Arthur Thomas’ road to redemption doesn’t begin like most of his peers. There’s often a catastrophic event, a near-death experience, or the death of a close friend or family member that causes addicts to finally surrender their life over to God and begin to follow a path that leads to sobriety. In Arthur Thomas’ case, his journey begins with a simple question from an old friend: “Aren’t you tired yet?”
Thomas, now 62, recalls that it was in May of 2007, while he was both homeless, and addicted to drugs and alcohol, when he ran into an old friend who asked him that question. Thomas, unprepared to answer with anything other than the hard truth, replied with an honest answer, “I looked at him and nodded yes, so he told me he was gonna call Central Union Mission to see if they had some space for me.” Two phone calls later and following the instructions of Chaplain Donald Ross and Bro. Dwayne Chandler, Thomas was headed to detox at DC General Hospital.
Thomas soon learned that getting admitted into the program would be no easy feat. After talking to numerous people over the course of two days, he was informed that he wouldn’t be able to enter the detox program because he didn’t have the proper identification. Thomas, understanding the gravity of his situation, told the nurse, “If I don’t get into this program, I’m going to die out there.” The nurse replied, “I have no idea why I’m doing this, but I’m going to sign the papers to get you in this program.”
“Not taking no for an answer was the best decision of my life.” After completing the detox program, Thomas headed to Central Union Mission where he jumped head-first into bible study and AA meetings. “My mind was starting to clear, and I was finally able to sleep peacefully,” he recalls.
Thomas joined the Restoration & Transformation Program (RTP) where he headed to the Mission’s camp in Brookesville, MD. “It was intense bible study, church every night and devotion in the morning. It was a lot, but that’s where I really turned a corner. That’s when I knew I would never use drugs again.”
After Thomas completed his time at camp, the final phase of the RTP requires that participants find a job. Thomas contacted a temp agency who set him up with an interview with George Washington University. “The one thing I remember about the interview is that I talked about Jesus the entire time. I just couldn’t help myself, that’s all that was in me. Every other word was Jesus.” One of the three men conducting the interview stopped Thomas mid-sentence during one of his responses. Thomas was sure that they were going to tell him that he didn’t get the job, but to his surprise, what was said next changed the trajectory of Thomas’ life forever: “Mr. Thomas, the job is yours, but by law, I still have to interview the 17 people waiting outside. But trust me, when I finish with them, the job is yours.”
In August of 2008 Thomas was hired as a temporary employee, and in 2009, after a stellar performance on the job, Thomas was offered a full-time position with George Washington University where he still works today. He is currently an active member of City of Zion Church located in Laurel, MD under the leadership of Pastor Gregory O. Strong. Thomas stated, “I knew when I was going through the RTP Program that I would never use drugs again, but I also knew how hard it would be when I left if I didn’t stay connected to some men of God. My church is a blessing.”
Thomas’ story is a true testament of what God can do when one is truly ready and determined to change their life. “I had to sit down, stop talking and just listen. It changed my life. You can still see the results in my life now, and that’s why I talk to young guys in the street… the ones who are exactly where I was. I give it to them straight and I point them in the right direction because someone at Central Union Mission cared enough to do the same for me.”