Joy as Norwich minister baptises prodigal son
Rev Nigel Fox, former minister at Wroxham Road Methodist Church, had the joy of baptising his son Tom, who dramatically returned to faith from a criminal lifestyle.
Speaking at the baptism on August 1, Nigel said: “I’ve often struggled in ministry. I’ve often struggled in parenthood…But today is a testimony to the power of prayer. It’s a testimony of the power of the grace of God to turn things around in ways which are beyond our understanding.”
The celebration took place at Bowthorpe Road Church, home to the Chinese Methodist congregation in Norwich, where Nigel was joined by Rev Andy Burrows in the baptistry. Afterwards Tom, or Tomasio as he prefers to be called, shared his testimony:
I was born to John and Stevi back in 1977. But they split up soon after I was born. My Mum then met Nigel, and they married when I was two years old. He adopted me and raised me as his son.
Although I was raised in a loving Christian family I always felt torn. I struggled with authority and felt like the black sheep of the family. The shame I felt made me rebel, and after the family moved to Oldham in Manchester I ran away from home while studying for my A levels.
With my southern accent, smart appearance and good schooling, I found it easy to con, lie and deceive my way into any job or woman’s life and to gain money fraudulently. I was drawn into a life of drugs, and to finance my party lifestyle I started to sell drugs and to steal.
During this dark period my Mum died of cancer. Her faith in God made me feel I didn’t want to carry on living like I was, but I was scared to face the problems: the list was so long by now. I smoked weed to get some sleep, ecstasy to feel loved and cocaine to stay awake.
Now I look back I’m amazed I’m alive. There were so many points where I could have been shot dead, stabbed or overdosed. I had what I used to think at the time were spider senses: don’t do that deal here, not yet, and it literally saved my life on several occasions. Now I look back I realise it was God’s hand on my life, and those people that were praying for me.
I met Shelley, who was the first woman to see through my lies, and she told me I could leave my act at her door. I opened up to her, telling her honestly about my life and feelings.
I had been on the run from the police for several years and ended up sleeping rough on Mousehold Heath. I was hungry and felt completely hopeless.
One evening I arranged to go to Nigel’s house. At the door he said: “Come in, son, let’s put the kettle on.” People who know me wouldn’t believe I said, “No thanks. I don’t want a coffee. I need prayer.” I knew I needed to give my life to Jesus and make things right. That night I experienced deliverance and such a sense of peace.
I moved into the House of Genesis, a home for ex-offenders, and received treatments that almost cleaned up my life. Months later I bumped into Shelley and after a few years of ups and downs, we were married at Wroxham Road Methodist Church by Nigel. We were blessed with holidays all over the globe, a house in the countryside with views to die for, nice cars and a business in building and carpentry.
But the years of abuse of my body started to catch up. I had an MRI on my spine and my GP told me it was red marrow proliferation. Shelley and I googled it, and every answer came out as cancer. I was in incredible pain and lost the feeling in both arms.
I took enough painkillers to put an elephant down, and we went to Mauritius for a two-week break. I was a wreck in paradise. A Hindu lady noticed I was up every morning, and asked me to join her on the beach, where she ritually prayed for me.
A few days later I went back with her to the hotel, where she brought me a coffee. To my surprise, I could feel the heat. I was in shock. I started to jump up and down. A miracle had happened. I was like a child all day, swimming, throwing water about, running.
On our return to the UK the Covid pandemic was just breaking. I carried on working but found that some jobs nipped my nerves. This kept happening until one day I couldn’t move or see daylight. I got to my knees and started to pray. I said: “God, I’ve made such a mess of my life. It’s your turn.”
Nigel came round a few days later and just before he left, he said the Priest’s Blessing in Hebrew over me. Then he said, “Let me know what happens.”
Well, my eyes were opened to the spiritual realm. I saw angels and demons. The Holy Spirit started guiding my Bible studies. I started to do things like sell my beloved Mercedes to pay for someone’s care and give my designer clothes to homeless people.
I have died to my old self. My whole life has changed. I have Jesus at my centre. He is my Lord, Saviour and friend.
Pictured top are Nigel Fox (left) and Andy Burrows (centre) baptising Tomasio Fox (also above).