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Sober missionary Joseph Leeds says drugs ‘have nothing on God, bruv’

Giving back: Joseph Leeds, at Blind Eye Ministries. He says he’s “a product of God’s mercy” doing “whatever the Father asks of me”. Photo: Joe Higgins

“I WAS screaming, ‘He’s got no one else, he’s got no one else’.”

“That was traumatic,” the 23-year-old Londoner turned missionary Catholic said, toking his vape and puffing the syrupy nicotine steam about the loft above Blind Eye Ministry.

He relaxed back in his chair, a calmer man, halfway into his story about his dad in a crack den in seaside Kent and a pocketful of cannabis to cope, promising this was the day it had all been building up to.

It was Mother’s Day 2014. 

Joseph had joked with his mates earlier that night that one of them was going to give their mum the Mother’s Day gift of waking up in hospital.

He and 10,000 Londoners descended on a rave hidden behind the huge brown-brick train track arches of Great Suffolk Street.

He was going to take more drugs than he had ever taken in his life.

“Not because I wanted to kill myself, but because I wanted to be completely free,” Joseph said. “I wanted to prove a point, I wanted to show off, I wanted to prove to everyone I could do more drugs than my dad.”

Past security, he “smashed” his drugs and in an hour, he was “shifting his gear”.

He was forewarned some bouncers knew he was selling drugs. 

Two men “from Essex” came up to him – fresh white Reeboks, blue jeans, Ralph Loren T-shirts – and baited him towards entrapment.

Halfway through the conversation Joseph realised the trap and escaped getting “nabbed badly”.

The night was still young when the drugs started eating into his brain.

It was the kind of “freaking make-believe” psychosis that “ain’t getting sorted with a ciggy out in the garden”.

He could feel what he now knew as a “demonic attack on my whole being” on the dance floor and what felt like four hours was “probably only 15 minutes losing my mind”.

A friend of his, Sabrina, pulled him out of the rave. The pair stumbled to the bottom of Blackfriars Bridge, southbound, and Joseph cried out as a hidden assassin shot him in the side with a silenced pistol.

Sabrina, who was high but not as high as Joseph, checked him for a bullet wound and said, “You’re fine – it was nothing”.

His kidney had just failed. 

In his mind, Joseph thought he was in purgatory and “them black taxis at the traffic light are going to get me home because this ain’t reality no more”.

None of the taxis wanted him.

“Fourth cab, I’m screaming at him so much and none of them are looking at me,” he said.

“I’ve jumped on the bonnet of the taxi; he’s driven across the bridge; I’m pelting the windscreen with my iPhone, my iPhone’s in bits in my hands; he’s stopped the cab; I’ve come flying off.”

He saw another cab parked up and decided to bolt through the window and smashed the side  mirror by accident with his foot.

The driver jumped out with his money purse and Joseph was pleading, clutching his side, “I’m dying, I’m dying”.

Sabrina pulled him out of the cab and Joseph stood at the railing of Blackfriars Bridge gazing at the River Thames, saying, “I’m so thirsty, I’m going to jump in the river”.

Pointing down the end of the bridge, Sabrina said, “No, no, there’s a Tesco’s, get water from there”.

The “gunshot” in his side was still “spilling out of him”.

“I’ve seen two policemen standing outside the Tesco’s and when I’ve seen them, I’ve been like, ‘Oh, my God – angels’,” he said.

“I’ve put my hands on them, I’ve said, ‘Help me, help me, I’ve been shot; I need some water’.

“Bang – I’m face down in handcuffs on the floor so fast.”

Joseph pleaded he needed help, but a “meat wagon” rocked up and five more police officers jumped out – City of London Police.

He said they dealt mostly with “terrorism and real organised crime, so when it comes to people moving stupid on drink and drugs, zero tolerance, bruv”.

The police officers beat him, he said.

“And on top of this because I’m so open spiritually because of all the psychedelics I’ve done, my deep, dark personal fears are starting to manifest,” he said.

Joseph detailed the graphic torture he believed was happening to him. 

“It was that intrinsically evil what was happening to me on the floor and I’m screaming the whole time, mate,” he said.

The police tasered him three times; the peak voltage of the three shots added to about 150,000 volts.

“I’m lying there and as I’m in all this agony, my body’s shutting down like for real … 42 degrees … my organs are failing … I’m ultra-dehydrated,” he said.

“I’m dying on this floor. I’m going to die.”

He said 24 hours before that moment, he told his best mate – who had been preaching to him for the past year – that he believed in God, he respected God but he would never need him.

“Mate, as soon as they whacked me with the third shot of that taser, bruv, I’m so aware that I’m going to die – so aware – I’m screaming on the floor, it’s gone real slow, real cold, and at that moment, I wanted to die,” he said.

“For the first time in my life, I wanted to leave the earth. I didn’t want to exist anymore, and I said, ‘God, I’m begging you, save me’.”

Joseph said he saw a heavenly vision of angelic beings. 

He said he was filled with “all the warmth, all the love, all the peace, all the gratitude”, and uncontrollably thanked God. 

“… We can’t help it when we die, you just can’t help but praise God,” he said.

“It ain’t a choice, it’s just a complete overwhelming of love that you are just created for – that’s biblical, we’re created to praise Him.”

Joseph did not know whom God was, rolling through Baptism and Confirmation classes smoking weed and thinking, “it was bull”.

But where he was now – it brought him freedom no amount of drugs ever could.

“I’m so aware that I’m dead, so aware that I’m leaving my poor mum and my poor girlfriend behind,” he said.

At the apex of his vision, his soul was released back down to his body. 

“And as soon as I landed in my body, completely again, police men picked me up, threw me in the van, slammed the doors; I opened my eyes, three days have gone by, I’m in an intensive care unit, tubes coming out my throat, my mouth, my arms.

“Ink on my arms where they were going to chop my arms off because my body had just completely given up; the priest had just come by and given me Last Rites and I’ve just woken up.”

Joseph’s Irish Catholic mum collapsed in Mass after hearing he was in a coma and she had to be carried out; she was silent the entire drive back to London.

“My mum got crucified for them days whilst I was in that coma,” Joseph said.

“My mum is the true hero of this whole story, along with God our Father.”

Since then, Joseph had turned his life around.

“So I’m a living, walking, breathing, preaching, singing, dancing, miracle,” he said.

“And I’ve done nothing to earn my life back, I’m purely a product of God’s mercy. 

“And therefore, here I am, mate, and it’s been five and a half years since it’s happened and I’m called to do whatever my Father asks of me.”

God had drawn him into an adventure and gave him the faith to see it through.

“He let me see them angels, bruv,” he said.

“He knew I had to see them angels because I’m a stubborn little bastard. I’m so grateful because my faith is unshakeable.”

Joseph, with his forearm wrapped in a Rosary tattoo and a miraculous medal hanging over his heart, shipped off to New Zealand for six months before volunteering full-time at Blind Eye Ministries, a drop-in and outreach centre in South Brisbane for the poor and homeless. 

“This is a place of conversion, this is a place of refuge for broken people,” he said.

“And, the people may not look it but, bruv, the Spirit’s on point here.”

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