This week, I get to sit down with a great friend – a great man – Mike Wloczewski.
When Mike was in the third grade, he was attending Catholic School and got kicked out for fighting with a nun – she broke his fingers with a ruler, he threw a desk at her. The dean of the school told Mike and his dad that nuns are the brides of Christ and by striking out against her, young Mike had assaulted God, Himself and was damned for all time. There was nothing anyone could ever do about it!
So, by fourth grade, Mike was regularly getting high on acid, shrooms and other hallucinogens. His is a story that every man needs to hear, and there’s no better way to hear about it than from the man himself:
I always wanted to be loved, but nobody loved me – a great replacement for love is respect.
If I can beat the hell out of people, then I’d be respected
Staying high & beating the hell out of people quickly led to dealing drugs and being an enforcer in a local gang.
After high school (17-years-old) went bar hopping with his older half-brother and his brother thought it would be funny to see his younger brother get into a barroom brawl with a biker gang. So, he went over to these three bikers, said something terrible to them, and next thing I knew, they came over and wanted to kill me. I wasn’t having no part of that. So, I grabbed a pool cue in one hand and a cue ball in the other and when all three of them were on the ground, I was ready to leave. Then one of them got up, came to me and decided that he wanted to buy me a drink.
It turned out, they were in an international gang who were in the middle of a war to take over San Diego in the early 80’s, and they were in need of soldiers like me.
So, before I was even old enough to vote, I went to work with one of the biggest, baddest biker gangs in the whole world.
Then, I did something really stupid.
I knocked up a Sicilian girl.
When her three uncles came out from the east coast, and each of them came with one of their “best friends” (each of whom were even bigger than I was), and they delivered an invitation to my wedding on the east coast… I figured it was in my best interest to attend.
I didn’t like kids. I didn’t love my wife.
But, one of the most pivotal moments of my life was at Tri-City Hospital when my daughter was born. When I held my little girls in my arms for the first time and looked into her eyes, I knew what love was for the first time.
That lasted for about three years, when my wife decided that she didn’t want her daughter raised around guys like me who did the things that I did for the gang. I came home, and everything was gone. All that was left was a note on the door saying that she was afraid for her and our daughter’s life, along with a restraining order.
By the time I was able to legally arrange for weekend visitations, my daughter’s grandparents had led her to believe that I was to be feared and would kill her if I had the urge. This was my baby girl, who loved and adored me and who was the most important person in the world to me… and she sat in my truck with tears in her eyes begging me not to kill her.
All I could do was assure my daughter that I would never harm her and that I loved her. The fear that was instilled in her was so deep, I couldn’t reach out at that moment, so all I could say was, “When you are ready, I will always be right here for you. I love you.”
And I didn’t see my little girl again until she was 18-years-old.
Over those years, I met and married another woman, raised her children, and held a day-job in construction (a great cover, by the way).
But, after about 15 years of doing things for the club (or gang, whichever you prefer), I could hardly stand to look at myself in the mirror. I was doing as much drugs as I humanly could in order to stay awake and stay emotionally and mentally blocked from the damage I was doing.
One of my jobs was guarding the club’s meth cooks and keeping them alive. One of them noticed that I was losing it and recommended that I go talk to his mom – who happened to be a Christian counselor and a member of her church’s prayer team.
So, I trusted this meth cook and went to see her.
She started telling me how Jesus loves me and would forgive me no matter what I had done. Obviously, she had no idea how bad the things I had done were. Once I offered a little peek into my life, she realized that I was a bit out of her league and recommended somebody else for me to visit. Well, I trusted her and agreed to talk to Drew – her pastor – who said the same thing: “Jesus would forgive me, no matter what I’ve done.”
“Now, wait”, I said, “He forgives anything? Even suicides?”“Even suicides”, replied Drew.
So, that night, I got down on my knees, took out my revolver and prayed, “God, if you’re real, I don’t think hell could be any worse than what I’m living here. You know that’s what I deserve for what I’ve done.”
