From a young age, Shane Taylor started to burgle houses and steal cars; he stabbed people and sold drugs. Soon he was on the run for kidnapping and attempted murder
"I was classed as one of Britain’s most dangerous people"
Shane eventually got caught and was put in prison, but his incarceration did little to stem his rebellion. His hatred of authority saw him stab two prison officers with a broken glass after he wasn’t allowed to use the prison gym, sparking a riot.
His out-of-control behaviour quickly saw him transferred to a high security prison. Even then he needed further locking up and was placed within a close supervision system. Shane says, ‘They felt I was a danger to everybody. They had to feed me through a hatch in the door, because they couldn’t have physical contact with me.’
Then Shane met Robert Bull, who had been imprisoned for murder, but had since become a Christian. ‘He was saying a load of things that sounded mad to me’, says Shane, ‘but the one thing that stuck in my mind was when he said, “I’ve been in prison for fifteen years and am probably never getting out – but I’m free.” I used to think, “What’s he on about?”’
Shane felt an urge to start writing to Robert and began reading the Bible that was in his cell. He was then moved to another prison, where a minister invited him on Alpha. ‘I said, “Yeah, put my name down.” I was mostly interested in getting the chocolate biscuits and having debates.’
It was about half way through doing Alpha, on the Alpha day, that Shane experienced the presence of God for the first time. ‘I said, “Jesus Christ, I know you died on a cross for me. Please, I don’t like who I am, please forgive me.” I started to feel tears coming into my eyes. I tried to hold it back. But it rose up, until suddenly I began crying my eyes out. I hadn’t cried in years. I cried for about five minutes and I could feel a weight being lifted off me, ‘Shane remembers. ‘In that split second I knew it was real. I knew God existed, I knew Jesus had touched me and that I was going to live for him forever.’
“In that split second I knew it was real”
Shane’s behaviour changed so much that within weeks he went from being in permanent segregation to getting a trusted job in the prison chaplaincy. He no longer saw the prison officers as the enemy. ‘Not long after all this, I was lying on my bed in my cell. All the bad things I’d done to people flicked through my head and all the times I’d upset people – and I started crying. I realised that for many years I’d been aggressive towards people without even realising it.’
Almost exactly a year after the Alpha day, Shane was freed from prison.
He started going to church where, seven months later, he met his future wife, Sam. The couple got married, in church, on 11 October 2008, with 100 family and friends witnessing their union. They now have two little girls, Angel and Grace.
‘Jesus has changed my life,’ Shane says. ‘Jesus has shown me how to love and how to forgive. Almost all the people I’ve upset, all the people I stabbed, all the people I hurt, have forgiven me and now we talk. I’m helping with Alpha in prisons. Now I’m able to tell other prisoners about Jesus – it’s amazing.’
Alpha is an opportunity to explore the meaning of life. Find an Alpha near you