‘‘THEY took me and put nit cream on me head, crab cream on me nuts, gave me pyjama pants and six comic books and marched me down to the prison cells.”
Peter Lyndon-James was nine years old and had just begun his first spell behind bars.
He would spend the next 26 years locked up, let loose and locked up again in an endless rotation of incarceration and freedom built on a life of drugs and crime and riding the fast track to an early grave.
Until he decided life was the better option, and to live he had to change everything.
And not just for himself.
Lyndon-James, like reformed smokers, drug addicts who get clean, even those born again in religion, became a zealot.
Not of the turn the other cheek kind.
In his new world Lyndon-James does not have time for niceties, does not have time for people who can’t see that he is right, does not have time for people he can’t help because they won’t help themselves.
Today Lyndon-James is on the fast track to a fairly savage kind of sainthood.
Because if nothing else, Lyndon-James cures addicts.
Using a program with no mamby pamby, no second chances, no deviation from the straight and narrow.
And you do it in the deceptively named Shalom House.
In the western world Shalom is interpreted as peace.
According to Rabbi David Zaslow, in the Hebraic view, shalom brings the binary mind together, integrating the left brain modality of thinking (linear) and the right brain modality (intuitive). “When I say hello to someone I say ‘shalom’. When I say goodbye to someone I say ‘shalom’,” Zaslow said.
“What is more opposite than coming and going? Hello and goodbye?” he said.
“Shalom is the most radical union of opposites imaginable.
Shalom brings together people who disagree with each other so that each will listen deeply to the “other” side.
“It is the people you do not agree with who have the greatest gift for you – the gift of the potential for wholeness.”
That is exactly where Lyndon-James is coming from, and exactly where he is headed.
Even on the phone, talking from 3300km west of Echuca-Moama, Lyndon-James has no time for trifling chit chat, he is downright intimidating.
Results driven, with a lot of life to make up, Lyndon-James is doing it by saving as many other lives as he can.
A ward of the state from age nine, Lyndon-James grew up in foster homes, children’s homes and institutions, spending much of his childhood being locked up.
But his school of life would be on the streets.
Feeling unwanted, unloved and abandoned his father had left the family, his mother was an addict and that was the childhood to which he was exposed.
“I eventually surrounded myself with the sort of people who I thought would understand me, resulting in a life of crime, drug addiction and incarceration from which I thought I would never escape,” Lyndon-James said.
“By the age of 30 I had spent time in every jail in Western Australia – and had decided to become a career criminal.
“So I began to sell drugs full time; it wasn’t long before I was selling an average of $40,000 a day in methamphetamine.”
In 2001 Lyndon-James was faced with one of the most simple decisions of his life.
Get out of jail and die, or get out of drugs and crime and live.
THIS career criminal, a cancer in society, chose life and has dedicated himself to helping men who felt trapped by the circumstances and choices of their lives.
He did that first as a prison chaplain, then as a volunteer in rehabilitation centres, today as founder and chief executive of Shalom House, Australia’s strictest rehabilitation centre.
And as a professional nomad – with no government funding he runs workshops around Australia, raising funds while equipping families with his tools to fight the evil epidemic of drugs.
Lyndon-James specialises in two things:
1. Showing families how to bring a person to the point of making a decision to change their life.
2. Showing a person how to change their life.
He believes his expertise lies in helping people break free from life-controlling issues such as meth and other drugs.
His holistic model, truly a first in Australia, focuses on bringing a person to the point where they want to change so badly that they will finally stop taking drugs.
Lyndon-James has set out to educate the community, families and the addict by teaching them the best way to bring about effective change and how to stop the cycle of destruction that drugs cause.
“Often, through the lack of experience with drugs, families do all the wrong things, thinking they are helping,” Lyndon-James said.
“I draw from my own experience, understanding of drugs and practical knowledge obtained by rehabilitating many men and equip families with the right tools to successfully handle a person on drugs,” he said.
Because of the demand on his time Lyndon-James wrote a book called Tough Love: Tackling drug addiction and seeing change, published earlier this year.
He sees the book as a brutal blueprint for those in need of help, a lot of help, to deal with people trapped not just in drug addiction but also other life-controlling issues.
“The Tough Love seminar, such as the one I will be presenting in Echuca-Moama later this month, is designed to equip families with the right ways in which they can help their loved ones beat their addiction,” Lyndon-James said.
“Sadly, many families think they are doing the right thing, but in the actual fact they are doing the wrong thing,” he said.
“By the time they realise what they have done, it is too hard to turn back – the ripple effect has spread through the whole family and taken everyone out in the process.
“The Tough Love seminar is bound to bring home many hard truths and open the eyes of families to show them the right way of helping the ones they love.”
Lyndon-James said his Tough Love seminar was broken into two parts.
Part One focused on how to bring a person to the point of change. This included learning how to approach someone who was in addiction, recognising where they were in terms of the stages of addiction and learning how to guard their heart and the hearts of the rest of their family while helping the one in need.
Part Two is rehabilitating a person. Lyndon-James speaks about the proven methods of running a rehabilitation program and helping those who are at the point of wanting to change their life and would do anything to change, but don’t know where to start.
At St Joseph’s College on November 18 Lyndon-James will roll out his proven approach of tough love to anyone who wants to hear it – even if they don’t like what they are about to hear.