Wednesday, April 25, 2007
From Death to Life at Hollywood and Vine
Psalms 139:16 "You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother's womb. Your workmanship is marvelous... You were there while I was being formed...You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe."
This above verse is very important to me because it supports the view that each life is precious and God has a wonderful plan for every baby (and mother) even if the child is unwanted. My testimony starts with this point because I was one of the unwanted children that survived just before the legalizing of abortion (Roe vs. Wade) in 1973...this is my story.
- Dean Clark -
An Unexpected Arrival...
1966...My unwed mother delivered me prematurely in her Van Nuys apartment. She had originally planned to sign me away for adoption but the doctors discovered I had multiple health problems and was considered "unadoptable". I weighed 2.5 lbs. at birth and had a tumor in my windpipe. The doctors performed an emergency tracheotomy so I could breath...but GOD had a Plan!
1967...My first 13 months were spent in the rehab institution: Rancho Los Amigos Hospital. I was considered retarded, could not make any sound and the doctors gave no hope for a normal life.
1967-75...The Lord placed the desire for foster children into the hearts of Terry and Pauline Clark. Miraculously, the day of their interview with a social worker, they were baby sitting a neighbor boy with braces. The sight of him in the backyard prompted the social worker to ask if they wanted a handicapped child...me! They took a big risk by bringing a fragile 13 month old into their family (they already had 3 children of their own). Within 6 months I was miraculously able to bypass the tracheotomy in my neck and somehow move enough air past my vocal chords to speak! I was blessed to experience a safe Christian home and loving parents for 8.5 years. My stay with the Clarks unfortunately would not last...but GOD had a Plan!
Into the Mouth of Hell
1975-82...The Clarks had decided to adopt me and I thought my dream was finally to become reality. My biological mother still had parental rights and when she discovered the Clark's plans, she pulled me out of their home. I moved in with my biological mother and stepfather. My mother worked nights and I spent many hours after school alone. My half brother watched me and just happened to be a drug addict and dealer. I was introduced to drugs at 12 yrs. old. I ended up having 3 step dads and living in 14 different locations. The highlight of this period was the season I slept outside with my dogs (the house was so small my twin bed was placed in the backyard).
1982-86...My biological mother and I then moved to Hollywood to live with her new boyfriend. I spent that year in Hollywood hitchhiking to school each day. My new best friend was Chris Weber, founding guitarist of the rock band Guns n' Roses (GnR). I then moved out of Hollywood for 11th and 12th grade. After graduating from high school, I called my old friend Chris and he invited me back to Hollywood. I moved sight unseen into the GnR party house. Over the next few years, our house had a constantly changing cast of GnR band members, groupies and weirdos of every kind...thankfully, GOD still had a Plan.
Discovered at Hollywood & Vine
1986...During this time I worked at a luggage store at the corner of Hollywood & Vine. One Saturday, God sent a guy named Rob Langer into my luggage store looking for a briefcase. Rob mentioned that he had just placed an ad for a runner at the CSUN Career Center. I boldly (stupidly?) told him to cancel his ad because he just found his guy! My bravado got me hired on the spot even though I still had no idea what the job was..."runner?!"
My first day on the job was spent in a suit shop with Rob buying me my first (and only) suit and tie. He then put me to work as a Commercial Leasing agent for the two high rise buildings at the corner of Hollywood & Vine. In 2 short weeks I went from funky black clothes and a spiked hairdo in a luggage store, to a suit and tie guy in an office with a secretary!
1987...God used my new found conservative appearance to save my life from drugs and eventually my soul. I decided it was time to come clean from my cigarette, cocaine, pot and beer habits and lamely announced my new life direction to my friends during one of our beer bashes. A month or so later, I came home from work to find my roommate Mike moving out and the entire apartment empty (he owned everything). God knew I was not strong enough to stay clean on my own and used this incident to remove the temptation to party. I had no bed or furniture...but GOD had a Plan!
Out of the blue, a friend from my early childhood called and asked if I knew of a room for rent...he was having trouble finding something because.....he had a whole house full of furniture! My new roommate Brooks turned out to be the positive peer pressure I needed to stay clean and he eventually introduced me to the person that took me to church. (Update...Brooks came to the Lord in the last few years!)
