- a testimony...
- Hi I'm Rev. Mike Ball. I' ve been following Christ for the past 10 yrs. I am a student of Kingsway Christian College and have been for the past 8 yrs. I am an ordained minister at the Household Of Faith Church where I am the directer of the Christian 12 Step Program. I preach and teach the Gospel of Christ in our church and outreach ministries as well as lead worship (sing and play music). God is so good to me, meeting all my spiritual, physical, mental, and finacial needs. He has blessed me with an awesome family, my beautiful wife Jeri Lyn, our two boys Sean and Randy, and our wonderful granddaughter Maddy. Needless to say it hasn't always been this way.
- I was born in the 1963 at St. Josephs Hospital in St. Paul Mn. two days after the assasination of John F. Kennedy at a time of great mourning in America. My mom was scheduled to give birth to me in the last week of Dec., but due to complications of pregnancy, I was born one month early. I was born not only premature, but both my lungs had collapsed and I had severe yellow juandice. I was not expected to live very long and my mom had severe internal bleeding and she too, was not expected to live long. That evening a priest came into the room and read us our last rights. After the priest left and the nurses took me away to be incubated, my mom picked up her Bible, began to read and pray for the Lord to send the Archangel Michael to battle the devil that we might live. The next day my moms internal bleeding had stopped and I was breathing on my own and the jaundice was under control. That day my Mom changed my name from Christopher to Michael, after the archangel, and though I would spend the next six months in an incubater (my first jail experience), the doctors said I was a miracle baby. Praise God!!!I grew up in the suburbs of St. Paul, Mn., the seventh child of eight. I have six sisters and one brother and I pretty much had a normal childhood. We were a close nit middle class family and attended the local Catholic Church on a regular basis doing all the things Catholicism required of us. My mom was very loving and my dad was an ex-marine and very strict. My dad was an over the road truck driver and was always gone when I was growing up. I lacked the attention I needed and found that attention from a neighbor who eventually molested me. And just when I thought it couldn't get worse, it did. I told my sister about it and she told my mom. When my mom found out she came to me just crazy mad and told me what my sister had said. I had never seen her so mad and thought she was mad at me so I told her I lied, that I just wanted to see if my sister could keep a secret. I remember how I felt that day. It was as if a big black cloud came over me. It was the first time I remember lying to my mom and with all this fear, shame and guilt, I began to blame myself and hate myself. I wanted to die. I was 7 yrs. old.
Now it's the late seventies. I had quit going to church and never made my first communion. I was hanging out with other kids who were rebels and, anyone growing up in that era can testify, drugs were rampent. You could get anything you wanted behind the school, at the local park, you name it, if you wanted it, you could get it. I remember smoking pot for the first time. It made me feel like I was someone else and I liked the way it made me forget about all the bad stuff. I fell head over heals for the hippy movement that was sweeping across the midwest and it wasn't long before I had really long hair, wore a bandana, cut off army shirts and bell bottom jeans. I was smoking pot every day. doing acid, drinking, and using everything else that was going around in those days. I also began a pornography and sex addiction that would last for decades. I was smoking about a pack of cigarettes a day. I was stealing, breaking into garages, cars, and skipping school almost everyday. Then one day I was arrested for stealing a motorcycle, and that combined with skipping over 150 days of the fiscal school year, I was sentenced to 6 months in a boys correctional facility called Boy's Totem Town, which I would spend 8 months because I kept running away and going home. It was supposed to correct my behavior, but instead I learned more about illegal stuff than ever before, like how to steal a car, how to burglarize houses and I got new drug connections. The one thing that was awesome about it though was when a group of us were picked to go to Colorado with the Wilder Foundation to a church camp in the mountains a man prophesied over me that I was to bring the Gospel message to people like myself through music. It was soon after that I began to play the guitar and sing. Praise God!!! I was 15 yrs. old.
I dropped out of high school and I was doing drugs and stealing. I was playing Guitar and writing songs and I dreammed one day I would be a rock star. One day I was at my high school, just hanging out, and the principal caught me and brought me into his office where he tried to detain me. He had called the police to take me to detox for being intoxicated on school grounds. I assaulted him by trying to force my way out the door, but the police walked in before I could leave. They handcuffed me and took me to detox. I was on probation still for my previous crimes and my probatiom officer along with the principal agreed that if I went to treatment they would drop the assault charges. I agreed and off to the Rochester State Hospital Cemical Dependency Unit I went. I got caught getting high and they kicked me out. I was 16. yrs old.
