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This is the testimony of Tony Cottam from Wolverhampton UK who became a preacher

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I was born the eldest of three children. I was very premature and tiny when born and suffered meningitis and double whooping cough at birth. I was kept in hospital for over a year and three times I medically died. Even then God had his hand on me (Psalm 139:14-15).

I had a very strict upbringing and was taken both to the Catholic Church that my father visited occasionally, and to the Church of England church which my mother attended sometimes. I was christened Church of England and attended Sunday School at St Chad's in Bilston. When approximately 5 years old I was playing and kicked my foot through a glass door, and severed a main artery in my foot — only quick action saved my life — again God had his hand on me and rescued me (Psalm 46:7-11).

I was bullied at school and picked on. At approx 10 years of age I was playing on a rope swing and fell into quicksand, where I almost drowned. When I eventually got out and returned home I was punished and beaten — because I had lost one of my shoes.

I grew to be a nervous child — life was not what I expected it to be. I saw danger on every corner. I had no self-esteem or self-confidence. I was laughed at at school, and even my parents said I would never amount to much. I started originally at a normal mainstream school, but later was transferred because I could not learn to read, write, or spell. This second school, for children with learning difficulties, was called William Baxter School, and it was a great success. It was found that I needed glasses, and once these were provided I was able to learn to read, write, and spell. However, the other children still made fun of me and I was still bullied.

Picture of Tony Cottam before he was a Christian. I got my first job and describe my life at that time as "all over the place". I started drinking and smoking with the money this job brought in — I was 17 years of age. I got involved in gambling and for five years I was part of the Territorial Army. Drink got a hold of me, and I kept the wrong company. I was arrested and put into detention at Brockhill for two months. Then followed six months in detention in Nottingham. Even here I was still the butt of all the jokes - because I wouldn’t get involved in the things they wanted me to (Ephesians 2:2).

When I was released I tried to fit in with a crowd of rough people, and was drinking and smoking more than ever. I started working for myself as a window cleaner with a friend, whom I soon found I could not trust. I felt betrayed. I was engaged to a girl who I loved but she was unfaithful to me and that hurt me even more.

I then met a girl whom I had known all my life. She had lived in the same road as me and we had attended the same school. The relationship blossomed and we hit it off very well. My ex-girlfriend accused me of being the father of a child she was carrying. This was an untrue allegation (Psalm 27:11-12). A paternity test was done which proved that I was not the father. My ex girlfriend was distraught and tried to take her own life.

I then got married and got a job, but we lost our first two children who were born prematurely. The money given to us for the funerals I spent on drink. We went on to have five lovely children, three girls and two boys. I was a very strict father, stricter than I should have been. I was drinking too much and was in and out of jobs. Eventually I went back to self employment and was a window cleaner again. My wife and I grew apart over time and we started to lead separate lives. Both of us socialized with our own friends — both of us were unfaithful. At this time my life was falling apart and everything was getting worse by the day (Ephesians 2:1-4).

The house was falling apart around us. I had no interest in anything but drink. I suffered panic and anxiety attacks and paranoia. I developed schizophrenia and started to take drugs to deal with these symptoms. I had a nervous breakdown three times. Life was bad for the children. I was not a father to them then. It is a surprise that they ever forgave me (Matthew 6:26-27).

My drinking then got out of control. I started drinking early in the morning. I wanted to die and tried to commit suicide three or four times. God did not let me succeed. In the future he would have work for me to do (Romans 8:28).

I didn't want to know about my family, I hated the world and everyone in it. I had a very nasty fight with my father in law, Ray — and my anger just seemed to explode during this fight. I was hurting Ray badly and just didn’t seem to be able to stop. To defend himself, Ray hit me with a very large piece of banister and my skull was cracked open. Again God spared my life and I wondered why (John 3:16).

Things continued getting even worse until 1994 when I developed very bad pain in my back, legs and neck. It was found that I had rheumatoid arthritis which was very severe and which was spreading throughout my whole body. I was put on to very strong painkillers. I was almost bedridden. I could hardly walk from one chair to another. I was still drinking heavily and all the family were drinkers (Ephesians 2:12).

