At the start of this year, I shared a moving light through the cracks ‘behind the news’ story from the BBC, which I had accidentally stumbled upon.

It was set in Burnley, one of the most deprived towns in North West England, and it featured a man who left his life of crime after being blinded by a brilliant white light in a dramatic encounter with God, and went on to become an unlikely pastor.

You can read the story, ‘Blinded by a Bright White Light’, on my blog here.

A few days ago, I stumbled upon another such story, also from the BBC. This time it is set in Nottingham, a city in Central England, known best for its role in the legend of Robin Hood.

It truly is a light through the cracks one.


It’s not every day that a specialist medical consultant calls one of their patients “a miracle”. But this is what happened to Paul Traynor.

Having become involved with a gang when he was just ten years old, he grew to become an adult who was addicted to heroin and cocaine, funding this lifestyle through a violent life of crime and drug dealing.

One evening, he was drunkenly walking home from the pub, when he was surrounded, and stabbed, by three men.

They used a kebab knife, which missed his heart by millimetres. One of his lungs collapsed, and he started choking on his own blood. By his own admission, he nearly died.

It was when he regained consciousness in hospital, after life-saving surgery, that the consultant made his pronouncement. “Young man,” he said, “You are a miracle. Please do something with the rest of your life.


It was more than a decade before Paul heeded this advice – in a day that he says, “transformed my life and mindset forever“.

Homeless and living in a squat, disowned by his family, and seemingly impervious to rehab, his drug addiction was dominating his life. Weighed down by shame, he was contemplating suicide.  

Falling to his knees, tears streaming down his face, Paul shouted out loud, at the top of his voice, in frustration and anger, “God, if you are real, please help me, because I need you.

He had no idea whether he even believed God existed. Yet he immediately felt God’s presence in the room with him.

It was the most beautiful moment,” he told the BBC news reporter.

When he woke up the following day, he was no longer addicted to drugs, and he wasn’t in withdrawal.

He has never been the same since.  


Within weeks, Paul was reconciled with his family and, motivated by his new-found Christian faith, he was helping homeless people, who were living on the streets of Nottingham.

Many of them couldn’t believe the transformation in his life.

Within a year, ‘Streets 4 Christ’ was founded as a registered charity, serving the homeless in Nottingham, providing them with hot food, clothing, and support to find housing and employment.

Paul also began to find himself sharing his story – in churches, schools and prisons – in the hope of inspiring others that change is possible with God’s help.

I would love for everyone to have the experience that I have had, but not everyone believes it,” he told the BBC news reporter. “By the grace of God, when I look back now, He really wanted to keep me alive.

There are so many incredible details to this story, far more than I have summarised here, so I’m going to encourage you to read Paul’s full story here, on the BBC website.


The Bible has a lot to say about grace. It is a word that describes the free and unmerited favour of God.

Ephesians 2:8 tells us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.

Paul Traynor’s story testifies to his incredible experience of God’s grace – but what about you?

Have you ever experienced God’s free and unmerited favour?
If you have experienced it, what happened, and how did you respond?
And if you haven’t, why don’t you cry out loud to God, in the same way that Paul did?

As ever, if you want to share any thoughts or reflections in the comments below, you are more than welcome!


Photo by Jackson David on Unsplash



  1. Thank you once again for such a wonderfully inspiring story of God’s goodness and grace. I love reading these, as they are so encouraging and are definitely ‘light through the cracks’.

    • Joanna Watson Reply

      I’m so pleased to hear that this story has inspired and encouraged you, Janet!

Write A Comment