After 10-year sobriety streak is broken, Marco looks to the mission for help
Marco has been a Christian his whole life, he said. “I was saved when I was 10 and went to church every week.” After high school, Marco went to college and got a degree in music and worship.
Despite his commitment to God, Marco found himself struggling with alcohol. “I would drink sometimes on the weekends, but things got progressively worse,” he said. Wanting to nip his drinking problem in the bud, Marco went to a treatment center near where he lived in the San Fernando Valley and stayed sober for two years. After his relapse, Marco told his pastor about his difficulties with over-imbibing. He suggested that Marco attend a six-month, faith-based program.
Marco took his pastor’s advice and completed the program. He returned to his church, where he played keyboard in the band. He went on to become the music director. “I led praise and worship there for many years. It was really good. But then the pandemic hit.”
When church services ceased, Marco felt a shift in him. “I got really complacent,” he said. “I went and saw a friend in Arizona last May, and I started drinking again. It was 120 or 125 degrees every day and there was nowhere to go. I brought my instruments, but we really were just drinking all the time. I just went for a visit, but I ended up being there for eight months, drinking every day.”
Marco had been sober for 10 years. “When I got back to California, I talked to my daughter,” he said. Marco’s daughter, Erika, 32, has always been very supportive of her father. “I told her I wanted to get into a program and she got the ball rolling for me. I knew I wanted a Christian program—I needed to be rooted again in Christianity.”
Marco took a bus to Central California, which took nearly 24 hours. “I was detoxing and it was horrible,” he said. Finally I got to the Mission and I wanted to start working (to get better) right away. They told me to rest a couple of days, so I did. … I love it here. I’m so happy that I’m here.”
Now four months into the program, Marco relishes in the morning devotions. And if not for a vision issue, he would be reading the Bible constantly. “I had cataract surgery in both of my eyes, but last year, they started getting worse,” he said. The doctor said a film formed on the artificial lenses they put in, so they have to remove that with laser surgery. When the doctor looked through the (instrument) that looks through my eyes, he couldn’t believe I could see anything.
“I can’t read because of it, so I pray all day long, and that keeps my faith up. And I know Scripture well and that’s keeping me sane. I try to help all the people here who don’t know the word.”*
Marco said he’s committed to getting healthy. “I can’t do it anymore,” Marco said of his drinking. “I have a commitment to God. He’s my Lord, and that’s where I stand. I can’t do it on my own, that’s for sure.
“I’m super happy in this program. I have no complaints. The staff is so great and helpful—it’s like a family. It’s a wonderful feeling. I love it here. This is holy ground right here.”
After he completes the program, Marco has decided to stay in the area. “I love helping people and ministering to people,” he said. “When I graduate from here, I want to help out as much as possible. I still want to be affiliated with this place. I’m having my musical equipment sent here, and I have a church I think I’ll be attending full time, and I’d like to bring (my musical talents) there. That’s what God put me on this earth for.”
*Update: Since this story was written, Marco had corrective eye surgery, and now has 20/20 vision! The first thing he said after his surgery? “I can’t wait to read my Bible!”