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CBN.com "I was sick and tired of who I was. I was sick and tired of who I called my friends. I was tired of pain. I was tired of being shot. I was tired of shooting at other people. I was just tired of it," says Thom Miller.
Violence and crime plagued Thom Millers life on the inner-city streets of Ohio. Thom remembers how it all beganoverwhelming poverty consumed his childhood. He remembers the day when the social workers came to take him away from his single mother as she pleaded to keep her two sons.
"She had hold of me," he recalls, " and she was begging them, 'Dont take my children. Ill work more. Ill get more work, and Ill feed them better. You can feed them better than me, but youll never love them better than I love them.'"
Though Thom and his brother got to stay with their mother, Thom turned to a dark life of crime on the cold city streets. Longing to find a father figure in his life, he gravitated to the wrong crowd.
"I started getting into drugs, started doing drugs, and started finding out that there was money in distributing drugs and buying drugs and then reselling them," he says. "I started collecting money for people that are in organized crime."
His life of crime landed Thom in prison. During his long years behind bars, Thom says his darkest moment was when he found out his loving mother was dying and wouldnt make it through the night.
Says Thom, "There was a system where if you can come up with the money to pay two guards to take you to your loved ones bedside while theyre dying, theyll transport you. I was told, 'It doesnt matter how much money you have. You dont need the money because a man like you will never be transported outside this prison. It doesnt matter if your mothers dying or not, you wont go.' I had to go back to my cell and realize that my mom was going to die while I was in prison. Thats what my mom would remember. I praise God that thats not how it happened. My mom didnt die while I was in prison. She lived through it. But that was the darkest time."
Thom began a search for God inside those prison walls.
A program called The 700 Club reached a man whom many thought was unreachable.
"I had actually started watching the different programs on television, and Id see Pat Robertson and Ben Kinchlow on TV. When nobody was around, I was in a maximum security institution, and Id be in my cell. I had a bunky in there. We were living in this room. Then when he wasnt looking, or when I knew he wasnt around, Id read my Bible. I just started realizing that there was a God," he says.
One day, in the quiet of a prison cell, Thoms life took a dramatic turn.
"December 4, 1991, I asked Jesus Christ to be my God," Thom explains. "I asked God, actually I said something like, 'God, Im reading about You. I dont even understand You, and Im not even sure if Youre real. I hoped that I could be forgiven.' I read that, and I hoped it meant me because I always thought that church-going people, the people who had a father to raise them right -- I knew that God would help them. I had crossed lines that I didnt think I could be forgiven for. I just saw that maybe I could be forgiven. I asked God to forgive me, and I asked Him to change me. I didnt even think I deserved it."
Step by step Thoms life started to drastically change.
"Little by little I stopped doing the things I was doing," he says, "and one day I actually showed up at the chapel, which was like a touch-stone for the prison system'Thom Miller went to the chapel. Somethings wrong.' I actually had somebody ask me, 'What? Did your mom die or something?'"
Thom even started to convince other inmates to watch The 700 Club.
"I actually started watching the Christian Broadcasting Network when people were around, when they could see me doing it. I tried to start getting other guys to watch Christian television," says Thom.
After almost eight years of prison life, during his sixth appearance before the parole board, Thom Miller was set free.
Says Thom, "I went back to the parole board. I kept going. And they were talking about who I used to be. I cant defend who I was. I cant defend that Ive shot people. I cant defend that Ive stabbed people. I cant defend that Ive been involved in drugs and organized crime. I cant defend all of that. But what I always kept telling them, 'Thats who I used to be, and Im different now.' I just let them know one day at the parole board, 'No matter how long you keep me in here, I cant change that, but no matter how long you keep me in here, Im different. What you do is what you do, but Ive already made a decision thats going to last me the rest of my life.' And they paroled me. They actually paroled me."
After his release, Thom married a loving Christian woman named Julia. Today, Thom and Julia minister to thousands of prisoners all over the country.
"I started doing the mens county jail services. We started doing that, and I just knew I should go back into the prisons," he says. "Thats a hurdle with a record like mine. I have it in writing that I would not be permitted into this prison because of my prior criminal history. I have it in writing. And we go into that prison. That prison actually houses death row, and Im one of the ministers that helps men on death row. Im back in. The Lord just opened the doors."
Thom and Julia are taking their prison outreach a step highertheyre establishing a dynamic training facility to help released prisoners re-establish their lives to give the men the necessary tools and skills to make a living.
"We have men who are allowed to go home here in our community but would rather come here because they know that if they go home, their sisters on dope, their brother may be on dope, their dope dealer lives right next door, or theyre just going to get back into the evil that they were involved in. They dont want to go back again. Were dealing with, once again, people who are sick and tired of being sick and tired," he says.
Thom shares with these men and women the same truths that changed his life.
"Im nobody. Im no one here. We get to give hope to thousands of people. The Lord means that Im more than just Thom, that Im part of a huge Christian community. I see Gods love change lives, and thats the only life-changing force in the universe -- the love of Jesus Christ."
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