Mark Jenkins

Mark Jenkins

MEN COMING OUT OF PRISON NEED A MENTOR

   The Word of God says in Proverbs 16:9, “Any man can plan, but God establishes his ways.”   

   I want to talk to you briefly in regard to me. Claim your rightful place. Go and claim your rightful God-given place. When I’m speaking to people, I’m talking about my story, my prison life, and what led to going to prison. I was being molested by a sister. I think they say a female relative was actually a sister. I harbored all that anger and eventually, you have to release it, and it resulted in my taking a person’s life. I repented and moved forward. I thank God for being a loving and forgiving God.

 

    What I want to talk about is after prison. I decided that I was going to leave the prison, where you don’t trust people and don’t let people get close to you. I was coming out after serving twenty-six years. When I went to prison, Ronald Reagan was President and when I came out, Barack Obama was President, so that’s just putting it in time perspective. A lot had changed. I remember going on my community passes, after I made one level. It was just like a whole new world for me.

   When I came home, some of the women came from the church and they came over to my mother’s house to visit and I tell you, there was not one man from my mother’s church, not one man came to see me and share with me. I wasn’t looking for any money, I just wanted the fellowship. I didn’t have a father figure in my life. Not one single man at the church came to the house. That had me worried because, I didn’t know if they were scared of me. With that being said, I started my journey, and it was like I didn’t have anybody I could look up to. I didn’t have an example. There was times when I felt like there were some people that I could go to, but I felt like they used me for my testimony. I was stuck for a while.

   I remember my community volunteer, taking me into a McDonald’s or a Burger King. I’m just sitting at the table, because when I had gone prior to going into prison, you would sit at the table and they would serve you. He says “Mark, what are you doing just sitting at the table?” You have to get up and go get your drink.”

   It was a whole new world opening up to me after twenty-six years. I went in on August 2, 1982, and I came out on December 1, 2008. This December will be ten years, and it hasn’t been easy. I’m not going to trust anybody. I let my guard down and came home.

   Somebody spoke up for me and I got a job at a Christian television station and met this beautiful woman. We began talking and she invited me to church, and I went to church with her. One thing led to another and six months later, we were married. It was against the wishes of some of my friends and my family, but you couldn’t tell me anything. I love her and had an excuse to be out of my mother’s house. After leaving prison, I lived with my momma. Little did I know that she had a record nearly worse than mine. She just didn’t have murder on it, and she kept a lot of things from me. It came out in the open just months after we were married.

   I said, “Well, we don’t need to be renting a home.” I had some money and I was blessed with a good job, making sixty thousand dollars a year. 

   I started out in the field, where you go up and down the highways and see guys out there with attitudes and tell myself this really isn’t for me." This isn’t my kind of work, handling cameras and equipment; but I stayed there for about a month. I was called to the front office and was told that they wanted me in the purchasing organization for the company. They gave me a truck, a personal phone, and all I did was travel. Now, my life was going well.

   I told my wife, “Look, you got the power. You don’t need to be renting. We could put eight or nine thousand dollars on a house and own it.” So, sure enough, that’s what we did. We agreed to it, put the money down and moved into a beautiful home.

   Prior to moving into a home, one thing about my job, it’s very demanding and plan focused.

   I gave her the money and said, “You go pay the deposit on the lights, and pay whatever else there is to get it turned on.  I’ll see you when I get home.”

   I was at work that day, and got a phone call from my wife. She said she was at the electric company to turn on the power.

   I asked, “What’s going on?”                                            

   She said, I don’t know, and I said, to let me talk to the supervisor. Make a long story short, she had been convicted of identity theft and it caught up with her. She had known about my background, and knew all about me. I thought we had it all worked out, and felt like she really pulled one over on me. When my family would come to see me when I was incarcerated, they always said, the ladies in the church said hello and they prayed for me. The men in the church said hello and they prayed for me too.

       I can remember going to this church, and just as soon as they found out I had a past, they would draw back from me. That was so hurtful, because nobody wants to be rejected. Everybody wants to be loved. Everybody wants to be understood.  

   It poured over into my marriage, because here is the woman that lied to me. I was trying to make it work, even though I hate deception. I was trying to make it work.

    People would say, “You look like a beautiful couple.”

    I phoned my home at one time and was literally drained, because it was chaotic on the inside. I say this to young men and older men; you need to seek God for your mate. I was seeking lust and found it, but what I found at the end of lust wasn’t good and eventually our marriage was lost.

   You have to be careful who you seek counsel from. I found that out, when I went to a pastor and said, “This is what’s going on. I’m having problems, I'm having issues. Can you help me?” He proceeded to tell me about his wife and the problems he was having with her, and how his wife’s mother had been married seven or eight times. So everywhere I went, it was like there's nothing to help me. I tried and would go to the Scriptures. I read the Scripture Ephesians 6, where it talks about putting on the whole armor of God, and when you get down to Verse 13, it talks about, after you’ve done all you can and stand.

   I just come to that point and say, “God, how many more times do you want me to stand? This is getting hard. I’m smiling on the outside; but on the inside I'm hurting. 

    I made a few friends along the way, including a pastor. I went to church and it had a great impact on my life, almost like a fatherly figure. His sister came down to Camden and she died. When she died, it messed him up emotionally. He went missing for three or four years. I didn’t know where he was, and the only one that I could go to.

   There was a guy I met when I was working on trucks.  I was in charge of cleaning the trucks. I always had to clean the trucks out before I have them repaired. I met Charlie Williams through that job. Charlie never went to church, which told me the type of person he was.

