25th Sept. 2012 by Mindy Oon , CM –
Guest speaker Tony Anthony, author of ‘Taming the Tiger” spoke of how God turned his life around at the Canning Garden Methodist Church’s Saturday night service. An international evangelist, Tony travels around the world telling how God has transformed his life. He is the founding director of Avanti Ministries, a ministry of evangelism and discipleship training.
Sent from England to live with his grandfather in China when he was only four years old, Tony’s grandfather taught him kungfu, a tradition in his family that for generations had been passed on from father to son. He was raised as a Buddhist, and was told that answers were to be found within. For eight years his grandfather trained him, and at 12 years of age, he returned to England.
Tony continued to practice kungfu with the International Kungfu Association Switzerland and developed his technique. As a teenager, he fought in competitions around Asia and was a World Champion for three years, from 1987 to 1989. As a young adult he worked in the security division and trained bodyguards in hand to hand combat. Tony was also asked to be a bodyguard and worked with many high profile clients.
His downward spiral started when his fiancée Aya was killed in a car crash. With rage and anger within him, he became violent and most of the time he didn’t know when to draw the line in his job as a bodyguard. He was self-destructive, and as Tony put it, he would ‘shoot to kill’. He committed many crimes including robbery and murder.
Tony Anthony was finally caught and incarcerated in Cyprus. He described the prison as a ‘place without rules’, where the prisoners would fight over the smallest things. However, it was also in this prison that Tony came to know the Lord Jesus Christ. Missionary Michael Wright would visit him every Thursday without fail, and though Tony was at first reluctant to meet Michael (he only allowed Michael to visit because they were given Coke in the visitor room), a father-son relationship soon developed and they became friends.
The night of 3rd May 1990 marked the turning point in his life. It was the first time Tony prayed, and as he prayed, he said sorry for the bad things that he had done. It was the night that he decided to ‘try’ Jesus, and hoped that God would fill the vacuum in his heart. Tony woke up the next day at peace, and ‘almost happy’. He said it was almost as if it was his ‘day of release’ from the prison. As God rebuilt his life, Tony became committed to serving his Savior.
Whilst Tony Anthony was literally behind bars, many of us are also in prison. According to Tony, we do not have to be behind bars to be in prison. Prison can be ‘religion’, it can be a lie, it can be anger, bitterness, addiction or an image problem. But we need not despair, as Jesus has come to set us free. As according to John 8: 34-36, Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave to sin. And a slave does not abide in my house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”
In order to release ourselves from prison, and change our lives, we need to do two things. First, we need to be willing to turn away from our sins and ask for forgiveness. As we do this, God promises that he will no longer remember our sins and we start afresh. Second, we need to surrender our lives to Jesus and allow Him to take control. While Jesus can set us free from our prisons, it is a choice that we have to make – to continue in our sinful ways, or to allow Jesus to enter our hearts and to be our Lord and Savior! Praise the Lord for transforming the lives of people around the world.