I had a real mom and dad. They taught me the right way as a family oriented life. Came from El Paso, TX. Raised in Juarez, Mx. We lived in New Mexico and Texas. I was born in Hatch, N.M. I moved to Oxnard, CA, then to Ventura, CA then on to Camarillo, CA, then finally to Ontario, CA in 1968. I went to Jr. High and High School there. I was exposed to gangs and drugs while in Jr. High. I wasn’t going to graduate in 1975, because my grades were too low. I made a choice to graduate in 1975. After graduating, I made a mistake in my life by going back to the ghetto I was raised in, in Ontario, CA. I ran back to the gang I used to hang out with. I did what was required in a gang. Robberies, initiations, etc. I ran with this gang for a couple of years. I dealt drugs for a good ten years, along with using the drugs heavily. One time I was high in a park, and that is when I met my future wife for the first time. We got high together. We ended up getting our own place and having three children together. I would still get high, continued dealing drugs. We eventually moved to another place in Ontario. I got involved with a biker gang. I started dealing heroin. We would steal Porsches, part them out and sell the parts. During this time, I was doing a lot of speed and heroin. My wife and kids moved out of the area and away from me. I was separated from them for roughly 18 months due to my drug dealing and doing drugs. I moved in with a friend and dealt more drugs. I was with this friend for about one year. Eventually, I moved in to my mom’s home in Ontario. I got heavy into drugs. My cousin from Tijuana was a drug dealer. I sold for him, but also was constantly strung out on drugs and used the drugs I was supposed to sell, so therefore the people that were supposed to get their drugs, never did because I used the drugs myself. I was given Heroin to sell and did the same thing. My life was threatened. At this point in time I was at my lowest. My future wife called me (she was in church at this time). Her current pastor told her that it was the will of God for the daddy of their three children raise his own kids. I tried three times to go to her, but stuff kept on getting in the way. The third time I had a little money in my pocket and I left Ontario and moved to Manteca. I went to church and sat in the back. Saw my girlfriend in church. I thought the church was weird. My girlfriend came back and looked at me and told me if I want to be a part of their life that I had to go to the altar and quit sitting in the back pew. I went to the altar on 12/7/91 and God moved on me and filled me with the Holy Ghost. The pastor of the church put me on 90 days probation to prove myself. I lived in Riverbank for the 90 days. Went to church all the time. We couldn’t live together yet. I would take my kids lunch and clothing. I finally got to move in with my family after we got married. We lived in Manteca for 15 years. I ended up getting my ministerial license and was used in all areas in the church. Sunday School, Prison Ministry, Rest Homes, Outreach, Fundraisers, etc. God blessed us that during those 15 years we saw three great revivals there. After 15 years there, we felt the need to move and we moved to Red Bluff, CA and was there 4 years. We commuted to Susanville for roughly a year. We came back to the Red Bluff church under a new pastor for roughly 1 ½ years. After living in Red Bluff for 5 years, we felt the need to move to Anderson and while under Pastor Green’s guidance.
I went through high school, trying to be accepted and popular. I purchased muscle cars to impress and get girls. During my high school years, the big thing was weekend keggers and doing drugs. I remember how I always wanted to go hunting with my dad, but my dad would never take me because he didn’t like to hunt. Also, during my formative years, I not once remembered hearing my dad tell me he loved me. Deep down inside I knew he loved me, but he didn’t know how to show it except to work hard and provide for the family. Still to this day, I would still love to hear my dad say, “I love you”, just once. I enlisted in the army in 1975 shortly after I got out of high school. I wanted to get away from Aberdeen, where I grew up. I felt my life was going nowhere. I put in to go to Germany or Korea. I was stationed in Germany. I ended up partying even harder in the army than when I was home in Aberdeen, Washington. I felt empty and didn’t know what to do with my life. While in the army I was very, very drunk and didn’t give God any thought at all. I remember one time I was watching a German TV program, while drunk. This TV program showed German family life. It caused me to think (in my drunken state), about having a family. I remember asking God to give me a family like that. I continued doing drugs and drinking