Jonathan Bellamy heard Anthony Bostock's story.

Anthony Bostock
Anthony Bostock

Anthony Bostock grew up in fear of his dad. This fear turned to anger and eventually to a life of violence and crime. However following a period of questioning the value and purpose of his life and a chance encounter with a Christian prisoner, he encountered Jesus and his life completely turned around. Jonathan Bellamy spent time with him, hearing his story.

Jonathan: While you're in prison this final time, it's a very different experience. You had a very different encounter this time around, tell us what happened in prison.

Anthony: It was actually the time before the last time. This might get a little bit confusing, but while I was on a waiting sentence for the conspiracy charge, I was sent to prison for a small amount of time for another smaller charge.

On this smaller sentence, I'd actually taken drugs into prison for friends who were in prison, but while I was there, I started to ask myself, I'm 31, what's life all about? Where am I really at? Yes I've got this name for myself and I've got this crazy lifestyle and I've got the things that come along with that, like the material things, women and money, but what have I really got? That was the question that was ringing true with me.

While I was in prison on this smaller sentence, I saw a guy who I used to sell drugs to, who was a very, shall we say, strong drug addict. He was withdrawn in his face, he was scruffy and he was all these things that drug addicts are. However he was clean. He had got a lot of weight on and there was something in his eyes that I was like, "What's happened to you?" He said that he'd met Jesus.

I probably broke out in roaring laughter that this had happened in his life, but then he invited me to the chapel. That's when I threatened to strike him and told him to get away from me. But it resonated in my mind and I thought maybe I will go along to the chapel, because I was never an uneducated guy. I knew a little bit about everything, but a lot about nothing. I knew different things about evolution and how I thought the world had formed and about the White Cliffs of Dover and the make-up of the Grand Canyon and far away galaxies and how much time it takes the light to travel. I'd got these things inside of me and I went and started to ask questions at the chapel and they didn't know any answers. What I did see though, is in this time that they were unable to answer my questions, they poured love on me and that made me very angry. So when I go back to my cell I'd ask myself the question, why are they giving love to me, but I'm giving anger to them? Now I see that God was drawing me.

When I was released, I was faced with all these options of going back into the lifestyle that I led, but I had this seed that had been planted in prison; this question mark in my head, of what if God really is real. So I got down on my knees in a back bedroom of a house, that I'd actually prayed in before as a young man with my grandad, and I asked God into my life. I said, "God if you're real, I want to have that relationship that these people said that they've got with you." I can only say that what happened in the coming five days was miraculous. My eyes opened, I started to see things like I'd never seen them before. The sky wasn't the sky that had been with me for these 32 years. It was just, wow. I'd started to look at flowers, birds and everything and I was seeing God in His creation.

I started to come away from the people who had so much influence on my twenties. That's when God led me to a church. It was a church in the city called Breathe City Church and a great pastor by the name of Paul Jukes. I walked into his church and he informed me that God had influenced him to pray for me 18 months previous to me walking in this church. At the time I thought he was crazy. I thought how can this possibly happen? But I see now that God had put a forerunner in my life that was praying for me, because who else in the world was actually praying for me?

In this period of time while I was awaiting sentencing for my last time in prison, I met a man called Simon Edwards and God put us in one another's lives. Simon was a category D prisoner, but he'd been in prison for just over eight years and he didn't know what it was like to come walking back out on the streets. He came to do his placement at the church and God put me in his life, so I could show him what it was like on the streets nowadays. I saw the two sides of it though, that I was going back to prison and Simon had just done five years as a Christian in prison. He was educating me on this is what it's like to be a Christian in prison. So for the last time in prison, I went back with no drugs, but with the gospel and Jesus.

Jonathan: That's an amazing story, so tell us how long were you in prison, for that final sentence?

Anthony: The final bit was just shy of two and a half years.

Jonathan: Tell us about those two and a half years.

Anthony: God massively moved. I went to one of the most high profile prisons in this country, a prison by the name Winson Green, HMP Birmingham. I'd not been to this prison before, but we'd heard the horror stories about it. I'd just spent five and a half months under the wing of a very educated pastor and Simon, who was just a crazy bonkers Christian and loved Jesus Christ, so I knew my stuff. So I'm asking God, "Why am I here? Why haven't you stepped in and got me to a different prison?"

As I got into the prison, He showed me two men who were by any standards ginormous and He said, "You're here to preach the gospel to them two." I ran a million miles in the opposite direction, but God very quickly moved and He got me a job that's one of the best jobs in the prison. It was the job of a cleaner and it's one of the best jobs because you're always out of your cell. While other people are locked up, you're out and you're on the wings and you're getting to go to everybody's door and get up to no good, which is what I would have done before.