Testimonies

Testimonials

Real Testimonies from Real People

We have received many letters from prisoners who have read the Tough Talk books or have seen the guys in Tough Talk prison meetings. Here are a few examples:

Fetham

I’m James…I’ve read your book and was overwhelmed by the changes in all three men… I’m on remand in Feltham for taking a man’s life by hitting him….although I was provoked my actions are inexcusable.

Can God still forgive me for my actions? Perhaps you could tell me how I go about bringing him into my life as a permanent feature.


Highpoint

You have opened up a new light in my life after reading your book…tears of joy and thankfulness that Jesus has touched your lives were streaming down my face. I had a truly unforgettable experience with Jesus and the Holy Spirit in prison many years ago……but life got the better of me and I am now serving another 3 years….
Seeing you in Highpoint has rekindled the light and love of Jesus in me again…….I feel a massive turn-around in my inner self again…


Nottingham

Thanks a million for coming all the way up from London to see us all (in Nottingham)……I must admit I was very moved by your talk and I can assure you that most of the lads were too. One bright spark was heard to say you were only promoting your book to which I replied, if you can see the price on the front, inside or back cover, I will buy him lunch at the Savoy when we get out!


Before you came here I had started going to Chapel…..and when you came it was like assign, it might sound mad but I felt something come over me when you was speaking….. and that day when I went back to my pad I said to myself would God help me like he has helped that man. So I started talking to him and no, I am not mad but its like he is talking to me. I have been doing so many things different. I know that me not doing wrong wont happen overnight but I know something will change when I get out…


Bedford

I did enjoy reading the book…..it has made me look at my life, and I know that I cannot be like I am for the rest of my life, I can be a decent helpful person I want to be like that, full stop. The book has made me think of a better future.


Onley

I’ve messed up…because I have a drug problem. I’ve tried everything to get over this evil but the temptation is too great. I’ve lost all my friends because of this…I’m writing to ask you to help me try and find Jesus Christ because may be he will help me conquer this bad part of my life like he has for Arthur, Ian and Steve……


I have been in and out of jail since I was 15 …because I have a drug problem. I’ve tried everything to get over this evil but the temptation is so great….I have lost any real friends I had and most of all I have lost my family. This is why I’m writing this letter to get you to help me try and find Jesus Christ because may be he will help me conquer this bad part of my life…like he has done for Arthur, Steve and Ian…


The book has made me look at my life and I know that I cannot be like I am for the rest of my life. I can be a decent, helpful person, but I want it to be like that, full stop. The book has made me think of a better future.


I thoroughly enjoyed the book. But I can’t do it that easily. I have prayed the prayer over and over but I still get drawn into the drugs and other things whilst in here. I hope you can answer some of my questions and give me a little guidance.


On reading your book I now know what I want in my life…..since I have read about you and your friends I have felt that I can do anything that I put my mind to. When you came to my prison it was like a sign…..I felt something come over me when you were speaking. I went back to my pad and said would God help me like he has helped that man. I started talking to him, and no I’m not mad, but its like he is talking to me. I have been doing so many things different. I know that me not doing wrong won’t happen overnight but I know that something will change…


We received this very encouraging “testimony within a testimony” from an officer in the Metropolitan Police. He told us he became friendly with an intimidating 20 stone, 6 foot 3 tattooed and shaven headed prisoner who gave him a battered and torn book that he said had “changed his life and could change yours”. In the book, the man had written “Thanks for being a friend. Jesus loves you!” The book was Tough Talk. The officer said “ I read the book in one day…… it sent me through mixed emotions….. it sent a tingle down my spine….. I have never been a religious man….but I have asked my girlfriend for a Bible for Christmas….because I feel I cannot get enough”


This was received from a prisoner who has not yet sorted his life out….but it is very encouraging:

“Many thanks for writing a great book. So many thoughts have been going through my mind of late. I was confused until I finished the end of your book. Now I see things in a much calmer way and that there could be something out there for me too. ……..I’m going to pass the book around my friends who are having troubles in their lives maybe they will take notice or maybe not at least I can show them there is something more…..I have always been very stand-offish about God and Jesus but I am learning slowly that there can be more. I keep getting messages that there are other things like God and Jesus……Well I am starting to believe, just a little apprehensive a bit, but I am sure I will have another sign to help me find my way…Many many thanks for a great book….”


