Matt grew up feeling like a misfit.
He was born in America in 1988 and grew up in England, but he didn’t feel a strong sense of belonging on either side of the Atlantic.
“I was never really a part of my dad’s new family, and back in England I always felt like the black sheep,” he said. “Either way, I was the black sheep.”
As a teenager, Matt discovered rave culture — and the drugs that came along with it. He began DJing at parties and finally felt accepted by a community, no matter how hollow. But as the rave days fell away, his addiction only grew.
Matt tried to clean up when he moved to Colorado at age 21. He went to school, started a family and worked at a car dealership. But soon he was addicted to meth, and his hope for a good life was slipping away. After suffering Bells Palsy from meth use and losing his job, Matt became homeless and depressed.
“I was going to kill myself,” he said. “I was just done. I had screwed up my face, couldn’t get a job, didn’t see my kids. There wasn’t any point anymore. I was ready.”
But God wouldn’t have it.
“I had been to church a few times before and I remembered this message that you had to die for Christ and he’d give you life,” he said. “So I got on my knees that night to say a prayer. I told God that I’d give it two weeks.”
We recently spoke to Matt about what happened during those two weeks, and all the many miracles that have happened since.
Can you start by telling us a bit about your background?
“I was born in Omaha and both my parents were U.S. Air Force. My mom was a British citizen and when I was two or three — after they got divorced — she took me back to England with her. So I grew up in a small farming village called Feltwell in Norfolk. If England had hillbillies, that’s where they’d all live.”
What was growing up in England like for you?
“It was a good village; a good place to grow up. But I got into a lot of trouble from an early age. It started with smoking drinking and spray painting stuff around the village, but then as I got older I got involved with drugs.”
Were you still seeing your dad during this time?
“Yeah, I was going back for summers with my dad in America. I loved America and felt like I should have grown up here. There was always a lot of joy here for me. … I graduated high school back in England when I was 15 and came to live with him in America. I wanted to go to the Air Force Academy, but I couldn’t get along with my stepmother, so they sent me back. That’s when I really started to fall into addiction.”
When did your struggle with addiction begin?
“I got into rave culture, started DJing a lot and really threw myself into a life where I was always high. I was using ecstacy. I felt like I found where I belonged.”
What brought you to Colorado? When was that?
“When I was 21, I moved to Colorado springs to remove myself from that lifestyle. I moved in with my dad and stepmother to do some college. I went to Pikes Peak Community College for a while. … I wanted to do something good with my life — something big.”
Can you tell me about your first marriage and your kids?
“I got married in 2011 or 2012 and had two girls, but I didn’t know what marriage really meant. I was selling cars and providing, but I was getting high again — this time on cocaine. I basically wasn’t around for the first year of my oldest daughter’s life. I kept it all a secret. That marriage ended in divorce.”
Is that around the time you started doing meth? Tell me about that.
“Yeah, I started doing meth and I lost my job selling cars because I was always high at work. I had so much nerve damage from snorting meth that I got Bell’s Palsy in early 2018 and paralyzed half of my face. I kept dropping trays and couldn’t work as a server anymore. I kept taking more and more meth. I thought I was going to die, but I didn’t care.”
How did you become homeless?
“My roommate told me I had to be out in three days. … I got my stuff together and got dropped off in Colorado Springs. I pawned off almost everything I owned and used that money to get a hotel for four days. I spent that time researching and reading about how to be homeless: where to stay, how to find food, where to go to get a job, how to get out of this. I wanted to get back on my feet, but I just didn’t know what to do anymore.”
How did you end up at Springs Rescue Mission and in the New Life Program?
“I was staying at the Salvation Army and someone showed me Samaritan’s Kitchen. I got some food and then I went over to the Resource Center and started applying for jobs. … I met with a case manager and he showed me the New Life Program. They interviewed me, accepted me and I stayed in a sober home for a few days before I got in. That was February 2019.”
What was your experience like in the New Life Program?
“I spent that year praying and really trying to listen to the Lord. I was trying to get to know Jesus. I was done with the old life and I was ready to follow Jesus, and that’s what I did. I spent my time in the program improving my fitness, reading the Bible, soaking myself into all the classes, submitting to the counselor and what he had to say. I was really laying everything down so that God could take it, kill it and give me new stuff. The product of that is what you see today. I feel like I’ve changed in every way. The old me did die. … Now I know where life comes from: It’s not drugs; it’s not relationships; it’s nothing but the Lord.”
Tell me about life since you graduated the program.
“I graduated the New Life Program last May. I’m now a chef for Mission Catering. I had been a server for so long and really had no interest in doing that. But I worked in Samaritan’s Kitchen when I was in the program and realized that I had this intense love for feeding the public. I get to feed God’s children and encourage them. … I feel like what I’m doing now is what God had always been preparing me for in one package. I really love what I do and the people I work with and the people we serve. … I love to work with the men in the program. I want to build them up and encourage them, show them what success looks like.”
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