“Here a great number a disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, He asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?”John 5:3-9
‘Sir,’ the invalid replied, ‘I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.’
Then Jesus said to him, ‘Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.’ At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.”
Mike felt like the man on the mat when he came to Fort Collins Rescue Mission. For 25 years, his life was a constant cycle of addiction, running away from God and having no hope for his future. But as soon as he began to seek God and accept support from the Mission, his life completely changed.
“It was three in the morning at the Mission, and with the little knowledge of God that I had, I started saying these little prayers: God help me. I don’t have any purpose right now. No hope. Show me what You want me to do,” Mike said. “In the Bible, there was a moment when Jesus said, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ I almost felt like I heard that in a sense and something just told me it’s going to work out.”
Mike heard about Harvest Farm first from his mother, who had prayed for his recovery for years, found the Farm’s New Life Program (NLP) and encouraged him to go. He had been in the program twice before, but after the night on the streets that ended with him at the Mission’s shelter—when Mike felt God calling him to ‘pick up his mat’—he joined the program for the last time.
“I called [Program Coordinator] Ed Creecy and said, ‘I have to come back to the Farm. I’m going to get it this time.’ And it’s like he had hope where I didn’t even have hope in myself. He said, ‘I know you’re going to get it, Mikey.’”
This time, Mike felt his life transforming. His life before was consumed with drinking, but at the Farm, he was consumed with the Spirit. “I learned how to pray about things, be still and let the Spirit talk to me,” he said. “I started listening at church, getting involved with other guests at the Farm and trying to be of service. It felt good to be a part of something.”
Not only did he grow in his faith, but he learned new habits that he still applies to his life today, like how to be accountable and work effectively with others. “I’ll always be grateful for the Farm. Without all the rules, I don’t think I would be where I’m at today,” he said. “As small as making your bed in the morning, if you can’t do the small stuff, you can’t do the big stuff.”
During his time at the Farm, Mike got a job and began to save money for the first time in his life. He also attended Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and one of the most impactful things he learned from his AA sponsor is that he’s already forgiven. When Mike would come to him with shame and guilt about his past, his sponsor would remind him that God has already forgiven him.
Mike is grateful to God, not only for His forgiveness, but for the Farm and all the staff who never gave up on him. “I know it took me three times, but a lot of people that didn’t give up on me, like Creecy, would speak life into me and not break me down,” Mike said. “They didn’t treat me any different and supported me 100 percent.”
Now, three years sober and two years after graduating the program, Mike is married, a father to four daughters, a homeowner, working a job he loves, and is looking forward to giving back to others in the future.
Whether becoming an addictions counselor or sponsoring somebody in AA, Mike wants to give hope to those who are going through what he went through. He has already begun doing that by going back to the Farm and having conversations with the men in the program.
“I like to think I’m giving them some hope, but it helps me just as much to be able to do that,” he said. “I mean this is what it’s all about—giving back what was given to you.”