Pastor Mark's Journey
I can't... HE can... I am glad I let HIM!
23 years ago on December 17, 1991 I finally took the first 3 steps that saved my life…I finally admitted that …I can’t,… He can, (AND DOES!)… Thanks God for letting me! 23 years of blessed sobriety.
“You will lose the old life to find one much better.” Big Book pg 120 “everything connected with that old way of life has to go. And then take on an entirely new way of life a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.” Ephesians 4:-24 Thank you God, Alcoholics Anonymous, and Salvation Army for showing me a new freedom and way of living based upon a spiritual tool kit freely given.
23 years ago I was a broken man, addicted to methamphetamines and hopelessly alcoholic. In jail again for my 12th DUI I was to be sent to prison. I was 30 years old and had estranged everyone from me in my life. As I stared into the piece of tin that serves as a jail house mirror I suddenly realized that I no longer knew this person staring back at me. I got on my knees, and said the only prayer I could at the time, “God help me.”
Things began to change immediately. My cellmate kept inviting me to the AA meetings and until that day I never wanted to attend. The meeting started with a very short man who was not in jail jumping up on a table and shouting, “If you guys keep on doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you are getting!” It was the shortest AA meeting I have ever attended because that was all I heard. I began reading the AA Big Book, and attending the meetings along with the Christian Overcomers Outreach program.
After a few weeks, I went for my prison sentencing, but my Public Defender did not show up. 2 weeks later I went again to be sentenced and the Prosecutor did not show up. It would be 6 more weeks in the jail before I would be sentenced to prison. I stayed active in AA and in the Christian fellowship Overcomers Outreach. My heart changed because Jesus was my Savior and I finally accepted the fact that I had to change and that my behaviors had gotten me here and I must pay the consequences.
When I finally went to court to be sentenced, there was a different judge on the bench and he shared a letter that was written on my behalf by an anonymous member of AA telling him I was changing and asking him to give me a chance at a rehab program instead of prison. The judge stopped the sentencing and asked me if I would like to spend 6 months at the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Sacramento. I knew that God had heard my cry for help and that I needed to keep following Him!
I willingly went to the Salvation Army. They loved me until I could learn to love myself. I threw myself into learning about God and became active in AA and in serving the homeless and addicted. I was awarded a scholarship to go back to college and got my Human Services as well as my CADC counseling certificates for drugs and alcohol. I began running the Phase 1 recovery programs for Salvation Army and helped to manage the homeless shelter.
Through my quest for lasting sobriety in AA I met my beautiful angel Tami, who allowed this strange man with a pony tail who worked at the homeless shelter and rode a bicycle to fall in love with her and eventually marry her. God gave us His gift in Kai 16 years ago. We have traveled this journey together now for 20 years and have had ups and downs like we all do, but NO MATTER WHAT we have loved God and one another without a drink or a drug.
For the past 23 years the Lord has placed homeless, hopeless, addicted, and spiritually hurting people in my path. I have found my passion for serving others through working with those who struggle with the very things I have faced and overcome in my life.
In my walk with the Lord, trying to be the best example of Jesus that I can be, I have started many groups based on the 12 spiritually based steps that AA uses that came from the Bible. I have also worked with many individuals to help them overcome the hurts, hurdles, and hang-ups that keep them in emotional and spiritual pain, blocking off the healing spirit of the Lord.
I have learned in my journey that we can only truly heal when we share our gifts and help others. “Each of you has received a gift to use to serve others. Be good servants of God's various gifts of grace.” 1 Peter 4:10
Over the years I have helped others as a part of their healing and helping journey to learn to work with the homeless, hurting, and helpless by sharing God’s grace through humble and helpful service projects.
I have formed solid and productive relationships with many organizations in the greater Phoenix area in my quest to serve others. Over the years this has developed into a ministry that I have built with my wife and daughter, along with many friends who share our passion to serve and help those who are not as blessed as we are right now.
For the past 23 years I have lived one day at a time looking to serve and help. God saved me from alcoholism and addiction and taught me to be free through serving others. I believe in and truly try to live what the Bible promises that it is through giving to others that we receive. God has given me more than I ever deserved. The Big Book has taught me that Faith without works is dead. The least I can do is to try daily to pay Him back through serving others. Thank you Jesus for saving me! Thank God for the Salvation Army, my church families over the years that have helped me to realize my role in God’s story, and Alcoholics Anonymous!
Today I am an Ordained Pastor for the Church of God Anderson. I have founded Faith Through Works Fellowship. www.FaithThroughWorksFellowship.org
Through this nonprofit ministry I will continue my mission and further God’s work to help those in need.
Please come and join me as we seek to share our gifts from God through serving and helping others.
Let the blessings roll!