VENICE — My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell appeared in a church pulpit for the first time in a year Sunday, speaking to the congregation at Harvest Chapel.

Bringing challenges to the 2020 presidential election — “the biggest crime in history” — has been getting all his attention, he said.

But politics was on the back burner Sunday, as Lindell shared his life story, from being the child of divorce and a crack addict, to infomercial fame and rubbing elbows with the president.

Put in a new school after the divorce, he said, he felt as though he didn’t fit in because he was the only child from a broken home.

Later, he would drop out of the University of Minneapolis after one semester and be repeatedly fired from a grocery store job for telling the owner how to run it. Thanks to his union, he kept getting rehired, he said.

But at his five-year high school reunion, he realized from talking to his former classmates that he hadn’t accomplished anything, and a “deep sadness” came over him.

By the early 1980s, he had turned to cocaine. A few years later he would be in a marriage with a woman who, like himself, was a “functioning addict,” he said.

In the early 2000s, he traded cocaine for crack, he said. But he also began working on a concept he had for a business that manufactured a new type of pillow, as disclosed to him in prophetic dreams.

All his family’s assets went into the project, which produced pillows but no place to sell them. Stores weren’t interested, he said, so he decided to follow a suggestion to sell them at a mall kiosk.

It wasn’t the best venue for a crack addict with a fear of public speaking, he said, though he got some sales.

He had better luck at a home and garden show, he said, with 18 pillows sold the first day. But more important to him than the sales was that many customers paid to get in again the second day to tell him how much the pillow had helped them.

They claimed improvement in conditions such as sleep apnea and fibromyalgia, and he didn’t even know what they were, he said.

The whole time he was still addicted to drugs and, though a believer, had yet to dedicate his life to Jesus, he said.

A series of phone calls after an appearance on public access TV would finally set him on a different path.

Unsolicited, a number of people — including one atheist, Lindell said — said they had been inspired to tell him they knew he had a calling and to ask if they could pray about it.

He got a similar message from his drug dealers, he said, who told him they were cutting him off because he needed to fully commit to the pillow business and make it his platform for doing good work.

It was an unusual move, especially considering he was among their best customers.

“I tried to rid Minneapolis of drugs by doing them all,” he said.

Still, it took until Jan. 16, 2009, for him to reach the quitting point. He felt that day, he said, as if one more day as an addict would kill his calling, so he prayed that his desire for drugs would go away.

The next morning, he said, he felt different, and he has never had the urge to use drugs again.

My Pillow exploded after Lindell recorded an infomercial, generating $100 million in sales in the next six months — but leaving the company $6 million in debt because of the speed of its growth.

He would later bring all its operations in-house so they could be micromanaged, he said.

In the summer of 2014, however, it was within two days of going under, he said.

That was when the twice-divorced Lindell met Kendra Reeves, who “had something in her I didn’t,” he said — a personal relationship with Jesus.

He had always been a believer, he said, and considered himself to have that kind of relationship, but “deep down, I wanted what she had.”

He made that commitment on Feb. 18, 2017.

“It was like a relief,” he said, because he could finally forgive himself for things other people didn’t even remember he had done.

It also took away his fear of public speaking, he said.

On Saturday, he had been a featured speaker at an event in Plant City called The Renewal. It was organized by longtime friend Rev. Kevin Jessip, who’s a member of Harvest Chapel.

Lindell said that the most problematic divide in the country today is between churches that preach the gospel and those that have stopped doing it out of fear and are focused on other things.

Churches that are “saving their message for a rainy day” need to wake up, he said.

“It’s pouring outside,” he said.

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