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Tommy is so grateful you have given him new life

 

Growing up, Tommy had a love-hate relationship with his father. Sometimes his father was a great man – but he was an alcoholic, and when he was drunk, he became a different person. He gambled and was often violent toward Tommy’s mother.

He promised he would change his ways, but he always slid back into the same behaviors. “I loved my dad, but I didn’t trust him,” Tommy said. “It was always broken promises.”

As a result, Tommy developed trust issues with the people closest to him. He decided that he was the only person who could protect himself – and without a father figure to guide and discipline him, he turned to the streets. He began using drugs and drinking at age 10 and soon developed an addiction. “I was around grown people, doing grown things, but I was just a child,” he said.

Life in the streets got Tommy in trouble, and he was soon sent to a youth reformatory. “Because I didn’t go to school and I wouldn’t listen to my parents, the judge considered me to be incorrigible,” he said.

From there he was placed in foster care because his home environment was deemed unhealthy for him to return to. After two years in foster care, he went to live with his grandmother. She tried to take him to church and introduce him to God. But it was only a matter of time before Tommy went back to the streets.

For years he got stuck in a pattern of serving back-to-back jail sentences. His addiction ran rampant during this time and continued to control his life even after he was released.

“Through it all, I still knew who Christ was, but I was running from God,” he said. “I didn’t want to comply. There was still an anger in me and a lot of hurt and frustrations I didn’t address when I was younger. And I should have, because it would have saved me a lot of pain later in life.”

While he was stuck in his addiction, Tommy’s mother died of cervical cancer. At that point, he decided to try to turn his life around. He joined a recovery program in Philadelphia and did well during his time there. He attended recovery meetings and went to church, and when he finished their program, he even got married and had a home.

However, he had never fully addressed the heart of his problems: “I turned over the things I wanted to turn over, but I didn’t do it wholeheartedly,” he said. “I held onto some things – I wasn’t fully committed to the process. Complacency set back in, and here I am, off to the races again.”

Tommy went back to using drugs once again – but this time, he found no satisfaction in it, and decided he was sick of living that way. He came to realize that he had two problems: his addiction, and the anger and bitterness behind it. He was angry at the unfairness of the death of his mother after all she had done to provide for him and his siblings growing up; he was bitter toward his father for not doing better for the family.

He knew that if he wanted things to be different, he had to take the step to change.

Even in his addiction, he would pray to God for deliverance, holding onto what his grandmother had taught him before: “I didn’t know how I was going to get out because I was so in the grip of it all,” he said. “But I knew God had a plan for me, because He brought me through some things I shouldn’t have survived.”

Once he made the decision to change his life, he came to the Mission’s addiction recovery program. This time, he was ready to commit himself wholeheartedly to the process of rebuilding his life. “My mind was made up to come out of the storm,” he said.

During his time here, Tommy started to learn that he couldn’t find healing the ways he had tried all his life. Rather than turn immediately to what he wanted, he began to relinquish control and open his heart to the structure of the program and the wisdom of the mentors he found here. Through time with his counselor, the work and fellowship of his position at the thrift store, and the leadership of our staff, Tommy learned the true blessing of putting God first and letting everything else come after.

Because of your prayers and support, Tommy found the community he needed to help him grow both personally and spiritually. He started going to church and Bible studies, and worked on deepening his prayer life. In being honest before the Lord, he found true freedom.

Now, Tommy is a graduate of our program and works at our thrift store. His main goal is to raise his grandchildren and teach them about the Lord. Though the judge from his childhood deemed him “incorrigible,” Tommy has become a new creation in Christ. Today he is celebrating the new life and freedom God has given him.

 

To read the rest of this issue of Market Street Mission Messenger, click here.

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