From gangster to God man

April 07, 2016
Gladstone Taylor/ Photographer A former gunman now leads a highly contrasting lifestyle as the leader of a community church.

A former gunman, who claims the voice of God saved his life three times, says he is now using Christianity as his machine to protect persons in his community in West Kingston.

Herbert Coleman*, who lived a life of crime for nearly 15 years, says that his involvement in criminal activities was halted by a mysterious voice he attributes to God.

"When I saw how much God had done for me by not letting me get shot so many times that day, I gave my life to God immediately," he told THE STAR.

Coleman related a story of near death, which he said began when two of his foes stole his bicycle and attempted to kill him. That encounter led to the death of one of the men at the hands of the police later that day, and, not long after, the police station where he had gone to provide a statement was shot up by gunmen who wanted him dead.

The 52-year-old, who admitted to being a part of a gang that participated in many shooting incidents, said he played the role of a lieutenant to the gang leader.

"What I did was basically ensure that the community was safe at all times. We protect the people from any outside elements," said Coleman.

In addressing questions about him being responsible for the death or injury of anyone, he was reluctant to admit to using the guns available to him to harm anyone.

"I was the Don's right hand man, so me basically give out instructions to people more than go out there and be the trigger man," added Coleman, who is now an elder of a church in his community.

Coleman, who first handled a gun at age 17, says since he became a Christian, he has been a minister to persons involved in crime.

"I use my experience to try and get gunmen to use my testimony for them to know God is the person they should be taking orders not a don," he said.


According to the father of three, his testimony has been successful with several persons making the decision to become Christians.

"A lot of gunmen have decided to go into the church or put down the gun to change their life," said an obviously proud Coleman.

After making the decision to put down the gun at age 32, the owner of a food shop says he has no regrets about his decision.

"God help me to change my life and now I realise that Christianity is what I needed all this time, not the weed, liquor, and gun," explained Coleman.

He also had advice for the Minister of National Security, Robert Montague.

"He needs to ask the Lord for vision to help curtail crime in Jamaica because things are just getting worse," said Coleman.

*Name changed to protect identity.

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