Mike: ‘When I was 56, I found the Lord and the Lord found me’
After struggling with alcohol for most of his life, and eventually finding himself homeless, Mike is the first to admit how blessed he is. Now the outreach coordinator at the Mission, after completing the Life Recovery Program several years ago, he spends his time connecting with those who were once in his shoes.
“I’m so blessed,” he said. “I’m in a work environment with Christians. I’ve been at benefits and banquets (with alcohol), and I’ve never been tempted—it’s a true blessing. It’s really just a one-step program—it’s just Jesus and you. Pastor John gives you the tools and shows you how to use them. I do it every day, all the time, all day long, just leaning on Jesus. If someone wants to talk about the bible, I will, but I try to show them, just show them love.”
Mike grew up in Orange County with his family. “There was nothing I needed,” he said. “I went to high school, some college, and started working. I moved to Newport Beach and was just living the beach life. I got a good job in construction and started making really good money. But then I started making some really poor decisions.”
Mike started using drugs and alcohol and making bad financial choices. “When you don’t know Jesus and realize everything is his, you aren’t careful with it,” he said. Mike spent years moving from construction job to job—he worked on specialty restaurants in Canada for a while, on job sites in Central California, then Hemet, and eventually in the High Desert. “It was like in the bible. For 40 years, I was walking around in the wilderness. I moved out here for a job and it dwindled out. I made more poor decisions. I hit rock bottom here in Victorville.”
Mike was living in a horse shed working on a project. “They let me stay there while I was working for them, but when the project was over, I had nowhere to go,” Mike said. “I ended up homeless. It wasn’t until I wanted recovery—I definitely needed it—that I got help.”
Mike would visit the food pantry and went to the shower program that the Mission runs. At the dinner meal, Mike remembers the chilled wash rags that were distributed. “They felt so nice,” he said. “And it was a great meal and a prayer before we ate. It was awesome.
“The Lord had a plan the whole time, I just didn’t see it. I knew him, I just didn’t have a relationship with him. I met some folks at the shower program, and they were super nice—there were graduates that worked there—and they told me about the dinner program. There was something drawing me there. There was an evolution happening. I just started changing. And I wanted to be part of it.”
Mike entered the Life Recovery Program and said his “whole life changed” on day one. “Pastor John was doing the morning devotion and there was this tone that rang so true,” he said. “It hit my heart and I was saved. I lost all desire to drink instantly. I stopped swearing overnight. I didn’t have to satisfy this sadness or brokenness I had with alcohol anymore. Once Jesus is in you, he just wants to bless you. I was 56 when I found the Lord and he found me.”
Mike graduated the program and then volunteered serving food and organizing the food pantry. After getting his driver’s license, he was asked if he’d like to intern. He went on to work at the thrift store before getting hired at the Mission as the outreach coordinator. “I did construction for 30-plus years, so I’m able to use some of that as far as logistics go. And it’s wonderful to be able to minister to the guys still and to be able to use all the gifts God gave me.”