Being born when his parents were nearly 50 years old, an age uncommon to have children, plus a horrific amusement park accident that nearly cost his parents their life, Mike was a miracle baby from the start. To make him even more miraculous, he has sustained more serious life-threatening head injuries than most people would ever dream of, including a drop on the head as a toddler, and a hatchet dropped on his head as a teenager, and a final injury that would shock a city to its core. The odds were stacked against him, but still, he overcame.
As an Air Force kid, Mike was constantly shuffled from place to place; California, Georgia, Germany, and England just to name a few. He was always changing schools, and with ADHD and other learning disabilities to boot, it was difficult for him to form meaningful friendships. Eventually, gang violence at a school he was attending hit home when he became a target, and his parents put him in home schooling, furthering the social divide. His dad was an alcoholic and very abusive, which just made childhood harder on him. He had worked off and on as a teenager, but when he was 19, he got a great job in Florida, where they were residing at the time, doing custom wood-working making $30 an hour, but eventually he gave that up to help with his parents. Then tragedy struck.
Their beautiful home in New Mexico had been trashed. The family had separated for a short time: Mike stayed with his brothers, his father had went to work in Florida for a season, and his mother stayed with her sister. When Mike and his parents eventually made their way back to the house in New Mexico, they discovered that there were squatters staying in their house. The squatters invoked squatter’s rights, and they had to be served a 3-day eviction notice to vacate. By the third day, the house been utterly destroyed. And repairing it would be no easy feat.
It took all their savings, and even then, it wasn’t enough. The money was gone, but the house was still in severe disrepair. The pipes had been busted, so there was no running water. Holes were punched into the ceiling and walls with 2x4 boards, damaging electrical lines, sheet rock and insulation. With no money left, and needing more, his dad went back to work in Florida, and his mom went back to her sister’s. Mike had to stay behind to fend off new squatters that kept trying to stay in the house, and although it had no running water, they were able to at least repair the electricity. He had no job at the time, so food was scarce and to take showers he would use other people’s backyards, or the University dorms. “It was like being homeless, but you had a house,” he reflected. He was all about the party lifestyle, and just 4 blocks from a college, it was easy to throw a party and have access to all the drugs he wanted. His parent’s home became party central, and although the drugs were free, it would come at a significant cost in the end.
That lifestyle quickly led to a prison sentence and Mike ended up in a halfway house. He quickly took to a lady though, and they decided to run away together, risking being caught and facing serious jail time. While on the road, they discovered she was pregnant. After thinking it through and wanting only the best for their unborn child, they did the right thing and turned themselves in. They both went to prison, but Mike used it to their advantage, getting his GED while he was there. He was released first, and immediately got a job to prepare for their new family. They were married shortly after they were released and then had another baby, a little girl. He was a new Christian, and his life was finally coming together.
He wanted to be a great provider for his family, so he dove into work headfirst, becoming an arborist then a roofer, and finally settling on a career in welding. All the money in the world though didn’t satisfy his calling to dive into ministry. Despite his mistakes in life, Mike had become a God-fearing man, and he knew firsthand that God makes all the difference in a long prison sentence. With that, he decided to go into prison ministry, and help others find Jesus. Things were about to take a horrifying turn though.
After ministering one day, while parked at a grocery store, a man who appeared disoriented, walked up to his driver’s side window, and before Mike had even realized what was happening, there was blood streaming down his face. The man had pulled a gun out and shot him point blank in the head. There was a deafening ringing, ear-splitting, and he wasn’t sure what exactly was happening. He turned the ignition off in his vehicle, and he went to open the door. The man was froze just standing there like a statue in shock. Mike put his hand up and realized that blood was splashing out his nose and mouth into his hand. A vision of his life flashed before his eyes.
God put Mike on this earth for a purpose though, and his job wasn’t done yet. When Mike came to, he had been through surgery, and while there are, to this day, bullet fragments left in his face, he miraculously survived. As he recovered, the pieces started to come together about what had happened, and why he was shot. His wife had killed her late husband in self-defense a few years prior, and it was suspected that this was his family’s retaliation. This quiet wealthy suburb of Albuquerque was stunned at the brutality. In spite of his injuries, he felt even more conviction to continue his ministry in the prison system.
He wasn’t perfect though, and eventually, he stumbled into a situation that quickly led him astray. There was a guy from work that insisted that Mike come party with him. And showing up at his house, he wouldn’t take no for an answer. The guy was partying and persistently offered Mike some hard drugs until Mike gave in. What he didn’t know is that the drugs were laced with PCP, or phencyclidine, a drug known for giving people a false sense of strength and invincibility. Mike somehow made it back to his own house, and ransacked the place, doing about $30,000 in damages. His wife felt that she had no choice but to call the police. She kicked him out, filed a restraining order on him, and eventually filed for divorce. He spent 7 months at a homeless shelter/ recovery program trying to make sense of it all.
After that, his life appeared to be that of a hollow shell. He went back to work doing odd jobs, some welding, and supervisory positions, but lived in a motel. Eventually, he met another woman, and he moved in with her. They eventually came to Oklahoma for better welding opportunities, and things were good until the steel industry took a hit in 2011 to 2012, and he was laid off. He filed for disability because of back issues. He and his girlfriend went their separate ways after having a daughter, whom they shared custody of in the beginning. Work that he was physically able to do was hard to come by, and he struggled for several years because of constant back pain. He felt that he couldn’t work, and he became homeless, then found his way to the Gospel Rescue Mission.
Since being here, he has joined our Clean Start Program, picking up trash along our city’s roads. That kind of work has helped him to walk better and showed him that there are plenty of jobs that he would be able to do, such as transport services. “I love to drive. It gives me a sense of serenity.” Mike is also a key part of our intake and orientation process for new guests entering the mission. He has a positive attitude and has really been a blessing to us while he’s been here. He’s hoping to join the Bridges Out of Poverty program so that he can learn tools to help him rise above poverty. He’s taking the right steps, and he has a solid game plan for success! The miracles are definitely continuing for Mike!