‘My name is Anton Dumitrescu, but I am usually called Tony. I was born in 1967 to a Romanian army general and his wife in the capital city of Bucarest – one of four (I have three sisters), though I was reared by my maternal grandmother.
When I was old enough (fourteen) I joined the navy college but was expelled in my third year for bad behaviour and therefore did not complete my training. I spent a short term in a young offenders’ prison. At this time my life seemed like a kind of jungle, ruled by forces I could not understand.
As time went on I began to read books on philosophy and the lives of great figures in history. I wanted to become an artist, but found I had little talent.
Around about my mid-twenties I began to live a pointless life, drinking heavily, and was convinced that the answer to life, the secret of happiness, was money! The quickest way to get money was crime, so I planned a robbery but ended up spending nine years and eight months in prison.
After leaving prison I won a literature competition, which was a high point in my life, though my life was anything but settled, and I had many broken relationships. I went on to become the leader of a Nazi gang, but I was full of anger, anxiety and frustration. I seriously considered suicide. A good friend, a nun, advised me to seek solace in a monastry, so for a full year I became a monk. This was a difficult, even brutal, time intellectually.
‘I opened my heart to Jesus Christ… and became a new person.’
Upon leaving the monastry I got married but eventually that too broke up and I began to wander around the continent of Europe. I finally ended up in Birmingham, living rough on the streets. It was here, at an extremely low point in my life, after crying out to God, that I met ‘God’s angel’, Richard Mansell, who worked for BCM. I met him on New Street and later I opened my heart to Jesus Christ, received his forgiveness and became a new person (2 Corinthians 5:17).
I have now found my true family in my church and at BCM, where I work as the cleaning man. I also do voluntary work at the Care Centre. I live in Halesowen with a Christian family. From now on I only want to serve God and bring him pleasure and glory. Hallelujah!’