Addiction to Freedom. Bootlegger to Believer. Unrest to Peace.

Michael Da Silva Sr., P.GSC is Founder and Principal of Blackthorn Management Inc., a 30 year old turn-key project management firm serving the health care and First Nation sectors. Mr. Da Silva was asked, for the purpose of this website, to share details he often does not share about his personal story. A full bio summary is available at the conclusion of the story.
Hard-working Immigrants

I was born in the city of Toronto when it was called “Toronto the Good” and the ‘City of Churches.’ My parents immigrated to Canada from Europe with four sons in the late 1950’s. After a couple of years here my mother gave birth to twin boys; one of them was myself.

We were not desperately poor but at the same time I always remember my parents struggling to make ends meet. My father frequently reminded his six sons that they were very fortunate to have a roof over their head, clothes to wear, and food to eat. Now that I look back at this, I must admit that I am very thankful for honest, hard working parents. As far back as I can remember, my parents stressed the importance of getting a good education. They both worked at multiple jobs, so I grew up, as did my brothers, going and coming from school to an empty house.

My parents also thought it was important to be religious and believe in God and try to be the best you can; otherwise God may punish you. They dressed us up and sent us to church almost every Sunday for most of my childhood.

 

Teen Years: Mounting Pressures and Dangerous Choices
I like to look back at my childhood as a time of innocence. However, everything started changing when I reached my adolescent years. I began to experiment with many different things, mainly because my friends told me that everyone was doing it. By the time I was fourteen years old I had become involved with substance abuse; primarily drugs and alcohol.

When I look back at the friends (or associations) I used to have, I realize now that the only thing we had in common was getting high and listening to the same music. By the time I was sixteen years old I had overdosed on Angel Dust (Phencyclidine PCP) laced with heroin. I had been tripping on this stuff for several months.

 

A Brush with Death
One night after a rock concert, my friends abandoned me; they said I seemed to have been possessed by the devil himself. I was completely out of control – saying and doing crazy things. The police arrested me that night and later admitted that they were very close to shooting me because I was extremely violent toward them and had injured a few officers when initially approached. They took me directly to a mental health facility as they thought I was possibly an escaped patient. Luckily, upon arrival, I was properly assessed by the resident doctor who directed the police to rush me to the nearest hospital for toxic treatment. The doctors at the hospital told my family that I would likely have a good measure of brain damage when I recovered.

 

Powerless to Stop Downward Spiral
After that close-call incident, I stopped cold turkey for awhile but later thought that I could control myself by being careful of the doses I took. I loved being high, but not to the point of hallucinations and uncontrollable actions. I would just simply regulate the amount and potency used. So I used a little cocaine once in awhile (by injection or snorting). I regularly used Amphetamine drugs (uppers and downers) as my daily source of confidence and would never leave home without taking a few to start my day. I really thought I had my stuff together and I was in perfect control, but I was certainly wrong about that.

I got myself involved in so many other things which I am ashamed of and will not bother to write them out. I would be glad to personally tell anyone interested all about my ugly past, because I now know without a doubt that all the bad I ever did has been fully forgiven.

 

Romance and a New Chapter
My dear Mother prayed that God would rescue me from my addictions and life style. Well, I met a beautiful girl at 17 and my mom thought this was answered prayer. I told my girlfriend all about myself and all the bad things I had been involved in, but that I was fed up with it and wanted to start a good life. Within two years we were married and everything seemed perfect. We were both working and had a place of our own and within four years had two baby boys.

