(Please listen to Mike’s story by clicking the white play button at the top of this post. You can read the transcript of the story below.)
I just wish that I could like pull this out of my chest and plug it into you or plug it into my wife or plug it in, you know, to somebody who is having a bad day. I just want to like, hang on a second, I’m going to tell the Lord I’ll be right back. I just want to borrow this for a second, plug them in real fast. And then pull it and let them just feel what it’s like. So that they can get the that excitement, I don’t know, that it doesn’t matter what’s going on, man. He’s just always there.
I was raised as a military brat, so I went to 17 schools in 12 years, and I was the oldest of five boys. So when we went to another place, I was gonna have to get it in. I was gonna have to get in there and fight my way to figure out where you fit. And then my brothers had to do the same thing. Well, you put your hands on my brothers then you had to deal with me. So I wasn’t just, it wasn’t just me going out there and fighting my way in. And I had to go back and I was dealing with everybody else. I just grew up fighting a lot. And we traveled all the–17 schools in 12 years is a lot. We were we would come back to Lindale, Texas, that was our home base. And then we would move to Utah or we would move to Hawaii or Albuquerque or wherever we’re going…
We would come back and we would go to Central Baptist Church. And so absolutely, like in the fourth grade, I remember they played a film about some biker guy got his head cut off or something. And he woke up in hell and it scared me to death. And then there was like the original 1972 Left Behind series or something like that, I don’t know if you remember that. But it scared me to death. And so I remember going to tell … telling my mother, I was like, “We need to go see brother Galloway because I don’t want to get left behind.” And so I went down there and I prayed what they prayed. I said what they said.
Does that mean that I was saved? I lived like hell for 45 years after that. So does that mean that I was saved? I don’t know.
I enlisted when I was 17. I was in the army, a decorated military veteran. I went all over the place–Korea, Honduras, all over. I got out and I came down here. My father was sick. And I came down here and I started building exhibits for trade shows and museums, Got up to like 137 employees, I think. Just just crazy stuff.
We were successful, you know. I partied a lot. I got to the point where I was I was drinking, you know, five double Crown on the rocks every day with six Coors Light chasers for about 15 years. That was before dinner. Then I would have wine at dinner and I would have martinis after dinner, whatever. And I lived like that. And I partied like that. And I I was partying like a rock star. And we’re flying around on airplanes. There were times there were airplanes with stripper poles in them, you know. I mean, it was… I was out there like that.
And I got into… I loved that business. And I started another one. And we cranked up real fast and I was just living bad. I knew I was livin’ bad during those times. All those years. At one point I went to the Promise Keepers at the Texas Stadium. I don’t remember, there was like 80,000 Christian men, people going forward like biblical stuff. I mean, it’s crazy. I would go to church from time to time. God was was touching me. He was trying to get my attention. It just, it was no good, you know, and there were spirits. I’m telling you. There were spirits in me like Legion. I was much like Legion. When I first started reading my Bible, I remember thinking I was… I liked the story of Joseph. I liked the story of David. And it was fun to think that I might be like them, you know. Man, that was locked up for something he didn’t do, but then when I when I really get down to brass tacks, I figured out I was more like Legion though because I was terrorizing everybody around me, you know, and hurting and cutting myself, I was doing all this. I was just a horrible person. I loved my family. I loved my wife, but I was at strip clubs all the time.
I was just tore up. It was like I said, I’m sitting there reading my Bible in one hand and I got my knife in the other one. A completely different person. And bottom line is, one of my key guys got locked up and then the wheels just fell off the business. And so I went around for like a year cleaning all that stuff up all over the country–cleaning up jobs. There was one that I couldn’t get to and this guy leveled a theft charge against me. First offence theft charge. I didn’t take it serious. I fought it for about two years going back and forth to New Orleans and whatnot. And I won’t go into all of the details but there was never a theft. I can say that with a pure heart that there was not a theft, but there were a lot of things I did that were illegal, that you know, quite frankly, if you just look at the way that I treated my wife, five years wasn’t enough.