After treatment I went back to my parents house and back to all my old friends and it wasn't long before I was right back where I started from. Without a job, and a serious drug addiction, I would steal to get money. One night after partying all night long. My thieving buddies and I broke into a home and stole $135,000 worth of jewelry and sold it for a 1/4 pound of pot and a hand gun, not knowing the value of what we had stole. The police followed our tracks in the snow back to the party and someone said they saw us playing cards with gold coins and a couple of days later I was arrested and charged with burglary. I was still on probation from my previous crimes and was sentenced to 3 months at St. Croix Camp Boys Correctional Facility were I got my G.E.D.. I was 17 yrs. old.
After my release from St. Croix camp I began to use drugs again and pretty much went back to the same old life style I had before I went in. I would not or could not stop using drugs and alcohol, and my probation officer wanted to lock me up again. So when I went to court I told the judge I wanted to enlist in the military and he agreed that if I did, he would not put me away and the next thing I know I'm a sailor in the United States Navy. I was stationed on the USS Ranger out of Coronado Naval Base in San Diego California and travaling around the world! I was sober, except for drinking, and I really thought I had a chance for a good future. Then one day, while I was working, a petty officer came into my work area and lit up a pipe and asked me if I wanted to get high. At first I said," no", but I thought, this guy is in charge and if it's ok with him than why not. So he and I got high and it started all over again. before long I was getting into trouble all the time. Even though I had quit stealing, I was doing drugs and drinking like never before. One night, at the officers club on base, I met this civilian woman and we went back to her place were she turned me on to crystal methamphetamine and I was instantly hooked. Pot and alcohol weren't working anymore and once again this drug made me forget about all the bad stuff. After 14 positive drug tests I was court marshalled and given an OTH, Other Than Honorable Discharge, for misconduct and drug abuse, from the US Navy. I felt That I'd let my family down. I come from a long line of military men, none of which were ever kicked out and I wanted to die. Homeless and broke, I was living on the beach in Imperial Beach California, and after coming to my senses, I decided to call my parents and they sent me a plane ticket home. I was 19 yrs. old.
Now it's the eighties. I blamed everybody else for the bad decisions I had made. I was living back at my parents house in Minnesota, I didn't do much but party. I couldn't find crystal meth anywhere, so I started doing cocaine, speed, acid smoked pot evey day and by this time I was up to a 2 packs of cigarettes a day. Though I did eventually find crystal meth, and fall deeper and deeper into addiction, I managed to not get caught doing any thing illegal for the next 4 yrs. during which I played in rock bands and worked odd jobs.
One day I had set up a drug deal with a close friend who introduced me to this dude who wanted to buy cocaine and after gaining trust with this dude I began to do just that. First I sold him a 1/4, then a half, then a gram and so on. Then he wanted a 1/4 ounce and when we were in the parking lot of this gas station doing the deal these cars come screaching up and the cops, with guns drawn, arrested me and took me off to jail. The dude I was selling cocaine to was an under cover cop! I was sentenced to 6 months in the county jail were I spent 25 days and was released to go to Anoka State Hospital Chemical Dependency Unit. I was in treatment (getting high) for 30 days and back on the street before I knew it. A few months later I got caught with 17 1/2 pounds of pot and because it was ditch weed (pot growing on the side of the road), that the police watched me pick, I recieved 20 days in county jail and back on the streets to continue doing what I've always done. I was 24 yrs. old.
Now it's the ninties and It's been years since I was on probation (finally). I was singing, playing guitar and reciting poetry in local coffee shops and bars. I had a steady job working as a truck driver and for the most part, besides the occasional bar fight, doing drugs, drinking like a crazy man and ending up in detox, I was staying out jail. One night drinking at the bar I was reciting a Bob Dylan song and this dude heard me and asked me if I played the guitar. I told him I did and after the bar closed we went out to his car. He had two guitars with him. We sang all our original stuff and played guitars all night long in the pouring rain. We started an all original rock band and against all odds we began to play several clubs around the Twin Cities area. It wasn't long before we had a few hours of music, including the original "Blood Like Wine" track, and decided to record our first album. There was this local meth dealer who offered to finance the project and we went for it. Next thing we know were playing just about every club in town and had a huge following. I quit my job, moved to Wisconsin to a place called "the compound" and did nothing but played music, did drugs for free and lived the rock and roll life style. One morning, at sunrise, after partying all night, we were hanging out playing our guitars and singing some new songs when the door of my trailer was kicked in. It was the cops, all dressed in black, guns drawn, and screaming,"police, get down on the floor!". They handcuffed us and took us outside. Once outside I saw cops everywhere. There was a Black Hawk helicopter hovering over our heads, a backhoe digger digging up the yard and over a hundred cops from just about every law enforcement agency in the state. I thought, "what did I get myself into?" and then they took us all to jail.
