If you passed Mick* in the street today, you probably wouldn’t look twice. He has a job, he’s active in his church community and he enjoys writing poetry in his spare time.
But take a look into Mick’s past and you’ll find a very different person, trapped in a life of drugs and misery.
Mick was 13 years old when an older man drugged and raped him. Unable to talk to his father about it, Mick turned to drugs and alcohol in order to drown out the shame and depression.
It was the birth of his first daughter who inspired Mick to get clean. But he relapsed when his grandmother died shortly after the birth of his second daughter.
A soured business deal with a friend made things worse and the strain soon took its toll. That’s when Mick started taking Ice.
His father helped by renting a house to the struggling family of four. But on New Year’s Eve 2013, Mick’s wife fled with their two children. No note or text, just silence and an empty house.
Desperate and frightened for the safety of his family, Mick called his dad for support but his dad said: “You’re a lazy, good-for-nothing slob and I wish I never knew you. Your family is too good for you and you don’t deserve them.”
“In fact,” he said, “you have four days to clear out of the house!”
The rejection broke open a dam of pain built up over years of suffering. He felt the only way to escape was to kill himself. He washed down a box of sleeping tablets with a bottle of Southern Comfort.
Three weeks later, Mick woke up in hospital with pneumonia, six fractured vertebrae, three broken ribs and burns to 40 per cent of his body. In his drugged state he had burnt down his father’s house, then rammed his car into a power pole at high speed.
“On reflection, Mick will tell you he is thankful God took his family away from him for a time. It was for their safety and he had to reach rock bottom to find God.”
Abandoned by his wife and disowned by his parents, Mick’s recovery took months. Then on 14 February 2014, he went to prison. The first months were spent in isolation and shortly after his release into the general prison population, Mick attempted suicide.
After this failed attempt, two prison chaplains visited him and handed him a Bible. They continued to visit Mick every week, bringing encouragement, a sense of direction and hope.
Mick decided to read the Bible before his next suicide attempt. He stumbled across Psalm 27:10: “When your mother and father forsake you, I will take care of you, declares the Lord.” Mick realised God had been taking care of him, all this time.
Mick prayed and asked Jesus to come into his heart. Shortly after this, he was released on bail. With no family support, Mick struggled to find accommodation. Facing homelessness just four days before his birthday, Mick’s thoughts again turned to suicide. But God had other plans.
Mick called his local church’s Pastor, who arranged an interview for Mick at Reto-to-Hope Rehabilitation Centre. Fifteen months later, Mick’s trial began. The judge said that in all his years on the bench, he had never seen anyone admit themselves to rehab and stay there so long. It would be detrimental to the rehabilitation process to remove him now.
Today, Mick is a free man, both inside and out. He has visitation rights to his daughters and his life is a testament that nothing is impossible for God. Mick found poetic inspiration in his story of redemption and has written a number of poems about his journey from hopelessness to hope.
On reflection, Mick will tell you he is thankful God took his family away from him for a time. It was for their safety and he had to reach rock bottom to find God.
“He took me back, forgave me and has put people around me to help and support me. He truly loves us and wants us to come to him. He saved me in many ways. He granted me salvation, love, forgiveness and He’s put peace in my heart at times where there would have only been anxiety and stress,” Mick says.
*Name has been changed.