My name is Mark Christianson The first 17 years of my life were spent almost entirely inside the walls of the Christian Church and Christian schools. My parents forced me to be at church just about every time the doors were open. My father was a CHP officer and he was also a deacon, usher, and treasurer of our church.

That was His world. One day, in my junior year of high school, I came home from school to find my father had moved out of our house and that he had left my mother for a woman who sang in the church choir. My small, limited, shell of a world came crumbling down in one second. I felt like every single thing I had ever been told and taught had been completely compromised and I found myself at a crossroads.

I was running out of patience with the whole situation that was thrust upon me and I had to make some choices. I could either hold on to my creator’s hand or I could give Him the finger. The knucklehead that I ended up making the wrong choice and walking away from the only one who really loved me, God. What followed my decision to walk away from God was three decades of darkness that included drugs and alcohol and losing good jobs. I fractured my relationships with friends and family and went through two divorces and two bankruptcies.

I had two sons who wouldn’t even talk to me. When I was about to turn 50, I realized what a complete failure I had become. I was living out of my pickup truck with what little I owned locked up in the local storage facility. It seemed like the only thing I had going in my favor was my job. I was looking for a place to rent but at that moment I was in no rush. The one thing I wanted most to do was ride my bike to Sturgis before I turned 50.

My daughter lived in Rapid City at the time and wanted me to come out for the renewing of her wedding vows so I took four weeks of vacation time off work, loaded up my scooter, and headed east. The ride alone did me good. I had plenty of time to think and reflect. While I was in Rapid City I enjoyed the beautiful time with my daughter and her family. I had also made a new friendship with one of the female bartenders at the Full Throttle Saloon who was there checking Sturgis off her bucket list also. Long story short, she ended up moving to California to live with me. When she got to California and we moved into a house together she said she wanted to go to church so that is what we did.

On Sunday morning we headed down to the Church House and God miraculously met us there! In one service God touched my inner heart and cleared up the confusion of my childhood. He forgave me for the years I had wasted and gave me purpose for the few years I have left. God cleared the way for us to get married and He straightened out the crooked road I was on. It’s not always easy, in fact, it’s quite a struggle, but now I’m on the road walking towards God and not away from Him.

Being a member of SOTC gives me encouragement to keep throwing haymakers at the enemy and swing for the fences because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

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