“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out …” Matthew 5:13
An Old Salt
Well, he is not all that old, he’s just not in the Navy anymore—I suppose I could call him a “seasoned” salt who, I am glad to report, has not lost his savor. I am talking about Michael Lahr who works as caretaker (of goats, chickens, fruit trees, and the grounds) and handyman (assisting Bro. June with a myriad of tasks at GODTEL’s “Farm” (where our new facilities will be built once God has completely supplied the funding).
Mike was born in Long Beach, California—the son of a Navy man, and relative of Bert Lahr, the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz. He grew up in Oregon, and there came a time when he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the Navy. Early in his naval career, he was stationed on an LST and was stationed in Vietnam during the conflict there ferrying Marines from one port to another, including Okinawa, Japan, and the Philippines. (He still enjoys cuisine of Oriental persuasion and is himself a very good cook.)
Spiritually, he was empty and “lost at sea” and more and more turned to alcohol to numb the pain he felt from life in general as well as one failed marriage after another: a result of his growing dependence on alcohol. The Navy tried to help rehabilitate him, but after repeated failures to do so, they terminated their 18-year association with him. That may have helped the Navy, but life did not get better for Mike.
While staying at a Salvation Army shelter in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and wanting to make a change, Maxie Laird, a former resident of GODTEL told him about the Livingston GODTEL and recommended it as a good place to get help. So, on February 3, 2011, we met Michael, read him the rules our residents must abide by in order to stay, and gave him a room. We found him helpful and pleasant. He was attentive during the twice daily Bible studies and performed his chores without complaint. After three months, he left for San Antonio to try and help his daughter, but he fell right back into old habits.
This time, however, things were different. For the first time in his life he knew he had heard real truth while at GODTEL and says God led him back to the place he had first heard it. So, in September, 2011 he returned to GODTEL with a desire to get victory over the addictions that plagued his life.
He asked God to forgive him for his sins and disbelief and invited Jesus to move into his heart. As he continued to read the Bible and hear our faithful Bible Study teachers explain God’s Word and share what God had done for them, Mike began to grow. When he became convicted that he needed to give up his harmful tobacco habit, God enabled him to be set free.
After six months, we asked Mike if he would be willing to move to Nacogdoches and help us at our new location. He agreed, and on February 2, 2013, he relocated and has just completed two years as a full-time volunteer there. In addition to the duties already mentioned, he shuttles workers from downtown to the new property and back, makes an early morning run to pick up donated pastries from Shipley Donuts and Starbucks, provides Royce rides to the clinic, makes regular pickups of donated deli items at Brookshire Bros., and other errands.
With Sincere Appreciation
We delight in hearing from former residents who let us know that their time spent at GODTEL and our efforts to help them were not in vain. Early in February we received a lovely card of appreciation from a young man who in 2012 had stayed at the Nacogdoches mission for one month but was asked to leave because he violated our rule about not being under the influence of alcohol. Then, in April of 2014 he returned and stayed just over three months. On July 21, after 98 successful days, he lost his place due to alcohol use.
On July 30, just nine days later, he checked into our Lufkin mission. He quickly found a job and worked steadily until the end of January 2015, a total of six months of good behavior! On February 6th he announced that he would be moving back to his hometown of Longview. Before he left GODTEL the first week of February, he wrote notes of appreciation to Martin and Mary Baker (Mission Directors in Lufkin) and to Bro. June and myself. This is what he wrote to us:
“I know that you already know that what you are doing is not in vain and is a calling.
“I just couldn’t leave town without letting you guys know that you are making a difference and lives are changing—mine for one!!! I arrived in Nacogdoches a drunk/homeless but with hope!
I am leaving, thanks to God, you guys, and Mr. Martin and Mrs. Mary, a home owner and at least with a foundation and knowledge of what to do to be and stay in God’s grace!
“I will forever be grateful!
He wrote further:
“I really like the way you put everything in laymen’s terms and say things the way they actually are! I prefer it when people say what they have to say and do not sugar coat it! Then again, my feelings are not easily hurt anymore because (as you have taught) I do not think with them!
After this young man left we learned that his grandparents, who had raised him, had died and their home was going to be taken for back taxes. He did not want to let that happen so he had been sending his earnings to pay on those taxes. Once he got them paid in full, he was able to inherit the house which is where he moved. (There’s no place like home! There’s no place like home!) (See the Lufkin March posting for more information about L.W.)
We would appreciate your prayers for him and for all our residents.
Until next month, read your Bible, pray, obey, and be a “salty” Christian. God and the world are watching.