An interview with Rod Williams, author of 'The Real Deal'

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An interview with Rod Williams, author of 'The Real Deal'


Rod Williams grew up in a loving family, with a policeman for a father. Yet he found that his pursuit of a lifestyle that promised money, pleasure, power and popularity left him feeling broken, lost and desperate. As a drug dealer who became addicted to heroin and gambling, Rod saw his life spiral out of control and found himself in prison.

In his new updated edition of The Real Deal, Rod shares his powerful story of how God turned his life around.

Rod Williams is a passionate evangelist who has committed his life to reaching the lost with the message of hope and healing that is found in Jesus Christ.

Rod, could you tell us a little about yourself?

I live in Bradford with my wife Kate and two daughters, Annaliese and Chloe. I recently moved on from working at Christians Against Poverty after 13 years where I had the privilege of being part of their evangelism and discipleship team. As an evangelist I had the perfect role at CAP. Not only did I get to equip the saints in evangelism, but I also got to speak at outreach events across the UK supporting local churches who ran a CAP service.

I’m also a professional magician and regularly perform at weddings, corporate events and charity functions. I also do freelance work for RightNow Media – the world’s largest media platform for Bible study videos.

In 2014 I set up Real Deal Ministries when the first edition of my book The Real Deal was published. Under this ministry I continue to do the work of an evangelist through outreach events, going into prisons and raising money to get free copies of my book into prisons. I am passionate about people hearing the good news of Jesus Christ,  because in 2002 whilst serving prison sentence for drug offences in Guernsey, I encountered the love of God that radically transformed my life. My whole world was changed, and I have been on an adventure with God ever since.

This is the 10th anniversary edition of The Real Deal. Why did you want to write the book originally, and why was it important to bring your story up to date now?

Reading testimony books were a massive link in the chain in me becoming a Christian. There is something powerful about real-life stories. I wanted to write the book originally because I wanted people, especially those in prison, to know that there was hope, and for them to get a better understanding of who God was and how he could help them in their time of need. Now, ten years since my book was published, so much has changed, and I feel it is important for people to see that when you walk with God it is an ongoing miraculous adventure. One thing that has happened which I talk about in one of the additional chapters is how my wife and I got approved to adopt and how we went on to adopt a beautiful baby girl who has Down Syndrome. With my criminal record and drug convictions as well as serving time in prison, to get approved was a massive thing, but God made a way.

Who have you written this book for?

I believe everyone can get something from this book and that’s the most common feedback I get. Of course, it will inspire and give hope to those who find themselves in addiction, prison or just feeling helpless with no sense of direction in life. But it will also encourage family members and friends of those who are in addiction, remind them that there is a God who is able to do the impossible, and to persevere in prayer. It’s a book that Christians can give out as an evangelistic tool to anyone who needs Jesus, as the gospel is clearly communicated throughout.

You admit that you made a series of bad choices in your early life. Can you outline some of these in a little detail and do you think there was a reason that you went down this path?

It’s true, we will always become the product of the environment that we place ourselves in. In my mid to late teens, I made choices that put me in places where drugs were being used. It wasn’t long before I started to experiment and very quickly embraced the party lifestyle. It was one bad choice after another for a number of years. I started to deal drugs, smuggle drugs and was consuming everything that I got my hands on. By the age of 23 I was addicted to heroin and had lost practically everything and was in debt due to a gambling addiction. This path took me to prison when I was 24.

There could be multiple factors or reasons that I could point out that took me down that path. When I was 8 or 9 years old I would, without my parent’s knowledge, gamble on fruit machines in the local café. I was enticed by the lights and sounds and possibility of winning money. That’s all I would think about until my parents found out and put a stop to it. Maybe I had opened a door back then which meant I was more susceptible to gambling and addiction later on in life.

Your family dynamics are perhaps a little different to most people who end up in prison – having both a police officer and prison officer as relatives. Can you just tell us a little about how your addictions and lifestyle affected your family?

Our choices always have consequences whether good or bad. It’s always our loved ones that must live out the consequences of our choices. My choices destroyed my relationship with my family. I became unrecognisable to them. They witnessed my life deteriorate in every area. It caused great concern, stress and worry. The felt helpless. My mum and stepfather’s house would often get raided and searched by police. I was named and shamed (on many occasions) in the local press on Guernsey which brought with it embarrassment to my family as the island is so small. Addiction destroys families, it’s fact.

Was there a particular moment when you knew you needed Jesus in your life?

It happened when I was at my lowest, in a very dark place internally and externally. When I was first remanded in prison to await sentencing, I had a lot of time by myself to think. I hated the person I had became and I hated the pain that I had caused my family and loved ones. I wanted to change but didn’t know how to.

