From drug addict to theologian

Once I had received confirmation, I stopped going to church. Faith stopped being important for me in my life. I wasn’t someone fighting with the Church or laughing at people who believed, but I just wasn’t interested in leading a religious life.

Since I was a child, I remember how my parents worked very hard. My mother would go abroad to work, and my father was always drawing something — he worked as a construction engineer. It was my grandmother who took care of me and my brothers. She also gave me testimony of her faith through her daily prayer. Unfortunately, once I had received confirmation, I stopped going to church. Faith stopped being important for me in my life. I wasn’t someone fighting with the Church or laughing at people who believed, but I just wasn’t interested in leading a religious life. That lasted about seven years. During that time, I went astray. My friends who were taking drugs impressed me. I began doing drugs, too. By the time I was twenty, I was addicted to heroin; I was shooting up every day. It was a very powerful addiction. From a medical point of view, I shouldn’t have survived. I wasn’t living at home, but at various hide outs, rented apartments or even stairwells.

My conversion began when I met some street evangelists. I remember the first meeting of that kind. It took place in front of the main train station in Wroclaw. At that time, I was seriously addicted to heroin. I met Tom, who had been an addict, like me, but was now off drugs. He told me that Jesus had changed his life and that now he was a happy man. Our talk wasn’t long, but it left a huge impression on me. I remember his joy and power when he told me about his conversion.

My next meeting with Jesus took place during my stay in “detox” — a hospital ward which helped to detoxify drug addicts. A volunteer who worked there told me about her conversion and how there was hope for me too, and that that hope was Jesus. Talking to her and knowing that there was someone who could help me caught my attention, because I knew that I couldn’t keep justifying myself.

My aunt also had a role in my conversion. Each Friday, she would go to the Sacred Heart church to pray for me. A few times, I went with her. That was when I met Sister Kajetana, who had been in Sister Faustina’s order when she was alive. She would tell me about the life of the saint, and we prayed together. I can’t recall when, but at some point I began to read the Bible. I would read it every day, even while still under the influence of drugs! Even though I didn’t understand much of what I read, I would try, in my own way, to meditate on what I read. From that time, the Bible became my great love. I read it every day and still read it today. I believe that it has helped me a lot in life.

I am a happy person. I don’t want to keep it to myself, so I get out on the streets and talk to the people I meet about God and the chance he gives each of us

A few years later, on 9 January 1999, when I met my mother on the street, she told me something that gave me a real jolt. She told me that it would be better for me to die than to continue living the way I was living. I then experienced one of the most horrible moments of my life: rejection. My parents were throwing me out of the house! They decided to do it because I was always deceiving them. When I heard my mother say this, I fell on my knees, crying: “Jesus, if you really exist, save me!” Then, something extraordinary happened. A short time later, I heard these words in my heart, ringing like a bell: “Even if your mother and father abandon you, I will always be with you”. This voice surprised and shocked me, since I had never imagined that God could listen to my prayers, or even less that He would actually speak to me. I fell on my knees and started to cry. At that moment, I experienced the greatness and omnipotence of God the Father. I was all the more afraid. As far as I can remember, at that moment, I uttered the words: “I will never again raise my hand against another person”. I said this to God, because I understood that He loved and cared for every person. That was my declaration. I cried even more, being overwhelmed by the thought that I was in the presence of someone so powerful.

Tom, who had been an addict, like me, but was now off drugs, told me that Jesus had changed his life and that now he was a happy man

Me kneeling on the street was a strange sight. People stared at me. But one woman came up and asked me why I was crying. I told her what had just happened and she offered me her help. She said she would get some clothes for me, help me arrange my personal documents, get me readmitted to detox and help me travel to a centre for addicts in Toruń. Thanks to her, I was able to believe that there were still a few good people in the world. I went to some stairwell and cried for hours, admitting to God and myself the evil that I had caused. This was my first sincere inner confession. I understood how much time I had lost in life because I had never been guided by love and I didn’t love Jesus.I also cried because I had givenin to Satan’s deception, recognising that it was I who had committed evil and that I had to accept the consequencesof that evil. I had the impression that Satan was standing at my side and laughing at me. Since that time, I’ve stayed off drugs.

If someone had told me fifteen years ago that I would complete a doctorate in theology, I would have thought he was high on something

The lady I met on the street kept her word. The next day, she took me to the detox centre. Then two weeks later, she sent me to the help centre in Toruń. In detox, I was always thinking about what had happened. I couldn’t grasp it. It all seemed so unlikely to me. I kept reading Holy Scripture. I had no further desire to take any drugs.

The next turning point came when a group of students from the Victory House of the Rubinkowo neighbourhood of Toruń showed up. They suggested that I take part in the “Alpha” course. During that course, I recognised that the experiences of God’s presence which these people were talking about were similar to mine. Everyone talked about God’s immense love for mankind. A sincere confession, Holy Communion and prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit made the experience of God’s love a part of my life. Thanks to prayer and the presence of the Holy Spirit, my soul, which had been burned out by drugs, became filled with joy and peace. I felt like Jesus loved me unconditionally, that He had taken all my sins upon Himself, that He had died on the cross and, rising from the dead, liberated me from slavery to Satan. My life made sense again. I wanted to live! The therapists who were caring for me were at first worried by my behaviour, because after prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit I only wanted to pray and talk about God. I also wanted to go to church every day. I felt free again! I didn’t have any symptoms of addiction. And it’s the same today. I was completely cured of my addiction.

After I finished therapy, I first started attending meetings with the Victory House community. I made many friends there. I still have a special friendship with Martin and Beth, who were the leaders of my “Alpha” course. I also started working for a building supply wholesaler. After a year or so, I went back to my home town of Wroclaw. There, I met my future wife, Beata. We have been married for fourteen years. During that time, we have studied theology together, and we worked in a hospital for several years attending the dying and patients with terminal illnesses. Currently, we pray in the Galilee prayer community. If someone had told me fifteen years ago that I would complete a doctorate in theology, I would have thought he was high on something. It was through the power and love of JesusChrist that my life and my way of thinking were transformed.

am a happy person. I don’t want to keep it to myself, so I get out on the streets and talk to the people I meet about God and the chance he gives each of us. The Lord God wants “everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4).

Arthur Skowron