The following two letters were received from prisoners in a prison that the Tough Talk team regularly visit. Letters such as this really highlight the value of our ministry to prisons:

Letter 1: ” I would like to give you a bit of feed back from your last visit here. First though, Ian I asked you if you was for real. What I thought at the time that you bwas talking rubbish, which I am sorry for. At the time you was giving us the talk about God, I laughed at you, again I am sorry for that. I experienced something very peculiar at the end of the session, which I now know was the Holy Spirit. Upon leaving the gym that Thursday, I felt the urge to go to the Chapel on Sunday. I had another strange feeling and then and there I said enough, I have given my life to God. I go every Sunday now and pray every day. You see I wanted what you guys had, not the muscles but the peace you talked about. I now have that peace inside me, I feel so alive……You also saved my dearest friend who experienced almost the same things as me……”

Letter 2: “Firstly I would like to thank you for your visit to our prison. I don’t know what made me come that day but I do now. I have never been a believer in religion but after your visit I got such an urge to start going to the chapel, praying and reading the Bible which I do every night now. My look on life has drastically changed. I’m leaving my old life behind and starting a new one with God. I’m so happy about it its unreal. I already feel like I’ve been born again. I’m getting baptised this Sunday. Me and my friend experienced the same thing and its brought us so close as friends and brothers. Its baffled me how its happened so fast. I’ve gone from being an angry person to an understanding peaceful person. I just felt as if I would write to yopu and thank you all for how you helped me to start my new journey with God. I’m so thankful….”

And here is another fantastic letter…

” ……I am on remand for stabbing and robbery…I have done a lot of things I regret and have been involved in things I wish I hadn’t. Until reading your book, I was convinced this was the only lifestyle for me….I know there is more to life now. I have been going to church every week now, and have realised I can be forgiven. It feels so good, like a load has been taken off my shoulders. So just a quick note to say thankyou all so much.

We continue to regularly receive letters from guys in prison who have heard Tough Talk at one of their prison visits. Here is an excerpt from a recent letter:

“Hi, I was at the Tough Talk event in our prison …I enjoyed it a lot and it made me think about things….it really opened my eyes and made me realise that there is much more to life than women and money…..I can now sort my life out and start my life on that new road. Thank you again.”

SECURE TRAINING CENTRE, RAINSBROOK.

As well as receiving letters from prisoners, we also receive very encouraging messages from members of chaplaincy teams and from prison gym staff. We have received this letter from the Chaplain at Rainsbrook:

“I just want to say a HUGE thank you to Arthur and Ian following on from their visits to Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre. Their message focused on “the consequences of our actions” and “our ability to make choices” was a powerful one linked to a very real hope for the future. More importantly, though, was that the good news of Jesus Christ was put across in a “powerful” way, as Ian and Arthur used the power lifting alongside their amazing testimonies of God at work in their lives.
The afternoon session has stuck in the minds of several of our young people and paved the way for many more in-depth conversations, both with staff and young people.

We are really looking forward to October when Ian and Arthur are planning a return visit” Revd. Diane Bussey. Chaplain. Rainsbrook STC, Willoughby, Rugby. Warks.

We have recently received a very encouraging letter from a young man who attended one of our meetings in Portsmouth. Here is an abbreviated version of what he had to say….

“I always subconsciously believed in God. Over the last few years I have had numerous relationship issues…….resulting in my leaving my wife of 16 years…..I became paranoid, addicted to attention, pain then violence but never to drugs…..I became closer to my mother in law and humoured the level of belief in God that she had….but I could not commit to believing in him myself. I was invited to a Tough Talk meeting by my mother in law but woke late on the morning of the event….a voice said “ I know you are going to be late but it will be OK I am with you…”So many things said that morning made an impact on me……at the end, Joe Lampshire asked for people to respond by raising their hand…I could not raise my hand for embarrassment’s sake. But then Joe said there was someone in the room who was hurting more than most….he prayed for that person not knowing that person was me! ……From that day I have felt complete, weirdly content, people have commented on the fact that I seem different…..I was challenged to tell my story to the church to thank Tough Talk, my mother in law, the church and to prove to God that I believe…but I didn’t…..Some time later, I found myself in front of the church telling my experience, no script completely off the cuff……I have since then opted to be baptised as another token of my belief….I have surrendered my life, body and soul for him to use as a tool to reach others as he did with me.

Here are some more excerpts from letters received from prisoners:

1: This man had read the Tough Talk testimony book and thought it to be “thought provoking and inspirational”. He was having a rough time in prison and he says… 

“During one of my bouts of self-pity, I was trying to figure out a way to get out of my cell I hit upon an idea……Chapel! I then had a chance meeting with the catholic priest on the landing and asked him to put me down for as much as possible….so he did. This is where the miracles in my life start…….I’m not writing this to say that give your life to Jesus and you will get what you want….its to share the amazing fact with you that I let God into my life, repented of my sins and an amazing chain of events and truths unfolded, and in that respect, prison is the best thing that has happened to me. I no longer, or ever will, live the selfish violent and materialist life I used to…..”