After a two days in jail and hours of intense interrogation, I was released because I did not know anything and they had nothing to charge me with. Praise God!!! Others weren't so lucky. After a two year investigation by the FBI, ATF, and many other agencies for drug trafficing and drug dealing, a whole lot of people were arrested and given stiff sentences. Some got 20 yrs in federal prison.
With no finances and a bad reputation, we decided as a band, we would move to Texas and start all over agian. After severel months of low paying gigs and playing hole in the wall clubs, I became discouraged. I got news from back home that my dad wasn't doing well. He was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and had only months to live. I started to drink and do drugs heavy and ended up fighting everyone in the band and they kicked me out. My brother, who lives in Texas, bought me a plane ticket home and away I went.
I moved back to my parents house (again) and still blamed everybody else for the bad decisions I had made. I continued to drink and do drugs. It was the only way I knew how to cope with lifes problems. I watched my dad, who was always a strong figure in my life, wither away to skin and bones. One night I was doing dishes and my dad was trying to help me but I told him to go sit down and rest. He said to me," A mans got to make himself useful even on his dying day ". I told him not to worry about it, to go and sit down. Then I hear this draging noise outside. I looked out the kitchen door and here he's taking down the garbage. Though it would take a while to sink in, I got his message that day. When I was done with the dishes I went to the bar. Later on that night I got a message to call home and I called home to hear that my dad had passed away. I went back home, saw him lying on the living room floor and I broke down. My dad and I were always at odds. He was an alcoholic and I was a drug addict. I felt like I could never get his approval and now I never would. I began to shoot up crystal meth on a daily basis and would continue to do so for the next 2 yrs.. I was 33 yrs old.
My drinking, drug addiction and insane lifestyle was spiraling downward fast. I was so desperate to get high that I'd do anything. I lost a Job that I had for years, I lost all the friends I had known for years and even my mom and family didn't know how to deal with me anymore. I became homeless and broke. I would rip off anybody and everybody to get high. It was the lowest point in my life, my health was deteriorting and I weighed about 165 pounds. I thought I'd die that way because I couldn't stop!!!
One night I managed to make my way into my moms house where I laid down on the bed in the room I had when I was a kid and fell out after being up for days. I woke up a day later and began to cry because I felt so hopeless. Suddenly I heard this bird singing inside the room! A sparrow had come in through a hole in the screen, a hole I had cut for a pot pipe screen when I was a kid, and was building a nest on the window sill. For the first time since I could remember I had hope. I remember thinking, this birds not worried about tomorrow and it's not dwelling on yesterday, it's just living for today. It felt as though God was speaking to me through this little bird. I wrote a song called "Little Brown Sparow" and made the decision that day to quit meth. My mom sat me down at the kitchen table and told me if there was anything I needed to know about life, she puts her Bible down in front of me and says,"It's all in the Bible".
Though I continued to drink beer and smoke pot, it was such a relief to come out of the pitch black darkness of meth addiction. One night I was singing and playing my guitar at this local bar when I met Jeri Lyn who worked there as a bartender and when I'd come in and start playing my guitar, she would always request "Little Brown Sparrow". She had a gentle and quiet spirit, something I longed for in a woman. We started dating and before long I moved in with her and her two sons, Randy and Sean. After a couple of months we moved into my moms house and started to build our finances. I never had a bank account, never had credit and neither had she. I was 36 Yrs. old
Now it's the new mellinium and the band got together for a reunion show and the place was packed. We got the full star treatment and Jeri lyn was taken back a bit by the way people were taking pictures like the paparazzi and to tell you the truth so was I. It was overwelming for me, It brought back a lot of memories and I could feel pride creeping back in. Pride comes before a fall. (Proverbs 16: 17-18)
Two of the band members, who moved back to Minnesota, and myself began a three piece band and played a few clubs. Jeri Lyn, the boys and I moved into the drummers duplex and started partying again, including doing meth. This went on for some time.
