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Drug life to ministry: Robert finds his way and helps others

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Robert Thomas, a former drug dealer who ministers to others (Photograph supplied)

Robert Thomas spent 13 years of his life selling and using drugs.

He was in and out of jail; as he slept, a man tried to hack his neck off with a machete over a $10 “piece of rock”.

Today it’s behind him, but not forgotten. For years he shared his stories. Last month he completed a course run by The Bermuda National School of Ministry, Equipping People for Ministry.

“It was a course for those who want to start to minister,” said Mr Thomas.

Three people started out in the programme. He was the only one to complete and pass it under the instruction of Bishop Clarke Minors, the pastor of Miracle Temple.

“My story is this: I come from the streets. I was on drugs and was always getting high. I have been locked up seven times for drugs – for using, selling and I think once it was for resisting arrest.

“That was my life for 13 years. I was just getting high and selling drugs using drugs.”

The 1995 attack on his life in a parking lot off Court Street should have been a wake-up call.

“I was attacked in my sleep by a guy who had two machetes – and that was for a $10 piece of rock,” he said.

“He nearly took my head off [but] God got me out of that.”

Mr Thomas was woken when a friend saw what the man was doing and threw his helmet at him.

“That gave me some time and I just wandered down the stretch. Because, in all honesty, I didn't know what was happening.”

He only discovered who his attacker was when he sat down on the porch of a house next to Jamaican Grill.

“I was down on my knees. I wiped the blood off my face and that's when I saw the guy.”

By then the ambulance was on the way. The man turned himself in.

Robert Thomas (Photograph supplied)

Mr Thomas spent two weeks in King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.

“That very day I came out of the hospital, I started smoking marijuana. The rain came, I had all these stitches on me, so my mate took me home.”

His mother was cooking at the time. The low ceilings made it difficult for air to circulate and, with the humidity from the rain, the smoke from her cooking was trapped inside.

“I couldn't breathe,” he said. So I went outside in the rain, I knelt down, I had a spliff in the back of my ear. I took it out, I threw it down and I said ‘Lord, if you save me, I will serve you.’ In a couple minutes, I was able to breathe. He relieved me immediately.”

Coincidentally, Mr Thomas knew of “some guys” in St David’s who were part of a rehabilitation programme and a home for recovering drug addicts called His House.

Most impressive was the transformation of one of them.

“He looked awesome; we were both doing the same things but he had already moved [on]. And I said, ‘Wow. I want what he got.’”

Despite that, he didn’t immediately give up the drugs.

“I got high again one time and then I just got fed up and said, ‘Enough is enough. I’m finished.’”

He contacted His House.

“They must have had a helicopter because they [showed up] so fast. I didn't even have enough time to change my mind. They were there.

“I went down there and sat down with the director, Chris Atcheson, and I gave my heart to the Lord. I haven’t looked back since,” he said.

Now married with two children, he lives in his own home in the same Hamilton Parish neighbourhood that was his refuge so many years ago.

Full of gratitude for the change in his life, he signed up for The Bermuda National School of Ministry course as soon as he was told about it by his pastor, Gladstone Thompson of Community Contact Ministry.

“Robert attends CCM every Sunday as we tour Bermuda preaching the gospel. Robert is a dedicated Christian man,” Mr Thompson said.

“However in Robert’s younger life he faced great difficulty and this is where I want Bermuda to know how Jesus can really change an individual by the power of His blood.”

Mr Thomas, a deliveryman for The Royal Gazette, said that because God had “opened up a lot of doors in [his] life” he made an effort to give back however he could.

“I was the worst of the worst,” he said. “And when I walk on Court Street and other areas, they see God in me. They see Jesus in me and I pray that they will see the hope that is in them in me because it’s a way out.

“I used to live in a crack house and I would cry every night that God would help to deliver me because I didn't know how; I wasn’t strong enough.”

He hasn’t touched a drug in 27 years and believes it has only been possible because of his bond with Jesus.

“Drugs weren’t the real problem, I needed to change my life. I've been jailed seven times and every time I came out I was clean. I needed to live another life because I would come out and go back to hanging around the same people doing the same things. So I needed a new life and I found my life in Christ and this has been just a beautiful journey.”

He started ministering while at His House in 1996 but at First Church of God it was recently suggested he “get the papers” to make his teachings “official”.

Mr Thomas often shares how "invincible" he felt when he was high.

“I believed that I could handle everything but that was a lie. I couldn't and I kept lying to myself. I had to look at the man in the mirror.”

Having known Mr Thompson his “whole life” he decided to join his congregation when he took over the ministry of CCM a few years ago.

“Just this year, they bought ‘round these books and said they were paying for the classes. So I sat under Pastor Minors and we just had a great thing, just learning and passing the word. A lot of the stuff I already knew but it was awesome to do it and I learnt a lot as well.”

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Published November 01, 2022 at 7:36 am (Updated November 03, 2022 at 7:54 am)

Drug life to ministry: Robert finds his way and helps others

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