Paul Jones: The broadcaster's journey from militant atheist to Christian convert

Friday 28th May 2010

Tony Cummings gives the first of a two part report on the life and beliefs of veteran UK musician, actor and broadcaster PAUL JONES

Continued from page 1

Also around this time Paul was beginning to realise that he was no longer a hardcore atheist. "My attitude had always been that I was really too intelligent to become a Christian. I thought Christianity was a sort of crutch for people who were unable to cope." The singer/actor had become very interested in art and spent considerable time looking at many of the old masters in art galleries. "I began to see in some of the pictures spiritual qualities that were more than just good art. God is amazing - he deals with you where you are. He met me at my level. I started talking to myself about spiritual things."

Paul Jones and Fiona Hendley
Paul Jones and Fiona Hendley

Paul had all the gigs he could manage with The Blues Band, his regular appearances at the national Theatre and work as a TV presenter. Not surprisingly, it became too much. He comments, "The Blues Band and the National Theatre had just got too much for me and I collapsed - obviously something had to go." After a farewell album, appropriately titled 'Bye-Bye Blues' and released in 1983, The Blues Band were laid to rest. But many things were changing in Paul's life, not least his spiritual life. Fiona describes the next stage of her and Paul's spiritual journey to journalist Derek Green. "I just felt there was a hole in my life that needed filling, and I realise now that only God could fill that space." One hot day Fiona strolled into a London church - just to get a break from the heat and to rest awhile. It happened to be All Souls, Langham Place. "I just picked up a Bible," she explains, "and I found myself reading John chapter three verse 16, where it says that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son. . . I was just blown away by that Scripture, where it went on to say that anyone who believes will have eternal life." She discussed the event with Paul and said she felt she would like to go to that church for a service. To her amazement, Paul said he wanted to go with her.

Both Paul and Fiona were hugely impressed with the welcome they found at All Souls. At the door the minister Michael Lawson invited them to his home so they could discuss their questions. They accepted the invitation and this was the start of their journey into a real Christian experience. They both realised that they were very unhappy in their existing relationships and felt that their love for each other was growing. So they left their partners and moved into a flat together. "At the time it seemed right," Fiona explains. "Neither of us felt the need to make a commitment to each other in marriage at the time - we had both been hurt in previous relationships and felt that there was always the chance something better might turn up." They continued to spend time with Mike Lawson and their interest in spiritual things gradually grew. Then one day in 1984 Paul and Fiona had a telephone call from Cliff Richard, who invited them to listen to Luis Palau at White City.

Says Paul, "Cliff wasn't singling us out. I believe he was just being obedient to God because I think that the Lord told him to get as many people in show business as he possibly could to go and hear Luis Palau. And indeed I think he invited something like a gross of people - disc jockeys, singers, musicians, actors, all kinds of people. And large quantities of them did go actually, partly on the generous basis of being offered a dinner afterwards. And basically what happened was Luis was his usual evangelical thrilling best and Fiona said to me, 'Well, we'd be absolute lunatics not to take this opportunity.'" They both felt they wanted to respond to the invitation to go to the front to accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour, but they discussed it briefly and both felt they needed to talk first. "We realised that we were living such selfish lives," Fiona explains. "We were not committed to each other or to God." At the end of the service Paul asked Fiona to marry him and she agreed. Soon after, they both made a firm commitment to Jesus Christ.

Remembers Paul, "The first thing we did was to ring up the church and ask if we could get married and they said yes, that would be fine. How soon could you do it? So we got that sorted and obviously we started to take our Christianity seriously. Actually, I had an idea about leaving show business completely because I suddenly started to see the kind of life that I had been leading as insupportable really. And I thought, Well, the best thing I can do is just leave show business. I'm not saying that I was at the extreme end of sex, drugs and rock and roll. But nonetheless I'd been living a life of sin. There's no two ways about it. Rebellion of every political kind really. I'd been smoking pot and womanising and stuff and I think, cheating, you know the sort of thing - not being too scrupulous about finance. Let's put it that way. I just thought well, I can't live like this."

