Drugs, crime and rape trauma are just some of the battles Mick Fleming has overcome. It’s amazing to think he is now a pastor, as he explains in his own words…
At the height of my drug addiction I was offered money to clear a debt. I knew full well that if I accepted, someone was going to die.
I sat in a car with a loaded gun wrapped up in a plastic bag, adrenalin pumping, excited and nervous at the prospect of what was about to happen. I could see the gym doors where my target was about to come out and I was more than ready to earn my pay.
As they opened, I quickly jumped out of the car ready to create carnage on the unsuspecting victim but my eyes were suddenly blinded by strange multicoloured lights. The person I was aiming for was holding the hands of two little girls and all I could see were bright lights illuminating from their hands. As I put the gun down I began to feel sick and shook violently; I didn’t know what was happening to me.
I became angry with myself as I couldn’t understand why I’d let him walk away.
In my frustration, I jumped in the car I had stolen and drove to an industrial park, where I stopped.
My sickness got worse and I felt like passing out. I screamed ‘God help me’, but nothing happened. I began to cry for the first time in 34 years. But I didn’t feel relief, just pain. A song was playing on the radio in the background called ‘Man in black’ by Johnny Cash.
I thought to myself, “That’s me, I’m black, I’m dark inside.” In a split second I grabbed the gun, put it under my chin and pulled the trigger. It didn’t go off. I fired it three times but still nothing happened. On my way home I thought to myself, maybe God had heard my prayer, because I was still alive.
There was a good reason why I hadn’t cried for so long. I’d been trying to block out something that happened, a dramatic event from my childhood.
I was on my way to school one morning, a young innocent eleven-year-old, very much a mummy’s boy, when I was attacked by a man, who subsequently raped me.
The following day I went to school, burying the pain deep inside. It was easier to pretend that nothing had happened. That night I couldn’t sleep, biting the covers so no one could hear me crying. I felt so scared and overwhelmed and I knew I had to tell my parents.
I came downstairs the next morning after mustering up the courage to talk to them but I was met by my dad who had just come through the front door. He looked at me and said, “Your sister’s dead.” I froze as I heard my mother’s screams, and my father as he cried aloud. I found out later that my sister had an asthma attack. My dad managed to get her to the steps of the hospital, but sadly she died in his arms. She was only 20. I decided I couldn’t add to their grief by telling them what had happened to me.
I took my mother’s painkillers to try and block out the pain. Unfortunately I got addicted. I progressed further into a life pursuing money, drugs and power, living as a criminal, devoid of emotion.
I met my first wife when I was 16. We had two sons and a daughter together. Sadly through my chaotic lifestyle, I wasn’t able to help her when she developed a severe mental illness. Our relationship diminished after she was admitted into a psychiatric unit, eventually we divorced.
I married my second wife in 2001 and she gave birth to our son not long afterwards. But in 2009 because of my criminality we split up and divorced a couple of years later.
Shortly afterwards I ended up in the same psychiatric unit as my first wife after an episode of drug-induced psychosis. One day I found myself scribbling. Another patient noticed I had written a Bible Scripture from Matthew 5.
I hadn’t realised what I had done. After reading the Beatitudes together, I asked a nun if God could love someone like me. She replied, “Especially you.”
Once discharged I asked God to guide my path. He gave me instructions to go to a specific place at a specific time.
I doubted hearing him, but it turned out to be an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting where I met some Christians. Shortly afterwards I gave my life to Jesus who set me free from my addictions.
For the past seven years I’ve helped run a street ministry for the homeless and addicted in Rochdale.
In 2017 I completed my theological degree and after becoming an ordained minister in 2019, I planted Burnley Community Church where many attendees are recovering addicts. I had the honour of conducting my first wedding ceremony for one such couple recently.