My name is Michael Oteka. I was born in Atlanta Georgia to a Mother and Father struggling to make ends meet and living in the inner city of Atlanta. The neighborhoods we lived in for many years were crime and poverty ridden and in desperate need of love. At the age of 9 years old, my Father chose to leave and my parents filed for divorce leaving my Mother as a single parent raising three children. This dramatically changed my family’s life for the worse and just keeping the lights on and food on the table become an everyday struggle for my Mother.
My Mother had to work 2-3 jobs at a time to support us which left my siblings and I alone a majority of the time. We found ourselves influenced by the darkness and sin around us. My Mother had a strong relationship with God and I thank God that she kept us in prayer even when she couldn’t be with us. As a single mother, she set such a wonderful example of a strong Christian women. She sacrificed sleep and having a life to work 3 jobs and put herself through college in order to provide for us. She eventually graduated from UGA with a 4.0 while working around the clock and she became a pharmacist. Her faith, hard work, and determination heavily influenced me later on in life.
Although I experienced God’s grace and love in my mother’s life, for many years I was surrounded by the same environment and darkness that has gripped Grove Park for years. Being without a Father left me searching anywhere for a fatherly figure or role models that could fill that void. I got wrapped up in a detrimental lifestyle that almost took my life.
When I was younger, I was diagnosed with scoliosis. During my teenage and young adult years, the scoliosis turned into a life threatening issue. My rib cage was crushing my lungs making it hard to breath and my organs had shifted in my body and were being crushed by my spinal cord causing other major health issues and constant pain. Respiratory failure was possible at any moment.
Several doctors said that I would need surgery in order to live but without medical insurance and already struggling to pay for basic human needs, the surgery become an impossible option for my Mother. One doctor stated that even if I went through surgery, there was a 60/40 chance of making it out of surgery alive but if I grew above 5’11” tall and did not have the surgery, I would most likely die. Eventually the pain was so extreme that I would take muscle relaxers constantly and drink alcohol just to numb the pain.
One day while I was at work, I stopped breathing completely and felt that I was about to die. Eventually I was able to breathe again and I called my mother to let her know what had happened and that I needed to go to the hospital. My mother prayed for me and told me not to give the devil any glory over my body. My mother told me she was at church and that If I came home I would be there by myself. My Mother asked me to stay at work and said “we would talk about it when I got off” Although this sounds harsh, my circumstances and her prayers gave God room to show me how miraculous He is.
My mother told me to stay at work and when I got off, we would discuss everything. I was upset and perplexed at her response. The state of my life had gone past the point of depression and I felt as though living was pointless. I had become addicted to pain killers and alcohol and was trying to ease my pain and anger towards my father by living a wild and careless lifestyle.
When my Mother returned home from church, she sat my siblings and I down and shared with us stories of how celebrities had lived life their way and mocked God with their sinful lifestyles and it led them to death. She told me that the works of the flesh reap unto death but the ways of Christ lead unto eternal life. I knew I had to make a serious decision at that moment. My Mother prayed for us and brought our household under the Subjection of Jesus Christ.
Shortly after, we all went to bed. I usually slept in the fetal position as that was my normal posture due to the condition of my back. When I woke up the next morning, my back was straight and flat on my bed. I couldn’t believe it. I stood up and the limp in my walk was gone. My feet were evenly touching the ground and my heart was beating normally in my chest. The heart murmurs were gone. I felt arteries pulsate in my chest that had been closed and caved in for years.
I broke down and cried like a newborn baby the whole day because I didn’t understand why God had done this. He had healed me. It was at that moment I realized that God wasn’t moving away from me because of my sin. It was me and my sin that had separated me from God. From that point on I stopped drinking, smoking, partying, and fornicating. I became abstinent until my wife and I married a passionate servant of Jesus Christ who wants to share his love and grace with the world.
November 29th, 2009 was the day that changed my life forever. God fully healed me and restored my body as well as my emotional health. I fully accepted him as my Lord and Savior. He became the Father figure and role model I had been desperately searching for and He filled the void that had caused so much pain in my life.
God has revealed to me my purpose and destiny. I have passionately and relentlessly given my life to Christ in order for Him to work through me on a daily basis to change the lives of those I come in contact with. I have operated in the role of a youth pastor for close to five years and I have actively volunteered and worked with countless youth and adults in ministry as well as non-profit projects since the day I became saved. I have a strong passion to see the underprivileged and marginalized community discover their purpose and God given talents so that they can be an asset to the world for the Glory of God’s Kingdom.
My family is a witness to the powerful love, mercy, and grace of Jesus Christ. He took my family from a place of poverty and harsh circumstances to a place of success and victory in Him. My heart’s desire is to share this with others so that they may have victory over their circumstances and be able to thrive in life.
I am passionate and devoted to seeing Shalom City Church’s heart of bringing dignity, restoration, and peace to the poor and underprivileged. I believe that peace is the environment God uses to develop us as human beings. He also uses this environment for us to advance His Kingdom. As God has filled the gaps in my life as a great Father, I want to show others He will do the same for them.