The turning point in my life came when I moved to Wolverhampton. My wife had been the one who had encouraged this move. Three of the children had left home by now and only two sons were left at home. At this point Jesus turned my life upside down. He did this by sending a very good friend called Roy Page. I met Roy when Roy was handing out Christian tracts in the Mander Centre one day in the city centre. He asked me if I would like to give my life to Christ, and I was undecided, but I knew I badly needed someone or something to save me. Roy asked me to come and visit him sometimes, so he could tell me more about Jesus. Even though I had received this invitation life was not improving, and in fact I was at rock bottom. I went off drinking one day, vowing to leave my family behind. I called a taxi after a heavy drinking bout. The taxi driver started to drive me towards Birmingham, and he locked the car doors. I had no idea what was going on and started to protest and swear in the back seat. Suddenly the car came to a standstill, and the car window rolled down. A tall man was standing there. who warned me to change and to sort out my life before it was too late. To this day I believe that this man was an angel. I was completely shocked and taken back by this encounter, and although I didn’t understand this at all, I knew it had been real. The next day I awoke feeling paranoid and afraid; I was convinced that people were after me and were trying to kill me. I was in a very bad state. I was taken in by two friends who lived in Willenhall — they gave me a bed for the night but they had two very large and aggressive dogs. In my paranoid state I was terrified. I believe that God kept the mouths of those dogs shut that night to protect me. The police took me back home to Wolverhampton and from then on my life changed forever.

I gave my life to Christ and started to live for him and because of him. This was a dramatic change in me, and my friends and family just couldn't take it in. I rang Roy and arranged to meet me in Pheonix Park. We talked for a long time about what Christ did on the cross and how I could be saved. Roy invited me to the Christian Life Centre in Sedgley Street, Wolverhampton, where he worshipped. Within three months I had been baptized but my family believed that it was just a phase I was going through, and were sure that I would grow out of it. During this time I received many spiritual attacks from Satan. Once he tried to choke me to death in bed, once he pinned me up against a wall. All this was trying to get me to go back to the life I had led before.

By 2001 I was adamant that I would not have the ways of the world any more. On 3rd January 2001 I was crying out to receive the Holy Spirit. On that day the Lord poured his holy spirit upon me and anointed me at home in my dining room. Roy had prayed that I would receive a double portion of his spirit to repay what Satan had stolen from me in the past. I saw a brilliant white light, and felt as though my body was being transported from one dimension to another. I felt wonderful, and as though I had received the greatest gift of all. I thrived at church and became a caretaker at the church with my own set of keys. I felt this was ironic, when in the past it would have been unwise to trust me with anything! My family saw an enormous change in me. The spiritual attacks continued. My daughters rejected me at that time, even though I had pleaded with them to forgive me for the type of father I had been to them. I was injured in a freak accident by a car door, and had a severe blow to the head. God healed that injury immediately and there was no mark upon my head at all. Satan tried to run me down in a car, and I was thrown from a ladder whilst decorating, but through it all God preserved me. Even though I was living for Christ, I still liked a drink and still took one regularly.

In 2003 I finally found the strength through Christ to stop drinking. God took away the desire for all drugs and drink which I had had in the past, and all of my mental health issues were healed. My panic attacks and anxiety all disappeared. God restored my body and healed me of all the arthritis. So I began the evangelist walk I am on today. I regularly preach the gospel in many town centres in the region, and am an encourager and helper to many. I have been involved helping lonely and homeless people, alcoholics, and down and outs, because I know that these people are the ones for whom I have been called.

I am called by those who know me "The miracle man," for Jesus has performed many miracles in my life and has totally healed me from various diseases and problems. He has made me into a preacher for the Lord Jesus Christ because I trust in Him at all times (Isaiah 53:4-7).

This is the very nature of the God whom I serve all the days of my life. He created me to be like Him. I am now a preacher and go all over the country telling the lost what our Lord and Saviour has done for me. (Psalm 107:20).

There is no other way to know him and to enter into relationship with him, other than to surrender your life to him and to fall down on your knees before Him. To admit that you are a hopeless sinner, and that you confess your sins before Him. You can do nothing about your situation yourself – you must surrender your life to Him and accept the free gift that he gives you by His grace – in that he died to pay the price for your sins, and through his blood you are not only forgiven but you are washed clean and your sins are remembered no more. So I now spend my days giving out scripture, which helps people to know how to be saved and to receive true life. (John 3:1-8).

Picture of Tony Cottam after he became Christian. I will tell you about some of the experiences I have had, whereby Satan has tried to end my life because he does not want me to serve the living God. When you give your life to the Saviour, Satan will try his best to bring you back to your old way of life. For he is opposite in every way to our precious Jesus. Satan tries to destroy your life once you abandon him to live for Jesus, he will make life very difficult to endure and put all manner of snares and problems your way. The bible says he was a liar from the very beginning. (Matthew 13:38-39 and 2 Corinthians 11:3). We must trust in God always and only in Him.

The devil tried to end my life by bringing an accident upon me whereby I was badly injured by a car door slamming into my head. God prevailed and I survived. God healed me straight away. The devil tried to end my life by an incident where I was literally only inches from death by being hit by a car – God was watching over me and the car missed me.