Paul's idea that he would have to leave the world of showbiz was challenged at a meeting he had with All Soul's Michael Lawson. "Michael asked me what I would do and I said I like books and reading and I could get a job as a librarian. Michael pointed out that if God had wanted to save a librarian, he would have saved one. The point was not lost on me! I realised I was to employ the gifts God had given me and so I went back to work."

*Part 2 of this article will cover Paul's continuing musical career both with The Blues Band, The Manfreds and as a solo artist and the establishment of Paul's ongoing speaking and music ministry with Fiona. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Tony Cummings
Tony CummingsTony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.

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Reader Comments

Posted by Margaret Davidson in Dron gan East Ayrshire Scotlan @ 01:37 on Nov 4 2017

Paul Jones and his Blues band are pure and simply....Excellent....Gaiety Theate Ayr...

Posted by Andy Coomar in Watford @ 01:46 on Jun 10 2017

I used to tour with Helen Shapiro from 1993-2003 on her Gospel Evening presentation and met Paul and Fiona at a Christian gig in Eastbourne. I would dearly love to make contact again with a view to inviting Paul and Fiona to present an evangelistic evening of music and testimony at our home church in Carpenders Park, Watford. We've just had a reallu successful evening with Dave Scott-Morgan (Ex ELO). Can you kindly pass this message on. Blessings! Andy

Posted by Anne in Wales @ 17:40 on Apr 2 2017

Such a lovely person Paul, always had a very soft spot for you in the 60s and I believe you are probably the best male role model of the last few decades. May you be hale and hearty for many more!
God bless you and your wife,

Posted by adam in tweedbank @ 14:27 on May 23 2015

Thank you both for the message of truth and hope. It was good to meet you. I hope the sound wasn't too bad for you. Adam.

Posted by George Haines in Harrow @ 12:40 on Jul 14 2014

As a Christian I found the article very encouraging and exciting. Paul and Fiona were in the world and experienced all it has to offer and they were left unfulfilled and empty. Yet the Holy Spirit, the Councillor,
the bringer of truth, entered their lives and gave them hope. They seized the chance to know more about Jesus and He changed their lives forever! I hope they go on telling others about the Good News of Salvation through repentance and faith.

Reply by maureen leigh in Yorks @ 17:13 on Sep 13 2017

The Holy Spirit is called "counsellor" by the way. Check it's in the gospel of John and also Isaiah 9

[report abuse]

Posted by chris pitts in Colchester @ 19:33 on Apr 2 2014

Whatever Paul Jones or the ministry teams think they achieving with this type of blog I note this.
Christian celebrity, along with its capitalist music industry and the theatre that goes along with it, is doing about as mush good for the Jesus of history as a fly down Satan's toilet.

Posted by Jean in Northern Ireland @ 16:44 on Mar 25 2014

God changes lives. He has changed Paul's life as he did his namesake St. Paul. I was very impressed with the Songs of Praise programme re Paul.

The fool has said in his heart "There is no God".
Bible: Psalm 53 verse 1

Posted by julie jones in portsmouth @ 08:47 on Apr 2 2013

the best song i think he ever sang was come tomorrow watched it on an old clip of sound of the sixtes brilliant .

Posted by Romy Jones in London, UK @ 14:19 on Jun 7 2011

"Too intelligent to become a Christian."
Absolutely true.

Reply by Tim Constable in Coventry, UK @ 22:20 on Apr 5 2013

Presumably you agree with this attitude. Biblical Christianity makes complete sense spiritually, philosophically, psychologically, historically, scientifically, geographically, politically and personally. This is why it is so effective in changing people lives for good. To express an attitude otherwise only reveals complete ignorance of what Christianlty is all about. Any other topic people understand not to express opinions on a matter of which they are completely ignorant - how come Christianity is the sole area where this can happen? And I would remind you of a saying of Mark Twain: "Condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance".

[report abuse]

Posted by Romy Jones in London, UK @ 14:10 on Jun 7 2011

Just a theory but I don't believe anyone truly believes in any deities. If Jones really thought about it, he still feels exactly as he did when he debated Cliff Richard.

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