Blair and Lisa Mielke: God stepped in

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by Glen Doss, Major

L-R: Justin Jernigan, Cadets Blair and Lisa Mielke, and Kyle Jernigan

As he shuffled toward his makeshift shelter beneath the abandoned Olive Garden restaurant in Dallas, Tex., Blair Mielke’s heroin-muddled mind was racing. He was scared. With all the hustling, scamming and dealing drugs to feed his drug habit, his increasing disregard for his lifestyle was beginning to frighten him.

For last two years of his 17-year drug addiction, he had been on a mission to see how intoxicated he could get—how successfully he could bury an overwhelming sense of guilt. Blair had shared some of his stash of China White—a very potent form of heroin—with a good friend who had passed it on to his sister. When she died of an overdose, the news so devastated her brother that he shot himself. When Blair learned of his friend’s suicide, he had immediately let everything go. All that mattered now was drowning the pain of the guilt that haunted him.

Hunched beneath the restaurant awning alongside the crate that served as his bed, Blair searched his heart and realized he was lost. What to do? Where to go? Finally he reached out to the one person who had always been there for him—his mother.

Upon returning home to Fallbrook, Calif., however, he soon reverted to his old lifestyle—and remained very unhappy. While serving a nine-month sentence in a Banning city jail cell for drug possession, he said to himself for the first time, “I want to get clean.” Seeking help in April 2002, Blair checked into the Riverside County Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in Perris, Calif. He was 32-years-old.

The worship services at the ARC, which included powerful testimonies by men with lengthy sobriety time, impressed him deeply. Blair had grown up in a nonreligious household. But now, as he watched many of the men file up to the altar he asked himself: “Should I give my heart to Jesus?” In time he did and soon was praying each morning and evening alone in the chapel: “Dear God, keep me sober today and tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, 50 miles away at the Anaheim ARC, unbeknownst to Blair, Lisa Smith was recommitting her life to Jesus Christ. While struggling through a difficult marriage in her 20s, Lisa had started drinking and developed a methamphetamine habit.

Divorced, working hard to raise two children as a single parent in southern California, she endeavored in vain to extricate herself from the powerful addictions. Repeatedly she wondered: “What am I doing wrong?” Seeking help, she checked into the Anaheim ARC in 2002.

Although she had spent her childhood in various towns throughout southern California, Lisa gave her heart to Christ at 17 in Washington State while visiting her aunt and uncle. At The Salvation Army Tustin Ranch Corps’ Christmas worship service in 2002, she cried out to Jesus, fully surrendering to him.

The following year Lisa met Blair, now the auto sales supervisor, while shopping for a car at the Riverside County ARC. From the very beginning of their relationship, Blair recalls, “We always felt like we should be in ministry together but weren’t sure how.” In 2005 they married.

Two years later at the Future Officers Fellowship conference, God’s calling on their lives was clarified, and they enthusiastically plunged into service as soldiers at the Hemet (Calif.) Corps, leading the Sunbeam and Adventure Corps youth programs. Soon afterwards, they contacted a realtor to help them sell their home and applied for entrance to the Salvation Army School for Officers’ Training. Immediately, however, they encountered difficulties in accomplishing the sale.

Then a shock: Waking up one morning in 2009 with head congestion and a bad cough, Blair saw his doctor. Later Lisa called him at work.

“From the urgency of the message I knew right away there was something very wrong,” Blair recalls. “At the doctor’s office we were informed the X-rays had revealed a growth on my lungs, possibly a tumor.”

When the tuberculosis test came back negative, he was convinced he had lung cancer. Waiting weeks for the biopsy results, he became very ill, and although Lisa remained optimistic, Blair became increasingly concerned. “I was being practical,” he explains. “After many years of smoking cigarettes and marijuana, I assumed these were the causes of the sickness—and that I had a terminal disease. I cried out: ‘God, I thought you wanted me for full-time ministry. But now—do you instead want me to give testimony that even though I’m dying I still have God in my life and I wouldn’t change anything?’ Yet I never lost my faith.”

Noting the deep concern in his parents’ faces, he told them: “Don’t worry. God’s going to see me through this.” Lisa’s positive resolve also helped considerably, he says.

Then the diagnosis came back: Valley Fever—a sometimes fatal disease with a much better survival rate. He had a severe form of the illness, which is often treatable with medication and pills.

“God stepped in all the way,” assert Blair and Lisa, “opening all the doors to SFOT—he also helped us sell our home.”

In August 2010 Blair and Lisa Mielke entered the USA Western Territory Salvation Army School for Officers Training as members of the Friends of Christ Session of cadets.

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