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Nine Years After Graduation, Matt Has A Whole New Life
When Matt reflects on the man he once was, he has trouble explaining what a 180 he’s made. “If you weren’t in that world, it may be hard to see how far I’ve come, and what a difference it is, looking at me now,” Matt said. “What I used to be … I’m a different person. It’s a big, big change.”
Matt graduated from the mission’s Life Recovery Program nine years ago. He’s a superintendent at a concrete company, has a wife and a family he loves and provides for, and most importantly, he says, loves Jesus. It wasn’t always that way.
Matt grew up in Hesperia with his mom. “My dad was a truck driver and was always on the road,” he said. “I dropped out of school in 10th grade, started doing drugs—meth was my drug of choice, drinking. Everything went downhill from there. And it took 30 years for me to get my life together.”
Matt spent 25 years in and out of prison, for everything from drugs to attempted murder. He started a skinhead prison gang with hundreds of members. “I was anti-everything but white,” he said. “Drugs consumed me. It really was all bad.”
After his last term, Matt started to tire of prison. He asked his parole officer to help him find a program. “He knew about the mission, and he asked me, ‘Can you deal with a little God?’ I said, ‘Probably not, but let’s give it a try.’ I didn’t believe in God. I didn’t believe in anything.”
It wasn’t until four months into the program while at a men’s meeting with Pastor John, who is still the program director at the mission, when something changed. “The spirit fell on me and my whole life changed,” Matt said. “That’s when I started believing in Jesus Christ 100 percent.”
Matt believes that God used Pastor John to bring him into the fold. “He showed me love like no one had ever shown me love,” Matt said. “He is a wonderful person.”
Matt stayed in the mission’s programs for 18 months. He then moved to Phoenix and started working, found a church home, and met his wife. “I’ve never turned back,” said Matt, now 57. “My whole life changed. I couldn’t have done it without my time at the mission. I’m still rough around the edges from spending so many years in prison, but I think God wants it that way. One day he’s going to tell me why. But I love Jesus—I know that.”
Matt has grown children who have struggled with addiction, as have many of his family members, but there are also several in recovery. He is also grateful that his family has grown through his wife. Matt has a baby grandson who is black, which he points out only because of his white supremacist past. “He’s my life,” Matt gushed. “My grandson is the world to me. His grandpa is his favorite person and he’s mine.”