The Markshank Redemption
Mark grew up in New Zealand. When he was a toddler, his younger sister tragically passed away, taking a heavy toll on his parents. This drove his father to drinking, and in turn, his parents separated. The family became unstable, as either Mark’s father or mother moved every 6 months looking for new partners. Mark felt like he didn’t belong, and left home at 14 years old to find work. He began abusing drugs as a teenager and spent the next 25 years suffering a drug addiction. Relationships and jobs came and went, and Mark spent a lot of time on the streets sleeping rough when drug-related behavior burnt relationships. He became a miner and had a worksite accident for which he received a pay out of half a million dollars in compensation. However, his addiction to drugs saw all that disappear in a year. About 8 years ago, Mark ended up in prison and asked for a bible from a Prison Fellowship volunteer in Perth; yet he had been on a spiritual quest for years.
Mark had no-one left; every relationship was burnt, and drug court gave him the option to go to a Christian rehabilitation program or serve more time. He chose rehab but he didn’t have the money and because he is a New Zealand citizen, he couldn’t obtain any benefits. The volunteer from Prison Fellowship who gave him the bible heard about his predicament and offered to pay his fees for the rehabilitation program. Mark found Christ through this process and spent many nights praying and playing the guitar in the rehab chapel confessing his sins to God and allowing God to forgive and heal him.
Mark grew in faith and had a vision that he would grow a garden and lead people out of addiction to Christ through it; despite the fact that he didn’t know anything about gardening nor did he even like it! Since then Mark has led numerous men into the Kingdom through the Garden of Hope in Gosnells. During morning coffee break he invites the rehab residents, who have been working in the garden, to share about their week and pray. As they find faith and transition out of rehab he invites them into a discipleship house he has started for men. They in turn are supporting others to find faith in Jesus. Mark is now married to a Salvation Army Officer named Nikki.
God delights in setting captives free and sending the broken hearted out with the message of forgiveness (Luke 4:18-19). God seems to love waiting for the odds to stack up against himself then pulling something off that no-one thought was possible- just to show that only through Him, all things are possible. Mark says that through Prison Fellowship and other Christians, he was loved into the Kingdom.
– Steve McKinnon, WA State Manager