Pastor Mark's Journey
I can't; He can. I'm glad I let Him.
Thirty years ago, I was a broken man; hopelessly alcoholic and addicted to methamphetamine. In jail — again — for my tenth 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.
My cellmate had 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. Two weeks later, I went again to be sentenced and the prosecutor didn't show up. It would be six more weeks in the jail before I would be sentenced to prison.
I stayed active in AA and in the Christian fellowship Overcomer's Outreach. My heart began to change. I finally owned my alcoholism, took responsibility for the wreckage it had caused myself and others and became willing to accept the consequences of the 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 that 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, I would like to spend six months at the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Sacramento.
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 I am a founding partner of a nonprofit that helps others. AA taught me to be of humble service to others. Now, 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!
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's mission. I entered their Adjutant Program and earned my Pastoral Certificate. I was awarded a scholarship to go back to college and received my Human Services as well as my CADC Counseling certificates for drugs and alcohol. I began running the Phase One 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 working at the homeless shelter and riding a bicycle to fall in love with her and eventually to marry her. Three years into our marriage, God loaned us His angel, Kai, to raise as our daughter!
For the past 30 years, I have lived one day at a time looking to serve and help. Four years ago, I began to look at the damage that my excess weight was causing myself and those who relied on me. I found help, and I learned that sugar was my new addiction, as were my cravings for all of 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 Twelve Steps from AA into my food addiction and now, four years later, not only have I lost over 127 pounds, but I have also have gained my life back. I am now the founder of a Twelve Step Sugar and Carb Addiction group.