My worst day? That is a difficult question, but by January 7, 2007, I believed that life was really not worth living. I had tried to medicate those feelings with large amounts of drugs and alcohol. It seemed to be a mystery that multiple rehabs, psych wards and even jail couldn’t change.
That day I checked into Canaan Land Bible Training Center in Autaugaville, Ala., and met a man named Mac Gober.
I grew up in Savannah, Ga., the only child in a middle class family with a father who was an attorney and the smartest man I ever knew. Mom worked most of my young life and I knew she loved me more than life itself.
I attended Benedictine Military School and by my graduating year of 1976, had become a captain of the football team as well as a captain of the Georgia State All Star team. An All-American defensive lineman with multiple major college scholarship offers, I made the decision to leave my state and attend the University of Alabama and play for Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant in Tuscaloosa.
I was blessed to be a letterman on two National Championship teams at Alabama in 1978 and 1979. However, because of my “off the field” activities I was never the player I should have or could have been. That was because I partied instead of worked hard in my time there. Not only in football, but also academically I fell short of fulfilling my potential.
Always in trouble from a bar fight, broken curfew, etc., I just never lived up to my billing coming out of high school. It should be noted that I probably drank my first beer and smoked my first joint when I was 12. Those habits and more continued throughout high school, into college and beyond. Although my college career was less than stellar, I still had enough athletic ability to eventually go on and play in the NFL and the USFL. My USFL career ended in Houston, Texas, after being jailed for assaulting two police officers while high and intoxicated.
After a short pro football career was over, I found myself in Hilton Head, S.C., “a lost ball in high weeds.” Addicted at the time to alcohol and cocaine, I fell in love with a beautiful girl and ultimately got life headed in the right direction after a couple of rehabs and a lot of encouragement from Karen. We got married, had a beautiful child and lived in a beautiful home in the country. I was working in the real estate business for a prominent developer in Birmingham, Ala., and life was as close to perfect as I thought it could be.
After several bouts with kidney stones, I became addicted to pain medication and by 2004, I was divorced and bankrupt, had lost my job, was homeless and living on the streets of Birmingham. At the time, I just wanted to die in my sleep and be over with the misery.
In late 2006, I had just gotten out of jail when my ex-wife and son found me and asked me to try one more time to get my life back in order.They asked me to go to Canaan Land Bible Training center. I refused my ex-wife’s request; I didn’t want anything to do with the Bible at that time.
I finally gave in when my 13-year-old son told me with tears in his eyes that he was afraid I was going to die and that I was not going to Heaven.
Canaan Land was to be a one-year program. I planned on going and getting rested up, and thought it would be business as usual when I got back on the streets. However, God had a different plan. He put Brother Mac Gober and Canaan Land in my life.
Brother Mac had been a father to many guys like me in his 30 years of ministry. He started by taking them into his home and when there got to be too many, he founded Canaan Land. There a man could go through the Christ-based program free of charge and learn that God had a plan for each of our lives.
He treated us like we were his children. We were disciplined when we did something wrong and we were praised when we did something good, but most of all we were loved unconditionally. We were shown the love of God through Brother Mac’s life.
I had lost everything a man could lose. I had pawned my two National Championship rings for around $600 for dope. I had pawned everything connected to my football career that had any value, along with anything that belonged to my wife and son that had any value.I had lost it all and didn’t think I would ever get it back.
I lost my own father several years before the downward spiral of my life began. I had no dad to call for advice and would have been embarrassed for my father to see me then. My dad was the smartest man I had ever known. A lawyer and state senator in Georgia, he was well-respected and well-known in not only our community, but in our state.
I was ashamed for anyone to know I was Bill Searcey’s son because of the way I had turned out at the time.
Brother Mac asked me if I was scared. I had never admitted it to anyone, but I was scared to death and I told him so with tears in my eyes.I was scared of withdrawals that were coming, I was scared it was too late for me to change. After all, I was 49 years old, homeless and lost.
Brother Mac looked me in the eye, smiled and said, “Son, don’t worry. God loves you and he’s not mad at you.” Now that was good news for a down and out ex-jock drug addict.
He went on to tell me that if I would listen to God’s word, learn God’s word and follow the Christian principles I was about to learn over the next year, that my life would never be the same! That was truly fatherly advice from a man who was a stranger to me at the time.
I could tell from the way he treated me and talked to me that he loved me. As I came to the end of my one year at Canaan Land, I was excited about graduating and starting my life over. But two days before graduation, Brother Mac called me in and told me he didn’t think I was ready and wanted me to stay and study for three extra months! Needless to say, I was upset, but unlike before I was willing to take his advice and graduated in 15 months instead of 12.
I then stayed at Canaan Land for another two years as a counselor. It was the greatest decision I could have made. Brother Mac was right.
My life has never been, and never will be, the same again. Brother Mac has passed away since then, but as he would say I know he is “moon walking in heaven”! Thank you, Brother Mac, for showing and teaching me about God’s love for me.
I love you, Brother Mac.