I met Jesus on my front porch on December 23, 2001. I was out there smoking weed, writing music, and minding my own business, when He interrupted my lyrics with a rap of His own.
I know, I know! I hear some of you protesting, “Michael, God doesn’t rap,” or even “God doesn’t speak to us that way.” But God has a history of doing incredible things to reach the lost, and on that day, He reached me.
The Bible is full of examples of God speaking in unique ways. He spoke to Moses through a burning bush (Exodus 3:1–14), to Balaam through the mouth of a donkey (Numbers 22:21–40), and to King Belshazzar through a handwritten message on the wall (Daniel 5).
In my case, He put together a unique rhyme and rhythm that grabbed my attention and captured my heart. The moment I heard those words, the brick wall around my heart began to crumble. For the first time, I understood that God was real and that He was more powerful than anything I had ever known.
But let me tell you a little about my life at that time before I go deeper into the details of that day.
For as long as I can remember, loneliness had been my constant companion. Perhaps it was because I was a biracial kid who never quite felt accepted. Maybe it was because my dad was absent from my life. Or because I was an only child to a single mom in a neighborhood of much larger families. Whatever the reasons, I was alone and vulnerable. My mother was the only person who seemed to have my back.
Mom did her best to protect me from evil and teach me right from wrong, but by the time I was 13, she’d lost me to a world of drugs and sex. At 15, I dropped out of school and moved in with a 22-year-old woman who introduced me to selling crack. I jumped right in to the business, but got myself involved in shootouts, robberies, and other criminal activities too.
Looking back, I regret the pain I put my mother through. Now, as a father of three incredible young men, I would be devastated if any of them chose the life of destruction on the streets that I did.
I thank God for meeting me that day on my porch. I was fascinated with street life and blinded by dollar signs, but He opened my eyes to a better way. He opened my eyes to life and love.
My only intention that December day was to get high and write music. A thick sense of darkness swirled around me as I sought the right words to convey my message. And then, for reasons I still don’t understand, my attention shifted from my paper and pen to the heavens.
I looked up into the sky and blurted, “You tell me! You tell me!” I repeated the phrase multiple times. It grew in intensity with each repetition. After about the seventh time, the Lord broke in with His own words.
“If I tell you that I told you,
then you still wouldn’t believe it.
I done showed you, and you seen it,
but you walk with the demons.
For all the wrong reasons. Look at the seasons,
and mysterious disasters. This life is soon after.
You need to get in church and talk to the pastor.”
I was speechless. These weren’t my words. And they weren’t just words. God’s presence and power accompanied them.
There’s a saying on the streets: “Keep it a buck,” which means, “keep it real.” That day on that porch, things got really real. In God’s presence, I clearly understood that nothing in my life was trustworthy. The streets had sold me a lie, and I had bought it.
I was 21, and for the first time, I felt the weight of my sin and the depth of my need for Jesus. I broke down and cried, asking God to save me. I knew I needed Him—I needed truth.
That prayer was the beginning of a new life, but not an easy one. The devil wasn’t going away without a fight. He immediately interjected doubts into my mind about God’s gift of salvation and my value to Him.
“You think it’s that easy?” he taunted. “You think you can just say a few words and be saved, just like that? After all you’ve done? God doesn’t want you.”
My heart broke as I received those thoughts. They made perfect sense; they must be true. I mean, why would God want someone like me? I belonged to the streets, and I had committed so many sinful acts. I jumped off the porch and walked down the street, trying to clear my mind. But those demonic voices didn’t let up. For days, they kept reminding me of my sins and loading me down with guilt and shame. I felt like I was losing my mind.
But then, my thoughts would shift back toward God and all I had heard about Him. There wasn’t much, but it was there. I remembered that God had created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. I also remembered someone saying Jesus had died for my sins. And then I recalled something about believers needing to be baptized.
I strung it all together and came up with an idea: I would get in a tub of water, ask Jesus to come into my heart, and then go under the water for seven seconds. I didn’t know what else to do.
I know now that my faith in Jesus Christ is what saved me, not my actions. But I’m sure my desperation for Him put a smile on God’s face.
I went home, got in the tub, and sincerely said, “God, I am going under this water for seven seconds. When I come up, I want to be clean of all my sins.”
I slid under the water’s surface and counted to seven. When I came up, I saw two streams of smoke rising from my waistline. My jaw dropped in awe. God physically allowed me to see the evil as it vanished from my life.
I got out of the tub, looked in the mirror, and immediately those evil voices started screaming about the absurdity of God saving a man like me. I cried out to God again, “God, I don’t know what to believe. I don’t know how to tell the difference between Your voice and the devil’s!”
God spoke clearly, “From now on when I talk with you, I will close our conversations with the words, ‘My son.’ The devil cannot call you his child because you no longer belong to him. You belong to Me.”
I thank God every day for His willingness to help me discern His voice in that crucial moment.
In the middle of this incredible encounter, someone knocked on my door. Mind you, I had not spoken to anyone about the day’s events. I went to the door and opened it, and there stood the guy who lived behind me. Word on the street was this man had sold his soul to the devil.
He looked me straight in the eye and said, “The only reason God saved you is because you live behind the devil himself, and I was going to kill you.” Then he walked off.
