Long road back

"Long road back" Continued...

Issue: "Our long war," March 8, 2008

One night, alone in his apartment, an experience he says was supernatural set him on the road to recovery. Floating in a narcotic haze, he was suddenly looking down on himself. "Who is this swollen, dirty, pathetic man?" he remembers thinking. In an instant of clarity, two questions burned into his mind: Is this the way you want it to end? Is this the way you want your daughter to remember you?

"And suddenly, I knew that if I didn't make a change, God might remove His hand from me entirely," English says.

With the help of friends and family, he made it through a rapid detox program and got himself into a methadone clinic that helped him kick hydrocodone for good. He has been clean and sober since early 2002, the same year he met and married his second wife Marcie.

Today, the couple has a 3-year-old daughter, Isabella, and English has been singing and telling his story in small churches like Foothills United Methodist. After almost every show, he receives email like this one from an Oklahoma woman in January: "Michael, there was a young man on the front row, 18 years old, who lost his dad to addiction when he was very young. Now the young man is addicted to OxyContin. Something you said at your concert struck a nerve with him and now he's in rehab."

Now Christian music seems ready to give him another chance. "As with any public ministry, Michael stepped down, which was the right thing to do," said Casting Crowns' Mark Hall. "He spent time with wise counsel. He repented of his sin and made peace with those he hurt." That includes his first wife Lisa and his daughter Megan. Lisa has since remarried and continues to live in Nashville. Megan, now 23, and her husband Keith spend time regularly with English's second family, including her half-sister Isabella.

English also reunited with his former manager, Norman Miller. This spring English will go on tour with the group Avalon, another Miller-managed group. "Once God does something truly miraculous in your life, you don't take things for granted anymore," English says.

Does he ever get tired of being known as "the guy who fell"? Sometimes.

English remembers driving down the road in Nashville one day recently, having just received an email from radio station executives saying they needed to have a talk with him before they would play his music.

"I got down about it and started feeling sorry for myself," he said. "I thought, 'Is there ever going to be a time when I don't have to talk about this stuff?'"

Then a song came on the radio by gospel legend Dottie Rambo:

Roll back the curtains of memory now and then / Show me where you brought me from and where I could have been / Remember I'm human and humans forget / So remind me, remind me, dear Lord

The song's message hit English: "I started realizing, you know what? If God has to remind me of where I came from to keep me on course, then I say, bring it on."

-Lynn Vincent is co-author of The Prodigal Comes Home (Thomas Nelson, 2007)

Lynn Vincent
Lynn Vincent

Lynn is a senior writer for WORLD Magazine and the best-selling author of 10 non-fiction books.


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