Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Divine Appointment at Hollywood & Vine

Who is Dean Clark?? First of all, thank you for taking a moment to read my story. I believe that you are reading this for a reason and pray that your life will be touched. My story will seek to answer the following questions:
“What does a developmentally retarded foster child have to do with Axl Rose, Elvis Presley, Marlon Brando and James Cameron’s Titanic?” and
“Where is God when my choices take me FARTHER than I want to GO, keep me there LONGER than I want to STAY, and COST me MORE than I want to PAY?”
Want the answer? Keep reading...

What is a Divine Appointment?
God has chosen to reveal himself in the Bible and to me by what I call “Divine Appointments”. God is like a master weaver creating an amazing tapestry (or rug). You and I are like the strings God is using in his masterpiece. A Divine Appointment is a moment in time (or person placed in our path) that allows us to see God’s hand at work. Most people call this a coincidence, dumb luck or a lining up of the stars…I believe in giving God the credit where credit is due. Here is my story….

Are We Accidents?
I have been told from my earliest recollections that God is at work in my life and has a great Plan for me. My life started as an accident (in the world’s eyes), but thankfully, how we start does not always determine where we end up.

One of my favorite verses tells of God’s plan:
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."

Accident no More!
I started life as an unwanted pregnancy. My life was spared by God because 7 years later in 1973, Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion in the USA. I was born to an unwed mother and entered this world several months premature weighing only 2.5 lbs. In 1966 babies this small did not survive (my first miracle!).

No Hope to Health…
Prior to my birth, my mother had signed paperwork for an anonymous adoption. Her plan to have me adopted was cut short when I was born with such serious health problems. I remained in the hospital for a total of 13 months and went from an incubator to a rehab institution called Rancho Los Amigos in Downey, CA. No home and no health…but GOD had a Plan.

Who is that kid in the yard?
During this time, God had placed the desire for foster children into the hearts of Terry and Pauline Clark. The day the social worker came to visit the Clarks, they just “happened” to be baby sitting little John from next door. “Oh, you work with handicapped children” and she pointed to little John. The social worker looked into the back yard and saw a kid with braces on his legs (from the birth defect Spina Bifida) and thought of me for the Clarks. I was placed with the Clarks due to this special moment!

I went from developmentally retarded baby that was unable to make a sound or sit up to healthy kid in around 7 years. I started with a tumor in my windpipe that required a tracheotomy tube in my throat. I somehow taught myself to speak in gasps by forcing air past the tube. The Clarks walked through 14 surgeries with me and were planning to adopt me but that was not to be…. Finally healthy, but God still had changes ahead…

Into the Fire…
The Clarks are wonderful Christian people and we attended church regularly and I was baptized around 8 years old. Around this time the Clarks allowed me to spend the weekend with this nice lady. I came back and said: “Did you know that lady is my mom?”

Right then, the Clarks knew that my biological mom was going to take me away…and I lost the only family I knew at 9 years old.
As sad as this was for the Clarks and I…God had set into motion a series of Divine Appointments. During this time, I discovered my art and would meet several best friends that would change my life.

My new life was very different from the stable Clark house. I ended up living in 14 different places, had 3 step-dads, started on drugs at 12, arrested at 13, part of a stealing/drug-dealing group of kids at 14 and moved to Hollywood at 15. My new best friend in Hollywood was Chris Weber, founding guitarist of Guns n’ Roses (GnR).But God still had a PLAN!

Hollywood and GnR…
Chris and I hung out in 10th grade at Fairfax High School, home to famous rock bands like GnR, LA Guns, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. I moved to a different city in 11th and 12th but we remained friends. After graduation, we spoke on the phone and Chris said: “Dude, I scored a house, do you want to move in?” I moved sight unseen into the GnR party house in the Hollywood Hills. The house was the second home to Axl Rose (singer), Izzy Stradlin (guitarist), Steve Adler (drummer…he slept on my couch!) and an assorted cast of druggies, groupies and freaks of all kinds. You can imagine that I did not make good decisions during this time…but was miraculously spared from serious drug addiction. I was there when all my friends became hooked on heroin…it was devastating.

Discovered at Hollywood and Vine…
I attempted to go to Cal State University Northridge (CSUN) at this point but dropped out. During this time, I worked at Bernard Luggage at the corner of Hollywood and Vine. One Saturday, a 27 year old named Rob Langer came into my store looking at briefcases. We started talking and he mentioned the CSUN Career Center. Amazingly, I had found Bernard Luggage at the CSUN Career Center. Rob said “I just placed an ad for a “Runner””. I then boldly (or stupidly?) asked if he wanted to use the phone? “to cancel your ad…you just found your Runner!”. Rob then said… “You’re HIRED!” and I still had no idea was a Runner was.

I now worked in Commercial Real Estate! Miraculously, I had been hired to help lease the office space at the two high-rise office buildings at Hollywood and Vine. I literally walked across the street to a new life. My first day on the job was spent with Rob Langer buying me my first and only suit and tie. I went from spiked hair Hollywood kid to corporate exec in two weeks…with a secretary and office! (a serious Divine Appointment) …
God Definitely had a PLAN!