So they came over here on the first offense theft, they arrested me, extradited me, convicted me and sentenced me to 10 years in Louisiana State Penitentiary. Up to that point, I’d had five speeding tickets my whole life. So when I say that God got a hold of me by the scruff of my neck and set me down. I remember being in New Orleans working on the penthouse of the Ritz Carlton. And I remember the guy coming in and wanting me to go to channel six. And I I saw that guys were shooting up New Orleans and guy’s named Stewart, you know, he said, “We need to do something about that.” And I said, “Not me, let God, kill them all, let God sort it out” is exactly what I said.
A year and a half later, I’m looking out the fan at the end of the hallway. And there is the Superdome, the Marriott, and there’s the penthouse where I had been, where I’d said that. And I was locked up with those same guys. I was on a on a violent tier in the Old Parish prison. Everybody that was in there was in there for a rape, kidnapping, or a murder or a combination all three, for the most part. And I was an extremely angry, hateful individual.
There was one night that I told God about it. I told him that I didn’t… I didn’t deserve this. My family didn’t deserve it. And these guys didn’t deserve it. And I was going to end up killing one of them and their blood would be on His hands. And I said it pretty much at the top of my voice.
And just like in Pilate’s court, Jesus said nothing. He just stepped in that jail cell. and he gave me what I refer to as a holy hug. There were 57 guys in that jail, and I watched 27 of them get saved and baptized over the next five years. But when he stepped on that tier, it changed everything. It changed all of us.
And when I say a holy hug, I’m talking about physically wrapped his arms around me, man, pulled my head down against his shoulder. I’m telling you that’s it was…the Lord stepped in there. I can’t tell you any other better way than that.
And, you know, people can they can call me crazy if you want to. But I’m just telling you, everything changed at that point for me when I knelt down beside the… I had an appetite for that book that I still have, you know, three or four or five hours a day every single day, I was in that book, just eating it up. But before that, I mean, I had cussed out a priest on the yard, told him I was going to cut his head off, you know, because I thought he was being disrespectful. I was horrible, horrible, and, you know, I fortunately had an opportunity to apologize to the man after that, having that encounter I apologized to him and came to recognize that this guy has been going into one of the worst prisons in the world for 20-some odd years, and has made a significant difference.
I did 5 on 10 and I when I got out I didn’t, I was not going to get back in business, you know. I prayed about it and guys, you know, I would say, “Lord, What do you want me to do? I need to work.” And he would send somebody.
I expect to grow. I expect to see things. I expect to do things that are unbelievable. I expect that the Spirit of God, that Spirit of Truth, is going to show me the truth in all things.
I talked to Simon Manning, a billionaire out in Beverly Hills, a customer and business mentor. And he said, “Wow, I really wish you could resurrect the theater business. I said, “Nah, I’m not doing that.”
He said, “So you’re a … ” He’s a devout Jew. He’s just as devout as the day is long, and he said, “So you’re born again, are ya?” And I said, “You give me five minutes, you will be too.”
The former mayor of Dallas, Tom Leppert, was encouraging me to get in business and various friends were into it. I would … it wouldn’t surprise me, man, if a stranger in a grocery stores said, you should really start a business, you know, because I would pray, “What do you want me to do?” And then there was … He would send somebody else to me, and he would say “you should start a theater business.” I’m not doing that, “What do you want me to do?” And he sent somebody else.
And this one business card kept popping up. And that’s what I was telling you, this business card, when I emptied my storage space out to make my office at home. This card fell out and I put my, I put it in a box. I got back over there to set my office up, it fell out again. I’m praying, “What do you want me to do?” And this guy’s business card falls out again. I put it in my wallet.
Third month, still can’t get a job. Bagging groceries at Brookshires. I’m …I can’t get nothing. He closed every single door on the planet. This one right. And I call, I said what am I doing? He put that card my mind. So I pulled it out. And I called the guy and I talked to Jeff Morrison. He was with Omni audio/video from Rockwall. And Jeff said, “Man, I’m glad… I hate that that happened to you. But I’m glad that you’re out. Because I’m building a showroom. And I’m putting a couple of theaters in and I didn’t know who I was going to use. I was really hoping that, you know, that you would do it. And I said, “Jeff, look, I’m not really interested. The only reason I called you is because your your card kept popping up.”
