Redeemed: Gary Tan with wife Vanessa and their sons (from left) Nathan, Elijah and Reece
This photo shows a perfect family, but it wasn’t always like that.
Gary Tan tells his dramatic story
My name is Gary and I am 42 years young. I grew up in a family of non believers, in fact love and morals were few and far between during my upbringing. I left home at 14 and was fending for myself from then on.
Trying to fill this hole I had within me, I got involved with all sorts of bad things: alcohol, drugs, girls, money and crime, all to no avail.
I ended up with a 14-year heroin and crack addiction, which I could not stop. Needless to say, I spent three years of that time in prison, and landed in hospital twice from overdosing.
Finally, putting my hands up in surrender, I went in to residential treatment for six months, who later became my wife! But more of that later.
So I completed the treatment successfully and resettled in a new area, but within five weeks I was back into full addiction and basically living on the streets.
In sheer despair, I opened my heart to a sympathetic care worker. I revealed that I now felt worse after treatment, because of all the things I’d seen in myself while in there. What I saw was very ugly and I did not like it. I could not forgive myself for all the things I had done to myself and others.
The care worker told me that I needed God to forgive me. She gave me a New Testament and my life began from there. I would lie in bed and started to read it. No word of a lie – I could not put it down.
Verses would jump out at me like Mark 7:20-23. I was all those things. That was me!
The next verse to hit me between the eyes was Galatians 5:22 about the fruit of the Spirit: this was what I WANTED to be.
Well, there I was reading a book, which I’d known nothing about, and the book seemed to be reading me!
So I read on. I would read whole books at a time and something was lighting up in me. I would read things like: “Jesus Christ sets you free”.
Without knowing it was probably the first prayer of my life, I said inwardly, “Give it to me” – please.”
So without really knowing what I was doing, I asked Jesus into my life and he did indeed set me free.
Since then I have been drug free for seven years and to this day I cannot believe what the Lord has done for me. I have been married to Vanessa (the beautiful girl I met in treatment) for six years and we have three boys: Reece, 16, Nathan, 7 and Elijah, who is 4.
Vanessa, Reece and I have been baptised and the Lord has also put my hands to good work and blessed me with my own general building company, which he has sustained for the past six years.
Having all this in mind I am now running a Christian clothing and gift website, which my church, King’s Church Arundel, has prayed for (www.Gospelthreads.co.uk). The T-shirts are based on a strong message printed on them, enabling the wearer to reach out to people without actually talking to begin with. The ethos is “threading and spreading the good news”.
Through Jesus Christ, God has done so many miracles in my life I simply do not have enough time or space to tell of them all. Thanks be to him who saves. He was and is and is to come.