“I had completely given up…”
Growing up, Tom idolized his dad who passed away when he was five.
“My father had a reputation as a street guy, kind of a criminal, but he also had a really good heart,” he said. “I imitated what I thought he would want me to be, and I grew into a role of trying to be the image of my father.”
At age 12, Tom began drinking – it was normal behavior in his family, and he saw it as a rite of passage into manhood. At the same time, he was diagnosed with a learning disability and began abusing the medications he was prescribed. His substance abuse led him down a dark path over the next years.
“I experienced a lot of emotional pain and consequences,” he explained. “I started going in and out of rehabs and jails, and I had drug problems and failed relationships.”
His addiction reached its worst point when his mother passed away from lung cancer. “I lost all stability because she was my go-to person through all my trials and troubles. I didn’t have a relationship with the Lord, but she did. She was always there for me. When she died, I felt like everything good in life died with her,” he said.
He was angry at God and thought that if He didn’t intervene in his mom’s suffering, He wouldn’t want to help someone like Tom either.
Instead, he found solace in alcohol, but his relationships suffered because of it. His girlfriend left him alone in their house, and without a plan of where to go from there, he spent the next week doing nothing but drinking.
At that point, his sister reached out and told him he needed to get help. He couldn’t keep living this way. Tom went to detox, and a friend who had graduated from our addiction recovery program before told him about the Mission. Reluctantly, he decided to join our program.
“When I first got to the Mission, I was bitter, angry, and closed-minded,” he said. “But I started to listen to the Gospel and become a little more accepting of my situation, and before long, I started to get to know some of the other guys and it got a little easier.”
His heart began to soften as he helped serve the overnight shelter guests and saw the gratitude they showed. He grew further under the mentorship and discipleship of the maintenance team, and he learned a lot about the Lord from the care he experienced here.
“The people at the Mission have shown me what true Christianity is – to love someone even when they don’t feel deserving of love,” he said. “I think that’s what I was missing in life, because I isolated a lot and I really didn’t know how to receive or give love until coming here.”
As Tom began to grow in his relationship with the Lord, he came to understand that it was his mom’s trust in Christ that carried her through the end of her life with hope and peace – and that has brought him great comfort and healing.
And though as a child he wanted to imitate his earthly father, he now lives to reflect the image of his Heavenly Father and share the love he’s found.
“Everything has changed for me,” he said. “I’ve seen miracles in my life – the compulsion to continue to drink has been lifted almost immediately after accepting Christ.”
Thanks to your prayers and support, Tom has graduated our program and now serves as an intern at the Mission. He hopes to go back to school for Biblical Studies and Drug and Alcohol Counseling – but most importantly, he wants to use his life to serve others and demonstrate the true hope and healing found in Christ.
“I’m thankful to the Mission most of all because they led me to Jesus,” he said. “Before I had been trying to get sober for 15 years, and I had completely given up. What’s different this time is that I’ve accepted Christ, and I want to help other people do the same.”
To read our Holiday 2022 issue of The Lifeline, click here.