One of the things I miss most about my radio career is interviewing people. It wasn’t always that way. For much of my time as a talk radio host, I wanted to fill most of the time with my own words and considered interviews something that had to be done. Eventually, I came to enjoy them and many people told me they were the most enjoyable part of my show.
I was blessed recently when Pastor Mark McAnlis at Pilgrim Congregational Church in Ashwaubenon asked me to use that experience to help a young man share his remarkable testimony. So, in mid-November, I interviewed Tim Arthur at Pilgrim’s Thursday night EPIC service.
Tim Arthur was leading a spiritually bankrupt life. Narcotics controlled his life. He was aware of this. At one point he got down on his knees and prayed that God would fix his life. But Tim hadn’t accepted Christ into his life at that time. He wasn’t looking for a relationship with Christ. He wasn’t ready to accept Christ into his life. Instead, he was looking for a quick fix.
Ultimately, his drug use would lead him to prison…and to Christ. What follows are excerpts from my interview with Tim:
“I was led down a horrible path. My whole life was chaos. I was sentenced to a year and a half in prison and I thought that was the worst thing that could ever happen to me. I didn’t think I would ever get that far down in life to end up in prison. But, in truth, it was the best thing that could have happened to me. I remember sitting in this most negative place, and I would always see this guy; John. He walked around with a smile on his face. Everywhere he went this guy had a smile on his face. And this guy is doing life in prison. Sunday, he’d be there, waiting for everybody to go to church; before anyone else even got there, he would be sitting there, waiting. And I remember being just so angry at this guy because I’m doing a year and a half, and this guy is doing life and I’m just miserable and my life has just went to the dumps.”
Tim heard different stories about why the happy inmate, John, was in prison, but it occurred to Tim that no one really knew him.
“I remember it was just one of those mornings, I was getting up, getting ready to go to the gym. It was a really early morning for me, and I remember he was the only one out in the dayroom, there were a couple of guys watching TV, but he was the only one in back. And I happened to be back there at this time, I’m never back there, right? How would I be way in back there?”
Tim wouldn’t recognize it for what it was at the time, but he was about to feel a God nudge that would change his life in ways he could never imagine:
“I remember I had the courage to walk up to him and talk to him. And I sat there for a while and he’s telling me how he is saved in Jesus Christ. If you talk to him, he would tell you that he’s doing life in prison but he’s not in prison, he’s free. And I just couldn’t get the concept of it. And he told me the process of how he did it. And so, I said what do I got to lose? I lost everything. I mean I had no relationship with my family. I didn’t have a relationship with anybody. Anything I loved or touched crumble because…my whole life wasn’t reality; it was just a fantasyland. I created everything. And so, what did I have to lose? I went up to my cell. I remember my cellmate was gone…and I got on my knees and I prayed with my heart for the first time in my life. And I laid it all out. I talked about every sin that I could remember, every damage that I did to somebody. And God knew. But I didn’t know that God knew. And I laid it out. And I never wept so much in my life. I cried like the biggest baby ever. I remember this chill running through me, my hair was standing up. And I swear on everything that I was not in prison for the rest of my time there.”
Tim was right, prison was the best thing that could ever have happened to him. God had him exactly where He wanted Tim. And after accepting Christ, Tim saw God work in his life almost immediately.
He was facing additional charges that could have meant additional years in prison. Despite the prosecutor telling him he would never qualify for drug court, which would allow him to avoid additional prison time. Yet, that is exactly what happened, and Tim was released from prison in 2017.
Tim has straightened out his life, loves others and is loved by them. He has a job and is engaged to a wonderful young woman. Consider all the seemingly unconnected things God put together to bring Tim to Him:
- Tim’s drug use, which would land him in prison.
- John’s crimes which would land him in prison.
- John’s salvation, which would cause him to display the fruits of the Holy Spirit, which Tim angrily tried to reject but could not.
- God putting Tim in an area of the prison where he almost never went, while John was the only other person in that area.
- Tim’s cellmate being gone when Tim arrived at the cell after Jesus had sufficiently prepared his heart to receive Him.
And consider the other series of unconnected things God is using to make the most of Tim’s story:
- In an almost random occurrence, God connects Pastor Mark and me in early February which leads to him becoming my mentor and dear friend.
- Tim attends Pilgrim, which allows Pastor Mark to connect us and use my experience to help Tim share his story.
- I am now sharing Tim’s story wherever I can, and only time will tell how God uses that to reach others.
God never wastes anything, and it’s impossible for us to imagine how he can use seemingly unrelated people and events. All of which is a very good reason to keep Proverbs 3:5-6 on our hearts:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
As a friend of mine says. You just never know what God is up to. But when we believe in Him, trust in Him and surrender our lives to Him, we can have the joy, contentment and peace of a man spending the rest of his earthly life behind bars.
You can watch the interview where Tim shares his story. Be sure to watch to the very end to catch the moment that caught everyone by surprise.
This post is republished with permission from Oakbrook Church, De Pere.