Tom Naemi was born in Baghdad, Iraq and came to the United States with his family as an 11 year old on Feb 23, 1967. They lived in Detroit. Naemi’s parents attended Mass every Sunday, he recalls his mother praying to the Lord.
“I became an altar boy and always prayed” Tom said.
As Tom grew up and worked in the family business, however, he became involved in the corrupt world of violently competing businesses. He and his competitors would to anything to bring down the other, to the extent of ransacking the store, physically beating up people and destroying the building with explosives.
In may 1990, Tom was sent to prison with an original sentence of 60-90 year – essentially a life sentence. For the first 10 years of his incarceration, he was filled with great anger. But as prison ministry volunteers visited and spoke with him, they encouraged him to seek to forgive the people he hated. This began a slow but sure move toward forgiveness and healing.
“I started to change as a person through this transformation” stated Tom.
As he became a more peaceful individual, Tom was moved to increasingly lower security prisons. Which also cut down his prison time.
While Tom walked the path toward healing and reconciliation in late 1999, several incidents happened that indicated to him that God had a greater plan for him.
Around this time Tom began having unusual dreams. These dreams revealed things about people that they had never told anyone else. It showed the need they had for prayer and healing. Realizing the dreams were sent by God, and after finding the means to contact the individuals, he would call them from prison and ask to pray for them. Those individuals would be healed shortly thereafter.
Tom attended a charismatic “Life in the Spirit” seminar at the prison over the course of a few months, and started becoming the joyful person he is today. Near the end of 1999, Tom found himself overcome with the joy and fire of the Holy Spirit. All while sitting on his cell bunk, after watching a preacher on TV ask whether the congregation had really given their lives to the Lord.
“At that moment I had a heart transplant” stated Tom. “I went from being a hard man to being like a marshmallow”.