By Mark Ellis —
After a near-death experience in his freshman year at Florida State, he embarked on a quest for the “true light” and ultimately became a yoga instructor at four universities – until a hitchhiking encounter left him changed.
“I had been a rock musician in my latter high school years, but the alcohol, the drugs, the absence of moral boundaries took its toll,” says Mike Shreve, the founder of Deeper Revelation Books and Shreve Ministries.
Mike nearly died after ingesting a bad batch of LSD shortly after he entered college.
“I was not a heavy drug user, but I had a bad trip,” he explains. “I lost control of my body, was convulsing, couldn’t get up. I felt like my soul left my body and went into a dark void.”
The experience frightened him enough to quit drugs and he began to explore nearly every new philosophy or belief system that crossed his path. While raised a Roman Catholic, he thought the insistence on one way to God seemed narrow-minded.
He studied Ayn Rand, Herman Hess, Meher Baba and other books by gurus and out-of-the box thinkers. He joined an Edgar Cayce meditation group in Orlando, which used “The Lord’s Prayer” as a basis for meditation, but reinterpreted the prayer to promote metaphysical concepts.
Yogi Bhajan, a guru from India, who arrived in America to help the flower children find their way spiritually, became a big influence. “He taught us about yoga. The emphasis was not on obtaining a relationship with God, but rather, on attaining a realization of our inherent oneness with God (actually, an understanding that we are God), Mike notes.
In every free moment — between his college classes – Mike pursued the goal of reaching enlightenment.
But then he unexpectedly dropped out of Florida State, because he thought his conventional studies could lead him toward a mundane existence – where he might become “a stale crumb to be eaten by the tiger of time,” to quote one of his favorite Hindu poets.
After he left school, he helped start an ashram in Daytona Beach, a commune where yoga votaries live and practice their spiritual disciplines together. As he studied the Bhagavad-Gita and the Vedas – ancient Hindu Scriptures – he felt he was beginning to blend into oneness with the “oversoul,” as experience out-of-body excursions into the astral realm and vivid spiritual dreams.
Because he felt a zeal to help the dawning of the “Age of Aquarius,” he moved to Tampa, Florida, where four universities in the area opened their doors to him to teach Kundalini Yoga.
As a following developed around him and his classes, the Tampa Tribune newspaper published a story about Mike. He was thrilled by the free publicity as his classes continued to grow.
But little did he know the news story also alerted a Christian group in Tampa to clip the article, pin it to their prayer board, and assign people to fast and pray for him every hour of every day until his conversion!
Several weeks after the article appeared he received a letter from a college friend named Larry, who had also been devoted to yoga and meditation. But Larry happened to walk into a church one day and heard an audible voice say, “Jesus is the only way.” At that moment, the Holy Spirit opened his heart to believe and Larry was born again.
When Mike read Larry’s letter, he thought the term ‘born again’ must be synonymous with Nirvana, Samadhi or Christ consciousness, but Larry insisted it was different.
“Mike, you’ll never find ultimate peace through yoga and meditation,” Larry wrote. “You have to go through the cross. You have to be spiritually reborn. Jesus really is the way to eternal life.”
Mike wrote back a respectful letter, explaining he was happy his friend found a path that was right for him, but noted that he thought Christianity seemed illogical and the claims of Jesus too exclusive.
Unexpectedly however, a few weeks later, Mike’s heart began to soften. He thought he shouldn’t dismiss Jesus out-of-hand, but give him a chance. So one morning, instead of following his usual yoga routine, he decided to dedicate one day to Jesus.
“Lord Jesus,” he prayed. “I commit this day to you. I believe if you are real and if you’re the Savior of the world, you will show me today.”
Mike opened up a Bible and began to read through the Gospel of John and the book of Revelation until the afternoon, when he left for the University of South Florida.
That same afternoon, Kent Sullivan, a member of the student prayer group that had been praying for Mike (and a former follower of an Indian guru named Yogananda), was on the way to wash his dirty clothes. He got halfway through the door of a Laundromat when God impressed this on his heart:
Don’t go in there. I have something else for you to do. Get back in your van and drive where I lead you.
Kent made several distinct turns as directed by the Holy Spirit until he was on a road behind Busch gardens. He had no idea the yoga teacher he had been praying for in the last few weeks was hitchhiking, trying to get a ride to the University.
Suddenly Kent spied a young man with long curly brown hair, a long beard, and Indian-style clothing hitchhiking on the side of the road. Kent felt compelled to pull over and pick him up, but had no idea who it was.
As Mike stepped into the van he immediately noticed a picture of Jesus taped to the ceiling and his heart began to race.
“Can I ask you a question,” Kent asked.
Kent was very direct. “Have you ever experienced Jesus coming into your heart?”
“No,” Mike replied, “but when can I? I’ve been praying about the experience all day long.”
Kent’s eyes widened with surprise. He didn’t expect such a quick response. “You can come to your prayer meeting tonight.”
“I don’t want to wait for a prayer meeting,” Mike said. “I want to experience Jesus right now.”
Excitedly, Kent pulled his van off the road into the first parking lot he could find. Within a few minutes he realized Mike was the one he had been praying about during the last four weeks.
As Kent went through the Scripture and explained the good news of the Gospel, Mike peppered him with a myriad of questions, but Kent kept replying: “Don’t concern yourself with those things. Just try Jesus.”
Finally, Mike’s heart was ready to receive the gift of salvation. With the motor idling, the two young men bowed their heads together in the back of the van and Mike prayed:
“Lord Jesus, come into my heart. I repent of all my sins. Forgive me. Wash me in Your blood. By faith, I receive Your gift of eternal life. I acknowledge that You died for the sins of the world and that You arose from the dead. I accept You now as Lord of my life.”
Mike felt a warm sensation wash through his heart that brought cleansing beyond any laundry soap. “The peace of God settled like fresh dew on my soul. I was changed and I knew it,” he recalls.
“God generated a brand new spirit in me and I had truly become a new person – a ‘new creation.’”
Mike and Elizabeth Shreve pastor The Sanctuary in Cleveland, Tennessee. Mike has made numerous appearances on Christian programs such as TBN, The 700 Club, and TCT Network. He has worked in evangelism globally since 1971, is the Founder/Director of Deeper Revelation Books publishing company and is the author of 13 books.
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