This is the story of Mark Lowrie.
I can still remember the sound of my Stepfather’s fist smashing into my mother’s face. I can still hear the cries and screams. My heart still beats faster when I remember having to hide and care for my younger siblings while Mum and Dad fought.
Domestic abuse and violence were part of normal life in my home and in my neighbourhood.
The Police would be on our streets almost every night breaking up fights, but nothing would change, the adults would be back at it the next day.
I lost respect for the Police, I grew to hate and distrust them.
I was brought up in Highbury, Palmerston North; we were known as the Highbury Hoods by all the locals. Our colours were red and we were all known by Police.
I am the eldest of 6 children, my father left when I was 3 and I was raised by my Stepfather and mother.
There was always loud shouting and swearing in our home. Mum and Dad would argue loudly and nearly always, he would beat her face and body with his fists.
I would hide with my brothers and sisters. I would try and keep everyone calm, even though I was scared myself. My Mum would carry on as if nothing had happened, she never got any help.
It was just the way it was. I grew to be angry, hard, and rebellious.
I went to 3 different primary schools because I kept getting expelled due to my aggressive and violent behaviour toward other students and the teachers.
At Intermediate School, the teachers helped me focus in on what I was good at – Sport and Athletics, but my time at school was still tough. I couldn’t read or write and fell far behind in any academic learning.
I was placed with the ‘no-hope’ kids and basically forgotten about. Whatever attempts I made were never enough and I grew sullen and angry.
Sport and Athletics were my refuge and I excelled. I had significant coaches who saw my skill and put me into training and development programmes. I played Rugby and represented my age group and region for Softball and Athletics (Pentathlon).
Dad coached me through my Rugby, from Primary school to Intermediate, he and Mum would come to different tournaments with me, I loved this time with them, I knew it was a sacrifice for them in terms of money and time, but they supported me.
Making My Own Way.
My parents got me into the all boy’s college across town, but I couldn’t cope in the classroom and basically kept to myself – although if there was ever any trouble, you can bet I’d be in on it!
I left school at 14 and began labouring for a local construction contractor from our area. He was a good, kind man and hired a lot of the boys from our neighbourhood.
I was a good worker and learnt a lot of building and construction type skills. I am forever grateful to ‘Mr H’ for start he gave me into work. He has since died, but I recently visited his wife and children to say thank you.
My parents taught me how to save for the things I wanted, so I was putting aside money for a car, but most of my money went on alcohol and drugs.
I would spend my days labouring in construction, drinking, taking drugs, and fighting. I fought a lot, mostly with the boys from our hood and the neighbouring housing areas. Most nights I’d be racing in the streets with the other Boy-Racers.
I was smoking weed and sniffing aerosols. Me and my mates would ‘sniff’ basically all day.
I ‘sniffed’ for 4 years – it affected my ability to speak, I couldn’t even put a sentence together!
One night, me and my friends were racing in the Square and I got into a fight with a much bigger boy. The Police were called and me and my mates were arrested. I fought the police and was convicted on assault of a Police Officer.
I pleaded guilty at sentencing and was sent to Linton Prison for 6 months. I was 18 years old.
On my first day in Prison, I got into a fight in the yard, and was put into medium security and isolation while I went through detox.
This was a very dark time; every freedom I had had was stripped away and I was left with nothing. I couldn’t speak well or even write a letter!
I was on 23 hr lock down and I felt like I was loosing my mind.
When I was released from Linton. I was very quiet; my mental health was at an all-time low.
I couldn’t look at people or even leave my caravan. I’d spend my days alone and drinking. I couldn’t hold down a job. When my parents moved to Wainui, in Wellington, I did too. I started hearing voices, and got really paranoid and schizophrenic,
I couldn’t sleep or eat. Mum and Dad did what they could for me, but I wouldn’t talk to them. I was stuck.
One Sunday afternoon, a very random event happened that would change my life. I heard a knock on my caravan door, and when I opened it, I was met with a well-dressed white couple who introduced themselves as Heinz and June, they were Christians and invited me to go with them to Church that afternoon.
