Former reggae DJ turned London City Missionary Jason O’Shea explains why he loves telling Lewisham about Jesus
Tell us a little about yourself
I live in Nunhead with my wife Tayo and our three children. Before being saved I was a reggae DJ on a world-class level.
The Lord called me to start His Majesty’s Sound System (a big music rig shared by a group of rap and reggae artists) and then to work with London City Mission (LCM) to reach the least reached in Lewisham in person and on radio.
I might look able-bodied but I have epilepsy and fibromyalgia, meaning I’m in constant pain.
How did you come to know Christ?
As a young boy, I tried to kill myself twice because of epilepsy and abuse. Both my parents were alcoholics and my mum left when I was 13. I had to look after myself, which led me into a criminal life for several years.
I’ve seen people killed and tortured. I’ve been battered, stabbed and even had a contract on my life.
God spared my life on many occasions for a reason, but I didn’t know it at the time.
Eventually, I became a Rastafarian and stopped being a criminal. I heard about Les Isaac (founder of Street Pastors), a Rasta turned Christian. So I went to a meeting to take the mick and tell him he was a fraud.
When I got there, each of the testimonies was a bit of my life and brought water to my eyes. Next thing I feel this hand on my shoulder. It’s Les Isaac and two of the pastors asking if they could pray with me. It was like the blinkers came off.
But even though I was baptised I completely went off track. I was playing for the biggest sound system in Europe for several years until God arrested my heart with the image of the fisherman leaving everything to follow Jesus. I realised I had to get rid of all my records and equipment and follow Jesus.
How did you begin working for LCM?
While attending Calvary Chapel, Westminster, Robert Prendergast and Efrem Buckle (now two of LCM’s trainers) were sent out as pastors to plant Ecclesia, a church in Lewisham. They told me about the LCM Pioneers course. That year changed my life.
Describe the kind of work you are doing in Lewisham
Being able to reach people with the gospel continuously is like a dream. LCM let me start a new ministry as there was nothing here.
Lewisham is very deprived, with many needs – people don’t want to live here. London City Mission is needed to partner with the local churches – to help get them going and to start doing more outreach.
I’m excited about the work here. There’s so much we could do, but we’re working on what we should be doing. We’re not social workers. We’re here to share the gospel, that Jesus is the only answer.
What’s the future of this ministry?
As well as reaching the community through door-to-door work, we put on a monthly family day, weekly activities for toddlers, the over-60s, food distribution and youth club. We want to expand the youth work.
We help with the TLG (a small church-run school for excluded kids) that’s just begun in the Ecclesia building, and we’ll be going into local schools to teach about crime and forgiveness.
We’ve been praying over this for many years. It’s a no-brainer to get to the kids before they enter a life of crime.
My wife’s younger brother, Zak, a member of the church here, was stabbed to death at 15. For the last six years, she and her mum have gone into prisons as part of the Sycamore Tree project, a restorative justice course looking at the ripple effects of crime.
Many prisoners say to them: “I wish someone had told me this at school ... I would never be here now.”
Forgiveness comes from God, so talking about it opens doors to the gospel. Young people put up barriers and bravado, but when they hear a powerful story like Zak’s, those barriers come down and they can then hear the gospel.
+ Adapted from an article first published in London City Mission’s Changing London magazine and used with permission
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