Hello, my name is Mark. I’m going to share my story with you to hopefully encourage you and to let you know that you’re not alone in your struggles.
When I was three years old, my mom was washing dishes. I believe it was a Sunday morning, and Pastor Jim Baker was on TV. He was preaching and all of a sudden he stopped and said, “I don’t know why, but the Holy Spirit told me to give an alter call.” I was listening but, when I was three, I had ADHD. Usually I was hyper and if I was quiet, my mom thought that I’m getting into trouble. So, she was going to the living room (to check on me) and got right to the doorway, and the Holy Spirit told her to stop. Don’t go in yet. Just listen.
I was listening to what Jim Baker was saying about salvation. Then my mom came in and asked me if I understood what he said about my sins and accepting Christ. I said, “Yes.” So my biological mom led me to the Lord.
Years later I didn’t really have a relationship with my dad. It was a once a year relationship because my dad lived two hours from me. He would usually try to come on my birthday, January 16, stay for a weekend, and then go home.
That was it. But when I was age 6 or 7, my dad was accused of sexually molesting me, even though there was no proof of that. But it grew into anger, where I hated my dad.
If someone had said, “I’m going to take a gun and kill your dad, or stab your dad, I’ll be like, “I don’t care. Go ahead. Who cares? He’s not my dad.” I had this anger issue for years and it grew into other things. Because my mom raised me as a single parent, I took my anger out on her. I punched my mom in the back and gave her back problems for the rest of her life.
I was rebellious because of everything I’d been through. I couldn’t take it out on my dad, so I took it out on my mom. My mom called the police on me. I didn’t care who they were. I wasn’t fazed by their authority. She tried to put me in PINS, which is probation for 13-year-olds. That didn’t work. She actually had an order of protection against me, where I could live with her, but I couldn’t abuse her, physically or verbally. That didn’t work.
I was a wreck. So, she took me to family court, and I went into a foster home for a year. Thankfully, God blessed me with a Christian foster mom. I was treated fairly and wasn’t abused like some people who were in foster care. I wouldn’t say that it helped me 100%, but it helped me out a lot. It helped me to change. I wasn’t as angry. I went back to seeing my mom after foster care.
Fast forward, I was age 13 or 14 and went to this youth convention, and they gave an altar call in one of the sessions. They said that if you have unforgiveness, to come up to the altar and ask God for forgiveness. I remember the Holy Spirit just spoke to me and said, “If you don’t forgive your dad, I can’t forgive you.” He quoted a scripture in Matthew.
So, I forgave my dad, but I still didn’t have a relationship with him. From age 16 to 18, I would cry out to God because I wanted a relationship with my dad.
After I graduated from high school, I spent the summer with my dad. We sat on the loveseat in his living room and just had a man-to-man conversation. That’s when God fully restored my relationship with my dad. My prayer was that I wanted to work in the ministry with my dad.
My dad had moved to New York City and worked with this ministry called NYSUM, New York School of Urban Ministries. Later on I went to Bible College for a little bit. But then I left because I applied to work at the ministry where my dad worked. They needed some help in the kitchen, and I thought, “I can do that.” I went to work in the kitchen for a couple of months. I got to hang out with my dad more, and I just loved my relationship with my dad.
Ever since then, we’ve had a good relationship. He went to Hawaii one year, and I asked him to bring me back a Hawaiian swimsuit. For some reason they didn’t have what he was looking for, so he brought me something else – which he didn’t have to, but he did. I guess because he just loved me. So, that shows me that that God still loves me and he still loves you. No matter what you go through in life, God can always restore your relationship.
So I hope this story encourages you and be blessed. Thank you for listening.
More Faith Stories
We now have eight grandchildren, and my prayer is for all of us to one day be reunited in God’s Kingdom.
When my older son was in his late teens, he began to drink alcohol and it soon turned our world upside down. It was a long, harrowing ten years of severe alcohol abuse, car accidents, constant worry and sleepless nights. He nearly died twice.
I remember being in church and going up to the altar and crying. I was so tired of the life I was living. I needed help. I felt a sense of peace at that time and knew that if this Jesus thing can work for some of these other guys, then it can definitely work for me.
I said to myself, “Why should anyone envy me and want to be in my shoes?”
God has led me to amazing places in my life, so let me explain how God led me from South Carolina to Kenya.
We built the first church with great difficulty. We went back to the States and the board asked us to become mission staff with the Outreach Foundation. That was 25 years ago, just about, and we’ve gotten more involved with Kenya as days and years went on.