Mark overcame childhood illness to become pro athlete as a pro wrestler for Ted Turner’s WCW, for the NWA and AWA. After wrestling he went into ministry. He used his wrestling background to build an audience to help individuals find peace and purpose. Has worked with thousands of teens and families across America. Works with abused and abandoned children. He and his wife are therapeutic parents for troubled children. Mark is involved in film production and writing. He creates awareness of homeless kids and does Foster Care. Finally, Mark has also designed equipment for Special Forces and big supporter of the Armed Forces.
- Mark, did you always know that you wanted to serve others and help today’s youth?
ABSOLUTELY NOT! That’s the truth… When you grow up in a home that fights, broken with occasional beatings, helping other youth is not a priority. If nothing else, you want to get away from those settings. All my brothers and sisters married early, and at times, some admitted the marriage was an escape. Part of the reason I was not interested in helping others is because I was angry. I’d ask myself questions like “Are all homes like this?” or “Who else is fake?” I got tired of people thinking we were one happy family when we had holes in the walls from dad’s fist. It took a lot of forgiveness and reconciling things with myself to be open to talk about it. I have siblings that won’t talk and there are hurts they still carry.
- Can you walk us through how you first got started in your career path?
It took loss, self-inflicted pain, and destroying every relationship in my life. I had to dig a hole that I couldn’t weasel my way out. The old saying is that it takes hitting bottom before you start looking up. I had to admit “GOD, I’m a screw up!” I had to hit rock bottom with no other way out. I had let my big ego ruin everything. It literally took people walking up to me and telling me how they were seeing God move in my life. Random people, who I didn’t know, would stop me in a store. I was stopped in parking lots. People would give me messages of hope and where my future would lead me. It was scary. It was like everyone knew my business but me. This stuff really happened, multiple times. A woman stopped me while in a church service, and told me I would marry the person standing next to me. We’ve been married 25 years. Going back to school was my beginning. I hated school. Being humbled, I went into the Dean’s office and told her my life story. She cried and told me to go to class. I was instantly admitted. God had to talk to me through others because I was too hard headed to listen. I finally pushed through my hatred, and accepted the fact that I had to go to school. That was my beginning.
- How did you handle the bumps in the road? Were there any moments when you wondered if all your hard work was worth it?
There have been highs and lows. There’s an old saying that, in ministry, you have to deal with 90% crap for that 10% of the time of sharing Jesus. That’s not poetic, but a lot of truth. The church is flawed because we are all flawed. I’ve been frustrated when policy negates the helping of an individual. I’ve also been frustrated by people who abuse the goodness of others. I have questioned my burden for others but I just can’t quit. When I say, “I’m taking a break,” something happens and I reconsider. My wife helps me stay grounded and says my mind is always working. I handled the bumps by prayer and focusing on success stories. If you’re doing what you’re supposed to, there will be some success. Success is a fuel. You have to use it.
- I’m wondering if you can help us understand what you attribute your success to.
My God, my faith, and the many people who have either advised or were an object lesson that I could learn from. Friends and family are like a team. There are times we are supported and other times where we support others. Everyone’s success should be shared because no one is successful alone. I thank those that are the wonderful role models, I also appreciate the people that showed me how NOT to act. There are more people than I know that are responsible for my success. My wife, Brenda, is a major reason I’ve accomplished anything. The thing is, I don’t consider myself a success. A life has phases and chapters. There have definitely been more failures than victories. That’s what makes the victories so sweet. For me, there are a few things that will make me a success. A family that loves me until my last breath, and making a difference. It’s that simple.
- What do teens need today more than anything else?
Teens need an understanding that relationships have highs and lows. They shouldn’t always cut and run, but be truthful and talk things out.
- What would you tell a teen who was struggling?
Don’t run away from problems. Honor those you admire by working through problems as they would. Don’t feel like a failure. Your experiences will help you change another life. Going back to a life having many chapters, a problem is a chapter. Problems can not define a person’s life. What defines a person is their overcoming and growing. BUT FIRST…Listen to the teen!
- Mark, what else do you want to tell us about what you do and what you want to eventually be doing?
I thrive on making the “impossible” possible. Being told “I can’t” fuels me. I hope to do more speaking and to get back into doing more events across the country. I am currently working to get my book published and to finalize our story going to film. Our family wants to bring more awareness that there is a need for Foster parents.
- Can you please share with all of us something else that I should have asked you?
My wife and I were recording artists in college and had a few hundred concerts. I do have the symptoms of a brain injury. I am fortunate that my brain is functioning enough to remember the words. While I am working through symptoms, I see every event as a blessing and miracle. I hope that my words are not the only inspiration, but that my willingness/ability (at this point in my life) is an inspiration also. My prayer for others is that they don’t give up!
- How can people get in touch with you if they have additional questions?
Email is: firstname.lastname@example.org phone (903) 263 – 8067 I’m happy to speak to groups or answer any questions. I appreciate Dan and all he does. It’s been a pleasure writing to you all. God Bless!!!
Thank you Dan Blanchard and God Bless! Mark
Thanks for your time Mark and keep up the good work! Our youth needs more people like you!
Author and Speaker of the Granddaddy’s Secrets teen leadership book series.
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