Kevin Mudford
Kevin Mudford

Astonishing story why this man hauls a cross

"IT'S heavy, but it's my burden to carry."

Kevin "Mad Dog" Mudford trudges along the Gold Coast highway, listening to gospel music, he's wearing a muscle shirt with 'Lord's Gym' emblazoned on it, oh, and he's carrying an 11 foot long cross.

It's heavy, he doesn't know exactly how heavy, but it's a weight he's willing to carry, for him it's a sign of his faith, but more importantly a way to engage with people.

He calls it "fishing", it's a term the larger than life New Zealand native, says before his booming laugh spreads through the room, much like he spreads the good word.

Kevin Mudford travels the countryside spreading the word of God and carrying a cross. Picture: Glenn Hampson
Kevin Mudford travels the countryside spreading the word of God and carrying a cross. Picture: Glenn Hampson

"I'm fishing for those who've had enough," he says.

"Drugs, gangs, you see all of it here.

"You go down to Cavill Mall of a night time, people are wasted, off their heads.

"There's ice getting around, it's everywhere.

"You look around here, a lot of homeless … it's here on the Gold Coast and it's growing, it's not getting any better.

"Among those out there getting smashed, there might be one or two who've had enough, and I'm out there fishing for those."

A younger Kevin ‘Mad Dog’ Mudford.
A younger Kevin ‘Mad Dog’ Mudford.

He knows who he's looking for, he's been there.

"My dad had come back from overseas and had eight children, not bagging him, but he had lots of stuff in his life, no hugs, no love, I think today we might consider that PTSD.

"He'd spent three and a half years in a German prisoner of war camp, fighting in the war.

"He was a tough man, that whole generation, and my generation who grew up under that came under the brunt of that scenario."

A troubled home life pushed him to the streets, joining a street gang in Napier, drug and alcohol abuse followed and by 15, he was pulling his first stint in jail.

"Jail at 15, I was behind bars in Invercargill, New Zealand.

"The whole 1970s, blotted out, I was in seven New Zealand jails, in and out of police stations, black eyes, fat lips, the scene I was involved in wasn't nice.

"I was a pretty notorious prisoner back then.

"I picked up a bit of a drugs a long the way, I was no heavy duty addict, but I certainly got into what was floating around at the time, pills and grass and stuff."

Kevin Mudford travels around Australia to help get blokes back on the right track. Picture: Evan Morgan
Kevin Mudford travels around Australia to help get blokes back on the right track. Picture: Evan Morgan

Prison turned to institutions.

"I was in 30 hospitals, I became a professional mental health patient, I went looking for a mental illness I never had. I was in hospitals up and down New Zealand.

"When you're in those kind of places, you attract a lot of God botherers, a lot of do gooders, and God bless them all, they come in there and want to help you, but you're only ready, when you're ready.

"In the end my brother, who done 10 years in jail, he got sober through Alcoholics Anonymous and then from there he went to a Pentecostal Church and got reborn and became a lay minister.

"Three years went by and I'm in Oakley Hospital in South Auckland, asleep between two chairs and someone has sent me a letter and that's where I heard the news of his conversion.

"There was nowhere else for me to go, so I went to him, and he was a real mentor to me back then and helped turn me around.

"But the real thing that turned me to church, was, up the road from the hospital I was in, was a forensic hospital, real nasty characters in there and I felt there was a room there for me, unless I got clean … that scared the pants off me.

"That was a deterrent for me to really force myself to put the cork in the bottle and my brother was the opportunity."

Kevin Mudford pictured in 1999.
Kevin Mudford pictured in 1999.

He followed his brothers footsteps and became a lay minister, travelling across New Zealand, before hopping the ditch to Australia, where he has been preaching for decades.

For the better part of 25 years Mad Dog preached on corners, he says he was pretty good at it, but wasn't getting the message across, so he got the cross out, which worked, until he was almost beaten to death with a brick.

"I stopped cross walking after I was nearly murdered 11 years ago in Newcastle.

"I was smashed over the head with a brick five times.

"I was speaking at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting at a rehab centre, with 37 addicts. After the meeting finished they all went back to their rooms, bar three. Two stayed behind for counselling, one was waiting outside in the bushes.

"He was off his medication, thought that God had told him to kill me. He crept up behind me and took me out.

"There you go, biggest test of my life, I went through a real tough time there. I had a brain injury, I was on walking sticks, I had every reason in the world to give up.

"When I give my talks, I say stuff happens out there, it's not all cherry pie and ice cream, can you get back up after you've been faced with a major obstacle in your life, I did."

Kevin Mudford became a born-again Christian preacher.
Kevin Mudford became a born-again Christian preacher.

 

Then three years ago, a trip to North Queensland turned it around.

"I walked into the Bowen Baptist Church to meet with the minister and he had a cross in the corner there and I really felt that God spoke to me, to build a cross and start dragging it across Australia.

"Well I'm not any good with wood work, but the minister was a cabinet maker and he told me he would build me a cross.

"So I've spent the last three years, dragging that cross right across Australia, all over."

He said, he wasn't going about converting people, rather sharing his story.

"I can't convert people, no, I tell them I'm a Christian, that I've found Jesus, I don't water it down, I've got this big cross, pretty hard to miss it.

"It's an opportunity for me to share my faith in a non-confrontational way, I don't want to go around and argue and fight with people about religion, I'm no good at it, I don't want to be angry, it doesn't do anyone any good.

"And I suppose I'm crazy enough to do it … the world is full of sane, odd people.

"I can't change anybody though, they have to want to change themselves.

"The cross gets me engaging, when I walk into Surfers, there's thousands of people, who knows if they're going to be alive the next day, who knows if they're going to chuck themselves off a building, or if they were going to overdose. That's what I'm into, there's a potential to save people."

You can catch Kevin 'Mad Dog' Mudford walking around the Coast, or at the River Church this coming Sunday from 5.30pm.