Story

Anthony Johnson

When Anthony came home to his DC apartment last October, it wasn't there. While he was out of town, his roommate backed up a truck to the place and stole everything Anthony owned. For a while, he stayed in a rooming house until it was clear the landlord had designs on him. He still had his seasonal job doing hospitality work at Georgetown University but had no money to live on his own. He called Central Union Mission and learned that he qualified to be part of the Mission Work Program.

He moved in in February 2012. He was glad for the shelter but uncomfortable. He tried to stay away from the Mission as much as possible, but God had bigger plans for him. He committed his life fully to Christ during one chapel service in March 2012. With a tremendous new hunger for prayer and knowledge, he read Josh McDowell's book More than a Carpenter and practiced the spiritual discipline of fasting.

During that fasting weekend, he knew he needed to be in a church to pray but didn't expect to be tempted by two different church suppers! After his fast, he found himself challenged and defeated by arguments and trouble at work. He called on his Mission brothers for prayer saying "Satan has put a contract out on my life." At that point, he realized that God's calling for him was simple: to help people. But how would he do that?

When his temp job ended in early summer, he took a grill cook job at Bethesda Naval Hospital as a favor to his employment agent, a decided step backwards career-wise. His agent didn't really take care of him like he promised, but God did!

At the restaurant, he noticed that he could suggest some menu and process improvements to bring in more diners. After a trial period impressed his manager, she created a permanent position for him writing recipes, and she gave him his own office. One of his favorite entrée updates is his Holiday French Toast.

This is when his calling began to be clarified. With his outgoing personality, he easily made friends with employers and employees at his agency, Hospitality Staffing, Aramark and venues like the Verizon Center and the Washington Nationals ball park. When his agent asked if he could send in ten potential recruits, Anthony called on his brothers at Central Union Mission to stand in the gap, and most were hired.

This, he discovered, was what God had in mind for him: using his connections to help people find employees and jobs. He realized he was no longer avoiding the Mission but coming in as often as possible to help guests and students network, craft resumes and practice interviewing skills. "God sent me here to do this for Him. Now I'm just flowing in the Mission, giving without hindrance and getting blessings from Christ by helping others."

Now that he's found a one-bedroom apartment in an Oxford House building, he realizes that "God was setting me up to move out but not to stop helping." "The string's not cut, though," he says. "You're always welcome at Central Union Mission. I have a family here forever." He advises the other men to take advantage of all the resources the Mission has to offer: "If you fight the program, you'll still be the same as before. The Mission's been around for over 125 years--long enough to know what works and what doesn't. Learn to be selfless at the Mission, respect authority and follow the guidelines, and you will see progress."

According to Anthony, "Central Union Mission taught me to be part of the body of Christ, and now, I'm stepping out with Christ in me. I want to help others and change their lives just by my example."