Michael Rae hasn’t lived this life knowing “normal.” Nothing made sense until he was on his knees and accepting Jesus while in a 6’ by 9’ prison cell after watching a minister’s testimony on Better Life Television.
Michael never felt like he “fit in,” starting with his family. His mother was “fairly loving,” but Michael’s father physically abused him from the age of 2 until 7. Of 6 children, Michael was the only one attacked by their father, who ultimately abandoned the family. Physical scars of this abuse are still visible today. It’s been a lifetime, up-and-down battle against PTSD, depression and destructive tendencies.
In 1986, Michael met his first wife. They would have two sons and two daughters. After losing a son to SIDS, Michael tried to numb the pain with drugs and alcohol. The marriage failed, as well as two others. He acknowledges that a lifetime has been spent in “fight or flight” mode and distant from the Lord.
Michael was facing prison time by 2000. What could have been a very lengthy sentence was plea-bargained to 1 ½ years in the Oregon State Penitentiary. Full of self-loathing, thoughts of suicide began to fill his mind. Michael turned on the TV after 2 AM one morning and began watching a recording of Better Life Broadcasting Network. Pastor Doug Batchelor was on the screen sharing his testimony entitled, “The Richest Caveman.” Michael realized that, if salvation could be obtained by this man who had lived in a cave, it could be for everyone. Right then and there, Michael repented. He felt God’s mercy, love and forgiveness and never felt more free, even in a prison cell.
After his release from prison, Michael began attending the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Roseburg, Oregon. He was soon baptized. Sadly, not long after being baptized, he found his way back to bad habits and lost his focus on the Lord.
Michael moved to Grants Pass and met Jessica in 2006 through his children, who had come to know and care about her. Jessica had also been watching Better Life and knew her life needed serious change. Through the Grants Pass Seventh-day Adventist Church, they quickly befriended several of the families and attended fellowship dinners each Sabbath. Local church families adopted the Raes as their own, showing Christ’s love and acceptance in all ways.
One of these families was instrumental in causing Michael and Jessica to truly surrender all. Terrible habits were dropped, cravings for drugs and alcohol no longer consumed them. In 2008, Michael and Jessica married. They still live in Grants Pass with their youngest daughters, who attend the Grants Pass Seventh-day Adventist School.
The Raes are very active in the Grants Pass Church. Michael is a deacon, Jessica is a deaconess. Not only that, both are involved with Better Life, the church safety committee, Adventist Disaster Response Team and the Sabbath Keepers Motorcycle Ministry (just to mention a few). They also donate their time each week to the American Red Cross. Michael recently spent time in Arkansas assisting in disaster relief efforts. “Volunteering is not about self,” he says. It gives him focus and the acceptance he never had growing up.
Michael has conquered a lifetime battle with drugs and alcohol that started when he was just 11 years old. If he hadn't been watching Better Life in prison, drugs, alcohol or suicide would have claimed his life. He credits Better Life Broadcasting for teaching him and his wife the truth about God that he needed for a personal Relationship through Jesus Christ.
By Jennifer Burkes, Marta Davis and Doug Garcia