I was speechless, but oddly enough, I felt at peace. In the strangest of ways, this man had just confirmed for me that God had saved my soul. I really was a child of God. The man’s showing up also proved that God is more powerful than Satan. My faith was firmly established.
Moments later, God began instructing me to throw away all the drugs in my home. Just hours before this crazy scene, I was a dope boy, selling drugs. I had thousands of dollars worth of drugs in my home, ready to be sold.
I started negotiating. “God, I do want to live for You. Just let me sell this last package, and then I’ll be done with the drug game once and for all.”
“Throw it away,” He responded.
“Let me give it to my man, Jr.” I suggested. “He’ll sell it, and we can split the profits.”
“No. Throw it away.”
“How about…I give it away?” I was slick this time. There’s an unwritten street code that whoever I gave those drugs to would bring me a portion of the money.
“Throw. It. Away.”
I gave up. I walked outside, threw every ounce of drugs in the garbage can, and went back into the house.
Moments later, another knock came at the door. It was a customer. I said I didn’t hustle drugs anymore, but he just laughed. “Come on, Cream,” he said. “I just bought from you a couple hours ago. I got cash on hand!” He counted out $500 and told me to quit joking around.
I glanced at the trash can on the curb. The drugs were right there. All I had to do was walk over and pull them out. But praise God, I stayed strong, even though the buyer persisted. Finally, I told him I had just asked Jesus into my heart and wasn’t in that game anymore. His face changed; he accepted me at my word and walked off.
God had me put those drugs in the trash can on a Wednesday. My garbage service didn’t run until the next Tuesday! Every day for almost a week, I had to resist the urge to pull those drugs out and get back in the game. I had to choose to obey God. It would have been so much easier if He had told me to flush them down the toilet.
I still didn’t know much about God, but I knew I needed to get schooled quickly. I got a Bible and started reading. For the next eight months, I studied God’s Word for 10 to 12 hours a day. I couldn’t put it down. During that time, God showed me incredible things. And the more I learned about Him and His love for humanity, the more I wanted to share it with others.
I began ministering to the guys who lived on my block. God had given me a gift of music, and I used it to tell my God-story and to help others discover theirs. I recorded CDs and visited churches and housing authority neighborhoods to minister. I even hosted a local television show, spreading the Gospel.
One day, I was playing basketball with a young man from a housing authority neighborhood, and he opened up to me about not having a father. Unfortunately, his was a familiar story. He looked at me and said, “Mr. Mike, I wish you would come out here more often.”
His words touched my heart and birthed in me a desire to consistently be in the lives of young men who were trying to find their place in the world. I knew from experience the vital need for godly role models. If only I’d had someone to lead me down the path of life instead of the wicked road I’d chosen when I was his age.
I told him, “Count me in, young sir. How about I pick you up each week and take you to my Bible study?”
He was excited. His friend quickly piped up, “Can I come too?”
And that was the start of my outreach to young men in my community. It wasn’t long before I couldn’t fit all the kids who wanted to come in my car.
I continued mentoring these youth for years, around my responsibilities at home and work. God had blessed me with an amazing family and a great job—and if you’ve ever had a criminal record, you know what a blessing that is.
But I sensed God asking me to leave the security of my paycheck to mentor youth full-time. He had confirmed it in many ways, but I hadn’t yet acted. And then, the mental health facility where I was a director asked me to turn in my office key due to cutbacks.
I knew God was pushing me to finally make a move.
The next day, I was offered a position at another facility. They actually told me I could name my salary. But even though I didn’t know when or where my next paycheck would come from, I didn’t have peace about accepting the offer. Colossians 3:15 says to “let the peace of Christ rule in your heart.” The Amplified Bible (Classic Edition) says to let it “act as the umpire” of my life choices.
I turned the job down and trusted God. When I did, He immediately honored my obedience and opened doors for the outreach He had birthed in my heart. I called it “Raising Young Men” (RYM). Its mission is to display the love of Christ and to raise young men to stand above the negative influences of this world.
Through the generosity of Open Door, my home church, God provided a 15-passenger van and space where I could mentor the boys. I have to smile; God removed one key from my keychain and gave me two in its place—a key to a van and one to a building.
Since 2012, RYM has been a father to the fatherless. We teach that there is always hope when you put your life in God’s hands. I’m living proof of that. There’s no room at RYM for victim mentalities. We cling to the hope that God can, and God will.
Sure, life is tough for many in this world. It’s probably been rough for you too. But let’s not use our hardships as a crutch or a reason to do wrong or an excuse to not excel in life. God can redeem any past and open any door. And He can use anyone, regardless of what they do or don’t have. Even me…and even you!
It’s been nearly 20 years since God showed up on my porch and spoke in a language unique to me. Since then, my life has been nothing short of a miraculous testament to God’s amazing grace. He saved my wretched soul and radically changed my life.
Leaving the ways of the streets to love those on the street was the best decision I’ve ever made. That day on the porch, God welcomed me into His family and gave my life eternal purpose.
He’ll do it for anyone who dares to believe Him and respond to His invitation to know Him intimately. Romans 10:13 says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Everyone. That includes you.
Today is your time—right now, as you’re reading this magazine. Call on the name of Jesus. Let Him shine the light of His love into your darkness and bring you hope, peace, and purpose. God wants to be your Father and to help you navigate this world. Grab Him by the hand and get off your porch. There is a whole world waiting to experience God’s love through you.