5 Years Later, Thomas Reflects On Complete Restoration
Thomas had a wife, three children, and an all-around good life, but unfortunately, drugs were his priority. They tore apart his home life, leading to divorce, and then prison.
“I spent the last 25 years or so in and out of prison,” Thomas said. “Stolen vehicles, assault, evading arrest, drugs—I don’t know what my mind was doing. I was a drug addict.”
But now, after decades of despair, Thomas has had his whole life restored. “If it wasn’t for the program, I don’t know where I’d be right now.”
Things started to change for Thomas after he finished a three-year stint in prison. He was out for 42 days before being picked up again, and was served a five-year sentence. “At that point, my ex-mother-in-law was the only person still talking to me,” Thomas said. “And then she told me that when I got out, I couldn’t come back there. I had alienated myself from everyone. That’s when I realized that when I got out, all my children would be over 18. I just knew I had to change my ways.”
Thomas got clean in prison, and when he got out in 2014, he decided to stay that way. “He reconnected with his parents, who lived in Hesperia. “I hadn’t talked to my dad for years. But they knew the rescue mission through friends of theirs who volunteered. They told me to take a bus out there and my mom pushed it a little bit.
“When I met Pastor John, the first thing he told me was that he loved me. I thought he was crazy. He didn’t even know me. But he showed me what he meant. I realized when I got into the program, there were no barriers. I could leave. But because of the love that those men showed me, I wanted to stay. I wanted to learn. They taught me how to be a father, a friend, all of it.”
Thomas appreciated the daily devotions, and his time spent helping out at the mission’s dinner program, serving hot meals to those in need. “I met a little girl, Melissa. She was only 10. And she was there with her (three younger siblings), bringing them all over for dinner. I found out the parents were drug addicts. I kind of realized what I had done with my kids. At this point, I hadn’t talked to them for 10 years.”
Thomas started reaching out, and was first accepted by his son, a Marine. “He told me it was my last chance. I told him, ‘I got this.’ I had faith.” Thomas reconnected with his other son, as well as his dad. “I started asking God if I could have a relationship with my daughter again, and he gave that to me. I went to Disneyland for her birthday. I still have the parking stub from that day.”
After graduation, Thomas got off probation for the first time in 25 years, and got a job through a temp agency. “It was out in the rock mines,” he said. “I’m almost 50 years old and I’m pushing rocks out of these tunnels in wheelbarrows. I told God I’d do anything, to let me prove it to him, and I did it.”
Five years later, Thomas still works at the rock mines. “I’m there, but in a much better capacity,” he said with a laugh. “I’m running the heavy equipment now.”
Thomas and his wife had divorced in 1998. “Eventually, God brought my wife back to me. We live together, and my son lives with us too. I’ve had my entire life restored to where it was without the drugs. The Lord gave it all back to me. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Thomas still stays connected to the mission, attending events and swinging by the house. “All the things I was lacking: love, trust … anything that was negative, that program had a positive for me. That faith, knowing someone is in control above you, that God’s got you. That’s what I got from the program. It saved my life.”