God Makes His Move...
1988 - Mother's Day...I attended a large church in the S. F. Valley and was shocked to see normal and even "cool" people there (and not a "church lady" in sight!). Several key things hit me during that first exposure to church as an adult: I had achieved much of the success (through real estate) that the world said would fulfill me, but in that service I was aware how truly empty and unhappy I was. I appeared clean on the outside, but I finally realized I was a sinner in need of a savior. What amazed me was that in a huge service of 3000 people, the pastor (and God's Word) were speaking specifically to me.
After 4 sundays I went to a back room to pray with one of their counselors. I thought that God couldn't forgive me due to my dark past. The guy responded that God rescued him from serious sexual addiction and the Lord could forgive my past as well. I prayed and proclaimed my belief that Christ died for my sins and rose again. I admitted that I was a sinner and accepted Christ's forgiveness. I then asked Jesus to come into my heart and be my Savior and Lord (meaning I would live for Him and seek His will for my life through His Word: the Bible). The Lord answered my prayer that day and my life began at that moment...but GOD still had Plans for me.
1989...God even managed to use my Guns n' Roses past for His Plan. In 1989, GnR was the biggest band in the world, I offered to share my story about the dangers of rock and roll with the youth group at church. I unknowingly launched a 3 year stint in youth ministry.
1990...I was a committed Christian and working in ministry, but yet was continually haunted by the bad choices I had made. I feared being found out and mistakenly thought that Christians didn't continue to struggle like I was. I finally talked to the youth pastor, half expecting him to fire me on the spot. Instead, he shared a verse that changed my life:
Romans 8:1 - Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
The Lord opened my eyes to the fact that my past, present and future sin were covered (forgiven) by Christ's death and resurrection. I finally began to heal and several months later, after 2 years of no dating, my future wife entered my life. I feel the Lord waited for me to deal with these issues before putting me into a dating situation.
1991-07...These last 16 years have been the highlight of my life. The Lord has blessed me with a wonderful wife and two very active and amazing boys. As any parent knows, the challenge of raising children in a troubled world makes our previous life experiences seem trivial by comparison.
1996...Our move to Santa Clarita has been an incredible blessing. Our family has found an awesome home at Faith Community Church in Newhall. We are seriously studying God's Word and are challenged by the lives of many godly friends.
9/11/2001...The foundations we Americans place our hope in were rocked by the tragedies in New York and Washington D.C.. America's security and prosperity were threatened as we saw our major institutions crumble. We witnessed firsthand the vulnerability of our jobs, finances and government. We in California know a little about shaky foundations from our many earthquakes.
I now have a foundation (my faith in Christ) that can not be shaken even though the world around me crashes and burns. My faith has been strengthened by the fruit (results) I see in my life. My life before Christ was one of fear, self loathing, greed, jealousy and gossip. I still struggle in many areas but now I can see love, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control. Life in Christ is not easy or always happy (kids can make you nuts!)...but I now have a inner hope, peace and joy that comes from a personal relationship with God.
2007...When I wrote this story originally in 2001, I had no idea all the changes it would bring. Chris Weber and I renewed our friendship. Chris is now married to a wonderful wife and works as a drug councelor. During our visit I rediscovered photos of GnR I took back in 1983. Then in June 2004 the photos I took were used in a new GnR/Hollywood Rose CD and Rolling Stone Magazine...who knew?
I have been sharing this story (and now photos) for 18 years and have seen God open amazing doors and opportunities, culiminating in the launch of Mission Possible Cards. I want to challenge those reading this to pray for an openness in their hearts to recognize God's Plan for them, their family and their work.
Do you have questions about God, the Bible, Church, Faith or Sin? Are you hurt, angry, indifferent or confused about God due to earlier life experiences? Please email me at Dean@AllAboutGod.com, visit http://www.allaboutgod.com/ or visit a local bible-teaching church to help you sort out your questions or direct you to the answers you seek...GOD has a Plan for YOU! Thank you for reading.... Dean Clark
Please visit my main website: http://www.missionpossiblecards.com/
My other blog is http://www.missionpossiblecards.blogspot.com/ telling of the birth of my new ministry.