‘Love Beyond’ story series: Patrick
The ‘Love Beyond’ story series highlights people in Minnesota and North Dakota who help change lives or whose lives changed thanks to your donations to The Salvation Army Northern Division. Love Beyond is a Salvation Army campaign to show those in need that love exists beyond their most difficult situations – be it hunger, overdue bills, eviction, addiction, and other hardships.
Patrick knew better than to use drugs. He was an honest, level-headed man in his 50s who’d spent most of his life working managerial jobs in or near Hibbing, Minn. He was also the father of little girl.
His life changed in 2014 when he began taking OxyContin, a highly addictive prescription pain killer that claims the lives of thousands of Americans every year. He accidentally got hooked on the opioid after doctors repaired an ACL tear in his knee.
Patrick used OxyContin daily for about three years, while working full-time as a corrections supervisor at a center for juvenile delinquents, where he’d been employed since 2001.
In 2016, the juvenile center shuttered and Patrick stopped working full-time. He continued using OxyContin and couldn’t stop.
“My body screamed for it,” recalled Patrick, who obtained the drug from friends. “I wanted to quit but I was scared about the withdrawals. It takes 30 days to get off that stuff – I watched my close friend go through it and it was awful.”
Eventually, Patrick reached a point where he would try anything to quit OxyContin – including street drugs.
He’d heard that the withdrawal symptoms of OxyContin can be neutralized by using methamphetamine. He experimented with this dubious quitting method and discovered it to be true.
“I tried meth and felt no withdrawal symptoms from Oxy at all,” he explained. “Once I was off Oxy, I thought it would be easy to quit meth because I’d never done illegal drugs my entire life.”
He thought wrong. He would use meth morning, day and night for the next three years.
During the first year of his meth addiction, he was functional.
“I stayed busy and got things done,” said Patrick, who paid for his addiction by working odd jobs. “My best friend, Bill, did meth with me. We both worked for our addiction – we didn’t steal for it like other people do.”
At the time, Patrick was living in the country at his aunt’s lake house – a beautiful and secluded home on 40 acres. He’d spent years restoring the property. He maintained it meticulously.
During the second year of his meth addiction, the property – and his life – began to slip away.
“I lost my ability to keep up with things,” Patrick said. “The house was a mess, and I couldn’t keep organized enough to cut wood to keep the place warm.”
During the third year of his addiction, his life derailed. By then, he was living in the only room of his aunt’s home that he could afford to heat – the bathroom.
“I kept an electric heater in there and I slept on a lawn chair,” Patrick said. “My life was terrible – I was living in a bathroom, in the middle of nowhere, with no car, no driver’s license, and no phone. Sometimes I had no food.”
To matters worse, he lost touch with his daughter. He’d visited with her regularly throughout her life. By 2019, she was 14 years old and smart enough to realize something was terribly wrong with her father. She refused to see him anymore.
Patrick’s addiction to meth ended when he received a knock at his door on a cold winter day.
Standing outside the door was Marty – the brother of Patrick’s best friend, Bill. Marty had come to tell Patrick that Bill overdosed on meth. Bill was found dead, outside of his house, under four inches of snow.
“I bawled,” Patrick said. “Bill was such a good guy. He helped me so many times. He would give you the shirt off his back.”
To deal with the pain, Patrick bought a gram of meth. But his body and spirit rejected the drug.
“I never finished the gram,” Patrick said. “I didn’t want anything to do with meth anymore. It took my best friend. I hated it.”
Several months later, Patrick’s life bottomed out when his older brother, Doug, died of suicide. Doug was a hard-working family man and a U.S. Army veteran. Everyone who knew him was shocked.
“He was the closest person to me,” Patrick said. “He is the one who would come out and bring me food and talk to me when I was going through everything. He was my rock.”
Love and grace
After all that had happened, Patrick knew that the only way he could restore his life was through the love and grace of Jesus Christ.
“I knew I had to get right with God,” said Patrick, who’d grown up Christian but had strayed for many years. “I needed to serve a purpose greater than myself.”
Throughout the next year, Patrick put God at the center of everything he did. During this time, he went to treatment, found a place to live, got his driver’s license back, restored his relationship with his daughter, and made other positive steps.
“Little by little, Jesus began to put my life back together,” he said.
The only thing left was to find a full-time job. He had been living off money he inherited from his brother, but those funds were running low. He’d spent months searching for work in Hibbing but couldn’t find the right fit.
“I was getting anxiety about not having a job, but I felt God telling me my job would be ready in February,” Patrick recalled.
That job turned out to be Patrick’s current role as a driver and handyman at the Hibbing Salvation Army (pictured). He had inquired about the job in 2021 but determined the wage was too low for him to live on. But in February 2022, a local donor had given money specifically to be used as gap pay for the job because the Hibbing Salvation Army was having trouble filling it.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Patrick said. “God opened that door just like He said He would. I was amazed.”
Serving a purpose
Today, Patrick is serving his purpose by working for The Salvation Army in Hibbing. Since 1908, the Hibbing Salvation Army has annually provided groceries, hot meals, spiritual guidance, and other resources for thousands of people in need on the Iron Range.
Patrick spends his workdays picking up food donations, organizing the food shelf, cleaning, and other activities – all while ministering to people who have not heard the good news about God’s love for them.
“My mission here is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said.
To stay organized, he keeps a personal journal for his ministry.
“I have a yellow notebook that says Salvation Army Field Operations on the front,” Patrick said. “It’s got names of people I’ve led to the Lord and people I pray for.”
He is grateful for the job because it has contributed to his sobriety, allowed him to earn an honest living, and given him the opportunity to minister.
“This job has done a lot for me in putting my life back together,” Patrick said. “It’s gotten me back on the right track and given me structure. There are a lot of caring people here and that’s important for keeping your feet grounded.”
Patrick is thankful for his second chance at life.
“Meth ruins lives in a heartbeat,” he said. “But God uses things like that to put people back where they need to be, in a place where they’re serving Him. That’s what it’s all about.”