Jack Mount: God made me surrender
by Glen Doss, Major –
His money beside him where he sat on the park bench anxiously awaiting his connection, the addict glanced up suddenly as a man with a gun ordered, “Give me your money.”
At first he felt despair and desperation. Then he grabbed up the cash, stood and turned his back on the would-be robber. “I would rather die than be sick today,” he snapped, as he strode determinedly away, leaving the other astonished and confused.
As Jack Mount, 51, recounts the incident from the 25-year-period of his enslavement to drugs and alcohol, he smiles grimly. “On days of stress when I wonder if it’s really worth it, I play that tape and get to my bottom again.”
Jack was named Riverside County’s 2006 “Counselor of the Year,” an award he accepted with the deepest humility, for he knows that if it weren’t for the Lord he wouldn’t be here today. “God made me surrender,” he says. “He taught me how to be still,” a lesson that came the hard way.
Jack grew up in Beaumont, Calif., in a household filled with violence. Both parents drank heavily, and by seven he was stealing their alcohol. All through school he also smoked marijuana, turning at 18 to heroin. “I always felt that my behavior was to pay my parents back, but I was the one suffering,” he recalls regretfully. Then one night following an overdose, as friends were walking him around at a service station, trying to keep him awake, he was arrested. Soon afterwards, he was picked up for auto theft and given a two-year prison sentence, an experience that terrified him. Nevertheless, he got high immediately upon release.
Though he had a number of skills, Jack was never able to hold a job for long. He would steal from his employer or not show up. At his second court-ordered rehab at age 32, he began dreaming of leaving the desperate lifestyle behind and using his life experience as a drug and alcohol counselor. But it was not to be for another decade—the pull of the addiction was too strong.
By his mid-thirties, Jack was living on the streets of Riverside. “I would get out of prison with no place to go. I had to hustle all day and night just to pay for the drugs, leaving no money for shelter. I would end up in a park, sleeping behind dumpsters, pushing a shopping cart and collecting bottles and cans at night. Whenever I could, I would steal from stores or sell drugs for more money, waking up in the morning, hungry, tired, sick, wondering where my next fix was coming from.”
He was trapped in a lifestyle from which he saw no relief. “It was no use for men like me to apply for a job,” he explains. “We couldn’t go to work because we would be sick. Even if someone did hire us, we would need the money up front to keep from being sick so we would be able to work.”
During a prison term in 1992, a contingent from Calvary Chapel arrived to play softball with the inmates. Before the game they asked the men gathered on the field if anyone wished to commit his life to Christ? “Three others and I did,” Jack recalls, “and they led us in the sinner’s prayer. I needed change and I knew it; I was tired of the life I was living.”
Five years later, he encountered a man on the streets overdosing from heroin. “After I gave him CPR, he told me about The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in Perris, Calif. He said it was a good Christian place.”
Checking in shortly thereafter, Jack gave the program all he had. A significant accomplishment was conquering a deeply ingrained habit of profanity. “The staff advised: ‘Memorize Scripture. Memorize Scripture.’ So I did,” he recalled. “One day as [Auxiliary Captain] Bill Bearchell was delivering the message, he told us: ‘You guys can change; there’s a better life.’ Looking directly at me, he stressed: ‘And I know you will,’ I couldn’t let him down, so I kept with the program.”
Upon graduation, Jack got a job at the facility. He attended San Jacinto College, working toward certification as a drug and alcohol counselor. Eventually he applied for a position with Riverside Recovery Resources where today he is director of the First Step House in Hemet, a 25-bed residential treatment program. In 2001 he married Martha Harvey, a counselor at the ARC.
“The life I have today—like they say in the 12-step meetings—is beyond your wildest dreams: a wife who every day tells you that she loves you, she trusts you; you come home every night. Those were the things I always dreamed about, and they all came true.”