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Michael Thornton: A Life of Surrender

He became a male prostitute to pay for his drug addiction. But beyond the pain and the shame, he found a Love who could truly redeem him.


I grew up in a Christian home. I pretty much knew the difference between right and wrong. I grew up in a Christian home. I pretty much knew the difference between right and wrong. When I turned 15 my life started to change. I started hanging out with some friends. I loved playing sports. I started hanging out with some guys that played sports but that didn’t grow up the way I grew up. We were sitting on the front porch and my friend took out a joint. He lit the joint, and he smoked it and he said, “Do you want to get high?” I knew not to do this. I knew this was wrong because I had been taught this my whole life by my mother and father. However, because of the peer pressure and the desire for acceptance, I couldn’t say no. So I gave in and got high. I began to smoke weed and Marijuana. But it wasn’t enough. It led to other things like cocaine. And after cocaine I started using crystal meth. Then after crystal meth I began to use ecstasy, Percocet and Xanax, and all kinds of prescription pills. I began to dabble in all these drugs; however, I found my true love, which was crack cocaine. And crack cocaine became my drug of choice. I was truly lost. I had no sense of direction. I had no sense of purpose. My whole life was fueled by doing drugs and drinking and partying. I really wanted a change in my life because I knew everything was falling apart. I thought joining the military would be the most honorable thing to do, to get out of the environment I was in. I was in a town that was surrounded by all my old friends and all my old buddies. In my mind I decided if I could get in the military and go abroad then I could start my life over and rebuild my life. When the orders came out I was stationed at Jacksonville, NC. I was assigned there for four years. This was my very home town, the town I was trying to escape. I was around my old friends and cocaine came back into the picture. In the Marine Corps I had crossed the line. I was the local boy. I knew where all the drugs were. I knew where I could get stuff for other marines. So I set up a little drug ring. I’d sell heroin, crack, crystal meth, and ecstasy to other marines and take that money and supply my own habit. I would then have other marines that would take urinalysis tests for me so I wouldn’t get caught. One night my drill instructor gave me a surprise urinalysis test. They took me into custody right then. My first sergeant read me my rights and then he looked at me said, “Thornton, I don’t know how you’re alive today. We have found so much cocaine in your system you should be clinically dead.” At that time they apprehended me into the mental asylum because they thought I was suicidal. Since I had so many drugs in my system I must be trying to kill myself. After three weeks I played the game. I told the doctors what they wanted to hear because I wasn’t done yet. I wanted to go deeper. Even to the day before I got out of the mental institution I was making a phone call to my dope man to organize another drop to get more drugs. One night I snuck off the base. I got in my car and I went into town. I was going to this crack house to get my usual order. I had crack cocaine in my hand and I was high as a kite. I went to knock on the door and when I did, all I heard was “Get one the ground. Get on the ground. Get on the ground.” Agents had come out of the bushes. The house was under surveillance by the DEA and by drug enforcement everywhere. They took me into custody. They battered down the door and took about seven of us to jail that night in a drug raid. I wasn’t supposed to leave my room on the base, but here I was at 4:30 in the morning across town in a Marine Corps uniform, strung out on crack cocaine, caught in a drug raid. My first sergeant knew the situation that I was in and how bad I was into drugs. But I was a hard worker in the Marine Corps and I did well at my job and they knew this. So they wanted to work a deal out with me. They visited me in prison and they said, “We’ll get you out and we’ll wash our hands of you in the Marine Corps. We’ll give you an other than honorable discharge and we’ll release you from prison and we’re going to kick you out of the military. At this point in my life I became pretty much homeless. I was addicted to crack so naturally I went into the crack houses and I got hooked up with drug dealers. I went through cars, bonds, tools, and jewelry at my mom and dad’s home. I sold or pawned everything. I became so bad and so wrapped up in drug addiction that I reached a point in my life where I had to sell myself. I became a prostitute on the streets. I began to engage in homosexuality with other men so that I could get high and keep doing drugs. This is how bad the addiction was. I couldn’t stop. I knew it was wrong, but I couldn’t stop. While this went on, I said, “I’ve got to get out of this life.” I was staying with a drug dealer at the time and I thought, “If I could rob him, I could take his money and his drugs. Then maybe I could get out of town and start over.” So one night I waited for him to fall asleep. I robbed him and left. As I was leaving town I made a stop somewhere and pulled over. What I didn’t know was he woke up and had found me. He looked at me and said, “You’ve got one hour to give me $400 (the amount that I had robbed) or you are going to die.” I was going to be murdered. At this time I didn’t know who to call. I had done everybody wrong in my life, from my family to my friends. I had robbed them. I was a horrible man. I had done so much wrong to everyone who was going to help me in this time? That night I made a call and said, “I need money because a crack dealer is going to kill me.” That was the point he said, “Well, let him do it. Let him kill you, son.” And I hung up, not thinking that he was really the truth. I just thought he was telling me that. But then he called again right after that. He said, “Mike there’s got to be a change. There’s got to be a change here. And if you’ll agree to get help, we’re going to get you help. And I’ll pay the drug dealer off. Tell him not to kill you, if you promise me that you’ll go with me to get help.” He brought me here to the Potter’s Wheel. The first Sunday at Potter’s Wheel I was walking up the path and I was on the way to church. No one was around me at this time and the birds were out and the sky was blue and it was a beautiful day. And as I began to walk to church something began to happen on the inside of me. I began to remember all the things that I did in my life. I began to remember all the sin, all the guilt, all the shame, all the things that I had been carrying for so long. They weighed down on me like a ton of bricks. I remember getting to the point where I couldn’t even breathe and I just began to cry tear after tear after tear. It was that moment that I looked up to heaven and I said, “God, if you are real, I want you to answer me. I want you to fix my life; I want you in my life. If you are real, save me right here and right now.” And in that moment my life began to change because something happened. I felt, for the first time, that I wasn’t alone. And I heard three little words whispered into my ear that was so loud, and those words said, “I love you.” I had been waiting a long time to hear those words. I searched for love through alcohol, through addiction, through sex, through pornography, through all kinds of relationships, through alcoholism and I never found it until the day when I surrendered my heart to this man named Jesus. That love filled my heart and transformed me. It says in John 15:16, “You did not choose me but I chose you that you may bare fruit and that your fruit may be plentiful.” If Jesus can change my life…He can change yours.


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