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Saturday, Dec 15, 2018
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Letter of the Day

Letter of the Day: A source of peace in a rough life

I once enjoyed reading my TBT every day on my bus ride to work until one day I read an article that could not have been well researched before being printed, and couldn’t be further from the truth. I couldn’t believe the nerve of this paper to print such trash about my pastor, Pastor Tom Atchison of New Beginnings, a true man of God. My first thoughts were, “Why would anyone want to bash someone in print without doing research, without a thought in the world of what ramifications could derive from this attempt to bring down a homeless recovery program that does nothing but good for people daily?”

Let me tell you a story about a man who was DOA at Tampa General with a103-degree fever and a bad MRSA staph infection, who was resuscitated and packed in ice, then fell into a coma for seven days to awake to a room full of amazed doctors and nurses looking at me like a lab rat or something.

After a few days of observation, a social worker came to see me and asked where I would go upon release. I was homeless at the time, living in the woods behind a day labor place. I had nothing and nowhere to return to. She gave me Pastor Tom’s card for New Beginnings, and a cab voucher. I arrived with a tank top, flip flops and a pair of cut-offs. Nothing else but a strong desire to find God and thank him for this borrowed time.

To make a long story short, he rained blessings on me through my newfound church family. I’ve since changed my whole view of the world, and I give thanks to my savior Jesus Christ for putting God’s children in my life to show me love.

On several more stays at the center, I ended up working my way onto staff as PT’s (Pastor Tom’s) assistant at the church offices, where I slowly earned the pastor’s trust — to the point where every key to every vehicle the church and program owned was in my office. The church’s checkbooks were in my care, which I thoroughly abused upon my relapse. After $2,000 worth of bad checks to my dope man, the gig was up and my crimes were revealed. If I had done these crimes to an average person, I would still be in prison. But my pastor, a true man of God, just made me confess my sins to my probation officer. My violation got me 22 months in prison — far less than my crimes deserved.

During that time my actions caused my pastor some very embarrassing moments, as the bad checks started coming in, which was no fault of his. This man of God actually took me back in when I got out of prison.

All this said, I can’t think of one bad thing to say about Pastor Tom and the whole New Beginnings/New Life Pentecostal Church family. This story just scratches the surface of my many stories about this place. Everyone there is human and will make mistakes, but no one there is out to get anyone. They want souls to find God as the source of peace in a rough life, steering these less fortunate people on the path to recovery.

Jason Huffor

Tampa

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