“The paramedics weren’t sure if I was going to lose my leg or retain any mental capacity as I lay on the side of the road, bloody and unresponsive, in Marion, Louisiana. I was driving an ATV too fast down a dark road. The next thing I knew, I was on the ground.” – Mark Hapka
“The paramedics weren’t sure if I was going to lose my leg or retain any mental capacity as I lay on the side of the road, bloody and unresponsive, in Marion, Louisiana,” said Mark Hapka. “I was driving an ATV too fast down a dark road. The next thing I knew, I was on the ground. In retrospect, I imagined God looking down and seeing my dead, spiritless bones before I was rushed by helicopter to a hospital in Shreveport.
“At the time, I said I was a Christian just because I wasn’t an atheist or a Muslim. But I didn’t know much about God or even care to. I based my identity on the money I made working for the Dallas Mavericks in sales. I spent my weekends getting drunk and watching sporting events. Money, pleasure, and accomplishments – that’s where I thought life was found.
“I woke up Sunday morning surprised to be in the hospital. I had a dislocated shoulder and knee, a torn rotator cuff, an orbital bone fracture, broken ribs, severe bruising, and other injuries. After a five-hour knee surgery back in Dallas, the doctor explained that if I could walk normally in a year, that would be a good result. That was a tough blow because I took pride in my accomplishments as a runner.
“My wife and I had lived more like roommates until that point. But Amber was a model of servanthood while I was recovering. I remember her saying that the Lord must have a plan for my life to allow me to survive such a horrific accident. Amber started praying for me and sharing what she was reading in God’s Word. God was doing something in her life, and that would affect me down the line.
“Amber drove by Watermark daily on her way home from work and suggested that we check it out. We had church-hopped occasionally, but I always found some reason not to connect. I had many preconceived notions about God. I thought if you were a ‘good person’ you’d go to Heaven. I hadn’t killed anyone, so I was better than most people, right?
“When we visited Watermark, I heard a message on John 10:10 and the idea that you can spend your life following your passions and never be fulfilled because the abundant life only can be found in Christ. The pursuit of my desires was the center of my life! I had a pretty extensive portion of my ‘bucketlist’ items checked, yet I was never satisfied.
“Later, I heard the ‘Children’s Stories’ series on the books of Jonah and Daniel – stories I hadn’t known before. I’m a guy who struggles with pride, so it was humbling to realize I did not know much about the Lord. I started reading God’s Word and learning more about His character and faithfulness. That’s when my view changed.
“On Easter weekend, I’d planned to go to the NCAA basketball tournament and tailgate beforehand, but I decided to go to church before the game instead. In the Watermark News, I read a story on Bryan Robert, a guy who reminded me of myself. Reading about how faith in Christ changed his life impacted me. Later, Amber and I went through the membership process, and during the testimony time, our group leader asked me to share about how I came to faith in Christ. My answer was predicated on the idea that Jesus plus my good works meant I would spend eternity with Christ.
“The group leader asked if we could read what the Bible says about how one gets to Heaven, and we went through the Bridge Illustration. Learning that God’s grace was a free gift that I could never earn or deserve helped cement my faith. I finally understood that God is not some distant curmudgeon who is keeping score of my life. I could have a relationship with Him, and through Christ, I could approach Him with freedom, knowing that the Lord hears and loves me.
“To everyone’s surprise, only nine months after the accident, I passed the strength test for my knee and resumed my normal activities. God clearly had been at work throughout my healing process. I began to pray every night that the Lord would allow me to run in the Berlin Marathon, and 15 months after the accident, I ran the race. It truly was a platform to glorify the Lord, as opposed to my usual self-exaltation.
“While we were in Germany, I got a job offer that would allow me to be more available to my family and ministry opportunities. Although I would earn less money, I changed from the career that previously shaped my identity. My wife and I jumped into Equipped Disciple classes at Watermark and memorizing God’s Word together. God used that job change to strengthen my faith and our marriage.
“Today Amber and I are passionate about reaching young professionals for Christ. As God has changed my life and our marriage, He has given us great joy in helping equip others with His Word and seeing new believers come to the Lord. I’m a new creation in Christ, and it’s a privilege to share that gift with others.”
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NASB)