   He took me under his wing. The best thing about Charlie, were his seven kids and only been married one time. I stayed with Charlie for mentorship, if that’s what you want to call it. He loved on me, he loved the best he knew, the best he could, and the wild parties and the celebrity parties. People, who were celebrities in the area, were always at his home. If you live your life and being in church, they don’t want to have anything to do with you.

    I went to church, but strayed away from God.

   As time went on, I worked a job, and the people I worked for told me, Man, you got a great testimony. We could use you here.”

   I went and I worked with Full Circle Refuge, and then I questioned why they didn’t want to pay me. The people just used me. I went to the guy who was in charge of payments.

   I said, “I can't understand, why you have paid me only one check, but I’m a few checks in the arrear.”

   He said, “Well, Mark, you've got to understand that the needs ministry comes first.”

   I asked, “Am I not part of the ministry? I’ve got a car payment, bills and this type of thing.”

   I go to this church and they tend to accept me, until they hear about my story. People who shook my hand wouldn’t even acknowledge me. If you don’t think that’s hurtful, you try walking in my shoes. What do we do when we meet potential danger? We shun away.

    I could talk to Brother Robert, even though he was going through some personal things. I shared with him and received a word of encouragement. I think Brother Roberts was a friend at that time. The outside world was treating me better than the church. Does that sound familiar to anybody? I came into some money, and one of my friends from North Carolina came by. We did time together. He said, “Mark, if you can bring me ten thousand dollars and give me thirty days. After 30 days, every week you can pick up five thousand dollars, and get your ten thousand dollars back.”

   I thought about it and then I got to thinking and thinking, what’s going to happen to me if he gets caught? I’m going up and down the road just to pick money up. I'm not trying to justify it or anything like that, but what’s going to happen to me? He has to be wired or something. I’m on parole for murder and could go back. There’s a scripture in the Bible that talks about having the Lord on my side. God has blessed me, and that doesn’t mean I’m not without trials and not without troubles. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have challenges.

   I’m now part of a ministry where we cater to young people. I mean, it’s really not my type of thing, but about helping young people connect with God. I’m going to believe in it just to see the young people get excited about serving God; I know I’m in the right place. I tell people, if you know where God brought me from and I know that He had His eye on me. His hand is on my life.

    When I came up here about for or five years ago, they had two inmates up here. But the real challenge is when you walk outside free. It’s really challenging and it’s hard, and you say that the prison is hard. You’re doing nothing because you’re in a restricted body, once you’re released into an unrestricted world without a male presence in my life.

   I lived life up until this point on my own and lived wrong. I did get a college degree in prison and in April, 2016, I decided to go into business for myself. I started out with a little video camera and I started out doing videos. I started taking classes and became pretty good at photography. It wasn’t easy, because I’d never done it before. I opened my studio with the concept of providing a professional setting, for those who needed one. I have a contract with Doctor’s Hospital and a few other places. But there is always a situation that reminds you, and the devil always wants to remind you of the past, and that’s one of the things that happened to me. I was shooting a film about a month ago, and met a guy that I used to work with at a manufacturer place. I left that place, because they taking advantage of me.   

   I don’t say this to draw a color line, but I’m the only black-owned studio in the area. I’m not talking about in-house; you have a lot of people working out of their home and that type of thing. I still don’t have anybody and I’m sitting in my studio one day after I finished, and get a call from this guy who met me when I was fresh out of prison. We’re going to make movies together and do a lot of stuff together. We set up a date later on in the week for him to come in. I was lonely and I wanted to pour my heart out to him. He came in, and became concerned about marketing videos privately. I proved that it works.  

   I didn’t feel that I had anything for the church, and stopped going for a while. I’m sitting in the studio and making calls to church pastors. This is how low I sank. I had suicidal thoughts, not knowing what to do. I tried to do everything a pastor told me to do. Little did I know that I had a story to share with him? He came, and wanted to tell me his story.

   I said, “Okay, let me think about it.” In the meantime, let me share this with you.”

   He said, “I have a story too, and heard about you; but don’t know your story.”

   We just started talking. One thing led to another and he became that male figure I needed, even though he’s younger than me. I knew he was the one.

   My father died while I was incarcerated. I break down and cry every day and I miss him. Every time I go to my father’s grave, I cry. I didn’t have him in my life. If I hear a person talk about how great their father is, it does something to me on the inside. I had no real relationship with mine over the years, and I have asked why.

   I’m tired of people preaching about falling, because you tell me what you want me to do. When I started in ministry, I was Director of Media. I take a lot of my cameras and equipment over to the church and also preside over a small corporation. We started out small and the number is growing. God is really making awareness in young people in that area. I’ve come to learn that it’s not about me, it’s about Him. He can have my life. I’m fifty-three years old, and have had a wonderful relationship.

    I still think about the time I was in prison for twenty-six years. I thank God, when Abraham was getting ready to sacrifice his son with the saying about the ram in the bush. God always has a ram in the bush. Just when I was getting ready to give it up, and throw in the towel, what I want to say is not for me to be here, but for me to establish those who are coming out of prison. I want you to know that we need you.

    Prison ministry is fine, but once you come outside of those gates, we need you. I thank God that He brought me this far. I’m not ashamed to tell you that I need you. People always tell me that I have a gift of word for young people, who are going through life, get into trouble, and the Word of God addresses that. When I was growing up, they would tell me all I need is Jesus. They never told me Jesus is the foundation in all that you do. I believe in the Bible and every Word of God. I believe the Bible says there’s an actuality that has to come into play, and I tell the young men to believe in God. Psalm 37:37 says, “Look to those who are honest and good, for a wonderful future awaits those who love peace.”

Mark Jenkins Hearing His Voice Testimony 

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Mark Jenkins Testimony