Like Father, Like Son….
Unfortunately, this wonderful break did not clean me up…I just had more money to party! In 1987, a major earthquake hit Southern California. I was partying with several guys, when one exclaimed “Dude, you need to be in jail when the earthquake hits…it was awesome!” It turns out my party buddy had beat up a kid on a bike. As I pondered the quality of my friends, the three of us went to a movie called “Like Father, Like Son”.

The movie was one of three body-switching films that year (remember BIG with Tom Hanks?). Like Father, Like Son featured Dudley Moore (50 year old surgeon) and Kirk Cameron (16 year old rebel) switching bodies. While I watched the movie…God spoke to me… Here was this distinguished surgeon on the outside and a punk kid on the inside. Right in the theater, God said to me: “That’s You!”. It was true, now as a real estate guy in a suit, I was cleaned up on the outside, but inside I was still doing the same things I did as a rebellious teen.

Several weeks later, I announced at a party that I was going clean. Within a month, I came home from work and found a moving van out front. My roommate was moving out and taking the temptation to party with him (and all the furniture)…thank God! Several weeks later, I received a call from my old friend Brooks. He was looking for a room to rent but had a whole house full of furniture…amazing! Brooks then introduced me to the girl that took me to church. …God puts his PLAN into motion…

God makes his move…on Mother’s Day
This girl and I ended up going to church on Mother’s Day in 1988. The funny thing is we did not take my mom; we just went to be able to say we went (bragging rights?). Anyway, this was my first experience in church as an adult…I was shocked to see normal (and even cool) people there.
God then did a big miracle…He spoke directly to my heart in that service.

I heard for the first time that even though I was success in the world’s eyes in real estate, I was lost and in need of a Savior. I discovered that there was a serious penalty for my sin…death! That penalty of death was the reason Christ had to die on a cross. Christ paid the penalty for my sin and I could be born again by receiving that God’s forgiveness by Faith. I finally found out that the emptiness inside of me was a “God-shaped” hole that only the Lord could fill. After 4 weeks going to church, I went forward and prayed with a guy in a back room. I told him that I did not think God could forgive or accept me because of my horrible past. God gave me the perfect guy to pray with…he had been delivered from serious sexual addiction and was now free! I prayed a simple prayer that day and God came into my life and changed me forever. I felt like the weight of the world was lifted from my shoulders! God revealed His PLAN!


Set Free… I ended up being single for a couple of years and God gave me an amazing new friend in Steve Navyac (now tour manager for country star Sara Evans). We hung out in the LA Jazz scene and he introduced me to his church: Christian Assembly. Home of Pastor Mark Pickerill and worship leader Tommy Walker. I first shared this story with the youth group there and launched a three-year stint in ministry. I seemed to have it all together on the outside but on the inside I was continually haunted by the choices I had made and my old temptations. My good friend Roy Patillo shared a life changing verse with me:

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.

This verse states that once you have accepted Christ’s free gift of salvation. You don’t have to live in guilt and shame from your past choices. This verse literally set me free.

Family Life and Graphic Design
I believe that God kept me single for a time so that I would start to deal with the issues that set me on a path of destruction. I meet many frustrated singles longing for the perfect mate. I think that God is waiting for many people to get their lives right with the Lord and to deal with their issues before placing them in a relationship. Around this time God gave me my greatest gift…my wife Laura. I was trying to set up my friend with her roommate, but God had other plans. Laura and I ended up at a restaurant alone. God showed up and revealed to us both that night that this was the person we were to marry. We have now been married for 16 years and have two awesome boys: Joshua and Jared.

After real estate, I ended up selling color printers. God would also use this job in my life. During my lunch breaks, I taught myself graphic design on the Macintosh. I learned Photoshop, Illustrator and Quark. One of my more “colorful” clients was Marlon Brando…I spent 12 bizarre hours in his mansion on the hill. Several years later, I would get my big break and design artwork for James Cameron’s movie Titanic and the Elvis Presley Cookbook for Graceland. God has revealed some of his PLAN for me…what is God’s Plan for YOU?

God’s Plan for YOU…
God can change ANY life no matter how far it has strayed from HIS plan. Many people are trying to be good enough for God’s Free Gift. If we have to work for something, it is not Free or a Gift! Many people will put off a decision for Christ so that they can “clean up their lives first”. Do we need to sponge off BEFORE we step into the shower? NO! It takes a humble heart and broken spirit that will take off the pride and false pretenses we have set up, accept our part in the sin that has brought us here. Then we need to step into the shower of Jesus Christ’s forgiveness and grace. This sounds easy, but it will be the hardest thing you will ever do. This simple act of saving Faith will have the GREATEST return.

Accepting Christ’s FREE gift of salvation is the first step, developing friendships with other believers in a local church and digging into God’s word the Bible is essential. This website can help direct you in many areas of your walk with God.

Thank you for reading. Has this story touched your heart and changed your life? Email me at Dean@MissionPossibleCards.com and tell me your story or ask a question.
God Bless you!
Dean Clark

Update: One year ago, God allowed me to find
www.AllAboutGod.com on the web and has now launched a website allowing you to share your favorite website and your faith…check out: www.MissionPossibleCards.com.

2 comments:

thejunkyswife said...

Interesting stuff...I like that idea of a divine appointment.

Bobbie said...

Thank you Dean for sharing your link with me here. I've enjoyed reading your story and the others. I pray your ministry will continue to bless others and reach many more! Take care my friend, Auntie Mickey from His Holy Space dot com