After winning a songwriting competition, 12 year old Mark Stevens became a child celebrity in his native Australia, first on Young Talent Time, and later as teenage character Nick Page on Neighbours.
At nineteen, the successful young star headed for London. He gained a lucrative recording contract and was soon touring the UK promoting his music and acting in pantomimes. To all intents and purposes it looked as if Mark had the world at his feet, but deep inside he was a lonely and confused young man.
Mark says he was ‘partying all of the time’ and in an almost constant state of intoxication from drink and drugs. He would wake up in strange places – in one instance on somebody’s kitchen floor, only to realise that he had passed out the night before from over indulgence. He realised that he was empty inside with no real purpose in his life.
“I was trying to fill the void with cocaine. speed, alcohol, LSD – anything that I could put up my nose, and all of that didn’t fill the hole that was within me… When you quickly experience what I experienced at such a young age you begin to discover that money and fame can’t fill the void in your heart that only a relationship with God can fill.”
Mark had so soon become an alcoholic and a drug addict. Estranged from his family and feeling totally lost. He realised that the lifestyle he was living was going to kill him at a very young age if he didn’t do something about it.
The turning point came unexpectedly at a party at two o’clock one morning. He had turned up to a party four hours late. The party was at the home of a girl he knew and Mark turned up with his drug dealer and one of the dealer’s friends. Mark was high on heroin and the other two men were taking drugs in her bathroom. The girl was angry with them and threw the other two out of the house, but she insisted on a face to face talk with Mark. Taking him into another room she looked him straight in the eyes and said,
“Mark, what are you dong with your life?”
He was challenged by her concern and started to think clearly for the first time in many years. Mark replied to her, “I think I need God!” Even though she hadn’t mentioned God, faith or religion to him at all, something in this challenge was telling him to seek God for help. Mark says,
“The room filled with the presence of God. I looked up and shouted, ‘Oh God, Oh God, I’m sorry!’ – I just apologised to God for everything I had done, and I met Jesus right there and then.”
The change was both dramatic and immediate. Over the next few days, Mark wondered why he no longer had the cravings for cigarettes that he had before. Then it became clear to him that God had totally healed him from the addictions – he was completely free!
Mark chose to join Hillsong church and was based with them in both the London and Sydney congregations for four years. He sang and toured with the Hillsong worship team before joining Abundant Life Church in Bradford, UK where he became the Worship Pastor and Creative Director for eleven years. Mark currently spends much of his time traveling to churches in a number of countries teaching particularly on the subject of music and worship.
Above: Album cover: To Be With You.
Story by Ralph Burden