My mom never did drugs and I can count on one hand how many times I'd seen her drink. She would pray for me and always talked about the bible and Christ with me. One evening I received a call from her and she started talking about how sorry she was for things she could have done better as a mother and stuff like that. I said it sounded like she thought she was going to die and she said, "well you never know". I was like, ok, and I began to tell her I was sorry for all the grief I had caused her. We talked for a while more and the last thing she said to me was,"Michael take care of your family". We said we loved one another and hung up. The next morning I get a call at work and my sister tells me mom passed away. Its like she knew. With her passing I had this sense of peace because I knew without a doubt were she was. She was, and is, in the arms of Christ. Praise God!!! I was 38 yrs. old.
Soon the whole band would be back together and we were playing every club we could, some dives, some big clubs, and we had quite the following . We entered a contest for a chance to warm up the band Kansas and out of over 250 bands we won. It was awesome to play a big concert with a big band, but it didn't make me feel like I thought it would. Instead of feeling like I reached the big time, I felt like I had this big hole in my heart and all the world had to offer wouldn't fill it.
One evening some recording scouts came to one of our shows and it seemed we might have a chance at getting signed, but between our drinkin' and drugin' ,
thinking we were rock stars, and all the arrogance that comes with that, the scouts left without saying a word. Once again my addictive behavior smashed my dreams and I was done with doing things my way. I cut off my long hair, I quit doing drugs and told everyone I was going to follow Jesus. They thought I was crazy. I was 39 yrs old.
Then it happened, I was alone one day and I began to pray to God. I told Him I was done with my way of life and got down on my face and I mean on my face. I asked him into my heart, not using those exact words, but He knew the point He had brought me to. I said,"Jesus whatever you want me to do I will do it" and I felt the Holy Spirit come into me. It was as if Christ had wrapped his arms around me and something in my heart was changed. One of the first things I did was ask Jeri Lyn to marry me and she said yes! We found a church to get married in, the Household of faith Church, were I met our pastors Rich and Colleen Pfeffer. Their faith and love for Christ is so genuine. I had been to other churches, but I felt something different with them and that difference was a tried and true commitment to the Gospel. We started attending on a regular basis and after 4 months we were married. During our previous years together (Lord knows how) Jeri and I managed to build up enough credit to buy a home, so we did, and moved out of town and away from all the people associated with our old life style. I went through 2 yrs. of falling back into my old behavior and using drugs and alcohol again, then going sober again, then using again and so on. For me it was a gradual process but I really wanted to change. So no matter what, I kept going to church. I was 40 yrs. old.
I came to the realization that all the things I had gone through in my life were not unique and all the problems in my life were common to man (1 Corinthians 10:13) and it was then that I was able to start the healing process. Taking old sinful response patterns to lifes problems and replacing them with new biblical response patterns was the next step I took. I no longer blamed anyone but myself for my problems and took full responsibility for my actions. This allowed me to deal with the real issue at hand. I didn't know how to live. Jesus makes a promise to us in John 14:23 were He says," If anyone loves Me, he will keep my word; and My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. I always thought that I loved Jesus and now He was calling me true to it. I had to make a choice, did I love Him or didn't I? He said if I loved Him I would keep his word. I began to practice His commands by being obedient to the His word, trusting in His promises and the work He did on the cross. He makes another promise to us in John 8:31,32 were He says," If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free". I was 41 Yrs old.
Hi I'm Mike Ball. I've been following Christ for the past 8 yrs. and Jesus has filled that God size whole in my heart. I am free from drugs, alcohol, pornography and tobacco. Praise God!!! My life now has true meaning and I've gotten back everything the devil stole from me and more. Today is my birthday, I am 47 yrs. old.
Maybe this is you, or maybe your experiencing a similar situation and you've come to an end of yourself or maybe you've fallen away and you want to rededicate your life to Christ. All you have to do is say this prayer and mean it with all you heart, say,"Father, I know I'm a sinner and I fall short of your glory, I believe You sent Your son Jesus Christ to die for my sins, I believe He died, was buried and rose again, I open up my heart, Holy spirit come in, fill it with your love, your joy, your peace, Father give me self control, Jesus you are my Lord and Savior". Amen!
If you just said this prayer and meant it with all your heart, welcome to the Kingdom Of God. Find a local church that is Holy Spirit led and preaches the word of God and the word of God only. Learn from those who know Christ, godly men and women who can teach you effectively. If he can do it for me, He will do It for you! Your journy has just begun....