Mark Darling – Story 65
It is nearly impossible for me to describe in a concise way how drastically Mark has impacted my life for the better.
I’ve been attending the Rock on and off again for 15 years. I was 17 when I first visited, and 19 when I became a member. Today I am 34.
A lot has happened in those years, and so much of it involves Mark Darling and his persistent care and direction in my walk with God.
I was a troubled teen when I first met Mark. I was an alcoholic, depressed and suicidal. At 19 I had been to 3 treatment centers for addiction, hospitalized for depression and a suicide attempt and been arrested for drunk driving. I had been kicked out of high school and was failing out of college. I could not hold a job. I had been to a lot of different places for help with not a lot of results to show for it.
At The Rock, I heard the things I needed to hear. I heard the truth that we are all sinners in need of a savior and that there is no person too broken for God to fix. This is the message Mark faithfully preaches today. It is the heart of the gospel.
When I was 19 I got pregnant. I was not married or in a relationship with the father. I was terrified and did not want to be a parent, so I asked for Mark’s help. He met with me and the father and suggested we consider adoption. We did and because of Mark’s direct involvement in this crisis, I was able to place my son for adoption with a good, solid Christian couple who was ready to parent.
I asked Mark to be there on the day that I gave my son up for adoption. He sat and prayed with me and my family for hours. Today the child I gave up is 13. I still have a relationship with him and his parents. I thank God that Mark was there to guide me in making an incredibly hard and right decision.
After the pregnancy, I fell back into alcohol and drug abuse and ended up walking away from God and leaving The Rock. Over the next five years, I did a lot of damage to myself and others, but I never let go of the experiences I had had at The Rock and the profound effect Mark and The Rock had on me during the adoption.
Eventually, I returned to The Rock. Mark welcomed me back with open arms. There were no questions about what had happened, or what things I had done over the years. He just welcomed me back and encouraged me to put one foot in front of the other as I followed God.
Then I became pregnant again. This time I was older, and I didn’t want to give up the baby.
I will never forget the conversation I had with Mark when I told him I was pregnant. I was incredibly embarrassed and scared of the future. Mark could’ve said several things about how dire of a situation I was in, how serious of a mistake I had made again or how hard the future was going to be. Instead, he told me he thought this could be a good thing in my life. That God could and would use this for good if I followed God. Those precious words of encouragement lifted a burden and allowed me to move forward with hope.
That is what Mark has done time and again for me and for others. He offers hope when it seems there is none. He provides guidance when the road cannot be seen. He helps remove obstacles that stand in the way of seeing what good is possible through Christ.
Today, I am still a single mom. My son is 8 years old. He is happy and healthy. Over the past 8 years, I have relied heavily on the support from my church and Mark. I’ve had so many obstacles to overcome to be the parent my son needs. And every one of those obstacles has been overcome or endured with the help from Mark Darling and my church. All glory belongs to God for all that He has accomplished in my life, but He has undoubtedly worked through The Rock and Mark Darling. I don’t know where I would be today without them.
Unfortunately, I have had many opportunities to know the type of men who lack character and morals. The kind who prey on women and who care only for themselves. I have been taken advantage of and put in compromising situations with these types of men. I know them well. This is the kind of man that Mark Darling is being accused of being.
Mark has nothing in common with these types of men. In 15 years of knowing Mark and having gone through several terrible experiences that have left me feeling emotionally vulnerable and exposed to the world, Mark has been a safe and stable force for good. I trust him wholeheartedly like I trust my own father.
Over the years, I’ve also had the pleasure of getting to know all four of Mark’s kids and their spouses, as well as Kathy Darling, Mark’s wife. I am close friends with several of the kids. My son is best friends with one of Mark’s grandsons. I know this family well and can attest to the character of each of them. They are like their father. They are trustworthy, deeply compassionate, authentic Christians. They are some of the best people I know. Mark’s sons are two of the most respectful men I know. They have always treated me like a sister. Children like this don’t just happen. They are rare and a direct result of two parents who raised their children to love and serve God and others. You cannot fake the kind of parenting that raises these types of children.
I could go on and on. I have only touched on the recklessness of my past. I’ve barely begun to describe the impact Mark has had on my life. There have been times over the years when I haven’t agreed with Mark. I do not blindly follow him just because of the good experiences I’ve had with him. At times I’ve disagreed with my church, as most people have in any church.
However, this has never changed the respect and trust I have for Mark. When you know something is good and right, you stick with it.
Shared by Cara