It was a wet & rainy Friday night………, when I was driving to Crystal Crown Hotel. To make things worse, the hotel car park was full when I arrived & I was redirected to an open air parking space behind the hotel. And just when I thought the worst was over, I realized there was no umbrella in the car. So, I got wet as wet could be. Shucks – Was this ominous of a horrible night ……… ???
Thankfully, NO. I was actually attending a special Good Friday service organised by RL’s church. He sent me a flyer about it & it looked interesting, so I went. The speaker was Tony Anthony, a British Christian Evangelist & founding director of Avanti (an organisation which supports churches in various endeavours). And he had an interesting story to tell………..
Tony Anthony, who is half Italian and half Chinese, was born in England. He was sent to live in China, at the tender age of 4 because his father was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and his mother had trouble coping. His grandfather was a martial arts ‘sifu’ and he brought Tony up in a manner unconventional to the Western eye. In Tony’s words “he was abused & beaten” while being taught the Martial Arts.
He went back to England when he was 12 & he continued learning Martial Arts there. He eventually rose to become the World Champion ‘Master’ of Martial Arts 3 times in a row: 1987/8/9/. Given his physical skills, he went on to become a body guard. This brought him to the darker realms of life as his services expanded to debt collection on behalf of his clients. Tony Anthony even started robbing the people that he was collecting debts from to finance the cost of his father’s health care when his father asked him for help.
To cut a long story short, his fiancee, died suddenly from a car crash. Aggrieved, he lost it & went on a violent rampage, taking his anger and frustration out by picking fights with people & beating even strangers up in bars and all. Needless to say, the law caught up with him & he was incarcerated in a Turkish prison.
It was in prison that he found God. A British missionary living in Turkey found out that a fellow Britisher was in prison there. He then sought to ask permission to visit Tony weekly. Of course, Tony being a sceptic at the moment, violently objected to the idea of being visited by an evangelist. That is……. until a fellow inmate told him that he got similar visits from this very same person. He then revealed that the guy always offered him a can of COKE during the visits. That sold it! He agreed to weekly visits! Fancy that – a can of COKE managed to lure a violent criminal to consent to evangelical visits. Miracle … no pun intended… 🙂
After 6 months, he was crumbling under the pressures of imprisonment. While lamenting the plight of a friend who was cut up badly in a prison brawl, he finally accepted Christ, begged for forgiveness & felt FREE. Today, he is an evangelist.
So that was it. You can say the story was fantastical. You can say the story was dramatic. For me, it was a story, …. reminiscent of the ones you would get from a Chuck Norris flick, minus the evangelical part that is …
But, what struck me was what he said after……… (don’t worry, I’m not going to preach to you..)
He challenged us to think further. He said, we too, are prisoners. We too, are trapped behind the BARS of our obligations, our guilt, our fears, our insecurities. We are imprisoned by our commitments, by our quest for fame, our quest for wealth …..
The message struck a chord, for me personally. He was right. We are all actually prisoners of the lives we have shaped for ourselves. ………….Our lives never seem perfect enough. Our families never seem good enough. Our incomes are too low. Our cars are not luxurious enough. Our homes are not posh enough. We ourselves are never good enough. People don’t show us enough respect. ……….. Life seems to be a constant chase for what we don’t have ……… ‘MORE’ being the operative word.
Well, I DO HAVE ….. A loved one who loves me back. A loved one who loves me for who I am, with all my imperfections. A family that loves me unconditionally. Good Friends. A Roof over our heads. Food on our table. A Healthy body…..A Not-So-Healthy Mind (coz its always filled with worry) but at least its free of Alzheimer’s or something like that …. and a Future lying straight ahead ……
Time and again there’s a reminder to seize the moment of the day…. And yet, time and again, I yearn to seize the sky. Please kick me in the butt next time I complain ……. Thank you for being my loved one, for being my family, for being my friend.
CARPE DIEM EVERYONE!