Its letters like this that keep us sharing the really good news of Jesus Christ!

2: “I have just finished saying the prayer in the back of your book, the stories of the three bouncers. As I finished saying this prayer, I had a tingling sensation come over myself and I could feel tears welling up in me.I have realised that I was living my life by the wrong set of morals and standards. I have never felt so compelled to do something as I do now writingthis letter.In my life IO have committed and participated in some dreadful that I feel a deep shame for…….I don’t know how Jersus can help me with this but I feel that I need to have him in my life……”

3: ” I attended the church service in chapel last week where you came and gave a talk. I have read the book you gave me and I’ve got to say its the most powerful set of stories I’ve ever heard………I loved the way you came across and I so want to change my life but I’m struggling. I wondered if you could perhaps write to me with some more information and some words to help me out!”

4: “I would like to say it was a pleasure to meet you when you came to my prison, I really enjoyed your testimonies. When I opened your book Tough Talk, I could not put it down. I used to keep it to read over lock-ups so as to enjoy reading it in peace. When I got back to the wing the rest of the lads came to ask me to pass it on to them to read. I was telling them all about the meeting.
I have been in and out of prison all my life and think its time I changed my life……its up to me to make a change for the better as I want Christ to become my Saviour…”

Extract from a letter from an inmate when he was in Norwich Prison:

“When I was in Norwich Prison I met with Arthur White and Ian McDowall and I shared my story with them. They told me about this love and forgiveness from a special person called Jesus……..the story they told me touched me deeply and I then decided to go to chapel and after a while I got baptised…….since then I have been confirmed and my life has changed so much. I feel wanted and loved and like someone cares for me…….”
The new Tough Talk book is already affecting people who read it. This is an extract from a letter received from an inmate in Brixton prison:………

” I read both your stories from the Tough Talk book….they both touched me in different ways, but down to the same principle they related to me in the same way.They made me think of Christianity differently and now I want to give myself to God. I want to become a better person and really follow the word of Christ. I feel I am ready to accept Jesus as my Saviour……you showed me the light and now I know there is hope for me to touch the light…”

Here are some extracts from a letter received from an inmate in HMP Northumberland:

“I have recently took the time to read your book……I will admit that prior to reading the book I was fast in judging people who say they had found Jesus whilst in prison……..Whilst reading the book I felt that I have been in some of the same situations that the men have been involved in………I continued to read on …and then had a strange overwhelming feeling come over me….At first I thought I may have been sitting in a window area where a breeze may be coming in…..but all the windows were shut…I was rather spooked so I decided to read the previous page again and had the same reaction to the paragraph.
I have spoken to the Chaplain about this experience….he believes it was the Spirit of the Lord coming to me. I have read the book again and I have felt this experience again so I do believe the Lord has in fact tried to communicate with me……

I have since felt that I have more understanding of myself….I am also beginning to make choices that previously I would not have thought twice about….I am more honest and open with my family and I am more relaxed and feel better about myself…”

Here is another example of how the Lord is working amongst prisoners…

“I was put into care at 5 years of age….it was a hard life….in some homes I was beaten by the staff…later, I got in trouble with the police….. I then joined the Army and was doing well but had to be medically discharged. I broke down and hit rock bottom, started doing stupid stuff and then I heard this voice in my head and it said “give your life to me and you will be saved from your sin”.

I was pretty freaked out so I went to church and spoke to a Rev and we prayed and I asked Jesus to come into my life. Thats when my life changed for the better……I have done the Freedom in Christ course and I was a assistant leader on a course called Steps to Freedom. And now I am a group leader on the Alpha course. I have experienced the power of healing after I confessed my sins and forgave people. Praise God!

I would love it if Tough Talk could come and share their faith with us here please”

 

We have received an exciting letter from a pastor in Botswana…..here is an extract from what he told us:

 

” I was an inmate in HMP Hewell when you guys visited to encourage and empower us and that was the beginning of great things in my life. After your visit I made up my mind that if God can do that for you guys my case was simple and God can do more about my life….the “Giant and General” inside me said the devil is a liar and I purposed in my heart that I am going to make him pay for allowing me to go to prison and meet you guys……..From that time I knew there was a purpose and I stopped complaining about being in prison and I stopped calling myself a prisoner but an inmate because I was inside the walls of a prison but not chained. I realised that a prisoner is someone bound spiritually not physically…….I studied  the Word of God…and I had a revelation that turned my life upside down.God told me to call the prison a training barracks for his Generals….I was there to be trained for christian ministry. I am home now, married, an ordained Pastor, a founder of a ministry and am writing a book on how God used prison to change my life.

