We were playing with this group called Boys Like Girls. It was kind of like a teeny boppers rock band. His (a preacher), daughter wanted to go. He said; “I’m not going to let you go.” So, finally, he told his daughter; “I will go with you.” We just happened to be on the bill that night. Somebody said something from the stage. He said; “Okay, we are out of here.” He went to leave and he heard the Lord speak to him saying; “I died for those guys. I love those guys.” He was like, “Okay God, what do you want me to do? Who do you want me to talk to?” He said; “You see that kid over there with the purple bangs, (speaking about me), I want you to go talk to him and tell him about me.”
At age twenty I ended up linking up with another local band from Grand Rapids, Michigan called Pop Evil. Next thing you know we have a couple of music videos out. We’ve got five top-ten singles. We went from being a small band in Grand Rapids to opening up for Judas Priest and Three Doors Down, playing twenty thousand seaters, ten thousand seaters every night. In the midst of that comes along everything that comes with it. You know, drugs, alcohol, women, debauchery, craziness and the party life. It’s fun for a minute or so you think it’s fun for a minute. It does not take long for that life to catch up with you. I was an addict, a drunk and violent. I didn’t want to live. I thought, what am I missing? What is going on?
I was standing backstage and this man tapped me on the shoulder. He said; “Hey, can I talk to you after the show?” He said; “I’m just going to be real with you, I am a pastor, Pastor Jimmy. I’m just going to be upfront. I would like to talk to you about Jesus. Can I do that?” I said; “Sure, why not?” After the show, I met with him. He said Tony; “What if I said to you that Jesus died for you and paid for your sins, then resurrected? What would you say to that?” I remember I looked away, double fisted with a drink in each hand. I looked away. I looked back at him and said; “Let me think about that and I will get back to you on that.” I went up and thought I’m going to relax. I had a bath going, sitting in the bathtub. I filled the bathtub up and for the first time in, I don’t know how long, it was quiet. I had a breakdown. It was a good breakdown. It was an I’m done, breakdown. I’m done running. I’m done hiding. I broke down and began sobbing in the presence of God. All that I could say was, “I’m so sorry. God, I’m so sorry, I didn’t know.” It was at that moment that I heard God speak to me. He said, “I created you for a relationship with me. It will never work without me.” I said, “God, twenty-six years of my life I did whatever I wanted to do, why would you forgive me?”
My passion and desire shifted. It changed. Keep in mind that nobody in the band has changed. Everybody is drinking, partying and doing the rock star thing. I’m laying in my bunk reading my Bible. I remember God speaking to me at that moment. He said; “Son, you have one foot in the world and you have one foot in my Kingdom. You have to make a decision.” I made a decision that night that I was leaving the band. I was leaving the music industry. I went home. I didn’t tell anyone that I was leaving. I packed a suitcase, grabbed a couple of guitars, threw them in my car and hit the road. I left the state of Michigan. Nobody knew where I was. Nobody knew where I was going. At that point, I wrote the band an email; I am leaving. I am done. This is nothing personal against you guys. I love you guys. This has to do with the call of God on my life.
My passion and my desire shifted. It changed. My desire was always to be a guitar player. I still love playing music. I still write songs and do that but when I began to read the Word, something changed on the inside of me. I have this desire to preach and share this Word. That began my journey with walking with Christ, following Him and discovering the call of God on my life.