Story of survival: After opioid overdose, Clay County pastor using his near-death experience to bring others hope

Matthan Poole & his wife say they can’t believe their rise from rock bottom

For 10 years, a Clay County man took so many prescription pills that he almost died the day his wife found him unconscious on their living room floor. Today, Matthan Poole is a local pastor, and he and his wife, Sara, are using his near-death experience to bring others hope.

MIDDLEBURG, Fla. – For 10 years, a Clay County man took so many prescription pills that he almost died the day his wife found him unconscious on their living room floor.

Today, Matthan Poole is a local pastor, and he and his wife, Sara, are using his near-death experience to bring others hope.

It happened around Christmas 2010 when the couple was living at Middleburg Bluff Apartments, HUD housing. It’s still painful more than a decade after Sara walked into their home there to find her husband lying on the floor, overdosed on opioids. He was barely breathing.

“So when I went in there, he was gasping and foaming at the mouth,” Sara recounted.

She started to panic — and pray.

“I got rags and just started yelling at him to wake up, to wake up, and just most of the night was basically just praying over him and shaking him making sure that he would take those gasps for breath,” she recalled.

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Matthan survived that horrific night. But Sara had had enough, afraid of what would happen to them and their young son. The next day, Matthan came home from his work as an electrician.

“She wasn’t there, stuff was gone, and I just started having a revelation, was like, ‘How much longer can you go like this?’” he said.

Matthan was using Xanax, muscle relaxers and opiates, and he said much of the couple’s money went toward those.

Matthan’s extended family found a faith-based rehab facility in Pennsylvania. He went for 13 months, only seeing his family twice during that time. He said it changed his life.

“Learned what it was to be a man and to be a husband and to be a father, the plan and a purpose that was for my life,” Matthan said. “God just turned my life upside down. I finished the 13 months, and it’s been our life’s mission now to give hope to people to let people know there is hope, there’s hope for those who are battling addiction.”

Matthan now serves as outreach pastor for the Springs Church in Orange Park.

No longer living in income-based housing, the couple said, at times, they just can’t believe their rise from rock bottom.

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“For me, I knew, the freedom that I had experienced, that I was walking in, and I wanted to dedicate the rest of my life for people to be able to experience that freedom and to be able to not live in shame and guilt,” Matthan said.

“There’s no one who is too far gone that God cannot save, and that is what I held onto,” Sara said. “I would do it 1 million times over to know the man that I have today and to know the testimony that we have to give someone. I would do it all over again.”

The Poole family celebrated Matthan’s 40th birthday this year in their beautiful home inside a gated Middleburg community.


About the Author:

Joy Purdy co-anchors the 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. newscasts with Tarik Minor and the 11 p.m. weeknight newscasts with Kent Justice.