ST. PETERSBURG — Inspirational speaker Marques Clark is targeting the young people of the community with “God’s Power,” a youth revival event that will take place at the Gateway Christian Center, 4355 Central Ave., June 26. The free event is open to people of all ages, and doors open at 6:30 p.m.
“As a mentor and inspirational speaker, I deal with a lot of youth,” Clark explained. “That’s my passion, and I get kids all the time text messaging me, emailing me, Facebooking me their problems. Some of these personal problems are related to a disconnection from truth. And basically, what I’m going to do is connect them back to truth, and that truth is Jesus Christ.”
Now a Christian evangelist, as a youngster Clark lived a dangerous life immersed in crime as he grew up on the rough streets of south St. Pete.
“I’ve been a drug dealer, a gang banger, dealing in violence and guns and all that stuff,” the 31 year old admitted.
On a fateful day in 2006, as he sat at a stop sign on his way to the hospital to witness the birth of his son, Clark was surprised to see his best friend jump into the car. The next thing Clark felt was the barrel of a gun on his head. His friend held the weapon with lethal intent while he robbed Clark. Then he pulled the trigger.
“My best friend put a gun to my head, robbed me and pulled the trigger and the gun did not go off,” he recalled. “And I knew the gun was loaded. I say that’s not luck, that’s not luck to me. That was the power of God coming into my life, choosing to use me, to tell these young kids, ‘Hey, I started out in the street and it’s not worth it.’ I’ve lost many close friends to the street.”
When the attempt on his life at point blank range miraculously failed, Clark believed God had given him a powerful sign. He’d thanked God over and over again on the way to the hospital, thanking Him for allowing Clark to see his son being born and promising to change his ways. Unfortunately for Clark, he slid back into his familiar lifestyle of the streets and it took another, more drastic sign from God four months later to make him realize he had to alter his path, he believes.
“It all changed for me Christmas Day 2006,” Clark remembered. “My four-month-old son died in a house fire on Christmas Day. That’s what changed my life. When my friend had a gun to my head and robbed me, my girlfriend was in the hospital in labor with my son at the time. I should have been in the hospital, but I only cared about myself and making money in the street.”
Clark would be forced to stand by helplessly as his infant son perished in a blazing fire. He wanted to brave the flames and run in, snatch up his son and carry him to safety, but the firemen on the scene wouldn’t allow anyone in the burning building, as the house was too far gone at that point, Clark said.
“I felt like God was saying, ‘Marques, I tried to call you the first time when your friend robbed you but you didn’t hear me calling you to save your life.’ So he had to call me in a different way where he knew I would hear him,” Clark said.
Clark believes that when he asked God why he wasn’t able to save his young son’s life, God told him that it was not Clark’s mission to save his son’s life, but the son’s mission to save Clark’s life. And Clark believes his mission now is to save other young people. He founded S.W.E.T. 4 Life Ministries (Speak Words of Encouragement Today) and shares his positive testimonies and messages at churches, community centers and schools.
“When I answered that call my life has done nothing but gotten better,” he said. “My life has been propelled in a higher way.”
Clark also employs the power and immediacy of spoken word poetry to get his messages across, as he believes young people not only need to be inspired but entertained. He described himself as always being in an uplifting mood, and attested that he is always giving off positive vibes because he knows the source of his happiness.
“My goal and mission here is to turn young people onto a source that’s not of this world,” he affirmed. “It is of a higher world. And I just want to show them that Jesus Christ can remove all pain.”