 

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Another example of the value of the Tough Talk books from a letter from an inmate in Rochester:

I would just like to say a massive thank you for your letters and copies of Tough Talk 2 and the New Testament.

I was about to read the copy of the bible so I thought to myself lets ask God a question. So I did. and the question was if you are really real like people say. I’m going to flick through your bible with my eyes closed and stop and point to something, anything that will make me believe, know you are real. He did in a big way – he showed me John 16 verse 31……. “Do you now believe”….

If it wasn’t for your first book I would still be a complete *****idiot, following false ideals……God has been prodding me, calling me, knocking on my door for the last 30 to 40years but I have ignored him…..but when I saw your book on the shelf it was screaming at me…. READ ME…. fulfil your destiny….I could not put it down.

Here I am, feeling calm, warm and loved by someone I don’t know but who knows me better than I know myself.

Thankyou for your books……..

 

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Here is a testimony from a young man in The Mount prison:

“For the past 2 months I have been at my lowest point in life with depression and anxiety……I was picking some books to read in my cell ..but it was as if someone told me to pick up a “Tough Talk” book. I am not much of a reader but from the first page it was as if I was sucked into both your stories. I did not put the book down until I read it all. Your stories have taught me that no matter what we do, if we believe in God he will guide us through the bad times to the good times…..he will help me overcome any fears or doubts and show me the man he wants me to be.
I prayed straight after reading your book and all my anger, fear isolation has gone away all in the last 20 minutes. Without you both and Tough Talk I would not have this new sense of hope in God….thank you again

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We recently received this encouraging text message from a former young offender:

” Seen you guys  in Polmont Young Offenders Institution in Scotland in 2008/9.  Your ministry is amazing!  I am now walking with God  and helping to lead a church.

God was on my case around that time and He used you guys and others to draw me in.

Keep up the good work. May God  continue to bless your work.”

 

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The Lord continiues to use our book Tough Talk…we just received this from an inmate:

I have always believed in God and regularly prayed throughout my life but I have never read the Bible…..yet I feel I have been blessed and had someone to watch over me.

Recently it seems as though God is trying to reach me. I didn’t know that Tough Talk was a religious book I thought is was a book about ex-villains. After reading it, I prayed and asked God that if He was trying to reach me, make it blindingly obvious because I’m thick. ………..;The next morning,  you are on the BBC because the Christian cinema advertisement got banned. Is that coincidence? Has the fact that the last 3 books I have picked up had Christian messages been a coincidence?…or is God trying to offer me help to lead a better life?

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Preaching the gospel is often about sowing seeds. Here is a testimony from a young woman who received the seed many years ago and it has now brought forth fruit:

Because my Mum insisted, I reluctantly went to Notting Hill Carnival in 2003 when I was only 10 years old. At one stage in the day we noticed a long queue outside a tall building and out of curiosity joined it. We soon realised it was a church. We went in and after the praise and worship had finished, I was taken by surprise when a group of strong men known as Tough Talk came up on stage and began to lift heavy weights. This was definitely something I had never seen in a church before. The members of Tough Talk each shared their stories of how God had given them the strength to break free from the tough situations they were once in, including drug and alcohol addictions, crime and depression.

However, what grabbed my attention was one of the leaders of Tough Talk saying “you are not a Christian just because your family are Christians, you’re also not a Christian just because you go to church on a Sunday”. As a child, I was brought up in a Christian family and attended church every Sunday, I thought I knew it all and had my ticket to heaven passed on through my family. But to hear that wasn’t the case took me by surprise.

The leader of Tough Talk then went on to say “Those things do not make you a Christian, you must make a personal choice to accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour and ask him personally to have a relationship with him. No one can do this for you, it’s a personal choice you have to make from your own heart with your own mouth”.  He then gave everyone the opportunity to make that personal decision to accept Jesus and become a follower of Jesus.  After this revelation, I chose to make my own personal decision to be a Christian and know Jesus for myself.

I am now 22 and my relationship with Jesus has been so much more intimate since this experience. Jesus is my friend when I’m in need, He is my healer when I am sick, He is the only person I seek to please, He is the one who shows me how to live and love. Jesus has continued to amaze me with his provision, grace and love.

