Jono's journey from addict to church leader

After polishing off a bottle of whisky and mounting a stolen bike he had covered with black tape, Jonathan Hyratt went out to score some speed.

"I saw flashing lights and as I turned my head to see what it was, I fell off my bike, right in front of the paddy wagon," Mr Hyratt recalled.

"I was so drunk I gave three or four different stories about how I got the bike."

At the time of his arrest Mr Hyratt was on a downward spiral. There was "crazy" partying, speed injecting, weekend detention and loneliness.

"Lucky for me, the policeman who arrested me suggested detox."

The Oak Flats man chose detox and, while it felt like a living hell, it saved him.

"It was there at the detoxification unit in Sydney, on the fourth night, I got out of bed, knelt and said 'God I give up'. But then this peace came into my heart."

Mr Hyratt has turned his life around - but it wasn't an overnight miracle.

"When I got out of detox I went straight back to my old playground. I went around to my mate's place and he was glad to see me.

"I said 'I'm clean and sober.'

"He had a whole lot of dope, so off I went, smoking pot again, this time I got so sick my mate threw me out of his house.

"I knew I needed help, then I remembered that someone had given me the number for a 12-step meeting."

So he rang. And those meetings, and his faith, saved him.

"By attending church and [Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous] meetings I managed to stay clean and sober for over 21 years," Mr Hyratt, now a pastor, said.

"Some days are harder than others but I believe in God and his word, the Bible. I go to meetings regularly still because I never ever want my old life back."

Mr Hyratt wants to prove to others that faith can keep even the most lost soul away from a life of crime and drug and alcohol addiction.

With his wife Allison he has "planted a church".

Through the Tree of Life Community Church he wants to build the same sort of 12-step program for people who suffer from drug and alcohol addictions, mental health issues, gambling, over-eating and other problems.

"People will just be able to come along on the night, it's free, and they shouldn't feel ashamed," he said.

"We are all struggling with something. This is about sharing, about coming along to a meeting once a week and having a cuppa and a chat afterwards."

For more information contact Mr Hyratt on: 0412 174 181 or life_recovery@hotmail.com.

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