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Aug9WedA Bible started ex-biker Mark "The Hammer" Carlos on a new road. August 9, 2017 by Ken Ramstead
Mark Carlos wasn't nicknamed "the Hammer" by his biker associates for nothing.
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- Faith & Friends
“When I’d make my rounds to collect drug debts for the gang, I would show up with a hammer in one hand and a pair of Vise-Grips in the other,” Mark says.
“I wasn’t a very nice person,” he continues. “I was a liar, I was a thief. I made money in the darkest of places, and I would do whatever it took to get what was due me.”
Man in the Mirror
Mark was born into an organized crime family. Abused at a young age, he was beaten when he told his father “to make me into a man,” remembers Mark. “At the age of 13, he battered me so badly that I had broken ribs and a punctured lung. I hid underneath a wood pile so he wouldn’t kill me.”
The young teen ran away from home and lived on the streets.
“I met some old neighbours of mine who were part of a motorcycle club. They took me in,” Mark says. “I learned how to be a good criminal. I used to run dope back and forth for a few fellows, and by the time I was 17, I was a prospect for the Satan’s Choice motorcycle club.
“As a biker,” Mark goes on to say, “I became ruthless and hardhearted. I drove around collecting debts and selling dope. In that time, I was shot four times and did eight years in prison. I was stabbed multiple times and left for dead, but I never gave up. When I was 13, taking a beating, I asked God—if there was a God—to take me away. He never did. I thought God hated me so I hated Him back, and I did a pretty good job of it, too.”
There were occasional flashes of doubt, however. “I was in the middle of a bar fight one night and we were giving it to them good. I happened to glance in a mirror at myself—and I didn’t like who I saw.”
From Bikes to Bibles
The police finally caught up with Mark in Toronto on November 1, 2012. While in jail, he was involved in an altercation and stabbed multiple times. Released from hospital, he was in jail on Christmas Day waiting judgment for his part in the affair when the institution was visited by a Salvation Army brass band.
“One of the Salvation Army ministers threw a New Testament Answer Book into my cell that landed with a thud on the floor,” he says. Also included in this book were the Psalms and Proverbs. “I’d never really read the Bible and I picked it up where it had opened at Psalm 51, and I started reading: ‘Have mercy on me, O God, because of Your unfailing love. Because of Your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against You, and You alone, have I sinned. I have done what is evil in Your sight’ ” (New Living Translation).
In a lightning flash, Mark realized that whatever had happened to him as a child—the abuse, the beatings—was not his fault, and he felt an overwhelming calm come over him.
Two hours later, a guard came up to Mark and told him that all charges against him were dropped.
“That doesn’t happen—ever!” Mark explains. “You usually have to go in front of a judge for sentencing.”
Still under confinement for his previous charge, Mark was in the prison’s common area two weeks later reading his Bible when he received a telephone call from Teen Challenge, a faith-based drug and alcohol treatment and recovery centre located north of the city.
When he eventually made bail, Mark eagerly jumped at the centre’s offer. “There was nobody telling me that I could never be saved because I’d gone too far and done too much. These people showed me true love, and I was taught that God loves us all.”
There, he started soaking in theology and faith like a sponge.
“I didn’t want to waste my time,” he smiles. “I wanted to get right with God. I learned Greek and Hebrew so that I could read the early Bibles, and I did that before I read it in English! I learned that God’s greatness is incredible and that the Bible is the truth, because I sat there at Teen Challenge for six and a half months tearing it apart looking for a loophole—because there had to be one, right? But I couldn’t find any.
“I know for a fact in my heart that Jesus lives, that God is real and that miracles happen. And I am living proof of that.”
After graduating from the Teen Challenge program, Mark needed a place to live and a job. The staff at Teen Challenge found him a room and a job, installing fire and security systems in banks.
“Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humour?” laughs Mark.
Now sober and happily married, the father of one’s self-appointed job is spreading the good news of God. Besides being part of the Teen Challenge program, Mark rides with Bikers for Christ, a Christian ministry for motorcyclists, and helps The Salvation Army with their prison outreach.
“When you see the miracles performed at Teen Challenge and through the Army in prison, you know miracles happen every day,” Mark says. “I have a duty to do what I can. The good Lord let me live this life so I can tell my story—so no one else has to live my life.”