Mark Clemons' Story Of Having His Life Mended & Healed Through Christ
How a child is raised will often play a role in the kind of adult they will develop into, but it might take journeying off the path to realize that God was with them all along. Mark Clemons was raised by a single mother in Louisiana who kept a Christ-centered home for her children. It would be years later that those teachings would come back to Mark when he reached a point in his life where there was nowhere else to turn. His mother’s faithfulness in God all these years showed him that even in his shame, he could come home to the Lord.
Growing up, life for Mark wasn't whole. "I didn't notice that until I grew up with a family of my own," Mark said. "I didn't know who my father was. I didn't know a dad is supposed to be in the home until I got older."
As a single mother, Mark's mother raised her children, worked a job to put food on the table, managed the household and made sure her kids were in church. Mark was saved and baptized before the age of ten. "She tried to instill everything that's supposed to be instilled and she did a great job," Mark said. "I grew up knowing God and in church. I was brought up in Sunday school, VBS, and Bible studies."
As Mark grew older, peer pressure and the wrong role models began to influence his life. "When you don't have a father as a role model you can look at, you look at other role models," Mark said. "Where I grew up, it was a low-income area and a lot of things that you think are normal really aren't at all. You think it's normal seeing guys doing drugs, drinking, and staying out late on a day to day basis."
When Mark became a teenager, things started changing in his life. He found new friends and began doing what everyone around him was doing. "I thought I was in control and I thought I knew what I was doing," Mark said. "Once you get so caught up in the world though, you don't have control."
It was at the point where he thought he could be in control of his own life that Mark believes God allowed circumstances to happen to him that would eventually push him back into God’s arms. In his latter teenage years, Mark was in and out of court until he was sentenced to 30 years as a habitual offender, all before he turned 20 years old.
During the sentencing, his mother was in the back of the courtroom with her Bible. Mark was given a few minutes to speak to his mother after his sentence. "My mother looked me square in the face and she said to me, 'The God that I serve won't let you do all that time,'" Mark said. "At that time though, I didn't really feel the Holy Spirit or works of God because I was in a mist."
During Mark's incarceration, he began to reconnect with the Lord. "I had a chance to pray, read my Bible, and talk to God," Mark said. "At that time, I didn't see a light at the end of the tunnel, but God had a plan for the entire situation. It got to the point where thanks to the way I was raised in knowing the Lord, it brought me back."
Mark soon began to see that God was with him, both at the beginning and the midst of his situation, so he knew He would see him through until the end. "Once you get so caught up in the trouble, you have no choice but to look up," Mark said. "You humble yourself. I got myself so wrapped up to where I couldn't get myself out of it, but that's where God works the best."
Mark's first return to court was when his sentence was cut in half, despite the habitual offender law. "It was a miracle," Mark said. "Once I let God step back into my life, He took those 15 years away. Of course, it didn't happen overnight, but I kept trusting in God."
A few years later Mark returned to court again where his sentence was cut yet again. "Each time I went back to court, something good happened," Mark said. "God was without a doubt working in my life."
In April of 1999, Mark was released from incarceration, seven years after his initial sentence. "I should still be in prison today, until 2022," Mark said. "Yet, I was released after seven years and six months. Seven is said to be God's number of completion, having created the world in seven days. Seven was the number for me!"
Throughout this time, Mark's faith was stronger than ever and he had reconnected with God. Mark no longer fears anything else because he has God in control of his life and he knows He will take care of him. "Sometimes, you feel like your past hinders you and you don't want people to know what you went through," Mark said. "That's the devil wanting to shield and hide God's light."
Today, Mark has been blessed with a wife, a daughter, and two sons. He looks back on his life and sees that his season of hardships was part of God's plan so he could be a better father, husband, role model, and man of God. "God didn't take me through all of that to be ashamed of it," Mark said. "It made me a stronger and better man. I don't understand all of His plan, but I now understand a piece of it."
Mark knows that many people want their past to stay in the past. However, he knows that God doesn't bring someone out of a situation to be ashamed of it.
“Hopefully others can connect with my story and keep moving forward," Mark said. "When you make that step to let God use you, the devil wants to make you feel bad about your past. Don't be ashamed, though. Your story can help the next person to not go through something painful, or they can see that you came out of it."