heavily. I used acid, hash, cocaine, speed. I would go to rock concerts loaded. It was a miracle I didn’t get arrested or in a wreck. There was one time I forgot my cash in my wall locker in the barracks, so I went back and Ron Devine had our door locked. His buddies from the infantry were there doing heroin. He let me in, but I had to try it (Heroin) to comfort others' paranoia, not knowing me. I came home from the army in December 1979. I was released a month early for the holidays. I flew to Spokane, Washington to stay with my Grandparents and then drove from Spokane to Aberdeen with my Grandparents to spend the Christmas Holidays with my parents. I went to Junior College to take machinist classes, since this was the direction I decided to take in my life. I ended up getting hired at a company called Lambs Grays Harbor. I was there for 4 years and never made it to the coveted machinist position before I ended up being laid off. During this time at Lambs, I met my future wife, Rhonda Baker (Russell). We partied, drank, did drugs together. I met her through my uncle who told me about this lady in Shelton, Washington who challenged me to meet her on a blind date. During this time, my uncle and I had a bet that I wouldn’t get married before I turned 25. This bet was at $250.00. Later we upped it to $500.00 that I wouldn’t get married before I turned 30. So, this challenge to meet this Rhonda lady, was a way for my uncle to win the bet, because he had this gut feeling we would hit it off. So, I agreed to get together on a blind date. Well, I cheated and drove to Shelton a week early and walked in to the Credit Union she worked at and found her desk with her name on it. So, I got a good look at her and knew who I would be having a “blind” date with. I never admitted this to her till much later. We started dating and I slowly started moving my stuff into her apartment. During this time of dating, I still hadn’t found God yet, but knew I found the woman of my dreams. We married in June 1982. I hired on at Simpson Timber Company in McCleary, Washington. We both continued partying and doing drugs. My wife, when I met her, partied with bikers in the area, so to party with my soon to be wife, I got rid of my Kawasaki and bought a Harley Davidson. The Credit Union my wife worked at, opened a satellite office in Anderson, California. They offered my wife a job down there with all expenses paid to move down there and help start up this new office. So, we sold our home, packed up and moved down to Cottonwood, California. At this point in time, both my wife and I were oblivious to God’s hand in our life and how He was directing our path. This move put us closer to where God wanted us. We continued partying down in California, because as the saying goes, water seeks its own level. Eventually, after 7 years of marriage, my wife and I started a family. When my wife realized she was pregnant, she chose to stop drinking and doing drugs. She quit her cigarette habit. We both remembered that our friends up in Washington would still party and do drugs even while pregnant. My wife stopped for the baby’s sake. We ended up buying land and built our second home (our first was up in Washington). By this time our first born was 3 years old. During this time, I got into contact with metal art work and decided I wanted to go that direction to keep myself busy and out of trouble. I continued to drink and smoke. During this time in our life my wife decided to go back to church. I knew deep down inside that this was eventually going to happen. She went back to church to what she knew at that time. I stayed home and would not attend with her. My wife also had a babysitter that she hired when she chose to go back to work. During this first year of taking our daughter to the babysitter, the babysitter would witness to her about the plan of salvation. I remember my wife coming home upset at what the babysitter was telling her. But, bit by bit my wife started seeing what God’s word said and realized that she wasn’t saved. This took about a year of testimony from her babysitter to get my wife to see and understand. She quit going to the nominal church she was going to and chose to attend the Apostolic church her babysitter was going to. I chose not to go, but tithed anyway because of my wife and daughter (eventually a second daughter came on the scene also). My wife convinced me to go, but I went very infrequently. Eventually my wife’s babysitter switched to a different apostolic church. My wife stayed at the current one she was going to. A gentleman that was going to True Life Church (the one the babysitter switched to), invited me to a revival service. My wife convinced me to go because she explained that it wasn’t sheep stealing because I wasn’t classified as a “sheep” in the church