Hope Happened: Mike’s Story

“I had every reason in the world to be successful,” Mike said, “to be anything but the drug addict that I ended up becoming.”

The Destructiveness of Meth
Mike remembers that as a pre-teen, an emptiness filled his heart that he just couldn’t get rid of. That led to experiments with drugs, first marijuana at age 14, then meth.

“I remember the first day that I experienced meth. All the emptiness, the pain, the loneliness, the hunger that never seemed to go away…it was gone.” With meth, Mike felt free for the first time. But in reality, that day became the beginning of the most destructive and painful years of his life.

When Mike’s dad and stepmom realized the depths of his addiction, they tried every detox or rehab program they could find to help their teenage boy but nothing worked.

The Destructiveness of Meth
Mike remembers that as a pre-teen, an emptiness filled his heart that he just couldn’t get rid of. That led to experiments with drugs, first marijuana at age 14, then meth.

“I remember the first day that I experienced meth. All the emptiness, the pain, the loneliness, the hunger that never seemed to go away…it was gone.” With meth, Mike felt free for the first time. But in reality, that day became the beginning of the most destructive and painful years of his life.

When Mike’s dad and stepmom realized the depths of his addiction, they tried every detox or rehab program they could find to help their teenage boy but nothing worked.

Prayers Answered

In desperation, his parents tried something new—prayer. Mike had not been raised a Christian, but when his parents started to seek God and pray, something new began to happen.

Mike told his parents, “Stop praying! Because you’re praying, something’s happening and my life’s getting messed up!” But that only fueled their passion to pray even more.

By the time Mike was 18, he had washed out of high school, been arrested and gone to jail. Yet, no matter what he tried, he simply could not walk away from meth. At this point, he felt certain that his future held nothing but life in prison…or death.

“Please Help Me”
Then one dark night, Mike sat on a bluff in Encinitas for hours, desperately praying, “God, if you’re real, please help me.” He threw his drugs away, then as the sun rose, he walked back to his parents’ house and told his dad, “I need help.”

His dad replied, “Son, we’ve heard of a place where miracles happen. It’s called Teen Challenge.” Mike agreed to give it a try.

At a San Diego Teen Challenge chapel service, Mike saw something he never expected—a group of hardened men kneeling around the altar with tears in their eyes, crying out to Jesus. And for the first time in years, Mike saw hope. He opened his heart and began to experience God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Over the next year, Mike was molded and shaped by God into a new creation. He graduated from Teen Challenge, then went on to the Ministry Institute. From there he went on to East Los Angeles College, and then transferred to Vanguard University. Even though he had never received a high school diploma, he graduated from college with good grades.

The Struggles of “Pastor Mike”
But that isn’t the end of Mike’s story. He met and married the love of his life, Sara, and together they had three sons. At the age of 27, he felt called to the ministry and for the next 10 years, enjoyed the challenge and joy of being a pastor.

Even though he went from being “Drug Addict Mike” to “Pastor Mike,” he was still afraid of once again experiencing the brokenness and pain he had seen in his addiction. And the challenge of being a senior pastor began to take its toll. “What I didn’t realize was that God wasn’t calling me to be more of a Christian, he was calling me to a deeper place with Him. But I didn’t know how to process that.”

Mike and his wife decided to step away from the position of lead pastor in an effort to reconnect with each other and with God. But after resigning from the church position, his identity of being “Pastor Mike” was gone.

“I realized that my identity was no longer in Christ but it was in the things I had done since he had saved me. When that was gone, my life quickly began to unravel.”

He walked away from God, even returning to drugs for nearly a year. Once again, Mike found himself in jail, this time visiting with his wife and little boys through a glass window. Later, as he was trying to write a letter of apology to his family, he felt God whisper, “I love you.”

“God’s Love Saved Me”
“God loved me enough to let me get to that place where once again I needed a miracle.” What Mike discovered was that “God doesn’t just save drug addicts and gang members and sinners. He saves Christians too. What I learned was there’s always hope and my Father loves me.”

“My brokenness doesn’t mean something’s wrong with me. What I’ve discovered is that my brokenness is actually an invitation to intimacy with the Father. I don’t have to be fixed. I can be broken. And that’s okay.” Mike learned the value of having a broken heart before God and allowing Him to be the focus of his life.

Once released from jail, Mike returned to San Diego Teen Challenge for a six-month restoration program. Through it all, his wife and children stood by him and now they are united in their service to Jesus Christ.

Today Mike works for Teen Challenge of Southern California as Director of Alumni Relations and loves pouring his energy into working with men and women who, like himself, have graduated from Teen Challenge. He encourages them with a message of hope and community.

“Today I’m not ‘Drug Addict Mike,’ nor am I ‘Pastor Mike.’ I’m just a son. And I have a Father who loves me.”

See Mike’s full story in the video above. With your donation, you can help save a life like Mike’s.