Link to hear Mark's story on the Scott Helmer show

Pastor Mark's Journey

I can't... HE can... I am glad I let HIM!

28 years ago I was a broken man, hopelessly alcoholic and addicted to methamphetamine. In jail.. again… for my 10th 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 almost immediately. My cellmate kept inviting me to the AA meetings and until that day I never wanted to attend. The H & I sponsored AA 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. He offered a Big Book to those of us “man enough to ask”, so I asked. I began reading the AA Big Book and attending the meetings.

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 began to change. I finally owned my alcoholism, took responsibility for the wreckage it had caused me and others and became willing to accept the consequences of prison time I had coming. 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, instead of Prison, would I 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 which has become my life mission. I entered their Adjutant Program and earned my Pastoral certificate. 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 ARC 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. 3 Years into our marriage, God loaned us His angel Kai to raise as our daughter!

For the past 28 years I have lived one day at a time looking to serve and help. 2 years ago I began to look at the damage that my excess weight was causing me and those who relied on me. I found help and learned I that sugar was my new addiction along with my cravings for all the bad carbs in the junk food I surrounded myself with. I met Bitten Jonnson who taught me about sugar and carb addiction along with the Keto way of eating.

I have applied the 12 Steps from AA into my food addiction and now, 2 years later not only have I lost over 110 pounds, but also have gained my life back and am a co founder of a 12 Step Sugar and Carb addiction group.

God saved me from alcoholism and addiction and taught me how 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.

Because of AA, today I am a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a family member, and a friend to many. I have a home, a job, a ministry, and a founding partner of a nonprofit that helps others. AA taught me to be of humble service to others. From this suggestion I have become an ordained Pastor and a college graduate with an MBA.

Thank you, Jesus, for saving me! Thank God for the Salvation Army, SCAA, and Alcoholics Anonymous! Got Hope, need HOPE?