Testimony of Tony M
It was by circumstances in my life that I was forced to find out whether there was a God and would he help me.
I lived all my life without Him and I had a deep suspicion of anyone who claimed they knew Him. I just thought that God and religion was a game that people played. Seven years after I was married, I was hospitalised for alcoholism. I thought it was unfair, my best friend was taken from me and I had to live without the only support I had come to know. I was unable to see the damage I had caused to my family, career and my health.
I was sent to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and I didn’t think much of that organisation. I looked at them and their recovery program and just wanted to run. I looked at the 12 steps and saw "powerlessness, higher power and God." As soon as I saw the word "God," a hatred welled up inside of me. I wanted nothing to do with God. But I stayed there because I was in trouble. Over the next 9 years I tried to overcome my addiction my way; which means that I carried on drinking trying to control my intake. I resigned from my job because I was no longer capable of work. My wife kept our family together and tried to help me.
On 19th Oct. ’96, I had had enough, and I stopped drinking. Both the AA treatment centre, and God “as I understood him” became my life. My health improved and I started to work again. I decided that I would stay in AA and concentrate on recovery relying on God only for my sobriety. All in all I was quite happy except I couldn’t understand who was God. Every time I read step 3 in the recovery programme which said “made a decision to hand my will and my life over to the care of God, as I understood him” it left me feeling frustrated. Anytime I heard anyone in AA talk about their concept of God, I really listened but was always disappointed. I felt I was the only one who didn’t know him.
Towards the end of 2002, a Christian dropped a calendar into my home. My wife noticed an add for a booklet entitled “Bread for Life”, and asked me to get it for her. I contacted the Baptist Church in Cork City, and they sent this booklet. They also sent a tape called “The Uniqueness of Christianity”. This was the first time I heard the Gospel. After I listened to the tape I asked myself, I wonder where I would go when I died. Immediately I was consumed with a feeling of condemnation. The following day I asked myself the same question and the same response followed. I was so shaken that I said I would not ask this question again. So I tried to forget all about the tape.
A few days later, I was at a friend's house while he was away on holiday. I decided to play some cassette tapes on his new tape deck. I reached out and picked up a tape which came from the Bible Baptist Church of Blarney (which is now in Ballincollig). The tape was the salvation testimony of a now ex-Roman Catholic priest named Richard Peter Bennett and the tape was entitled “From Tradition to Truth”. After listening to this tape I made contact with the pastor of this church in Blarney and began to attend the church and listen to the word of God as he preached and taught it. I was amazed. I learned that I must be born again. I resisted for about 6 weeks but kept listening to the preaching. My heart began to soften and a conviction grew within me. I had to be saved, and I couldn’t resist anymore. I came to the cross and put my whole life before Jesus. I knew I was a sinner, I knew I would go to hell, I understood now why He died. There was no place else I could go. I just cried out to him to save me and He did. On the 9th of January, 2003 I became a child of God - I was born again.
In the months that followed I was given a new understanding of my alcoholism. It was sin and not a disease. I left AA about 6 months later. It broke my heart because I loved them, all those alcoholics were my friends and they cared for me. They couldn’t understand when I told them that alcoholism was sin and all you need is a Saviour. His name is Jesus!