"Hope was not in my vocabulary," said Mark Little Elk, a SD Sioux from Rosebud. As a young man he struggled with the challenges of drugs, alcohol, and gang involvement that are all too common for Native American youth. Suicide and death were not only common, but seemed inevitable to Mark. He did not expect to live past 40. Mark stated that he "saw many jail cells and even more funerals." Mark wanted to experience the true happiness that hope could bring.
Tragedy and loss were defining characteristics of Mark's life. He lost 3 brothers, had a girlfriend killed in an auto accident, lost his best friend to suicide, and then lost his mother. To cope, Marked turned to the bottle and became a hardened alcoholic. He was filled with anger, rage, sorrow, unforgiveness, guilt, and hopelessness. The ultimate anguish can came when Mark's cherished 14-year-old daughter was bullied so badly that she took her own life.
In his own words, Mark continued "on a blind search toward a dead end. He eventually found himself locked away for drinking and driving. With no way to self-medicate, he had to realistically reflect on his life. The heaviness of his sin and guilt were overwhelming. But God was working in his heart and Mark cried out in his hopelessness to the only one with the power and authority to free him...the Lord Jesus. It was in this concrete cell where the Lord laid upon Mark's heart his true identity...a child of the living God, known to Him from the womb and chosen before the foundation of the world. Mark realized that he changed that day. As a child of God, it was time for him arise up and discover what God wanted him to do.
Mark enrolled in a rehabilitation program and began to immerse himself in Scripture. By God's grace, he completed the program and then had to figure out what the Lord had next for him. Formerly a successful tattoo artist, Marked wanted to attend and art school in Santa Fe. He was offered a full scholarship, but through different people and situation, Mark felt called to study at Mokahum. He has completed his year of discipleship training and stayed in Bemidji the summer of 2019 to help children at a Christian camp. At the camp he served, witnessed, and ministered to others. Mark is excited about his second year of training at Mokahum. Mark continues his artwork through different mediums, including beading, painting, and drawing. Not his work below, particularly of the beautiful girl with 5 butterflies around her. The girl is Mark's daughter. She became an organ donor before her death. The butterflies stand for the five people who were abel to live because of generosity. Mark has met 2 of the organ recipients and wants to meet the other 3. It has been a long time of healing fo make and those he as met. It was hard for Mark to give up his princess, but because of her thoughtfulness he knows that 5 other fathers do not have to experience the loss of their child. Mark doesn't know what the future holds or where he will be led, but one thing he is sure of..he has found the hope that he was looking for. Better stated, hope has found him. That hope is in the matchless blood and righteousness of His Lord Jesus Christ.
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