‘From a heart of hate to a life of love’

27 January 2023

Bob Paulson of Decision Magazine speaks to John Dunn, whose street preaching case we recently supported when prosecutors claimed that parts of the Bible, when he read aloud, are ‘abusive’ and ‘no longer appropriate in a modern society’.

In November 2020, UK street preacher John Dunn had interaction with two women who said they were in a same-sex marriage. Dunn quoted from 1 Corinthians 6, which says that homosexuals are among those who will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

The women complained to police, and Dunn was charged with a crime. Prosecutors said he was guilty of hate speech, adding that parts of the Bible are “abusive” and “no longer appropriate in modern society.”

The case was thrown out after the women refused to engage with the case, and prosecutors later admitted it was wrong to call the Bible offensive.

Dunn, who preaches in spite of having lost his voice box to throat cancer, recently told Decision how God changed him when he was born again.

I’m the son of an ex-British Army special forces veteran. My father was a very tough man. He had been abused by so-called Christians when he was young, so he had a strong hatred of Christianity.

I was actually 2 years old when he first met me. He had been in prison for an armed robbery. When I was growing up, he spent months away from our family because he worked abroad as a carpenter. He later told us he was also working as a mercenary in Angola.

The first thing I remember my father teaching me, when I was 13, was how to break someone’s neck. I idolised my father; he was my hero— so I got into martial arts. I was fascinated by the power of being able to hurt people. I ended up training with the special forces for several years, although I never became a member. I was taught how to kill people quickly and silently.

I was a very angry young man—I had an immense hatred for everybody.

I married in 1994, and my wife, Rachel, and I started a family. Our second child was born with Down Syndrome and with holes in his heart. He had glaucoma and almost went blind. At 2 months old, he had open-heart surgery. It broke my heart to see my son with tubes and wires stuck in him.

Then my wife’s sister gave birth to a child who was blind and autistic, and I was diagnosed with a rare chest disease.

I started to drink, and I became frightened because I knew I had the power and the knowledge to kill people with my bare hands. I was just waiting for someone to say or do the wrong thing, and I knew I was going to vent all my anger upon that person and kill them.

The transforming power of the gospel

But then I got invited to a church meeting. The only reason I went was because they said, “You’ll have an opportunity to argue.” So I went, to show these Christians how stupid they were to believe in this phony God.

The preacher was saying how much God loved me, and Rachel had to keep saying to me, “John, stop that heavy breathing.” I was so angry. This guy was telling me that God loved me, even though my life was a mess and my son had suffered so much. I thought, I’m never going back to that church again.

But something in me just kept saying, No, go back again next week, and prove them wrong. So I kept going back.

But every question I asked, they came up with an answer that I couldn’t refute.

At midnight on 1 January 2000, I walked out to our back garden, looked up and said, “God, if You’re real, I want to make my peace with You.” Eleven months later, I went to a Christian meeting at an old converted barn. They were going to teach about the Holy Spirit, and I wanted to see what that was all about. And in that dimly lit barn, I responded to the invitation to commit my life to Jesus Christ. Someone prayed for me. I had my eyes closed, and a brilliant, white light shone in my face. I opened my eyes to see where it was coming from, but it was still dark in the room. I closed my eyes again and realised that this brilliant light was inside of me, filling me up. And then it felt like somebody just reached down and lifted all the pain, all the burdens, all the anger, all the hatred. It all just left.

The man who went into that dark barn was dead, and the one who came out was a new person.

Rachel had come to the meeting, too, but we sat separately, so I didn’t realise at first that she had gone forward, too.

Now, we were both on fire for the Lord.

On fire for the Lord

A couple of weeks later, I packed up all my weapons: Samurai swords, knives, chains. I took them to the police station and said, “You must destroy all of these things.”

I started reading the Bible, and for every question that I had, I would open the Bible and the answer would be straight in front of my eyes.

And God filled my heart with love—that was the biggest thing. There were certain people that I had vowed if I ever met them again, I would kill them. But now, I had such love for them—it was overwhelming! The hate was gone. All the revenge that I wanted was removed. All I could do was love other people.

And that’s what I’ve being doing now for 22 years.

Following the call of the Lord

My father once told me, “You’ll never convert me!” but God had different ideas. My father was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and I was able to lead him to the Lord. He said, “John, this cancer has been a blessing because through it I have found the truth!” He went to be with the Lord in August 2010.

God has taken me to Israel, Pakistan, Malaysia, the Philippines, America, Poland, Bulgaria, Greece and Germany—loving people, preaching the Gospel and raising up disciples.

God truly did an amazing work that night when He brought me from hatred to love.

This article was originally published in Decision Magazine, January 2023 edition, and has been republished here with permission.

Find out more about John Dunn
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