This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him (Ps. 34:8).
Hi, I’m Mick. I’m originally from Northern Ireland where I grew up on a council estate on the east side of Belfast City. As a young boy, I found life challenging. My mother died relatively young due to alcohol addiction and my father was a British soldier serving towards the end of the troubles in Ireland. I never met my father, so I went to live with my grandmother. By this time, my grandmother was a single parent with seven sons, four daughters and myself to raise. So, growing up, we didn’t have much, but I always felt loved and have primarily good memories of my early years.
A downward spiral
When I was eleven, my life changed direction and started spiralling out of control. I got involved with an older crowd on the estate who introduced me to alcohol and illegal drugs. Drugs ensnared my soul for many years. By the age of fifteen, my destructive lifestyle had gotten me expelled from several schools and I spent all my time hanging around on the estate. Paramilitary organisations controlled the drug trade on the estate and through my lifestyle, I became associated with them.
When I was eighteen, I was approached and asked to join one of these organisations. I didn’t care much for religion back then. I only cared about the party lifestyle and having what I thought was a good time, but I thought it was easier to smile and say yes. A great fear came over me and that was the first time I remember praying this simple prayer: ‘God, help me!’ God heard and answered that prayer and through divine circumstances, I never had to experience the initiation process of joining, but sadly, I was now affiliated with these people. Years later, this affiliation would prove to be near fatal. A feud broke out between two of these loyalist organisations and during this time, I was attacked and suffered life-threatening neck injuries, coming within one centimetre of death.
God help me
It was in the hospital that the reality of eternity struck me. I had never given life after death much thought until the doctor who operated on me explained how fortunate I was to be alive. As he turned to leave, I vaguely heard these words: ‘Where would you have gone if you had died?’ That fear took over me again and when I got released from the hospital, I returned to my box bedroom, fell on my knees and with tears of despair running down my face, I prayed those three words again: ‘God, help me!’
Again, God heard that prayer. Many things changed in my life that night but I still didn’t know the God of the Bible personally. To escape this lifestyle, I left the estate and got a flat in another part of the city. I isolated myself and turned to heroin. As the Scripture says in John 10:10, the ‘thief comes to steal, kill and destroy’. Drugs stole my childhood years; my later lifestyle nearly killed me; heroin was the final tactic the enemy would use to try to destroy me. For the next seven years, heroin slowly brought me to a point where suicide seemed my best option.
I will give my life to you
At this point, my grandmother was dying and one of her nurses was a Christian lady. She learned a little about my story and returned to her church where there was a brother who was a missionary to the addicted. One evening, he rapped on my door and gave me an alternative to suicide: a life with Christ. He recommended a Christian rehabilitation program in Wales and I arrived in Wales in 2010. Not long thereafter, I attended a church service and heard the gospel message. I remember being enraptured by this message: the forgiveness of sin through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross of Calvary.
Again, a fear came over me. I knew it was because I didn’t have a relationship with Christ. I knew I needed Christ and his forgiveness in my life. Again, I cried those three words: ‘God, help me!’ This time there was a difference. I added these words: ‘And I will give my life to you.’ At that point, everything changed. I was born again by the Spirit of God; my sadness turned to joy; I knew Christ was real and suddenly, I had hope and a desire to live again, to live for the one who had died for me. By God’s grace, that’s what I’m doing now.
Scripture says in Romans 8:28, ‘And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.’ God is now working my past for good. I can relate to many of the challenges the people of the valleys face and in March 2021, I started pioneering a project for the charitable organisation Hope For The Valleys. The charity aims to reach as many young people as possible with the gospel and introduce them back into the local church. It is estimated that in the UK 95% of young people under eighteen don’t attend church. This statistic challenged me to act and to try and do something. I’m now privileged to take this gospel message that changed my life into the schools and communities within the Welsh valleys. I now desire and hope to see young people and families transformed by the power of this glorious gospel message.
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