Called out of darkness: Local evangelist, healer shares journey from anger to true joy
by Elizabeth Wong •
BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP — “Everything is redeemed by the power of the cross,” said Tom Naemi to the crowd filling the chapel of the Eastern Catholic Re-Evangelization Center (ECRC) on May 9.
“The moment you let the love of Christ come in, you start channeling the love of God,” said Naemi, who was about to lead the ECRC’s monthly healing service.
Praise and worship music began, and the crowd split into two lines in the chapel as people waited for Naemi and his prayer team to pray over and intercede for them. A monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament was placed on the altar — the focus of the evening’s prayer.
Naemi, a Chaldean Catholic who today works as a produce wholesaler, was not always this joyful and willing to pray with people.
Many years ago Naemi was filled with anger, and it was only through some extraordinary experiences with God — while in prison — that his life was turned around, and he found his true calling as an evangelist.
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, and Naemi’s parents attended Mass every Sunday, he remembers, recalling a hymn his mother would sing about the Blessed Mother.
“I became an altar boy, and always prayed,” Naemi said.
As Naemi 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 do 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, Naemi was sent to prison with an original sentence of 60-90 years — 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, which began, slowly but surely, to move him toward forgiveness and healing.
“I started to change as a person through this transformation,” he said.
As he became a more peaceful individual, Naemi was moved to increasingly lower security prisons — which also cut down his prison time.
Dreams, signs and wonders
While Naemi 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, Naemi began having unusual dreams.
These dreams revealed things about people that they had never told anyone else, he said, and that showed the need for prayer or healing. Realizing the dreams were sent by God, and after finding the means to contact the individuals, Naemi would call them from prison and ask to pray for them.
Those individuals would be healed shortly thereafter.
On one occasion, Naemi called a couple who was having marital difficulties. After revealing to them something he had learned in a dream — “which they never told anyone” — they agreed to talk and pray with him.
Naemi 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.
And near the very end of 1999, Naemi found himself overcome with the joy and fire of the Holy Spirit — incidentally 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,” Naemi said. “I went from being a hard man to being like a marshmallow.”
On March 10, 2000, God told Naemi to pray for a fellow inmate who had an injured wrist. While he and a group of inmates were watching a Pistons game on TV, the man complained of the pain in his wrist.
Naemi asked to pray for him, and though many of the other men laughed, the man’s wrist was healed the following day.
“I always thought the (charismatic) gifts were only for the apostles,” Naemi said. “A lot of Catholics think that.”
Naemi also became involved in making sure the prison facility had Mass for all of its Catholic inmates, and started leading Bible studies.
At one facility where he was moved, there was no Catholic Mass, only four Protestant services. After sending a request for a Catholic chaplain, Naemi was told he would need more than 10 inmates who also wanted one.
He brought 11 men for the first liturgy, and by the end of his time there, he was often bringing up to 60.
“God calls the greatest of all sinners to be disciples,” said Naemi, reflecting on his conversion, and likening it to the Samaritan woman at the well whom Jesus met.
Naemi was released and returned home Nov. 15, 2005, after 15 years and seven months.
Shortly following his new life outside of prison, Naemi began leading Bible classes at Chaldean parishes around Metro Detroit. People also began coming to him to be prayed over, with many apparently healed — including a nearly blind woman whose story of recovering her sight was recounted in the February edition of the Chaldean News.
“I watched God show me how to preach and evangelize,” Naemi said. “I’ve seen God heal everything, but he doesn’t heal them all,” he added. “I’ve seen cancer patients healed; those ready to die. I’ve watched guys get rid of crutches.”
Healing the community
One man in particular is especially grateful for the healing he received after being prayed over by Naemi.
Mark Jabow, who today lives in Sterling Heights with his family, was diagnosed with chronic colitis in 1997.
“In 2005 I was locked up on two gun cases,” Jabow recalled. He met Naemi for the first time that September when Jabow was sent to Naemi’s facility.
Naemi and Jabow were two of the four Chaldean inmates, and together they formed a small community that included cooking familiar foods together.
“I told them, ‘I can eat anything but spicy food,’” Jabow said. “Tom said ‘stop, that is the devil speaking, you can eat whatever you want.’”
When the food was ready, Jabow saw a large amount of jalapenos on his plate, and protested that he could not eat them.
“Tom said, ‘stop,’ and put his hand on my stomach and on my back, and prayed for five to 10 minutes,” Jabow said, explaining that his back became “burning hot; I’d never sweat like that. I was dripping with sweat.”
Naemi then told Jabow, “You can eat anything.”
“I said, ‘what is that guy talking about?’” said Jabow. But he was released in December 2007, and went to see the same doctor who had diagnosed him with colitis 10 years earlier.
The doctor asked Jabow how his colitis had been, to which Jabow said it seemed much better.
Jabow was due for a colonoscopy, and the doctor agreed to do it even though Jabow had not experienced any recent problems.
After the procedure, “the doctor said there is no evidence of chronic colitis, it’s got to be a miracle,” said Jabow, who quickly contacted Naemi.
“He said, ‘I told you, you’re healed,’” Jabow said. “I have no problems; I now eat tons of spicy foods!”
Many times people will contact Naemi and thank him for healing them.
But he always points out, “It’s not that I healed you; God healed you.”