Peer Highlight: God's Faithfulness toward Mark
Updated: Aug 6, 2021
Mark’s story begins with his family in Cannon Falls. He drove semi-trucks locally in the Twin Cities in the early 2000s. But due to some health complications, he had to take medical leave in order to recover. During this phase of his life, Mark’s existing drinking habit grew. It wasn’t long before his habit landed him behind bars for DUI. With help from his wife, he went into rehab and started going to AA meetings in 2007. As his children grew, so did his participation in their lives through sports. Mark volunteered his time to coach his children’s basketball and baseball teams. During this busy time of life, Mark found that he was able to not even think about alcohol, and stayed sober. “I was a busy dad… drinking definitely took the back seat.”
After ten years of sobriety, Mark felt confident in himself to have a drink without overdoing it. When his family took a vacation to the Dominican Republic in 2017, the first thing they received was a drink. “Since [that vacation in] 2017, I’ve been on a path of destruction.” Mark found that he couldn’t hold a steady job, losing three within three years.
In March of 2020, Mark was hospitalized three times for alcohol withdrawals. Recognizing that his body could not take the alcohol, Mark joined the Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge (MnTC) in Rochester from April to July.” I didn’t want to leave! I was sober and I was tired of drinking.” During his time at MnTC, Mark was reintroduced to God in a new way. “I wanted to learn more about addiction, and learn more about God.” Mark found that he was happy! “God took me in. It wasn’t my choice, it was God’s choice. He said ‘let’s do this.’ And I jumped on board, locked-in.” However, his time at MnTC came to an abrupt end in July when he was attacked by another client. Mark received a broken nose and a concussion from the attack. After he was hospitalized, Mark decided he couldn’t stay any longer.
Mark tried to make it on his own for about a month, going from house to house, before ending in a small month-to month apartment, where he relapsed into week to two week binges. “I was alone, and I was afraid of where my mind was going.” Mark called 911 on himself, where they brought him to St. Paul for a psych evaluation. From there Mark found his way to Faith Family Recovery Center in Hastings. “I’m 100% convinced that God brought me there… I know that God brought me to Hastings for a reason.” Mark was connected with a Chemical Dependencies Counselor, Tiffany Neuharth, then Tiffany Oddo. “It was a connection I’ve never had before with a counselor. Somebody who follows God so closely. To see her not base her life on circumstances, but base her life on God. She was absolutely given the gift of prayer along with the ability to follow Jesus and help others do the same. ” Mark was able to have his full treatment with her before she left Faith Family Recovery Center in October, 2020, to focus on Rise Up Recovery.
Mark continues to live in a sober house in Hastings, taking advantage of peer group meetings and sponsorships offered in his area. “[I’m] doing the best I can…. I surround myself, first and foremost, with sober Christian men, and then just sober Christian people.” But Mark understood the need for something more in Hastings. “When Tiffany approached me for Rise Up Recovery, immediately I thought ‘This is needed! This is needed.’”
Rise Up Recovery follows a Peer Recovery Coaching program that builds on a partnership that extends beyond a thirty to ninety-day program. ”[RUR] can help you before treatment. It can help you after treatment. It can help you if you lose sober housing… A lot of programs you go through, whatever they may be, a lot of times it’s like “good luck! Make sure you go to your accountability meetings.” And… it’s hard. A lot of times there’s not a lot of accountability in going to meetings. [Rise Up Recovery] is a gold mine in assets for people who are serious about recovery.”
Peer recovery coaching speaks to the issue of the power of addiction. “My kids are so important to me, but you can’t simply quit drinking for your kids. People who aren’t addicts can’t understand it. But the addiction is so powerful. I heard a statement that went “I would kill for my kids, but I can’t stop drinking for my kids.”” This is why it’s important to have that relationship between recovering peers. “[Tiffany’s] not telling you how to do things. She’s doing it, and I want to follow her.”
After listening to Mark’s story, it was clear how God worked in him over the past year. He went from a man who felt that he had his life under control in the early 2000s, to a man who credits God for everything! “It can get scary out there, down in the depths of it… But Jesus is the one and only that will never let you down. You can be all alone, but you’re not alone, because he’s with you at all times! It’s just something that I had to learn. Reading the Bible is something that I’ve never done and it’s so comforting, whether it’s ten minutes or two hours! The peace that Christ gives you is second to none.”
Pray for Mark as he continues to fight the good fight. Pray for his family as he works to earn their trust through his actions. “Trust is only coming back through the way I live my life. And there is only one way I’m going to live my life, and that’s following Christ.” And bless the Lord for His never-ending love, His great mercies, and for what He has done in Mark’s life.