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He wanted to die, but God had other plans. Miracles saved his life during his three suicide attempts and delivered him from addiction.

When he was just 24 years old, Tony Silveira was told he had only two more months to live. Not only was he incurably addicted to drugs, explained the doctors, but constant use of multiple drugs had poisoned his blood. How did he, a kid from a middle-class Portuguese family, end up here?

Free Indeed
Tony Silveira

Tony's rapid descent into drug addiction began at 13, when he realized he was the only boy in his class not smoking marijuana. At 14 he moved on to L.S.D. and then to heroin at 15. Over the next seven years, his drug use escalated. Tony finally understood the extent of his addiction when he began selling drugs to friends to support his habit. He desperately begged his parents for help and at 21 began his first of four rehab stints.

Even the best clinics and doctors could not alleviate Tony's thirst for drugs. He appealed to his church, but they were not equipped to help him; he felt lost and empty. At 24, overcome with despair, Tony decided to end his life.

He intentionally overdosed on drugs, praying that God would accept his soul—but Tony did not die. That same day, he slit his wrists multiple times—but the blood would not drain from his body. When his third suicide attempt failed, Tony became overwhelmed by the presence of God. After an overnight hospital stay, he attended a Pentecostal church service and gave his life unreservedly to God. From that moment onward he was completely delivered from drug addiction.

Tony spent a year healing at Teen Challenge, and three more there counselling addicts. Meanwhile, his ligaments "permanently" damaged from his suicide attempt healed completely, and his blood-poisoning disappeared. After two years of Bible school, Tony began planting churches; first in Portugal and then globally.

Now the senior pastor at Hamilton's multi-cultural Carisma Church, Tony and staff minister to those fighting addictions while offering services in three languages. Tony exults, "when Jesus sets you free, you are free indeed!"

Sheryl Petsche is a writer based in Hamilton, Ontario.

Originally published in the Beacon, July/August 2005.




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