Mike came to JICF in February of 1999. He had been a heroin addict for 11 years and described his life at the time as “totally hopeless- I had lost my family, my job, my friends - everything.” Mike’s heroin addiction landed him in jail where he was converted during a bible study. As Mike describes it, “I had been in jail for 5 days and was going through heroin withdrawals when people at the bible study told me that Jesus could heal me! I did not believe them, but after they prayed for me, I felt the sickness from heroin leave my body. The next day, I woke up feeling refreshed and healthy and it was at that moment that I dropped to my knees and gave my life to Jesus.”
Mike recalls when he first walked through the doors of JICF, “I was the only person in the congregation, everyone else was on the worship team.” Since that time, Mike has served as sound man, worship leader, staff, and eventually as an evangelist for the church, visiting area jails and prisons and sharing his testimony.
Mike currently resides near Sitka, Alaska where he owns his own business and ministers to the Eskimo's in the area. He says, “The Lord had restored everything to me that I lost because of my drug addiction.” When asked what he remembers best about his time with JICF he replied, “It was 'Family', and I felt like I was a real part of a family at Jesus in the City.”
He is missed, but we know that he is in God's hands up there. We continue to lift him up in prayer for continued success, sobriety and safety (from the GRIZZLIES!!) and that he maintain a close relationship with the Lord. It was definitely God's calling on his life that led him to move to Alaska! (brrr!)
Stay warm, Mike!
September 28th of 2012 will mark the 5 year anniversary of Jim’s choice of sobriety. The past 4 years have been quite the turn-around for him!! You see, before that, Jim had been drunk for over 30 years, and the only reason for that was, somehow he was under the impression that it would help him 'forget and escape' the painful memories of horrible experiences that started for him at the young age of 12. Well it didn't, and only after realizing his previous and feeble attempts at kicking the alcohol addiction weren't working, Jim came to the conclusion, after much counsel and advice, that the the only way that he was going to climb out of that lifestyle was by getting in a faith-based recovery program, which led him to enter the Metro Hope Ministries men's treatment program. During that 14 months, Jim surrendered his life to the Lord and was able to develop a personal relationship to the Lord and got serious about recovery! He graduated the program, and after working locally for a time, Jim moved out of the Twin Cities and is currently working in the Banking field, and being a light for God in his profession. Jim is very passionate for the Lord and the renewing power of God's Holy Spirit is ever present in Jim’s life. Any one can see that God has done a deep work of healing in Jim!! (You know, he really looks great in a suit, wouldn't you agree!!)
One of his favorite bible verses; Romans 12:2 'Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.'
Isn't it wonderful that the Lord let Jim know 'His good, pleasing and perfect will' was for a better life than the one Jim tried to live while only depending on his own understanding. God's love and transforming power set Jim free, and whom the Lord sets free is 'free indeed'!
Reil Morrison came to the Twin Cities area from Canada, where he lived on the Pickle Lake Indian Reservation. He had found plenty of ways to get in trouble there, and was referred to Metro Hope Ministries (men's recovery program) to get his life straightened out! It was through that connection that he came to JICF in December of 2011, as we are one of the church partners for both Metro Hope Ministries men's and women's programs.
Riel made JICF his 'church home' while in the New Hope program, and gave his heart to the Lord. He grew in his faith as he dug in to God's word, and made a remarkable turn-around in his behavior and attitude. By the time Riel completed the recovery program, Pastor Michael knew that he was better equipped to handle 'real-life' and the church family he had become a part of prayed over him for a strong walk with the Lord and a strong witness as to how the Lord can redeem lost, wayward young men. He went back to Canada with a NEW HOPE and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ! The teachings at NHC and preaching and spiritual direction that he received at JICF combined to give him confidence that he could make it! He recently returned to the Twin Cities for a short visit and reported that he has 'been living for Christ' since his return to his home in Canada. We continue to lift him up to the Lord and look forward to hearing good reports from him in the future! Way to go Riel!
JESUS IN THE CITY FELLOWSHIP
Testimony from a mother to Jesus In The City Fellowship
Hi! You don't know me, but my son Timothy Bykowski has been attending your church for the past few months as part of his recovery treatment at New Hope Center. I sent him a text message this morning and he was having coffee with your mentoring pastor, Mike Lillie. I just wanted to let you know that I am so thankful for your ministry in Minneapolis! I am so thankful - because you and your team are willing to reach out to hurting, broken people; to bring God's grace and peace and love. This amazing gift can never be repaid. It is - like the credit card commercials - totally priceless. You won't know how much your ministry has helped my family - because we live in Wisconsin. But through you - my son has grown and God is working on his heart.
God is transforming him into the person He wants him to be – and God used you and your team to help.
Because of people like you, because of your prayers, because of how God has used you, I don't go to bed at night worried about my son's safety. In fact - the opposite is true! I go to bed thankful that God allowed him to reach this point in his life, at such an early age! I am thankful that he was able to hear people like you who teach truth and be open vessels to God's love. I go to bed amazed at what God does through broken, messed up people.
His amazing hand of protection, and His incredible grace that gets all of us through to the next day humbles me.
And I just wanted to say thank you - and to let you know that now I will be praying for your church and for your ministry too - that you can reach many more lost, confused and broken souls.
Thank you so much!
Hello my name is Mark Scott, and I am a recovering alcoholic. I first learned about Christ back in early 1983 and was really on fire for God, but friends and lifestyle soon took my focus away from Christ. To the world my life was on track, steady girlfriend, good job, nice apartment, and things were going good. However, when I learned of my only sibling/brother’s stabbing death I started a downward spiral that took all that I had valued. With rejection from so-called friends I was totally on my own and homeless. I tried to get into Harbor Lights shelter but was rejected because I told Hennepin County I could work. I was experiencing some health issues so I checked into HCMC and was told I had high blood pressure. Still unable to find housing or work I returned to the HCMC crisis center threatening to take all my blood pressure medication. They medicated me and gave me a voucher for Harbor Lights for 1 week. It was during that week I started reading my bible and talking to God again. He let me know that the desert experience was to help me to not forget that I was His child and I needed Him in my life.
With the Holy Spirit’s prodding I entered Midwest Challenge, a faith based treatment facility and began the recovery program while the Lord worked on me Spiritually. Dale & Roberta Rader from Jesus in the City Fellowship have led a Bible Study at Midwest Challenge on Wednesday evenings for the past 3 years and have been part of my support system. In the last part of my stay I began to volunteer at a faith based crisis ministry and found that with the Holy Spirit’s help I had some pretty good communication skills. Upon completion of the program at Midwest Challenge I struggled to find housing and work. Two scriptures the Lord impressed upon me to live by were Psalms 27 and Roman 8:27. Today I am clean and sober with housing and full time meaningful employment. God is SO GOOD!!!