A pastor’s death plea to notorious criminal Mark ‘Chopper’ Read
One of Australia’s most nortorious criminals, Mark ‘Chopper’ Read, died from cancer in 2013. This is a crime figure of such profile that some years ago a feature movie was made on him. A household name – for all the wrong reasons – Chopper is most famous for the fact that he cut his own ears off while in prison, and as such he was probably the most feared man in Australia.
Coming from a tough upbringing myself, which I documented in my book Crimeson, I felt God put it on my heart to make contact with him. About a year and a half ago I was driving my car and I heard on the news that Chopper Read was dying of cancer. At hearing the news a strange thing happened to me: God put a burden on my heart for him and God showed me a picture in my mind of a baby covered in filth. And God wanted to wash him.
At this experience I cried and felt an overwhelming love for Mark, and I knew God was wanting me to connect with him and share The Gospel with him. So, long story short, I sent Mark an email, as I received his details from a good friend of mine, who is none other than Stan “The Man” Longinidis, eight times World Heavy Weight Kickboxing Champion, and also a kind Christian brother. For the past year and a half I have been praying for Mark and texting him messages, begging him to give his life to Jesus. Over that year and a half I would also would get Stan to ring Mark and put him on loud speaker, where I would ask Mark to meet with me. And I would hear him say to Stan, “Meet who, that Jesus guy who keeps writing me the messages”? So I knew he has been reading my messages and I kept praying for him and writing to him.
A couple of days before Mark died I wrote him the message below, where I once again challenged him to give his life to the Lord. The freaky thing about my last message to Mark is for a year and a half I have been writing to him, yet I never told him I loved him. But at the end of this last message I wrote I felt God strongly impress on my heart that He wanted me to tell Mark that I loved him. It was very hard to write that (but it’s the truth; God gave me His love for Mark), so I obeyed God and I am so I am glad I told him.
I am not sure what God did over the last year and a half through me messaging Mark Chopper Read about God’s love for him and sharing the Gospel with him, but the one thing I know for sure is that God is good, that God loves us all, and that His heart breaks every time someone slips into a lost eternity without knowing Him. Life is tough at times and you may not get to choose the hand you have been dealt, but the game is not over until you breath your last breath. And the thing in life that blows my mind time and time again is that Jesus is a game changer, and His Grace and love is truly amazing, and it is working for our good all the time.
I don’t know if Mark called out to the Lord or not, but I do know that God was reaching out to Him and loving him with an everlasting love, right up until the moment of his death, and we might all get a surprise who we see when we enter heaven.
Below is the message I sent Mark a couple of days before his death:
“Mark, I just saw the news that you are in a bad way in hospital. I must again encourage you to make a decision to call out to Jesus to receive His gift of salvation; that he died to give you eternal life. Mark, Jesus didn’t come to earth to judge you and to point out your sins; He came to save you and forgive you of all your sins so you can die with peace in your soul and pass into eternity with the assurance in your heart that heaven awaits you. You just have to believe that on the cross Jesus made the only possible way for you to get to heaven, and that His death on the cross was in place of your death, and that Jesus exchanged His perfect sinless life for your imperfect sinful life. If you believe in your heart and call out to Jesus from you heart, Mark, He will not leave you hanging and He will not allow you to slip into a lost eternity in hell, separated from everything good God wants to give you in heaven for eternity.
“Jesus is not a liar, Mark. He has made a way to save your soul. If you call out to Jesus you will not regret it .The lie religion tells is that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell. That is a load of garbage and a lie from the pit of hell. The truth is that the only people who go to heaven are those that choose to go by believing in Jesus and the finished work on the cross, and people who end up in hell choose to go there by rejecting and pushing away the gift of salvation and forgiveness of their sins that Jesus offers them through His death on the cross.
“Call out to Jesus, Mark. He loves you mate and He still has a plan for your eternity as the time of this life draws to an end. Trust in Him, Mark. Please, please don’t trust your eternity in anything or anyone else at this very important time of your life. Please Mark, don’t believe any lies the devil has told you about entering the next life without Jesus as your saviour. Jesus is the only one who ever went to hell and defeated hell and death and rose again to life with the victory over hell for you.
“I am praying for you Mark and your family, and if you or your family need anything please let me know. I hope to see you one day in heaven, Mark… Jesus is one prayer away from you Mark, and you are approaching the crossroads of eternity: heaven or hell, and the road you choose has no way back. Choose life, choose heaven, choose Jesus and His gift of everlasting life that is on offer and reaching out to you right now. Do it now Mark, please, before you lose your ability to choose anymore and your time is over …
“I hope to talk soon Mark, even if it is on the other side.
Love you mate. Justin Gardner”
So I don’t know what Mark went on to do with this message. He won most of the fights he entered in his life, but as I told him on the phone, he won’t win this one. But the point of this is to show you that we are in this world to make a difference, and to spread the word of God.
When I contacted Mark a year and a half earlier for the first time, it was with genuine fear. For those reading this that don’t live in Australia, this is a very dangerous man, who at any time could have come after me. I actually put my family in danger in doing this, but I felt God calling me to do it, and I had to trust Him that he would protect me.
Justin Gardner is the author of Crimeson.
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