Self Efforts Nose-Dive and Go South
Then something snapped, I started to see old friends again and began to dabble in the things that almost destroyed me in the past. At that time I was working as a tradesman in the mechanical plumbing industry. One night I was jamming (playing guitar with some friends or at least I thought they were friends) when I consumed some alcohol, which became a pretty toxic cocktail, mixed with the drugs in my system. The outcome that night could have been fatal, as I fell off a second story balcony and severely broke my right arm. I was so high that night that I didn’t even feel the pain until the early hours of the next morning.So now I was married with two kids, a hefty mortgage, lots of bills to pay and unable to work. I quickly learned how to make moonshine out of fruit, which I would freely obtain from CN Rail properties. This turned out to be a very profitable business venture. So now I was not only a drug addict but a bootlegger too and always thinking that I had it all under control (ya right!).
Bootlegging in Toronto
One night, after doing a bootleg run to various city bars ($1,600.00 tax free cash) I needed a fix. I stopped into a restaurant in downtown Toronto to use their bathroom. While I was free-basing my drug for an injection, my keychain just happened to fall on the vanity counter and one of my baby boy’s pictures seemed to stare at me. It was then that I came to my senses and thought: if I keep going this way, what kind of a father will I be and how long will I be around for my wife and kids? I looked into the mirror and plainly said: “Oh God, help me!”
A Christian Friend
During this time my wife had a friend who would constantly invite us to come and hear someone speak at her church. At first I was definitely NOT INTERESTED; but she was so kind to my wife and children, I decided to go and listen to the message, which she claimed to be the best thing anyone could ever hear and most importantly, ever receive.This is where I’d like to stop talking about myself and tell you what I heard that night. The message was from the Bible. It was the story of God and His love for all of mankind. I have to admit that I didn’t really pay close attention to the message until I was ready to leave the building.
Responding to Good News from the Bible
The speaker was at the door shaking everyone’s hand and thanking them for coming. When it was my turn, I actually tried to avoid him but he caught me in a good way, shook my hand and asked me if I was saved. I told him that I didn’t understand what he meant, so he put it this way, he said, “If you should get into a car accident tonight and are ushered into eternity, where will your soul be – in Heaven or in Hell?” There are only two destinies in eternity. With all my religious upbringing, I told him: “I’ll go wherever God wants me to go.”The speaker told me God’s great message is that you will be saved through the finished work of Christ (His only unique Son). The One who gave Himself, at a place called Calvary, for all sinners and that after He paid the awful price for sin, He willingly died on the cross, was taken and buried, and on the third day rose again according to the Scriptures (Bible).The man further asked me if I believed I was a sinner. I had no problem admitting to that. He then told me where unforgiven sinners go if they should die in their sins. He assured me that God didn’t want any soul to go there and so He had made provision for salvation. Well, that night we read a few verses from the Bible together.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son [His one and only Son, His unique Son] that whoever believes in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life.

1Timothy 1:15
It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 10:9
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

That night I realized two things. I realized that I was a guilty sinner before God and that Jesus Christ died on a cross, was buried and rose again to save my soul from a lost eternity.
New Life and Changed Destiny
Driving home that evening my wife asked me why I was so happy. I told her that I was saved. She said, “Good, you need it!” She had always been a good girl and never did anything I did in my past. However, a few months later she saw that she was comparing herself with the wrong person. She realized that she needed to be saved also and she trusted Jesus Christ as her personal Saviour.Since then our lives have been affected by many trials like cancer, death of loved ones, and financial difficulties. Being saved did not prevent all these things from happening to us in life, but having God in your life makes all the difference in this present time and for all eternity. I have had the privilege of seeing my four children, my parents, my father in-law, two brothers, a sister in-law, a nephew, three nieces, friends, and work acquaintances reached and saved by the grace of God.
My Prayer for You
There is so much more I could to tell you about my testimony, but I am restricted to this page. After all, this story is really not about me, it’s about what God has done for me and what He can do for you. God will never force Salvation upon you but He will never reject you if you will come to Him just as you are.The Lord Jesus said: “Whoever comes to Me, I will never cast out.” John 6:37 Will you come to Him now?
Michael Da Silva Sr., P.GSC
Founder and Principal of Blackthorn Management Inc., a 30 year old turn-key project management firm serving the health care and First Nation sectors, a Board Member of Bethany Lodge; a seniors’ non-profit organization; and an active elder at the Langstaff Gospel Hall. He has been happily married for 35 years to his wife Maggie, and has three sons and one daughter, all of whom have been saved as well. He is also the happy grandfather of three grandchildren.