Paul Malaty tells his story of losing everything only to discover the riches of life with God
I was born in Egypt but emigrated to the US in 1969, aged 23, where I began to live like a typical prodigal son. I got into business and had a clothing store, which kept getting robbed. Around 1979 I began to use cocaine. I did this for a year and a half and lost everything.
One day I went to my supplier to get some cocaine and he refused to give me any on credit. He told me that he respected me when I had a successful business, but now I was just a drug addict. I had hit rock bottom. Amazingly, the desire to do drugs left me from that moment.
I started a jewellery business and managed to hit on something that made me millions of dollars within five years. Then one day as I was driving from one jewellery show to another, with all the merchandise in a big van, I was ambushed on the freeway. Eight people in three cars shot at me and my assistant and my staff in a rental car. I pulled a gun and shot back at them and we started to run.
It was just us and them on the freeway. I started to think of the people I should have said goodbye to and hadn’t. I tasted death that day but somehow it didn’t happen. I got off the freeway in the van, drove against the traffic (so as to be noticed), until we arrived at a police station and found safety.
Two weeks later I returned to Egypt. I suspected that the attacks on my life were a punishment from God as a result of my lifestyle. I decided that if I got married and settled down rather than womanising, he might leave me alone. I was wrong! Because my motives for marriage were wrong I ended up marrying someone who made my life miserable, and me hers as well. She became pregnant and we separated. She returned to America. I started to go back to my old habits. I called an ex-girlfriend to come and stay with me in Egypt for three months.
One morning at 3am, I had just taken her to the airport to return home to the US, and I felt really depressed. I felt worse than dirt. I thought to myself, ‘Here I am, 48 years old and I’m still chasing one girl after another.’ I went out onto the balcony and said, ‘God if you’re there, heal me from this sin.’ I walked back into the flat and immediately felt completely transformed. An amazing peace came upon me and replaced the depression. I grabbed a Bible and started reading it and then went back to sleep.
The hunger for God began. I wanted nothing to do with the way I used to live. Shortly after that, I attended a conference where I committed my life to Jesus. I made a decision to follow him wholeheartedly. I continued to live in Egypt, attending church, serving God any way I could.
A new start
One day a friend phoned who had visited the UK and seen a girl in the worship team at a church who might be right for me as a wife. He encouraged me to pray about it. I prayed, made contact with her and came to the UK to meet her. Within 45 days Venus and I were married. We returned to live in the US. I continued in business and once again lost everything. But the more I lost, the more I became close to God.
One time Venus travelled to the UK to see her mother and I prayed and felt God telling me to go to England. I hadn’t liked it when I came to get married. So we came and now I love it. I began to go out and meet people on the streets and tell them about Jesus. And God began to touch people’s lives through that. I have never known such peace and contentment.
Relying on God
There was a time when I completely provided for myself. But since the time I committed myself to Jesus, he has never ceased to provide for me, in an amazing way, so that I lack nothing.
On 1 December 2016 I had a hernia operation and things went badly wrong. I ended up with a collapsed lung and pneumonia. Once again I saw myself dying. But God gave me back my life. Then on 29 December my son passed away, aged 24, after two years of suffering with a brain tumour. But God comforted me. On 15 January 2017, I was on the bus in Ealing on the upper deck and it was raining and the staircase was wet. I fell from the upper deck, landed on my head and shoulder at the bottom. I miraculously survived. I could have broken my neck and died. But God carried me.
I’ve learnt that God allows things to happen, but he never leaves you alone and he always brings good out of it in the end. What the Bible says about the character of God is so true: we are his children and whatever we can’t do, he can do for us.