The Church was in Naenae, but I went with them and just sat there stunned, I didn’t know what the heck was going on.
I had never before known anything like Church.
As the leader spoke, I started sobbing and made my way forward to receive Jesus. It was an incredible experience. I never went back to the church that Heinz and June went to, but I did start going to the one in my area. I asked the leaders to pray for a job for me.
That night, I got the idea to wash car windows at the lights in the Lower Hutt CBD. You have to understand, for a heavily depressed young man who had hidden in his caravan for most of the last year and couldn’t speak clearly or even make eye contact with people, this was a major deal!
I began working the lights and through that began to pull myself up out of depression. I even made the local papers!
I didn’t continue in church though, there was nothing that convicted me or grabbed my attention, so I slipped back into my old habits and associations. I was ambitious and I started to set myself some goals.
I taught myself to read and to write. I began a property portfolio where I would buy houses to renovate and then re-sell them for profit. I was making a way for myself.
Outwardly, I looked sharp and was successful, but inside I was still dealing with the issues of my boyhood.
My first marriage was fuelled by drugs, alcohol, jealousy and abuse. We would always be arguing and shouting, I didn’t want to go home to her.
She had 2 young daughters, and I became their Dad and tried to make sure they were well looked after, but they saw us yelling and screaming at each other, they witnessed our drunken behaviour and hangovers. They also experienced poverty, ‘cause money was always tight.
We would move homes regularly, looking for the next bargain to flip, but this meant there was very little stability for the girls.
I had no accountability to anyone, I was aggressive and confrontational in my personality, I did my own thing and didn’t listen to anyone.
The child we had together, died through miscarriage. We were in trouble and I had no clue how to fix it. My unchecked anger led me to assault my wife and I was arrested and put in Prison. After serving this sentence, I was released and almost straight away got arrested for assault on a Police Officer, I was back to Prison.
My relationship had turned very toxic and my wife had a protection order against me, so the Judge sent me to Auckland to be bailed there. I wasn’t allowed to return to Wellington.
Two significant things happened after that: My younger sister allowed me to stay with her on bail, and my Probation Officer got me along to different classes and programmes aimed at keeping me out of Prison again.
He gave me an opportunity to prove myself, and I took it.
It was during my time on bail, I met my now wife, she accepted me, my children and my past, she showed me how to love and be loved without insecurity or jealousy. We lived together and had 3 children,
I never hit or verbally abused her, we were successful in business, but the cracks started to show in our relationship because of my drinking and unresolved issues from my past.
I wanted better for my wife and kids, I truly loved and respected them and I knew that the only way I was going to be able to achieve anything great was with God.
It was time to go back to church.
The Difference of Destiny.
I rang the Destiny Church office, I knew of the Church and Bishop Tamaki. I knew he was Maori and that was important to me. I told the receptionist that I needed help. She told me to bring my family to a service that coming Sunday.
We turned up and the Church auditorium wasn’t even completed, it was just a warehouse; concrete floor, exposed rafters, corrugated iron walls – just a shell.
I wasn’t impressed to be honest, but the preached word that Sunday really impacted my life,
I heard God speak to me again, “build my house and I’ll establish you.” I replied in my heart,“Ok.”
The next weekend I was there with my builder’s gear and my chainsaw and got involved – I decided I would do whatever I could do to help build the church, literally.
I’ve always had this drive to win and I recognised it in Bishop Tamaki.
He ‘spoke my language’ and I watched his example of leadership and marriage and of being a man.
My wife and I connected with one of the leadership couples in Church and through their guidance, began to reshape our lives. My wife committed her life to Christ, and I recommitted my life.
We got involved in the Man Up and Legacy progammes and allowed Jesus to heal us from the inside out.
Heal Me, Heal Others.
I have been healed from the trauma of my youth and have forgiven myself and all those who have ever wronged me.
I’m motivated by my kids and the example I am to them. I have learnt to be accountable and to be a better man. I am married with a large blended family, my wife and I are directors of a successful multi-million dollar Telecommunication Company, and we are Generals for Man Up and Legacy in Beach Haven on the North Shore.