I said, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll think about it. I’ll pray about it.” And he said, “You’re going to …. you said you’d think about it?” I said, “No. I said, I’ll pray about it.” So I hang up with Jeff. And I start praying. And I said, “Look, I need to know this is of You because I keep hearing it over and over and over again. And you know, I’m really slow. I need to know this is of You because I don’t want to do this if it’s not.”
“And so I need you to just put dew on the fleece or don’t dew on the fleece. Right. I need you to … if that guy calls me Monday morning with the job that is not in his show room, I’ll know, it’s you. And I’ll know you want me to get into this thing.” And that Monday morning, Jeff called me and he had a check for 20 grand for a theater over in Irving.
I don’t know that I cried that hard when my mom passed. But God answered my prayer very specifically, right? So if you don’t think it’ll happen, it’ll happen. You gotta have, you gotta ask, you know, and I started doing it. And it was crazy because I went over and I started looking at the space after I got the money. And there was these buildings, like these buildings here, and I talked to Seeley, I think was the guy, and he said he didn’t have any spaces the size that I was looking for, something small. And then I was like, all right, well, I’m praying, you know, what do. I don’t have any tools and any space, and he said, “Call him back.” So I called him back. And I said, for some reason, I just asked him, I said, “Is there, is there somebody having a problem paying their bills?” And he was real quiet. And he said, “Actually, let me call you right back.”
So he goes, and he calls this guy and he calls me back. This guy was about to get locked out. And so I go over there and I meet the guy. We have breakfast and we go over there and look at the space. He’s a hoarder. And this building is 5000 square feet and it is packed. There’s only a path to the bathroom. Like 10 feet deep it was piled up and as we’re walking through the space, I see a slide and table saw, I see planners and joiners and dust collectors. Some of this stuff is still in boxes, routers and sanders. And I’m like, everything that I lost was restored. Like overnight. I’m talking about right now. And so I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to get all this stuff. How am I gonna…? What am I going to do with all this stuff, and then help get this thing set back up. So I paid the guy’s rent. And then we …the landlord comes in. He says, like, I got 12,000 square feet around the corner. And I’ve got two guys and a forklift. And I said, “Man, I can’t afford that. I mean, all we got’s a little bit of money to do this job.” And he said, “I’m giving them to you to use.” So we took all that stuff. And we load it. When we move everything around the corner, we set up shop. And then we brought some of those things back in there. We got rid of a bunch of stuff, but we built that first theater. And then we built the next one. The next one.
It’s like I said, you know, David was there for a little bit. He wasn’t really one of those guys that really wanted to work. He’s mildly autistic. And he was more interested in going out dancing at old folks homes, you know. And the other guy that I had, he had his own job, his day job. So I was pretty much working by myself a lot of times, and I told you, you know, I was standing out there talking about … it was late one afternoon, I was tired, and I just looked up and I said, “I could use some help.”
And not, not a minute I don’t think went by and these two guys pulled up in a car out front. When the two guys walk up, I’m thinking, you know, God’s kind of showing off at that point. And he says, “This is my friend, he’s from Canada and is going back to Mexico. Can he, you know, he’s looking for a job. He’s going to be here for like, you know, three months.” And I’m like, “Okay, what does he do?” And he said, “He’s a carpenter.” And I said, “Really?” Now God’s really showing off, you know, and I said, I reached out to shake his hand and I said, “My name is Mike.” And he said, “My name is Jesus.”
He sent me Jesus. The Carpenter. I can’t make this stuff up, you know.
Have I changed? Probably. I have changed over the years. But the one thing that’s really cool, He’s not changed at all. He has a good sense of humor. He loves me just like I was, He loves me just like I am. But he’s always loved me and still does–too much to let me stay the same, right?
So I expect to grow. I expect to see things. I expect to do things that are unbelievable. I expect that the Spirit of God, that Spirit of Truth, is going to show me the truth and all things, and I’m excited about the next season. Right? Every time He prunes this vine back, I know it says that it’s so that you may be more fruitful, right? As long as you remain in me. As long as you stay right here. You’re gonna be fine. And and it’s always been that way.
So I don’t have I don’t have any stories to tell you. This is an everyday thing.