I came to Dallas in 2006 to go to SMU. I had found out that my girlfriend was pregnant 3 months earlier and was expecting in January. I would have told you I was a Christian but my life was not marked by peace or joy. I was lost, had a hole in my heart and was at a place with many things for me to try and fill that hole with.
Early in my time at SMU, I met Kirk Bargenquist, a pastor at One28, through a bible study at the fraternity house I was looking to join. He introduced me to Watermark and I would go on Sundays after a week of trying to find life in girls and partying. I would come on Sundays, be convicted, and fall right back into my lifestyle that week.
Knowing I needed something more, I jumped into a Summit group in 2008 to learn about the book of Romans. Knowing no one, I was intimidated. I was in a group with JP, Dave Sterret, and a bunch of other absolute studs. I was in way over my skis. However, these guys modeled for me what it looked like to memorize scripture, study my bible, and pray for each other. God used these men to equip me in my battle during the week.
Soon after, I started going to the Porch on Tuesday nights. I learned two things very quickly. One, the Porch was not at the restaurant on Henderson. And two, the really tall guy from my Summit group was the teaching pastor. My mind was blown in a matter of thirty minutes. At the Porch I was encouraged, taught, and convicted of my sin in an even more specific way than on Sundays. My view of women, “fun”, friendship, and purpose was all changed.
After college, recognizing that I had habits that I did not want to take into marriage someday, I decided to go to Regen. 12 steps, 12 weeks, no problem. Until I found out it was a lot longer than 12 weeks. It was interesting that, now knowing it was more like a year long program, I didn’t see it as something for me. My logic was flawed. I jumped in.
Regen was long and a grind but God used it to help me see the root causes of my tendencies toward sin. I had never felt good enough and was trying to fill that hole with things that would make me feel valued. This was revealed through deep analysis of my past, brutal honesty, and constant confession. The transformation in my life was palpable. I had a weight lifted off my shoulders.
During Regen (not at Regen), I was introduced to my wife, Kate, through friends. Kate was a beautiful, fun girl who loved Jesus. Due to my time at the Porch, Summit, and Regen, I had finally been equipped and, more importantly, given a desire, to date well and be sexually pure. Because of my past, commitment was difficult for me and strained our relationship.
This made Merge even more important to us. Christ used Scott Kedersha and the Merge team to force Kate and I to communicate honestly and lay our concerns on the table. This was not an easy process but extremely necessary for us. We left sufficiently scared of the pain we could cause each other if we didn’t keep short accounts and keep Christ as our number one focus. Merge is largely responsible for a peaceful, not perfect, but peaceful first year and half of marriage.
I am now leading a Summit group and have the opportunity to encourage others in the same way JP, Sterret, and Kirk encouraged me. Kate and I are now in a community group where we all get to disciple each other and push each other towards God’s Word. I’m humbled how Christ is using me in others lives now.
I am extremely thankful to all of the staff at Watermark for all of the hard work they have put into the mid week ministry programs. I am eternally grateful for the leadership for answering God’s call on their lives. Christ has transformed my life through his love and grace. He has used and continues to use the Church to do so.
Because of this when the conversation around finances is brought up, I get excited. That means more people are getting to know Jesus, are growing in their relationship with Him, and being equipped to love others in His name. If I had the money, I’d pay for the building myself. I know that wise men are asking the tough questions, praying fervently, and acting on what God has revealed to them. Lives will be radically and eternally changed because of that investment. That’s a no brainer.
Thank you, Watermark, for loving me and making room for me.
M. Brendon Marks