I started going to church when I was 17 when my Mum asked my brother Dean and I if we would like to go along to Murrays Bay Baptist Church. We went a few times and I remember meeting Stephanie Reiss, Rachel DeZoete and a few other people. But then I stopped going and continued my life.
Outside church I had people I knew and hung around with, but they didn’t really care if I was around or not. I remember I felt the people at church were loving, kind and inviting. I hadn't been back to church for over a year.
I felt God was telling me to go back to church, and he led me back to Murrays Bay Baptist in 1989. One night at the evening service I saw Steve Godfrey. He was playing the guitar and singing. I was really moved by what he had said that night. Also seeing him with ripped jeans and long hair changed a few of my preconceptions about God. I found out that God accepts you just as you are no matter what your background.
I kept going to church and getting to know the people there. And after about a month I asked Jesus into my heart and made a commitment to follow him for the rest of my life. I repented of my ways and gave my life to him. I asked Jesus if he would open my eyes and my heart so that I could read and understand the Bible. He was faithful and gave me understanding. God's Word came alive to me as I read and grew to know him more. I was baptised about a year later.
It was great growing in God with heaps of neat people around me. Church and youth group were full of others like me wanting to grow closer to the Lord. I was especially blessed by the boys, Mark Stevenson, Andrew Greening, Mark Grace and Scott Horwood. We became great friends. We have had some amazing trips together including Easter camps, Summer Harvest (a summer holiday Christian youth camp) and other road trips. We have some stories to tell.
I got married to Rachel in 1995 and we had three awesome children together, Joshua, Britney and Matt. But in 2003 I ended up separated and then divorced. I felt broken and I was missing my kids dearly. I felt like Job (from the Bible), how he lost everything, I had nowhere to go, but I slowly pieced my life back together and I kept God in my heart.
What God brought into my life from here was amazing, like Job he has doubled my blessings. I met Letesha in 2006 and got married 18 months later. We are now living in the Franklin area on a small farm. She has three daughters, Paige, Courtney and Briar and we have had two children together Isabella and Jackson. So now I have been blessed with eight children from God to look after, I love them all so much.
I’m thankful for the guys who have been loving awesome friends in my life, they have always been there for me. It’s so good to get together and pick up from where we left off, laugh and have fun.
I love playing Christian songs in my van and anytime working in my barn, and we attend a small church in our area.
I have followed God for 26 years now and I have had ups and downs, but he is real in my life daily.
When things have been hard in my life I have held to this scripture:
"For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." ~ Jeremiah 29;11
I will live for him forever. Thank you Jesus.
Written by Mark Picard