I feel like I could write a biography on John Mark because he has done more at his age than most people do in a lifetime. If you've ever read John Piper's book Don't Waste Your Life and thought "Yeah, I'm doing a pretty good job," then you obviously haven't talked to John Mark long enough to feel the full affect of how much of your life you've actually wasted. It's sobering to hear him talk of everything he's done and continues to do. I am encouraged that there is a man like John Mark (and hopefully more like him) in this world.
When John Mark was an overseas missionary in Poland, him and his team were trying to connect with and serve the surrounding Jewish community that had been rocked to its core by the holocaust and never truly restored. God brought them an opportunity to restore a Jewish cemetery, and I'm sure that at the time they had no idea how it would change their lives. The act of caring for the dead is considered the highest expression of true mercy in the Jewish culture, and by restoring and maintaining the Jewish cemeteries, John Mark and his team had found a way to bridge the gap between Jews and Christians in this community.
What started off as an act of kindness has become a growing Non-Profit known as "The Matzevah Foundation" where John Mark serves on the Board of Directors and is also the website designer. The foundation now plans multiple trips each summer where several board members and volunteers will go to Poland and work with locals to help maintain these cemeteries. They are currently in the planning stage for five or six trips this summer, and John Mark has asked for prayer over their team and those they come in contact with as they work side by side with local community members. If you would like to learn more about the work they are doing, you can check out the website John Mark created www.matzevah.org.
When John Mark finally decided to stay put for a while he bought his childhood home from his mom. The house was a dump (his words), and it seemed like it would take a lifetime to renovate. Slowly but surely, John Mark worked to restore his childhood home into something beautiful again, and that's exactly what he's done.
From installing the wood floors to the tile shower, John Mark painstakingly put this house back together piece by piece, and now all that is left to finish is the landscaping. He just hosted his first SovHope singles party this past Saturday the 21st, and I would be lying if I said that Jordan and I didn't discuss separating in order to attend. I'm sure that those went can attest to the hard work he's put in to rebuild this home.
I remember when John Mark came back from Poland after doing a two year mission trip with IBM. I was in the youth group at Mount Gilead and had never met him, but the way people talked about him made John Mark sound like THE MAN. Here was this young man who left everything for two years to be a missionary. Everyone would say "Wow, that's hardcore. Not many people can do that." And others would respond, "Yeah, but John Mark did because ya know, he's John Mark." I imagined an extroverted, boisterous, blond haired guy that would make you want to dye your hair and change your personality just to be like him. He would tell us his tales of leaving his family behind on the mainland in hopes to win souls in Poland, and we would all sit listening in wide eyed wonder. John Mark walks in and I thought "Huh, he's a normal guy." That was a mistake because John Mark is anything but normal. There are not many people I know, if there is any, who can renovate a whole house by themselves, serve as a Board of Directors for a Non-Profit, be a store manager working 45 hours a week, go hunting, play indoor soccer, faithfully attend Sunday service and maintain his Christian walk, keep up with The Walking Dead, and kick my butt at Mario Kart! He is not some extroverted, boisterous, blond haired guy, but the people I had heard talking were right; John Mark is THE MAN just quietly and humbly, which is exactly what makes him THE MAN.