No longer is Mark Black content with just going to church and paying his tithe. He has caught the ASI (Adventist-laymen's Services and Industries) spirit and is exuberant about sharing Christ in his daily life.
It wasn’t always this way. At a young age he became disillusioned with the church. Looking at people and criticizing became his excuse for not dealing with his own problems, and he quit attending. But Christ still had His plan for Mark.
Mark’s father taught him to do his best at whatever he did—to faithfully give a full day’s work. He began as a carpenter in his early 20s. When a co-worker left for a job with a commercial builder, he suggested Mark come and work for the same company as a clerk. Mark realized in a dream one night that this was his opportunity to get an education and work at the same time.
He accepted the job and took with him his faithful work ethic. Despite having no formal training, Mark was asked to take over a major project when his new supervisor left the job. At the end of the project, he was promoted to superintendent. Without him even knowing, the Lord was blessing his faithfulness.
In 1989 Mark began his own business, which in 1995 became Advantage Construction Management LLC. His company does the general contracting for commercial licensed-care facilities.
Mark and his wife, Barbara, went on a mission trip with Maranatha—their first experience with mission-minded people. Then they attended the national ASI convention in Sacramento, California, where they caught the vision of ministry.
After that first convention they recognized their personal need to be involved in mission and became ASI members. Whether close to home or abroad, the commission to “go into all the world” became personal. They now spend their family vacations serving Christ or attending ASI seminars which equip them for service.
A New Peace
After Mark’s exposure to people on fire for Jesus, a new desire has risen in his heart. He shares, “I see who I am in relation to what God has called us to be. We are His witnesses, and this is the focus of my life now, whether at work or play, at church, or studying the Bible with someone. That’s who I am—I am Christ’s witness! So I’ve gone from being critical and cynical about the church to being one who prays for unity when I see problems in the church. It’s made me more tolerant, and God has given me a love for people in the church. It has helped me see that all my criticism was just an excuse for my own condition. I pray that God will lift up a standard in me that I can be help and light to other people.”
Mark’s days used to be filled with stress, anxiety and conflicts—not to say there are no problems now. But now he has a new source of strength to deal with the difficulties he faces. Each time as Mark goes into a difficult situation knowing people are waiting for him to solve a problem, he knows that Christ is sending him to be a witness and that He is with him, no matter what the outcome.
Into All the World
Today Mark takes that commission seriously and carries it out daily. As he flies back and forth across the nation, he pulls out his Bible and a spiritual book. More times than not, the person sitting next to him will start a conversation about what he is reading. And the door is open to share.
At times he notices surrounding people tuning in to the conversation, and at the end of the flight they often catch him and ask more questions or inquire where they can get the book he is sharing from. If someone is struggling with something in life, he always asks, “May I pray with you?”
After one special experience, the gentleman he was sharing with expressed his appreciation, saying, “God put you on this plane. I really needed this.”
Mark asked, “What kind of work do you do?”
The man responded, “I’m a pastor.”
When Mark goes to lunch he may be accompanied by employees, project managers, superintendents, attorneys, building professionals or bank inspectors. He is convicted that as Christ’s witness, praying with these people and for them is his privilege. ASI has helped Mark understand his identity in Christ as His witness.
Scripture says, “If you deny me before men, I will deny you before my Father,” and, “If you confess me before men I will confess you before my Father.” Mark wants to confess Christ. In his prayer he asks God to bless his colleague and the project they are working on and to help them be a blessing to the community. He asks God to help them do their best and to give them wisdom.
Often they then ask Mark about his religion, and he gets to tell them about his commitment to Christ and the peace and joy he has in living for the Lord.
He has continued to study with many of these people nearly every time they meet. They ask more questions, and he shares more of the word of God, the plan of redemption and the gospel.
In the Office
Mark's offices across the country would be better described as havens. In them he offers literature to help in specific areas of life. His employees and work associates have learned that because of his connection to Christ, they can trust him. They will often open up with him and share the trials they are facing. Once again he is given the privilege to pray for them on the spot.
Others come and ask for a book that a co-worker got from Mark. Nobody wants to miss out on the blessing.
Mark feels that his involvement with ASI has taken him forward by leaps and bounds in his personal growth with Christ. It has really inspired him and strengthened his faith in what God can do. It has helped him realize that the Lord wants us to be willing servants.
The ministry of ASI can be a blessing to you also. The Northwest Chapter ASI Spring Fellowship will be held April 14–19 at Eagle Crest in Oregon. Anyone is welcome to attend. Just contact the North Pacific Union Conference for information at (360) 816-1400.