Last year, Mike Marchese addressed the Southern Christian Writers Guild, and I requested to write his story. He invited me to visit his recording studio. Mike plays rhythm and lead guitar for Counting the Day; a Christian band he formed with several friends. He built his studio to record their music and to service Christian artists.
Mike started his story by recalling a happy childhood. At a young age, he loved to crawl in bed with his father at night and pray. His parents were devout Catholics who never missed Mass. Mike followed in their footsteps of faith with the same devotion. He also planned on following their example of a long, happy marriage.
The years passed swiftly and his plans fell into place. He grew up playing music with friends from high school. His love for music found an outlet in a band they formed. He married his childhood sweetheart and landed a job that gave them a solid financial foundation to purchase a home and plan a family. All was well in Mike’s life until the unexpected happened. The company folded and laid him off during a time of skyrocketing unemployment. He pounded the pavement searching for work to no avail. Six months later, exhausted and waning under the stress of unemployment, he discovered his wife was having an affair.
The day he discovered his wife’s unfaithfulness, he called his sister. They had never been close. His senior by eleven years, she married when he was nine and moved away. But he needed to talk. The timely phone call revealed that his sister had just learned her husband of eighteen years was also having an affair. The devastating news and common experience drew them closer together.
“I remember the day my wife was moving out of the house,” said Mike. “At that point there was no way to reconcile the marriage. I needed more than the rote prayers I had so often prayed with my father. But I didn’t know how to ask God for the help I needed.”
Longing to pour his pain into a power greater than himself, he abandoned the prayers he had memorized praying with his father. For the first time, he poured his heart out to God as a son speaks to a loving father until words failed him. He then sought comfort in a Catholic newsletter laying on the nightstand by his bed. Mike read about the appearances of Mary, mother of Jesus, which began in 1981 to six people in a small village in Bosnia-Hercegovina named Medjugorje.
Mike looked thoughtful as he continued his story. “The more I read about Mary’s plea to follow her and about her promise to show us the way to Heaven, the deeper and bigger the pain in my chest became. I will never forget it. Something in me said, ‘this is not right’ and I became very uncomfortable.”
His life had caved in and he felt buried with no way out. He believed that he had failed at life, love and business. He believed his divorce would make him an embarrassment to his family. “I felt hopeless. My dreams, my plans and my future had crumbled like sand through my hands. I remember loading my 44 magnum intent on ending my pain.”
He walked to the guest bedroom, sat on the bed, and stared at the gun searching for the courage to pull the trigger when he heard a voice say, “Why should you die? You have everything to live for.” He glanced at the clock. 7 AM. He knew his sister would be getting ready for work. He set the gun on the bed and dialed her number. She said, “Turn on the TV and watch the 700 Club. I will call you as soon as I get to work.”
He went to the den and turned on the TV. The man on the 700 Club gave an invitation to pray the sinners’ prayer. Mike prayed with a conviction he had never felt before, asking God to come into his life. “I felt a physical presence that entered my body and fell back on the sofa. I later learned that was the power of the Holy Spirit and the man was Pat Robertson.”
Mike began to read his Bible and learn about Jesus. He found another job and was able to carry on, although his marriage was never reconciled. Seven years later, he met a beautiful Christian woman. They married and his life took a new positive direction. He left the band he had been playing with and they immersed themselves in a Presbyterian church that gave them strength and support in their walk with Christ.
Later, they moved to the Northshore and joined First Baptist Covington. Mike’s life is now full with a loving wife and four children. He owns two companies, Louisiana Media Group, LLC and LMG Transportation. He now plays music to glorify God with his church’s band and with Counting the Day. Old things had passed away. All things had become new.
After his mother passed away, his father remained faithful to the Catholic Church on Saturday but began attending the Baptist church with his children on Sunday. Exposure to a different facet of Christianity produced a lot of questions for Mike’s father. In the past, the Bible had been little more than a show piece on the living room coffee table. For the first time, Mike’s father joined others in studying the Bible. One by one, his questions were answered until he followed his son’s example in prayer. He prayed the sinner’s prayer and asked God to come into his life.
Mike and his father were baptized in water together. From that time on his father never looked back. He stopped talking about the past, only about Jesus and the future Jesus offered. His father’s life became an incredible testimony for Mike and his family. Seventeen months after his father was baptized in water he went to be with the Lord.
“I know the voice that said ‘Why should you die? You have everything to live for’ was God speaking to me,” said Mike. “My favorite verse in Jeremiah confirms God spoke to me: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” (Jeremiah 29:11).