I am now a Youth Worker and Sunday school teacher, so I can teach other kids, who were like me, to seek their own personal relationship with Jesus.

I’m very glad my mum forced me to go Notting Hill Carnival that day and very grateful for Tough Talk’s amazingly unique  demonstration of who Jesus really is.

 

 

************************************************************************How about this message from our friends in Bangor Elim?

………….a couple at our church meeting this morning shared that they gave their lives to Jesus the night that Tough Talk took our service. He has transformed their lives, they were living together and have since got married. Praise God!!!!

 

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Here is a letter from an inmate in Deerbolt prison

“When you came to Deerbolt prison and you told everyone about your story when you were growing up I was thinking this guy is lieing about his story but when I got back to my pad I read your book and it was the best book Ive read. It has changed my life because I was thinking if god could change his life then mayby he could change mine. So I prayed and told god to forgive me and I give my life to him so when Im felling down I pray to god and I fell much better…..many thanks for the life changeing talk it has helpped me in my time of need”

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We recently received this amazing letter, but the prisoner did not tell us which prison he is in so we could not follow it up

“I read your book and this book made me turn to Jesus Christ and welcome him into my life. If it wasn’t for your book I would never of done this and welcoming Jesus into my life has changed my life for the better.

I am 18 yrs old and sadly my daughter passed away in 2014 this was the worst day ever I went mental after this…fighting for no reason, robbing people, I was a nasty piece of work……I was swept off the streets and brought to prison. I never believed in god I thought if he was real why would he take my daughter away. Then I read your book, then I got a bible and I read it then realised everything happens for a reason…….I went from reading the bible to going to the chapel and prayed and was prayed for….when I read the prayer at the end of your book things started to change,,,the way I felt, the way I spoke to people I was asked if I wanted communion in my cell…I jumped at the opportunity…..the priest put his hand on my head and before I knew it my head went hot and rushed through the whole of my body I dropped to my knees tears streaming down my face and I couldn’t stop. I then opened my eyes and I felt like a new person inside…….I got baptised….I cannot thank you enough you should all be proud, your book has changed many other peoples lives.

I am still serving my sentence, but when I get out I will be a new man and I will share my story”

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Here is another very encouraging letter from a prisoner who heard Tough Talk in prison many years ago:

” ……..I thank you belatedly for the seed your “Tough Talk” in prison planted in my heart and mind some 14 years ago. I didn’t see it for what it was at the time cos my heart and mind were consumed with anguish and issues. Its only since I put the flame of such anguish out and filed my issues in their appropriate folder of the mind that your seed had its chance to grow and flourish! I have also gone back to my deep rooted family belief in Christianity that stems back so many years………The new me not only has found God in my life again after many years but I also plan to do a lot of church work and charity work with my spare time as I already have started from within prison….”

 

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Here is another story of how reading  the Tough Talk book has helped a man come to faith in Jesus Christ

I have just read your book and I have to say “what a read!” Totally inspiring book. It inspired me to change my ways…….It all started when I got a job in the prison’s Health Care and the nurse was talking to me about Jesus……some of the things she was saying made sense to me. And we talked about Jesus for a while and I felt relief and warmth inside. Then she offered me the Tough Talk book…..I got into your book straight away. I started saying a prayer in my head asking God and Jesus for forgiveness. I even said the prayer at the back of the book and when I said it I could feel shivers down my spine….Yesterday  I sensed something like a voice that said send a letter and let Tough Talk know what your situation is so that’s why I’m writing this letter……I’m looking to Jesus for guidance and help……do a prayer for me, it would help”

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How about this for an amazing testimony from an inmate in Swinfen Hall prison!!

“I was in my cell with no TV. I picked up a Bible and started scanning it, Never fought nothing of it and went back to staring at the walls laying on my bed. But sumthin was tellin me to do a prayer. First time Ive done this and never really knew what 2 say but as I started words just flowed out of my mouth, I asked God to forgive me for my sins and to come into my life and told him I give my life to him and really meant it. All of a sudden it felt sumthin amazing. At peace. Sumthin to live for as Ive tried topping myself due to stress and my case. I could feel it rushing threw my body and better than any cokeiane ever B4. Went back to my Bibnle and found gospel of Luke 6:27…..love your enemies. Be good to every 1 that hates you. Previous I was fighting with some lad,,next thing I was praying for him to be blessed  then I felt the same feeling again it was great. Ive committed myself to Bible studies and stuff Im trying to learn as much about God as I can and get a better relationship with him. I really want this…just need a bit of guidance. Please write back soon”

 

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