My name is Mark Gibbs and I was born in 1962 at the St. Mary's Hospital in New Westminster. I grew up with my Mom as the 6th of 8 children and she did a great job raising us all. Things were challenging but we were always surrounded with lots of love and togetherness.
I struggled during my teens years and had lots of freedom but little guidance. I hung around with the wrong crowd, started drinking, smoking and missing a lot of school at a very young age. My friends and I hung around parks on the weekends, entertaining ourselves by staying up all night, starting fires, playing Nicky Nine Doors in the neighbourhood and waiting for the trains to come by so we could throw rocks at it. We were always up to no good.
My Mom was concerned and so when I was 13, she tried to bring some guidance into my life by connecting me with Big Brothers. A Christian man named Dennis volunteered to spend time with me and on weekends he kept me busy and out of trouble.
I found it difficult to focus at school and so I quit school and got a job working for $3.00/hour. It was a physical labour job and I've had physical labour jobs ever since.
Around this time, I met my step-father Bill Gibbs who was a longtime, respected employee at BC Hydro. While Dennis (the Big Brother) gave me spiritual wisdom, Bill taught me discipline and put me into Army Cadets. But I still kept getting into trouble and learned my lessons the hard way.
I often stole copper with my buddies and supported myself that way. But one day in Langley, I was arrested and spent the night in jail. I still remember the police officer who reminded me it wasn't too late to change. I thought to myself, "Change? What do you mean change? Change to what? I have no job. I have no education. And now I have to go to my future step-father and tell him that I've been ripping off the crown corporation he works for."
I couldn't spell very well and so this police officer helped me write down my confession. I was a lost soul and he seemed concerned for me and he gave me something to think about. The next morning at 6 AM, I was released from jail and started the long walk back to Surrey. It gave me a lot of time to think.
By the end of my teen years, I now had a father in my life who accepted me, gave me a new name, and things began to brighten up. I found a better job, got a car, and got into the habit of going to the Legion on weekends to play pool and meet people.
That's when I met my wife. One of the men I sat with at the Legion was her dad and became my father-in-law. One evening, he had too much to drink and so I drove him home. His daughter Laurie thanked me for bringing him home. Soon Laurie and I started dating and eventually we got married at the United Church in White Rock. Soon my first son Justin was born, then Riley, then William. I had never been so happy in my life having a wife and "my three sons." The Lord had blessed me with three treasures. I'll always have those memories.
After 15 years of marriage, things got difficult with Laurie and me. My dad died. Then her mom died. Then I started getting lay-offs at work. We struggled to make ends meet while raising 3 kids. Then Laurie's health started going down with breast cancer. We always argued and drifted apart. After her surgery, we never slept in the same bed anymore. We decided to separate and divorce.
But I was determined to keep my relationships with my three boys. We developed a system where the boys could live with me half time and with their mother half time, going back and forth between Langley and Newton. I really thought it could work, but it didn't. I had a girlfriend and my boys wanted nothing to do with her. One by one, they left. First Justin, then Riley, then William. Finally, my girlfriend left, too and I was alone.
The only thing I had left was my little walk to Home Church Langley which began on Father's Day, 2010. I thank all of you my brothers and sisters at Home Church Langley. I love you all. I feel so welcomed and I have learned so much. I thank Pastor Jim for his guidance and wisdom. He is not just a pastor, he's also a friend.
As I continue going through challenges in my life - such as being currently unemployed and having recently developed some challenges to my health - I am leaning on my Lord and my Savior to guide me and give me strength. I am trusting Him to help me. His unconditional love is what carries me through the days and the nights. I am relying upon my Heavenly Father to keep changing me. I thank Him for adopting me into His Family because I have lost a lot. But I have FOUND a lot and I continue to find more as I grow in my journey. It's a journey that never ends!
As a member of this Family, we have duties and responsibilities toward one another. Sometimes those duties and responsibilities are tough and sometimes they are the most joyful thing to share together.
During my 3 years at Home Church, I've listened, I've heard and I've spoken. I appreciate the feedback. I appreciate the support. I stand before you to say, "Thank-you for caring! Thank-you for sharing!" This is what strengthens the Body of Christ and this is why it's so valuable to stay; to forgive; to learn; to grow. The easy thing is to turn your back and walk away. The hard thing is to stand, learn and see it through. I can only accomplish that with you, my brothers and sisters at Home Church!
The Lord Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father have shown me unconditional love. He sacrificed His only begotten Son for us and who laid down his life for us. It's Amazing Grace! He saved us! He has reached ME and touched ME forever!
I hope and I pray that the family grows larger and stronger. I look forward to meeting more brothers and sisters and to extend His family. Thank-You Jesus. Amen!
Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28)