Free indeed – Tony Anthony’ testimony
October 1st, 1997
« Single and asking the wrong question
What shall I do with Jesus? »
© Tony Anthony
My story begins in 1969 when I was born- the first & only of my Chinese mother and Italian father. I lived my first 4 years here in the UK where my parents had met as students and remained after their marriage. This relatively ordinary & promising start to my life was shattered when my father was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and my parents made the decision to send me to live with my grandparents in Canton, China. So, as a 4 year old I left everything I knew and was transported across the world to what was at that time a totally alien culture to me.
The oriental way of raising children is very different to the western view and I grew up in a harsh, disciplined environment with very little love or affection. My grandfather took on the majority of my upbringing and passed on to me the family heritage of Kung fu. As a grand master my grandfather trained me rigorously and by the age of 7 I was already a black belt. At the age of 11 I returned to England to live with my parents, people I had no real relationship with and possessing very little spoken English or knowledge of English way of life. I went to school (learned English very rapidly) but continued my Kung fu training alongside this under the guidance of the International Kung fu Federation (IKFF), who paid for my tuition and sponsored me in competitions. Over my teenage years I entered & won many competitions and tournaments both in this country and overseas and was International (World) champion 3 years running.
When I left school it was my martial arts that earnt me my living as I worked as an instructor and later as a bodyguard for the IKFF security division and civilian trainer of man to man combat to the military. I was able to support my parents and myself, and although much of my work was dangerous, unorthodox and sometimes even illegal I was happy with my life and had no desire for anything more. In my late teens I met and fell in love with a girl called Aiya, a beautiful blind girl from Sweden and we made plans to get married. At this time I was working abroad a lot instructing Kung fu and during one of my assignments Aiya was involved in a serious car accident and died. Needless to say I was distraught and my contentment with my life disappeared. I proceeded to take more and more dangerous work not caring if I lived or died. Since diagnosis my father’s condition had got progressively worse and it was during this period of intense grief that my parents told of a groundbreaking treatment available in Switzerland that may cause a remission in the MS They obviously wanted to try it but the procedure was colossally expensive. I did not have the money but in my insecure state of mind decided that I would steal the money, this I did and gave it to my parents for the treatment. This all occurred whilst I was working in Cyprus and it did not take long for the Cypriot Police to catch up with me. Eventually after much abusive interrogation I was tried and sentenced to 3 years in prison.
Life in the Nicosia Central Prison was one of hardship, violence and the need for self-preservation. I was obviously able to protect myself and had to do so on numerous occasions. This was not the place where I expected to find the greatest friend I would ever know or the peace and forgiveness that I knew I did not deserve. And yet that is precisely what I did find.
When I was arrested my parents deserted me and so I had had no visitors at all since getting to the prison. Needless to say, when I was offered the chance of a visitor I jumped at the chance. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know who this visitor was or why he could possibly want to visit me – just a different face was enough. And so, began a series of visits which would change my life. My visitor was a man named Michael Wright, a missionary from Northern Ireland; he came in, week in week out and just spent time with me. He didn’t preach to me he just allowed me to talk and eventually I asked him why he always had a smile, why he “wasted” his time each week to visit me and so on. It was then that he explained to me about Jesus and how much He had changed his life, and that by believing in Jesus with all my heart could give me real freedom (John 8:31-32,36).
It all seemed too good to be true, but I definitely felt there was something missing in my life and one night in my cell I prayed to Jesus and asked Him (if He really was there!) to come and be part of my life and change me. I can’t say what I expected but all I know is that I woke the next morning with a peace in my heart that I had never known before and strange as it may seem I felt freer inside that prison than I had ever felt before on the outside. I was free from the sin that had bound me and I had a whole new life ahead. Life in the prison was still difficult and I even had to serve extra time for being a Christian but with Jesus in my life nothing seemed unbearable.
I was released and returned to England in November 1992 and although life has not always been a bed of roses I have felt God’s goodness and His guiding hand time and again! He has given me a life again – a wife, a job, a home, a family in the people of God and as I enter the next “adventure” of my life, that of being a father myself I know that my heavenly Father has His hand upon me and just as He led me to Himself in that prison in Nicosia He will put me where He wants me and show me the path that my life will take from this point on for His glory!
God spoke to my heart through the Bible with the verses below, I hope you can enjoy them too, and that the love of my Lord Jesus can be as real to you as it certainly is to me, life changing!
Tony is Evangelism (and founding) Director of Avanti Ministries. You can find out more about him and Avanti at http://www.avantiministries.com
Ephesians 1:6-8 Romans 8:1 Exodus 15:1,2,11,12,16-18 Psalm 107: 10-15 Psalm 119:44,45 2 Timothy 1:7 Galatians 5:22,23 2 Corinthians 3:17 John 8:31,32,36