Testimony of the Month
My name is Michael Lepore and just a few months ago, I saw my 18-year-old daughter for the first time. It’s completely my own fault that I never saw her before. She lived here in the Salt Lake Valley for her entire life and I could’ve reached out to her, but my life was too much of a mess.
I have to give credit to God for making the meeting happen. We met at the Gateway mall in Salt Lake to watch a movie. Even though we had never seen each other, we recognized each other right away. We embraced and even though I tried not to, I started crying. It was a truly happy moment in my life. We watched a movie together and had a great time. I look forward to being part of her life.
God's People Helped Me
I say the credit for that reunion goes to God, and it does. But really it was God using people to help me that made the difference. First, there was a friend of mine who had previously participated in the New Life Recovery Program at the Rescue Mission. He saw me at the public housing shelter looking run down and skinny from my meth addiction. He told me to try the Rescue Mission if I was ready to quit and get help for a changed life.
His words stuck with me and a few days later I came to the Mission and spoke with Don Hill, who was the house manager at the time. Don said the Mission would help me and always be there for me. I joined the New Life Program and I found Don’s promise to be true. Whenever I was thinking about using drugs, I could talk to the Mission staff and they helped me. They talked to me, shared Bible verses, and even connected me with my community mentor, Scott Price, who is a good friend to me and helped me learn more about God and the Bible.
Scott was instrumental in helping me reach out to my daughter and assisted in setting up our meeting. Since I was now sober, I wasn’t ashamed to meet her. I hope she can accept me and love me, even though I wasn’t there for her while she grew up. I know that God can restore our relationship even more than He already has.
Besides a newfound relationship with my daughter, I have a new outlook on life. I have hopes, I have dreams. I have a good job at a local fast food restaurant. While it doesn’t pay a lot, it is steady full-time work and it is allowing me to save up some money for my own apartment. With over a year of sobriety behind me, I feel like my whole life is in front of me.
The best part is that my new outlook comes with new faith in God. Before I came to the Rescue Mission, I really wondered if God existed. I felt like He had never been there for me and every person I met had mistreated me in one way or another. If there was a God, why didn’t He seem to care about me? What I learned through the Bible studies, counseling sessions and by going to church each week at Calvary Chapel of Salt Lake, was that everything happens in God’s timing. Maybe I felt mistreated my whole life so that I could truly appreciate God’s love and the love of His people when I encountered it at the Mission. Maybe I wouldn’t have realized His love and power in the way I did if I hadn’t felt so much pain in the past.
As I saw people follow through on their promises to me, genuinely care about me, and take care of all my physical needs, I renewed my faith in God. I have learned so much about God’s goodness and the way He works in the world. He has truly changed me.
What Went Wrong
And I needed a lot of changing. Growing up on the west side of Salt Lake City near the Rose Park area of town I had a fairly normal childhood. I went to West High School and was a member of the football team. However, I started using marijuana with my cousins and that led to other drugs. I was just 15 when my daughter was born and I escaped by letting her mother take care of her.
Throughout most of my adult life, I used some sort of drug or alcohol. However, there was a brief period about five years ago when I got sober in order to pursue what most people would consider a strange dream. I have always wanted to be a professional wrestler. I was managing a fast food restaurant on North Temple and would always see this place near the corner of Redwood Road called Utah Championship Wrestling (UCW)-Zero. Curious, I inquired and found it was a training school for people who wanted to become professional wrestlers.
At this point, I should explain that the wrestling I am talking about is the fake, over-the-top cheesy WWE kind of wrestling. For some reason I just like it and have always wanted to be one of the characters on those wrestling shows. I like to make people laugh and I like to entertain people. And I love to travel. So it was pretty much my dream job. My desire to be a wrestler motivated me to quit using drugs and enroll in the UCW training school. I knew I couldn’t make it if I was on drugs so I quit cold turkey.
Things were going well and the school picked three students—myself and two other guys—to travel to Florida to try out for a show the WWE was running called “Tough Enough.” It was basically a reality TV show where wannabe wrestlers were put through various challenges with the winner getting a contract to be a WWE wrestler.
On the flight over to Florida, one of my fellow wrestlers broke out some meth. We all did some together. Little did we know that when we arrived at the Tough Enough facility we would be given complete physicals, including drug tests. When meth showed up in our systems, we were sent home. Devastated, I went back to my normal existence as a fast-food restaurant manager and turned to drugs more and more. A short while later, my parents died (they were both in poor health and died in short succession of each other) and I fell into an even bigger depression. My drug use grew so bad that I lost my job and became homeless.
God Breaks Through My Stubbornness
I was too proud to ask anybody for help so I just muddled along, living at the public housing shelter. Whatever money I could cobble together I would use on drugs. It wasn’t until that friend of mine, who had been on the Rescue Mission’s New Life Program, reached out to me and told me I could get free help. I just needed to ask. It was at that moment that I realized I was tired of being homeless and controlled by drugs. I realized I had seen one too many people stabbed on the streets or beaten up over nothing. I realized I needed to ask for help.
I am so glad that I did. When I came to the Mission, I was on probation for stealing a few dollars from my sister. Today, I am just a few weeks away from getting off probation and I have a great relationship with my probation officer. He respects the work I have done in the New Life Program and can see the change in me. When I graduate from the New Life Program, I plan to move into the Terri Timmerman Freedom House where I can continue to have the accountability and structure I need to stay on track as I grow in sobriety and in my relationship with God.
God has truly blessed me since I came to the Rescue Mission. I have gained sobriety, employment, legal reconciliation, a relationship with God and a renewed relationship with my daughter. Today I look forward to life and the future, whatever it may hold. Please pray for me, that I could continue to rebuild trust with my daughter, stay sober and maybe, just maybe, get that chance to get into the professional wrestling ring someday!
To learn more about what is happening at the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake in November, check out our monthly newsletter, The Rescuer: