“Most people just looked away.” That’s how Mike described his experience as a homeless person on the streets. You can probably relate. It’s difficult to see someone who “looks like he just came out of the garbage can” as Mike described himself.
But the beauty of Mike’s story is that God never gave up on him, and neither did you. Because of your support, Mike and others like him are able to come to Orange County Rescue Mission and receive food, shelter, and so much more.
Mike’s story started as one of heartbreak and brokenness, but now it is one of hope and redemption.
Mike should have died when his heart stopped – for the seventh time.
But after waking up very much alive, Mike could only conclude that God was keeping him around for a reason.
It wasn’t like he felt he deserved any second chances. Growing up with a dad who disciplined with his fists taught Mike how to fight, take a punch and be angry, just like his dad. Mike finally ran away at age 13. And with anger simmering just below the surface, fighting was always Mike’s first and last solution to his problems.
Not surprisingly, as an adult Mike was shot at, stabbed, arrested for DUIs and thrown in jail more times than he cared to remember. Mike was making an epic mess of his life. But God was just as determined to send Mike an epic message.
So He pulled Mike back from the brink of death one more time.
But then Mike’s best friend died of an esophageal hemorrhage. Four months later, the love of his life died in a horrific car accident. “When she died life was over for me. The lights went out. My world was total darkness.” Everything changed for the worse.
Deep in his grief, Mike lashed out at the world and ended up losing everything.
“For a long time I had a Honda that I lived in and slept in,” Mike says. One night, a couple guys tried to carjack him. Mike got hit over the head with a tire iron and the would-be carjackers ended up totaling Mike’s car.
“Then I was living right on the concrete,” Mike says. “I looked like I had just come out of a garbage can. Most people just looked away.”
But God wasn’t going to stop pursuing Mike. Mike shares a story of a night he took shelter in a doorway: A car pulled up and I thought it was someone who wanted to mess with me. He was a big man. I couldn’t see him — just a silhouette from the headlights. He came and sat down with me and asked if I want a smoke. “Yeah.” Are you hungry? “Yeah.” He came back with a big bag of McDonald’s and a leather bomber jacket. Then he sat down and talked with me for 30 minutes. And then I never saw him again. I always think if I ever had contact with an angel, that was it.
Living on the streets and completely out of hope, Mike found his way to the Rescue Mission. He wanted to change his life — but he wasn’t looking for a relationship with God. “It was so beautiful here, but I was so ugly,” he remembers. But it was at the Mission that Mike finally encountered the God who never gave up on him. Mike started reading the Bible and listening to worship music.
“I was such an angry mess, but as time went on I began to find my heart again with God’s help,” says Mike. “No one is more shocked than I am.”
Today, Mike is employed in a new field that he loves, after discovering he has an aptitude for maintenance work through his volunteer work assignment at the Rescue Mission. He has successfully completed the program and graduated last night at our Spring Graduation! He is now moving on to the next step on his journey to self-sufficiency.
“Now I open my eyes in the morning, I thank God that I slept in a bed because so many nights I slept in a jail cell, or in my car, or out on the streets,” Mike shares. “What happened to me was kind of miraculous.”
Or if you prefer, I invite you to listen to Mike’s amazing story in his own voice.
Your generosity helps people like Mike let go of the past and take steps toward a better future. Thank you for your support!