In Their Own Words - Tom
September 28, 2006
Tom is a core part of our Alpha House ministry. He came to us about three years ago, and the story of his unfolding transformation is a thing of beauty to behold. What follows are excerpts from a recent interview with Tom regarding his experience at Harbor Church.
“I was a thief and a liar. I committed a crime in Texas and jumped bail. I migrated north and this story starts when, after living on the streets in New York and New Hampshire, I got arrested for vagrancy. My name came up on a computer that I had a warrant for my arrest here in Texas, so I got extradited back here. I ended up doing five years. I was close to be a three time looser which would have resulted in my spending a pretty good chunk of time in the penitentiary.
“Three years ago when I finally got paroled to Houston, I came here to Harbor. Eventually I came to Christ, but change was hard. When you are a convict, your routine is important to you. When I got paroled, I got a job. It was at below minimum wage working for sign company, but I had developed a routine that was working for me. Then an opening came up at Alpha House and they asked me if I wanted to come and stay there. It was a hard decision for me to make. I was really anxious because of this thing about my routine that I just described. I mean, I was comfortable in doing what I was doing, so moving was a big step for me. But eventually I did come.
“The thing that made the difference for me was that this group of people made Jesus come alive for me. He was no longer words in a book. He wasn’t a great concept. He became a living God that impacted my life – that I could talk to – that I could rely on. For the first time I knew that I was loved despite all the things that I had done in my life. That didn’t matter. And I saw Him through the people who loved me here despite all my shenanigans – no matter how hard I pushed or how much I revealed about the crimes I had committed or the sin that was a part of my past. All that just didn’t seem to matter. What mattered to them was that I was a person worth loving, and somehow, slowly that love pointed me to Jesus and his love.
“So I came to Christ and began to try to follow Him. Harbor taught me that a huge part of following Christ is simply living together as the Body of Christ and sharing life…the down and dirty part of it…..the joy and laughter…..the meals….. in it all sharing the parts of us that are broken and shattered. We bare our souls to each other, and in that there is a huge amount of release. You realize that you really are forgiven. You realize that you are not alone.
“Maybe you don’t know how scary it is to think that you are really – totally – all alone in life. I was always on the fringe. I was always on the outside looking in. I was always convinced that everyone else had some magic thing that I just didn’t get. What I now know is that everybody’s in the same boat. We are all sinful. We are all broken. We all need forgiveness and accountability. And that’s what I’m getting here. Words fail to express how much that means.