Michael Clark is an electrifying pastor. He is an incredibly gifted speaker, and never seems at a loss for words. His country twang and down-home humor make him an exciting messenger. He’s one of those guys you are glad is on your side! Especially since he wasn’t always on the right side! Today, Michael has a passion for living. In active addiction, he had a passion for death and destruction.
Michael started experimenting with drugs the way most young people do: marijuana and alcohol, starting at age 15. But it wasn’t until he tried Oxycontin that he really experienced being high on drugs. Oxycontins were his everything for years. He didn’t care who he hurt, he just had to get high.
You hear stories of people in addiction saying, “I’m not hooked. I can quit anytime.” This wasn’t the kind of addict Michael Clark was. He relished his addiction. He took pride in it. He was a Gladiator. A warrior for dope!
“I used to say rehab was for quitters. I was born this way and I was going to die this way. I thought I would be carried out on my shield. I just thought I was trapped in this for life. That it was a death sentence. I was going to go out in a blaze of glory and I was even willing to take as many with me as I could.”
Michael is candid about his lifestyle. He acknowledges that addiction in the 90’s and early 2000’s created an “us against them” mentality. The default public policy was: one, find an addict; two, lock up the addict. That will cure them! And if it doesn’t, throw away the key!
Only it didn’t. Michael recalls with the horror of one who’s seen terrible sights: “You would think prison would break a man. You would think seeing people die would break a man.” Despite seeing these things and more, Michael continued using, in a steady, downward spiral of jail, release, drug abuse, and repeat.
“Addiction loves a strong willed person. I was unafraid. Stealing, breaking hearts, death… none of them scared me,” Clark solemnly admits.
What could possibly change someone as lost as Michael Clark? How do you get a fighter who’s ready to die with his boots on, to walk off the battlefield of destruction? The answer: Love; the simple, pure, innocent love of a child.
Michael tells a powerful story of a letter he received from his then-15-year-old daughter. It read: “Dad, Me and [my brother] wanted to write you and tell you we have decided to move on with our life and don’t want you to a part of it any longer. You will always be our dad, but you have certainly broke our hearts. We hope something makes you happy because we never could. By the way, [brother] lost another tooth! Love.”
Clark says that letter broke him. This simple message of love and loss broke a man who had heretofore been unbreakable. He’d been to prison. He’d overdosed. He’d seen friends die. None of that had fazed him. But the idea that he was would be seen as lost forever in the eyes of his children, and their love for him in the face of that loss, was what ultimately led him to a spiritual awakening and, finally, a lifestyle change.
Clark was already in the SAP (Substance Abuse Program) in the Pike County Jail, a program for repeat drug offenders that combines substance use counseling, group therapy, and incarceration for felons. He began working to turn his life around for the sake of his children. He read the Bible. He started caring to see others get better and lead a purpose filled life.
Today, 2 years later, Michael has an abundant life. When you meet him, you meet someone who has an incredible future. He has his own ministry. He manages a 501c3 that he founded, and is fond of saying “I went from incarceration to incorporation…”, before finishing his sentence with an amazed, “Who can do that but God?”!
He recently joined the staff of Addiction Recovery Care as an Outreach Coordinator and spends his days traveling between Harlan and Hazard and Pikeville trying to help addicts overcome their own addiction. Since starting with ARC, he’s become a KY certified “ Peer Support Specialist.”
Despite his immense potential, he’s not in a hurry. He’s relishing life and reunification with his kids. He’s excited to get back in college- he lacks only 8 hours before he can get his degree from the University of Kentucky. He delights in the fact that for the first time in his life he was able to buy his children school clothes in August. His future goals are to stay with ARC and “go wherever the Lord leads me.”
He’s sure that wherever God takes him, helping others will be a central theme of his work and his ministry. He understands that drug addicts are not popular people, and that it’s hard to love someone in active addiction. But he wants people to realize that there is a way out, and for him it was Jesus.
“Drug addicts aren’t happy people. There’s no fun in doing this. You can lead a good, happy and fulfilling life without drugs. I’m forgiven by the blood of Jesus. I know there are people who put labels on me for my past, but God doesn’t. I have a reason to live and wake up every day.”
“I’m an ordained minister and I got to baptize my two children. They used to ride with me when I went to get dope. Now, they ride with me when I give hope.”
Addiction Recovery Care’s motto is simple: From Crisis to Career. #FromCrisistoCareer
ARC is a substance use disorder treatment company based in Louisa. It has outpatient and in-patient facilities around Kentucky. It recently added an outreach division that takes rehab services to wherever addiction and recovery are. ARC prides itself on helping clients achieve recovery and then helping them discover their God-given destiny.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please call Addiction Recovery Care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 606.638.0938 or visit them on the web at www.arccenters.com.
There is hope. There is help.