As I started to read testimony books that my mum and dad had sent me, I began to feel a sense of hope. I was reading about gang members, addicts and criminals, and how Jesus Christ had transformed their lives; the hardest of hearts being melted by the love of God, supernatural miracles taking place, new beginnings and fresh starts. Reading about how God was using these individuals to make a difference in other people’s lives really inspired me and gave me hope about my future. I began to consider Jesus Christ and everything that I had heard about the Christian faith growing up. My parents were Christians and I had been brought up to go to church. I recognised my need for God and that Jesus was the way to have a relationship with him. I knew I needed to repent and ask for forgiveness. That’s what I did, one night in my cell in June 2022; I cried out to God, and he heard me, forgave me and gave me a brand new start. The peace I experienced was what I had been searching for up until that moment. That was the start of my adventure with God.

Can you just share a little about the difference Jesus has made to your life?

There is so much. He literally has given me a brand new life. He has forgiven me. He has given me a love for people that I had never had before. His grace has empowered me to live a life that isn’t dominated by addiction anymore. He has brought reconciliation between me and my family. He has healed me from my mental and emotional instability. Jesus has given me purpose and blessed me with an amazing wife and family. It’s true, when you put Jesus first he adds so much more to your life. Everyone needs to experience the abundant life that comes from knowing Jesus.

You are now involved in prison ministry. Can you tell us a little about this – what you do and the difference it makes?

Through fundraising I send free copies of my book into over 80% of prisons in the UK. The feedback I get from prison chaplains and prisoners is always positive. I wrote the book to give people hope for their situation and that’s what I’m always told it does. I also get to go into prisons and share my story. This is always a highlight. On every occasion there is a response to the gospel where inmates personally encounter the love and presence of God. There is a real openness and it’s so encouraging to see. I love working with the chaplains who often update me on how my book is having an impact.

How can we best pray for those in prison?

Pray for open and receptive hearts. Pray for wisdom for the chaplains, that they will take every opportunity to show and share the love of Jesus. Pray that God will set prisoners’ hearts on fire for the gospel and that they will become red hot evangelists in the prison leading many to Jesus. Pray that prisoners will experience healing from their past, their addiction, mental torment and will begin to see that they have a future.

Do you have one piece of advice for parents or anyone watching a loved one making bad choices in their lives?

If you are a Christian parent, then the best thing you can do is pray and be persistent. Your prayers will move the heart and hand of God. Also, get others praying as well. Be there for them when they come to their senses (like the son in the prodigal son story) and do whatever it takes to get them the help and support they need. Give them relevant testimony books as they may just read it at a point of desperation and could inspire change. The hardest decision is to let go, even though more often than not that’s the best decision. That’s why trusting God is vital.

As well as your Real Deal Ministry you are also an illusionist. How did that come about and what do you love about doing this?

I was interested in magic/illusions from a very young age and saw the power performing tricks had to connect with people. I would show my school friends card tricks at break times, and it felt good seeing the amazement and astonishment on their faces. When I worked for Christians Against Poverty as their lead evangelist, I went on the road  for 6 years performing my show at churches who would put free events on for their clients. I did over 300 events during that time and continue to do them now under Real Deal Ministries. I find doing an illusion/magic show at the start acts as a good ice breaker and people warm towards me. So, when I share my story at the end there is already a connection. The fruit I have seen from these events has been phenomenal. That’s what I love the most, seeing people respond to the Gospel and hearing stories of how they have continued in the faith. God has given us all different talents that we can use for evangelistic purposes, it’s amazing.

What was the most challenging element of writing the book?

Remembering the timeline of certain events and having to relive some of those events in my mind. It brought back the reality of how messed up I was and the emotional pain I caused to so many people.

And what was the most rewarding element of writing this book?

Without a doubt hearing the many stories of people who have found hope in Christ from reading my book - people from all over the world! My story was told in an Australian documentary as my book was one of the most requested in Australian prisons. When I hear stories like this it’s so encouraging. Only God can do that.

Have you learnt anything new/ been reminded afresh about God/ your faith while writing this book?

The faithfulness of God. His faithfulness always astounds me. Even when we are not faithful, he always is. Ten years on since the first publication there were so many events that I was able to share in the additional chapters, so many God stories. So yes, I have been reminded that the journey God takes us on is ongoing, that he never leaves us or forsakes us and that he does open doors that no man can shut.

What do you hope readers will most get out of reading this book?

Ultimately, I want people to encounter and experience God’s unconditional love and that The Real Deal can be a link in the chain of this happening. As I’ve said already, I want people to know that there is hope for their situation or the situation that their loved ones have found themselves in. I want Christians to have a faith lift and for them to begin to believe for the impossible in their own world.

In one sentence, how would you describe The Real Deal?

An edge of the seat rollercoaster ride of a journey that sees a life rescued from the grip of addiction.

Is there anything we can pray for you?

Pray that many more copies of my book can be distributed into prisons and that God will provide the resources for this to happen. Pray that God will help me as I finish writing my new evangelistic show ‘Beyond the Illusion,’ that many churches book the show and that many people will start the faith journey as a result.

Authentic Media

Authentic Media is a UK Christian publishing house committed to delivering quality Christian books, music and film to help people on their journey of faith. They are based in Milton Keynes.

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