“Yo Doc, we gettin’ together tomorrow?”
“Sure Pat. I’ll pick you up”
This was a common interchange I would have with my friend Patrick O’Malley over the last dozen or so years. I first met Patrick through my association with our church’s outreach to people in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. This was uncharted, scary territory for me, but God provided the right opportunity to show me so much about His redemption and grace. I knew nothing about addiction and recovery at the time, but through my association with Patrick and others I have learned and experienced God’s work in such a powerful way.
Patrick and my friendship was forged through time spent together shaping each other into the men God would have us be. When I first met Patrick, he was a broken man from years of addiction to drugs and alcohol. His relationships had been destroyed. His health deteriorating from the abuse. He was penniless and homeless. Patrick had hit his “rock bottom,” and this desperation led him to seek help from God.
God used our ministry to administer His love and grace to Patrick. Our paths converged when Patrick moved to an apartment minutes from my home. Due to his usual lack of transportation, he and I spent life together. Witnessing the excitement and change in him as he would discover a new truth in God’s Word became an accelerant to my own faith. I experienced God’s grace and provision in Patrick’s life as we faced his ongoing health challenges and the joys and pains of recovery. Suffering from poor health, Patrick was in and out of the hospital often, sometimes with life threatening events. I spent many hours at his bedside doing my best to provide comfort, support, encouragement and prayers. Time after time, God would heal his body and use each event to provide a new lesson for Patrick to learn.
We walked through God’s Word together literally day by day. We helped each other understand God’s grace. We motivated each other to answer the Lord’s call to discipleship and evangelism. Patrick became a part of my family, my children viewing him as an adopted Uncle of sorts. He joined us for Sunday lunch each week, celebrated holidays at our house and was always popping in to help fix something or just to chat.
Patrick was baptized into Christ and became an integral part of our church fellowship, never missing an opportunity to be with God’s people. As Patrick began to mature in his own faith, it became a joy of mine to see him reach out to other struggling addicts with the experience, strength and hope God had provided him. Our Monday and Wednesday nights were spent conducting Bible studies and groups for those in recovery seeking to find their higher power. Having been an addict himself, Patrick could open doors and speak the language to other hurting addicts in a way that was powerful and effective. One of the frustrations Patrick and I shared in working in recovery was the lack of a stable residential recovery program for men that was Christian based. I encouraged Patrick to visit His Way in Huntsville, and he “checked himself in” for several days. He was hooked on the idea and became convinced we should bring the His Way concept to our community. I am excited that we are only a couple of months away from launching His Way ATL!
I know there are many men and families that will be changed for eternity through this effort. Patrick left us too soon to see this work begin, but God used his life and testimony as the spark that will continue to spread hope to the hopeless.
President of the Board of Directors, His Way Atlanta