With that, I put the barrel into my mouth, pointed the gun to the back of my skull and pulled the trigger.
And the hammer fell, the bullet dimpled, but the gun didn’t go off. Now, I had fired that gun thousands of times in my life and had never had a bullet dimple and not go off.
I’ve been shot three times, stabbed twice, hit by cars… I thought I was indestructible. Yet, I couldn’t even kill myself.
That night, I heard the truth of Jesus like never before: “Michael, I love you. I forgive you. And you work for me now.”
And, I surrendered, broke down, and cried like a baby.
All I knew was that I had no idea what to do next.
One of the first things I did was talk to my wife. I asked her, “If we would have had kids together, would that have made things any different or better between you and me?”
She replied, “You idiot. In the 15 years we’ve been together, I’ve had three abortions. I’ve always wanted a son, but I knew it would be terrible with you.”
I was devastated… “You killed my kids?!”
“There was no way on earth that I was going to bring another person like you into this world.”
I then told her what had just happened, showed her the bullet and told her that I had just accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
“The gun didn’t go off?” She asked. “That’s too bad.”
I knew right then we were done.
So, I called my pastor and told him all that had just happened. He invited me to come stay with him and his family in their spare room. It was a stupid invitation, as far as I could tell… I was bad news. But, he showed me that this is what Christianity is all about – loving the unlovely, even when it’s not easy. So, they let me stay with them until he was able to find me an accountability home to live in.
And, it was as if God dangled a carrot right out in front of me in the first week that He saved me. I received a phone call out of nowhere.
“Hello, this is Erin… your daughter”, said the voice on the other end. “You know, Dad, I’ve heard a lot of horrible things about you. I just need to know if they’re true.”
I said, “Yeah, baby girl… I don’t know what all you’ve heard, but I can pretty much admit that they’re all true. Probably even a lot worse than you know…
But, the weirdest thing just happened! I just accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior the other day, and I’m never going to be that guy again.”
“In that case, I’d like to get to know you.” She answered.
That was 17 years ago, and since then, each week, the two of us have dinner together. I was there when my granddaughter was born. I didn’t get to walk my baby girl down the aisle, but I got to officiate her wedding. She later got divorced, but I got to walk with her through all that. She then got married again, and I got to walk her down the aisle that time.
God brought an amazing, Godly woman into my life, and I got to marry the right way this time… we just celebrated our 13th anniversary together!
Now, I’ve learned that if a church wants to get rid of you, but you haven’t done anything wrong, then they “find an opportunity for you”. And after several years of serving in my new church, they “found an amazing opportunity for me”.
It was at a place in North San Diego County called Green Oak Ranch. It’s a Christ-based drug and alcohol rehab facility. That’s when I realized that Romans 8:28 is absolutely true:
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.
After a year of serving here at Green Oak, the church came out and made me a pastor. So, for the past 12 years, I have been preaching, teaching, walking alongside people, and answering their questions. I can’t believe how many times I have sat next to an alcoholic, drug addict, or gang member who has told me, “I don’t think God can love me. I’ve done too much.” At that point, we just sit and compare stories for a while. “Do you really think God loves you?” they always ask.
“Well, I don’t think He’d use me if He didn’t love me”, is my answer. “I know I’m going to heaven. And I know that if you surrender to Him, we will be there together.”
This is just part of Mike’s story. You’ve got to listen to what God has done throughout Mike’s life to train him for the things that seem to make no sense at all, but lead from one thing to the next that all add up to fulfilling God’s purposes (even walking up to drug soldiers in Brazil, sharing God’s truth with them, and planting churches in neighborhoods that had been held by gangs, prostitutes and drug lords)!
All Mike wanted was to love and be loved. He thought that love was the same as respect through violence, yet now he knows God’s love and pours it out over everyone he meets.