The Journey of an Ocala Man from Chronic Drug Addiction to Pastorial Work

Michael Beck has tattoos all over his arms. His path from drug addiction, with numerous visits to the prison, to becoming a child of God, symbolizes an unbelievable journey of transformation. Currently, he and his wife Jill are serving as co-pastor at Mark’s United Methodist Church in Ocala and Wildwood United Methodist Church in Winter Park.

His return to St. Mark’s represents the closing of one chapter and the opening of another. The pews of the sanctuary at St. Mark’s, a place he frequented as a child, were filled with other church members after his repentance.

Returning to St. Mark’s in some ways means the end of one chapter and the opening of another....
Returning to St. Mark’s in some ways means the end of one chapter and the opening of another. We sat with Pastor Michael Beck in the pews of the sanctuary at St. Mark’s, a place he would frequently visit as a child. (WCJB)

“I was baptized as a baby right over there on that spot,” Pastor Beck said pointing to the steps of the altar. “And now I’m the pastor.”

It wasn’t always his dream to lead a church. He said that his mother struggled with addiction for the majority of her life, before and after she gave birth to him.

“I was born addicted [and] my biological father was unknown,” he said.

Beck said Sunday service was part of his routine for a short time after his grandparents adopted him. But after his grandfather died at age 10, his life “took a dark turn.”

In ninth grade, he dropped out of school to sell drugs to make ends meet. The majority of his youth was later spent incarcerated. His voyage back to faith began when he was a teenager after he fathered his first daughter.

“Finally got incarcerated and prayed a prayer,” said Beck. “I said, God whatever you have to do to stop me, please do that and God answered that prayer with angels in green suits and handcuffs.”

In his new book “Painting with Ashes,” which was released by Invite Resources last year, he details this life journey. A variety of powerful stories are told in the book, from Biblical to modern times, including those of Fred Rogers, Martin Luther King, Maya Angelou, and Elon Musk. Beck has now authored nine books.

“I’ve gotten letters, emails, social media messages,” he explained sharing one particular message he received: “‘I wanted to kill myself, and this book helped me not.’”

Beck and his wife run “addiction recovery programs, a jail ministry, a food pantry, an interracial unity movement, and house a faith-based inpatient treatment center,” Invite Resources Marketing Manager, Josiah Simons stated.

Beck indicated the special room at St. Mark’s where Alcoholics Anonymous meets. It was at that place in St. Mark’s that he met Ryan Dixon.

“I was really drunk one night and I figured, I’m going to commit suicide, so I came down here by the church and I sat there on the curb for a while and I thought, what’s the best way to commit suicide…” Dixon shared.

“I’m going to get the fastest car coming down this road. I let the car get up to about here to this wall and I stepped right out in front of it and I put my hands up and I gave up and the guy takes the ditch, gets out, says are you okay, and it was Mike.”

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