Sharables – Testimony
Mark O’Connor | Student Director
I always thought my story was pretty lame. I did not have this rock-bottom-I-found-Jesus moment. I was not a bad guy. I grew up in a home where we went to church every week. I was baptized as an infant. I received my first communion and was even confirmed when I was a teenager. I received these sacraments, and they were supposed to be done in the church in which I was raised. Youth group was fun in the summer when we played softball, but I always wondered why we did not learn more about God in those times. I was along for the ride. When my dad stopped waking me up every Sunday morning, I stopped going to mass. I just kind of lived my life from there. I still was not a bad guy. I was the guy my friends turned to when they needed to talk. There was no drinking or drugs. No smoking. I may have been at the party, but I was the one making sure everybody was ok.
I was not perfect. I messed up; made a bunch of mistakes and got into some trouble. But I was a teenager after all. Life was good. You could say I was kind of cruising thru life. Work was good. Somewhere around my 19th birthday, I met the woman who would later become my wife. Jamie and I developed a great friendship that blossomed into a great relationship. She had recently had a daughter when we started dating. The first time my parents met her, we were walking into the same entrance at the mall and Haley was with us. This was a mildly awkward moment.
We were engaged to be married after a year and a half. During the planning of our wedding, we discovered that Jamie was going to give birth to our first son. My world was now upside down. Here I was, 20 years old. I was about to be the head of a family. To say I was overwhelmed was an understatement. How was I going to handle this? What was I going to do?
I went on a weekend trip to a business conference in North Carolina. I do not remember most of the speakers that were there or what they said. Then came a church service on Sunday morning. A speaker by the name of Josh McDowell came to the stage. He spoke about fatherhood. He spoke about the responsibility I had as a father to raise my children and how important it is to make God a part of that. It was my “light bulb” moment. I do not remember the preacher from that service, but I know I gave my life to Jesus that morning.
We drove home, and I remember the preacher saying I needed to find a good, Bible preaching church. My brother in law pointed me to the River in Waterford (at that time, known as Faith). We were immediately drawn to Pastor Jim’s preaching style and connected quickly. In May of 2001, we were married in this church. A desire for God’s Word burned inside me, as it usually does for new Christians. After a while, that began to fade a bit, and I fell back into the normal routine.
Jamie began serving a lot in the church, but I was not there yet. After a time, I went to a snow camp with Pastor Jayson and the teens. A small fire began to burn again. It grew as I began to serve more and get into studying the Bible again. I was working retail at the time, and it was difficult to get a set schedule to serve consistently, but I did when I could.
In 2012, we made a huge change and went to serve in a small church in Walled Lake. It was the area where I went to high school, and to be honest, God called us there when Pastor Jim first started preaching there. At the time, I thought I knew what was better for me than God did. So I naturally fought it. Then Pastor Chris Doak asked us to serve with him to work with the student ministry. So we made our way to First Baptist Church of Walled Lake, now known as Market Street Church. My eyes were opened to the incredible work God does in our lives when we completely commit to his will. Somebody asked me one night as we were leaving youth group if I had ever considered being a pastor. I would love to say that in that instant I said yes, but I laughed. Then, as He so often does, God decided otherwise. As I continued to serve faithfully, my mindset shifted to a place where I longed to serve God more, and I made the decision the follow that course for my life.
So I started school to begin that process. I worked full-time, served pretty close to full-time, and took classes to obtain a degree in Pastoral Ministry. Eventually, I was hired on a part-time basis at Market Street and became so entrenched in the workings of the church. I learned so much in this time and am forever grateful for my time spent and friends made in Walled Lake. But once again, God stirred up our lives. And here I am, back home where my journey started. I am blessed to be serving the Lord full-time at this big white church on Airport Road. My office is two doors down from the office where Pastor Jim counseled Jamie and me before our wedding. It is the same office where Pastor Chris asked us if we would pray about joining him in Walled Lake. I cannot wait to see what God has in store for our family and me.