A FORMER Harwich fisherman has reinvented himself on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean by becoming a pastor with millions of online followers.

Keith Thomas worked with his father Tom Thomas on his first boat, called Why Worry, and later on his newer boat, Jane Marie.

He now provides bible studies in 20 languages and a daily three-minute meditation on his website groupbiblestudy.com.

Since implementing a counter on the website, it has recorded more than seven million visitors, including two million from this year.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: Fishing - Keith ThomasFishing - Keith Thomas (Image: Keith Thomas)

Keith said the dangerous aspect of his fishing job - occasionally, they pulled up unexploded mines - made him wonder if he would live to see the next day.

He added: "During the winter season, when we would fish for sprats, we could be away from home for days at a time.

"I had time to think about my life and what I wanted to do with it. Also, what would happen after that?

"Questions about life and death led me to search. I travelled to over 30 countries in my late teens and early 20s, searching for meaning in my life.

"My life changed drastically when I had a near-death experience prior to traveling overland to India.

"I was close to death, and my spirit hovered above my body. I pleaded with God for my life and promised Him that I would serve Him and go wherever He wanted me to go."

He worked with a couple, Roger and Glenys London on starting a small church fellowship, after having attended Kingsway Evangelical Church.

Keith later married Sandy, an American citizen and gained residency status after a long battle.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: Pastor - Keith ThomasPastor - Keith Thomas (Image: Keith Thomas)

He said: "My job has been as a small group pastor, and I have led numerous small groups in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Miami, Florida.

"It is in Ohio that we now make our home. I still lead three small groups and teach once weekly at my home church.

"My passion is providing material for studying the Bible in small groups and I guess you could say that I am now a fisher of men, figuratively."

In addition, Keith is putting messages on YouTube with 65 videos to date and around half of these in more than 60 languages on the closed captions/subtitles.