A journey from addiction to restoration
Michael grew up without a father in a “crazy” household. He was only nine years old when he began using drugs. “I started smoking pot and moved onto drinking, to pills, LSD, cocaine,” he says.
When he was 15, Michael’s mother passed away and he was kicked out of school for discipline problems. “I was really close to my mother, so I tried to mask the loss with more drugs. Everybody tried to help me, but I refused,” he says. “I met heroin at 16 years old...and spiraled downhill from there.”
For the next 20 years, Michael battled a heroin addiction, trying different treatment programs, but nothing worked. Then he tried to kill himself with a heroin overdose. “I woke up with a big puddle of drool on my chest and thought, ‘Something about this isn’t right,’” Michael says.
It was then that he made a commitment to change by completing a recovery program, followed by living in a halfway house and Salvation Army housing. Meanwhile, he was seeking God through church attendance, Bible studies, and prayer. “I was finally digging in,” he says.
One night, after he left the Salvation Army, Michael spent the night praying in an Altoona graveyard. “God told me, ‘It’s not about what’s out there. It’s about what’s in you,’” Michael says.
The following morning, he went to church and received Jesus Christ as his Savior, then he hopped on a bus for the Allentown Rescue Mission.
Since entering our Christian Living Program, Michael has developed a servant’s heart for the community through cleaning up the city on our Clean Team. “I got to be a part of a community that I had destroyed for a long time, going from being the addict out on the street...to being part of the restoration,” he says.
Michael has also learned to be a man with a servant’s heart through our “Restored to Manhood” class. “I was controlling. I was abusive,” Michael says. “‘Restored to Manhood’ gave me a better understanding of what it was to be a Christian man – understanding the commitment to integrity and character.”
Michael has given back to the Mission by serving as a house leader and ministering to the men at our Gateway Center Emergency Shelter. “It’s my opportunity to give them some hope or even just be a compassionate ear,” he says.
Michael has now graduated from the program, moved into his own place, is active in his church, and is working full-time at a recycling plant. He’s also a newlywed, married earlier this year in the Mission’s chapel, with cake and decorations donated by the community. “I’m grateful for the opportunities that have been given to me and the things that have been done for me here,” he says. “I actually found completeness.”
To read the rest of the issue of Tidings, click here.
Help other men like Michael…
Michael’s story of hope and healing is inspiring. Our long-term Christian Living Program exists to help other men in the Lehigh Valley find healing. Will you help provide this help to others?