release, he joined a Pentecostal church.
Realizing people were interested in his story, Morris began work on his book, which was published in 2003 and led to many speaking engagements.
He volunteered with a Christian drug rehabilitation organization and would later work with Prospects, a charity that helps people with disabilities.
Morris has always been open about his past and believes it helps people understand the nature of God.
“I think the world is full of hurt and pain,” Morris told The Baptist Times. “There are drug problems everywhere. I’ve met a lot of people who think that people in church are self-righteous and unapproachable.
“I realized people are interested in this story; it challenges their opinions.”
Over time he realized he had a greater calling and began training at the Bible College of Wales before transferring to a Baptist college in Cardiff.
He added, “A relationship with Jesus is all about forgiveness. My story has become a powerful tool for God’s story, and I’m happy my story is out.”
The congregation at Oakdale was certainly impressed.
“We really took to him. He told us what had happened to him,” Secretary Ivy Thomas said. “We liked his solid preaching; he has a lot of ideas for the church and is very friendly.
“He has a good, strong faith and knows what it is to be down, and what the Lord has done for his life.”
“Brian is a gifted evangelist,” Rev. Simon Woodman at South Wales Baptist College said, “and we pray that God will enable him to have a fruitful ministry.”