Aside from wrangling with the workmen, I was investing my fair share of effort into the renovations, alongside doing my full time job. As I was there in the early hours of the morning painting the rooms, I came to see the difference between grace and compassion. Compassion comes naturally to the human heart: you see a child starving, and you have compassion for her. However, when it is after midnight and you are painting a room for some bloke who has clearly done a crime and deserves to be behind bars, then you may not necessarily feel compassion. Instead you are beginning to understand grace.

After about a month of working on the house, we were nearly there. The carpets looked great, the kitchen was in, and the paint was dry. Rach had taken care of all sorts of details that I would never have thought of that had turned the house into a future home. The church support group had thoughtfully bought groceries and chocolates to welcome the tenants.

Just before James and Carlos were due to move in, we met at the house to pray. It was exciting for me as I sensed, for the first time, that others were beginning to understand the vision. After we had prayed, someone privately offered £500. I nearly fell off my chair. We could now afford a washing machine. I’ll never forget that gift!

While it was a fairly standard prayer meeting for the others, for me, inwardly, it was one of the biggest spiritual buzzes I have ever experienced. I couldn’t sleep that night; I just lay there praising God. For weeks and months I had stepped out, invested all our savings into a house, done it up, argued with the builders refurbishing it, been stung by the cost of the electricity bill and wondered time and again, over and over, if I was going mad. When others finally ‘got’ what I was doing, I felt awash with joy. 

The next day, the dream became a reality. James moved into the house. Although he was desperate to leave the hostel, he was also anxious about moving. However, all went well, and we saw an almost immediate benefit to his health with his sleep, diet and weight all improving.

Meanwhile, Carlos was still in prison. In order for him to be released, we needed, so the official letter told me, to go to a court with said prisoner and offer a ‘surety’ for his release. This was a complete shock to me. No one had told me about this, and it was not what I’d understood normally happened. Besides which, when I received the letter, I had no idea what on earth ‘surety’ meant. I phoned up a lawyer friend who explained that if the former prisoner absconded or broke the terms of his probation, I would be the one who paid the ‘surety’.

Good grief.

Ed's book will be on sale at our conference on 20 March and afterwards here on our website.