Little did I know when I agreed to marry Mark and Carla in 2007 that one day Mark would be ministering God’s word alongside me at Park Chapel, Merthyr Tydfil. Following the sudden death of Mark’s father in 2011 his family asked if I would conduct the funeral service. As a result, Mark and Carla started attending Park Chapel where their love for the Lord and his people began to grow. In 2012 our assistant pastor was called to Ebbw Vale and the Lord identified Mark as someone we should invest in. After much prayer, we invited Mark to commence a three-year apprenticeship in pastoral ministry. Mark began to develop quickly and the Lord has transformed both him and Carla into a godly couple who long to serve God’s people and reach the lost in our town. On the 10 September 2016 Mark was ordained and inducted into the pastorate at Park Chapel. This is their story of how God raised them from addiction and misery to gospel ministry in our day.
My childhood was a very good one. I had wonderful parents and a great family. My upbringing had a good solid Christian foundation. I attended Sunday school at Galon Uchaf and would attend Park Chapel with my aunt and uncle. I would often speak to my school friends about Jesus Christ. I once declined to do homework on the ‘Big Bang’ as it was handed out in a science class. I told the teacher that the earth was created by God, not by a chaotic bang. It was in secondary school that I was introduced to alcohol and cannabis at the age of 12, and it wasn’t long before I was using both substances. By the age of 14, I was using alcohol and cannabis daily along with amphetamine, LSD and valium.
At 18 I began to attend the Elim Church in Dowlais and started to associate with Christian friends. I began reading my Bible and committed my life to the Lord. For six months I didn’t drink alcohol or smoke cannabis. But a struggle began within me and I began to slip back into the old lifestyle of drink and drugs and eventually went back to my old circle of friends. By the age of 20 I became a drug dealer selling cannabis to friends, selling up to £350 a day. Over the next 10 years or so, many things came and went in my life but there was one constant and that was alcohol. During this time, I met my future wife Carla. Due to my drinking I had found it very difficult to keep myself employed. My body had begun to struggle with the intake of alcohol and at points I was forcing my body to take the alcohol when it couldn’t. I would become violently ill and my liver was showing the effects of alcohol abuse.
God however hears the prayers of those call on him. My family were praying for me and somehow in the midst of my alcoholism I went to another church called Bethania. I had attended a few meetings when I recall vividly how the Holy Spirit brought me to my knees. I repented of my sins asking Jesus Christ to be Lord of my life. I began praying, asking God to deliver me from alcoholism. I was now fighting against the desire of alcohol and the desire to please God. I tried cutting down alcohol but even if I had a ‘good’ day I would quickly fall back into the usual routine of heavy drinking. I genuinely didn’t know how close God was to delivering me. I continued to go to Bethania when I just ‘knew’ something had happened to me. God had removed the desire and set me free from alcohol that had bound me for so long. I had asked God to step into the battle for me and there was nothing left for me to face. Praise the Lord for his mercy and grace! I feel so blessed, an undeserving sinner saved by God, delivered from bondage and indwelt by his Spirit.
When I first met Mark, we were both heavy drinkers and smoked a few things they don’t sell in Tesco. To set a good impression for his parents, I decided to go to church with them. Little did I know then that God had a plan for Mark and me. A plan, not to harm us, but to give us both a hope and a future. As I went more and more to church, I began to love God and his people. God was moulding and shaping me even then in readiness for what he was going to do in my life for his glory. I remember on one occasion the preacher saying, ‘We must all ask the Lord Jesus into our lives’. And that’s exactly what I did! As I was sitting on my sofa with my head bowed, I asked the Lord Jesus Christ to be my Saviour.
As I began walking with him, there were things in my life that needed dealing with. I cursed a lot, but over time, the Lord has tamed my tongue. Then there was alcohol. When I met Mark at the age of 19, I started drinking more heavily and would keep drinking until I physically couldn’t drink anymore. Praise God, he has taken the desire of alcohol away! Then there were cigarettes and marijuana, but praise the Lord, I’m now marijuana and nicotine free!
There will always be things in our lives that need attention. It’s all about sanctification, being in tune with God listening to what the Holy Spirit is saying through his word, persevering in prayer and wanting to please a living Saviour. We have a miraculous God who is still transforming lives today. As I look back on my life and see how far I have come in my walk with Christ, I am simply humbled and greatly blessed. The unchanging God is still on the throne! And what he’s done for me, he can also do for you.