The 2019 holiday season was coming to an end, when James Johnson found himself being rushed to the emergency room on New Year’s Eve. His throat began to swell earlier that evening, making it difficult for him to breathe and after hours of uncertainty and agony, he was strapped to a hospital bed, unable to move, with only his thoughts moving freely.
This was not the way James envisioned he would go into 2020, but as he laid there he began to reflect on his past. “I was just reminiscing over my life. I thought about every mistake I’d made, and I promised God that if He’d bless me with one more chance at life, I’d take advantage of any and every opportunity given to me.”
Those mistakes he couldn’t stop thinking about were a result of his 20- year battle with cocaine and alcohol. His addiction cost him numerous relationships, his marriage and countless jobs.
The next morning, after several tests and spending the night in ICU, the doctors informed James that he no longer showed any symptoms that would cause his throat to swell. “They were all shocked. One of the nurses said, “I’ve never seen someone walk out of ICU before.” They didn’t understand it, but I knew it was God. I knew He had answered my prayer.”
Recognizing that his prayers for a second chance at life had been answered, it was time for James to hold up his end of the deal. The new year and his new lease on life was the perfect opportunity for him to make some very necessary changes. “I was spiritually bankrupt… there was a void in my life, and I needed help, but more importantly I knew where I needed to go.”
Familiar with Central Union Mission and their Restoration Transformation Program, James called and asked if there were any available rooms at the shelter. He was assured that there was space for him and soon thereafter James was enrolled in the Restoration Transformation Program and a resident of Central Union Mission. “I can’t explain how grateful I am for this program. The instructors are all exceptional and they loved me when I didn’t even love myself…I mean they showed me they loved me.”
The Restoration Transformation Program helped James rekindle broken relationships with his family. “My brother and sister are so happy for me, I’m finally that big brother that I always wanted to be. And for the first time in my life…in 57 years, my Mother told me she was proud of me. This is what that program can do.”
James is currently taking classes at Catholic University and he is also enrolled in the Central Union Mission Workforce Development Program where he works in the kitchen, preparing and serving meals to other shelter-residents.
“I realized that I became a better person once I was exposed to better situations. I appreciate being surrounded by brothers who all have the same goals in mind. We encourage each other and hold each other accountable. This program truly changed my life.”