she was going to because I didn’t go. My wife was desperate to get me in church. I decided to go, but drove around and around nervous to go in. I eventually went to a mini mart and bought a beer and guzzled it down in the church parking lot. I finally walked in to the church with “beer courage” and looked around for the guy who invited me. I listened to the service but wasn’t moved on to go to the altar only because I was holding back, but I felt it and knew it was right. I was invited to come back. When I got home my wife asked me how it was and I told her it was good, but I didn’t go back. Somewhere during this time, the church my wife was going to had an evangelist there. I went to one of the services. This was on 7/4/93. My wife got the Holy Ghost at this service and God moved on me mightily that night. The pastor of that church told me I needed to get baptized in Jesus' name, so that night I got baptized. Roughly two weeks later I was drinking fairly heavily and had a cassette in my stereo called “Sanctuary Praise.” I was listening to it cranked up, drinking my beer and crying. My wife and her best friend were at church. What I didn’t know is that they got out of church and walked in to the house to witness my listening to the songs and crying. With my wife witnessing this it moved her and her friend to want to practice this song and plan on singing it when the time came that I chose to come to church. Unfortunately, my wife was not allowed to sing it at church due to whatever reason that is not important now, just that my wife was desperate to get me to church. This decision devastated my wife and she made the decision that she could not go back. My wife told me what happened and I told her that she needs to have a meeting with the pastor at our house to let him know why, and why she wouldn’t be coming back. My wife started going to True Life Church in Anderson in September 1997. I started going with her and lightened up my beer drinking and smoking. On December 7, 1997, we had a missionary from Ireland on deputation who preached for us. To this day I do not remember what his message was and for some odd reason the message did not get recorded by the media person. I was drawn to the altar that night. I repented and stood up and raised my hands. Many men surrounded me. I was praying real heavy. I heard someone say, “let it go, Mick, let it go!” so I did. I started crying and God filled me with the Holy Ghost. I was speaking in tongues for quite some time with tears streaming down my face. During this time is when I really started living for God. I realized I was an alcoholic. I was under attack right after God filled me with the Holy Ghost. I would sneak a beer and cigarettes. A brother that went to the same church worked at the same mill I did. I had to be really careful that this brother didn’t see me sneak around. If he ever did know what I was doing, to this day he has never let me know. I hid it really well. I was still struggling on into 1998. I battled depression. I would drive to a mini mart store where I knew no one would see me and I would sneak a beer and buy cigarettes. Then I would head home. In November 1998, I and my wife went to PSR (now WCC). Bro. Vaughn Morton preached a message on how you can lose a soul. He was speaking directly to me. He brought up how someone in your church can be witnessing to someone, trying to get them to come to church. They may be working at a grocery store or wherever. And you are sneaking around buying your cigarettes and beer at the place the person works at. This person eventually comes to church and sees you there at the church worshipping God, hands lifted up and yet he/she remembers seeing you buy beer and cigarettes from them at the store they work at. That you have just lost your testimony and hindered the person trying to win that soul. This affected me immensely, because that person was me. I didn’t go to the altar but made a beeline to find my pastor. I found him and hugged him and confessed to him and apologized. I learned from that day forward how to shun temptation. I was done with the beer and the cigarettes. God helped me by delivering me from alcohol, but not the nicotine habit. It was a hard go, but with God’s help, I finally was able to quit. I realized that living for God and having a family living for God is what it is all about. When I was in the army, I saw family units and realized that is what I wanted. God answered my prayer way back in Germany when I was watching their TV. God knew what I needed and wanted. Many years later I realized God did hear and answer my prayers. I am now a Grandpa twice over and have two lovely daughters in the truth and two wonderful sons-in-law and all are going to the same church my wife and I go to. God has certainly blessed me over and over.