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On November 7th 2013 a couple named Paul and Ruth of the Friday night LIfe Group made an entry in their hopeisdawning blog about Five Star Tony, a homeless Dutch man in Pattaya
“Paul and I first visited Victory International church on a weekend trip from Bangkok to Pattaya. At the end of that church service an invitation to come forward for prayer was given to people who wanted to put their lives right with God. Four men walked to the front of the church. Paul and I were amazed as this was not an evangelical type of message. One of the men looked a rough character. He had tattoos on his face and in my heart I said to myself “He will never make it.” Immediately the spirit of God rebuked me. “Don’t say that! I have called him.” I confessed my unbelief to God and promised God that I would pray for this man.
At the end of the service I approached him and asked him his name. “I’m Tony” he said in a heavy accent. I noticed he was trembling. I could smell the alcohol on his breath. I wrote his name in my notebook and prayed for him every day, that God would release him from the bondage of alcohol and that day by day his faith would grow. Paul and I returned to Bangkok.
Two weeks later we were back in Pattaya for another visit and I saw that Tony was at the church. He looked cleaner and seemed calmer. At the end of the service I said to him “I have a verse that I believe that God would have me give to you. It is the last verse in the part of the bible called the Old Testament.” I read it out to him “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” Tony’s eyes filled with tears. “I have not seen my children for many years” he said. “I’m ashamed to say I have not been much of a father to them. I don’t even know where they are.” “I am going to pray that you will be back in contact with them” I said.
The next time we visited Pattaya I asked Tony if he had any news of his children. He grabbed my arm joyfully and said “yes, my ex-wife rang me the other morning at 4:20 am!”
Now we live in Pattaya and Paul and I go to the same church home group as Tony. He is still living on the streets and still struggling with alcohol but God is moving in his life. Slowly but surely God’s love is touching his heart.”
This well known man got his nickname from his distinctive facial tattoo. He has had lived in Pattaya for nearly twenty years, the last three of those have been on the streets. Sadly, Tony, 44, passed away on Wednesday at 2am as the result of living failure after drinking himself into unconsciousness several days before.
Tony was part of a photo essay by Bangkok Coconuts last November into homeless foreigners in Thailand, he told them “I have been homeless for three years. In Holland I used to be an engineer. I put all my money here in Thailand. My first time in Thailand was 20 years ago. I just came for holidays, but then I got stuck into it. Alcohol, sex. But I met my wife here. So it wasn’t all bad. I used to be quite wealthy. I have two factories and lands. I have my own property that still exists. I was very high, and I hit the bottom.
My wife kicked me out after 13 years. I have two children, 10- and 8-years-old. I always have their photographs with me. I had the wrong friends, I guess. And the wrong life, too much bars and ladies. She got fed up.
Now I have my own business in the street. I help people, mainly tourists. A lot of them get robbed, or they have troubles with ladyboys. I help them get their money back, or their passport. I have connections with the police. So then I get commission from helping them out. I’m quite known here, by hotels, tuk-tuks, and so on. I make money in Pattaya, and I go to Jomtien to relax. Hopefully I have a valid visa. I get a lot of help and support from the church. Faith is very important in my life. They’ve been taking care of me for a long time. They give me guidance and support. They push me.
Also this association is helping me to see my kids. Step by step. I went to Bangkok three weeks ago to meet them after almost three years without seeing them.
I don’t ask for help from my family because they don’t know about how my life is. I have my pride. And my parents are old; I don’t want to worry them. My brother knows my situation though, but he’s not very helpful. Now my family is the church.
The consulate doesn’t help either. They tell you “call your family,” and if family doesn’t answer they say “call your friends.”
I adapted to street life quite well. But I don’t want to get used to it. It’s a hard life, I don’t live; I survive.
The most difficult thing is to find a decent place to sleep. I sleep everywhere I can, most of the time in empty buildings. I never stay in the same place; it’s too dangerous. Food is not a problem because Thai people are very generous. They help me a lot.
I always have to watch out for thieves, especially Thai mafia. They’re really not happy with my business. That’s why I always change places, so they can’t find me. I live a dangerous life. I have many friends, but I also have a lot of enemies. The tattoo on my face is to scare them. Like in the USA, people who have killed tattoo a tear. It means I don’t run away.
I got stabbed several times, even hit in the head. I run for my life. That’s why I never sit. I’m scared, but it’s a good thing. Being scared gets your head back together. I’m an optimistic person because I’m still alive even though I had to face very dangerous situations. Once I got a gun on my head. I’m a survivor.
Now I’m trying to get back to my old life. I want my wife to take me back, I hope in four months everything will be fixed and that I will get my properties back. It’s a hard thing to do because of corruption. But I’m working on it. And I still love Thailand.
Sadly that dream never came to fruition.