Another time I was up a ladder putting up a curtain rail and the ladder suddenly moved violently to the side. I fell and was shaken badly as I was thrown to the floor. However I claimed my healing in Christ and was immediately healed. What an amazing God we serve (1 Peter 2:24) who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we being dead to sins should live unto righteousness, by whose stripes we are healed.

Once I was preaching on a very hot day in Coventry when I took a cold drink only to find that a wasp was in the can. The wasp stung me in the throat eight or nine times – naturally when I realized what was happening I started to panic. I cried out to God in the name of my precious Saviour – "if it is my time to come home to you so be it Lord Jesus." It was not my time – I was healed and I survived this attack of the Devil.

My point here is this – when God heals you – and he will if you ask him, accept it and embrace it with everything you have and are. Claim your healing because God loves you beyond measure and does not desire that you suffer. God will see you through any and every situation that the devil throws at you. Whatever Satan tries to do to you keep fighting, keep preaching, because only Jesus is the Lord over all our days. Only he decides when it is time for you to depart from this life, so do not be afraid. Mark 16:18 says, "They shall take up serpents and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them, they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover."

The God we serve is amazing and fantastic. He laid his life down for you and for me and took our place upon that cross. Jesus is my all in all. Nothing and no one can ever replace him in my life, if necessary I will lay my life down for my faith.

Unbelievers hear me when I preach that there is a God who is calling you to repent before it is too late. Matthew 9:13 says "But go and learn what that means, I will have mercy and not sacrifice, for I am come not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance". Jesus can set you free from everything, so come to the Lord today and ask your beloved Father in heaven to forgive you of your sins and free you from your past. (John 8:32-36 and John 17:17). True life and salvation is only found through God's only begotten son Jesus Christ and through his redeeming blood.

Hell is a real place so please don't try and push it to the back of your mind, thinking that hell doesn't really exist, or that it's a place just made up to justify faith – it really exists! Unless you accept Christ there is a judgement to come and a punishment to face. Salvation is yours for the asking (2 Corinthians 6:2) just grasp it with two hands!! Your future is in your hands. In Acts 2:38 Jesus says "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

So if all of this has spoken to you, and you wish to make that commitment to Jesus today, here is a little prayer for you – pray it today and make today the first day of your new life.

Lord God Please be merciful to me a sinner, I believe you came to save those who are lost and broken, Please forgive me my past life, Help me to live my life for you and to walk in your light, Come and dwell within me and make my life new, Wash me with the blood of the cross. Amen.

Statement of my faith by Tony Cottam.

a) I believe in one God – Father Son and Holy Spirit. His holy word the bible was given by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
b) I believe scripture teaches us that there is only one true and living God who has chosen to reveal himself as three persons in one. Deuteronomy 6:4.
c) I believe that man is a sinful being in need of redemption. We entered into sin at our birth due to the sinful act of our forefather Adam. Genesis 1:26-31.
d) I believe in the virgin birth of Christ – that he is the son of God, begotten not made, and that he came to earth to save man from condemnation of sin, by offering his blood as an atonement and making salvation available to all who will believe. (Matthew 1:23).
e) I believe that for lost and sinful souls regeneration by the Holy Spirit, i.e. rebirth is absolutely essential Luke 7:50, 1 Corinthians 1:18).
f) I believe that the scriptures ascribe to the Holy Spirit the acts and attributes of an intelligent being, and that the works of God such as creation and sanctification are also ascribed to the Holy Spirit (Job 33:4, John 16:8).
g) I believe in the sanctifying power of the holy spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a holy life (Romans 8:5, Thessalonians 4 3).
h) I believe that baptism in the Holy Spirit is given to believers who prayerfully ask for it (Joel 2:28, Acts 2:4).
i) I believe in water baptism by immersion as a symbol of rebirth and the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38, Matt 3:15).
j) I believe that all mankind is subject to the death of the body as a result of original sin. The soul and spirit do not die but immediately after death enter into a conscious state of happiness or misery according to the rejection or acceptance of the saviour in life (Ecclesiastes 12:7, Romans 5:12).
k) I believe in the bodily resurrection of both the saved and the lost, the saved to everlasting life and the lost to everlasting damnation (Matthew 24:31-46)

Tony is available to give his testimony in Churches in UK if you would like him to come.

Brother Tony Cottam Evangelist in the Lord. If you would like to get in touch:
Telephone mobile 07597763248
Email: tonycottam1952@gmail.com

This is the end of the testimony of Tony Cottam. Thank you for taking the time to read it.

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