A Report From South Africa

Dear Mars Hill, Right now I’m sitting on a plane flying from Durban to Cape Town in South Africa. I had a wonderful few days with Pastor Rory Dyer and a number of other pastors and churches in Durban, preaching at a men’s conference, a church, and a citywide celebration. It’s a beautiful city on the water and our hosts were very gracious, booking us a nice room with a magnificent view of the ocean from our deck. In Cape Town I’ll be preaching a number of sessions at the Urban Force Conference as well as at a citywide worship event and a men’s gathering. Then, we fly to Johannesburg for another Urban Force Conference, men’s event, and Sunday services at GodFirst Church, along with another citywide worship event. Trips like this are incredibly strategic. By seeing other cultures, churches, church planting networks, and movements, I learn a great deal that helps me improve as a leader for Mars Hill, Acts 29, andResurgence. On this trip I am spending time with movement leaders from New Covenant Ministries International and Newfrontiers. These are wonderful global church planting movements that have planted over fifteen hundred churches, and their leaders have become good friends of ours. Each movement blends a deep commitment to the same Reformed doctrine we hold dear with mature and biblical exercise of all the spiritual gifts and an enthusiastic commitment to worship, prayer, evangelism, and church planting. I am very glad to serve them through preaching, teaching, and consulting, while also learning a great deal that I simply could not learn without getting on a plane to go see and feel things experientially. Before leaving Seattle I pre-recorded one sermon for our study of Luke and I am deeply thankful for the flexibility that technology provides. On the other Sunday while I am gone, the campus pastors will be preaching live at every campus. They will continue in our study of Luke so that our Community Groups can continue marching forward as they have been. Please do be in prayer for the men preaching in my absence. We are blessed with some very gifted men who are humble enough to be on our team, and gifted enough to lead well. Most churches that have video preaching do not have live preachers when the primary preaching pastor is gone. When I am gone, we are very blessed to have capable and competent men to preach the Word so do encourage them and thank them for loving and leading well. Come ready to learn, not to criticize or nitpick, and pray for them as they preach so that the Holy Spirit would enable them to preach well. Thankfully, this trip marks the end of my major travel season. I have had an amazing few months in which I’ve been to Haiti and seen nearly $2 million raised to help suffering people there; done Loveline with Dr. Drew; gotten time with Pastors Rick Warren and Greg Laurie, who have churches much larger than ours and things to teach us; and preached at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown LA, in addition to my two weeks in South Africa. I’ve got a few very short trips between now and the summer and then will be home for lots of Little League games (between my three boys we’ve got over a hundred games) and track meets for my oldest daughter. During these travel seasons I know that some at the church may question why I am gone. The reasons are many but three are primary. First, there are some places that God has called me to help serve, thereby opening up opportunities for strategic partnerships in pastoral training and church planting and I want to serve in strategic ways. Second, in building these friendships we learn a great deal to make us a better church and network of churches, as the truth is we have a lot to learn and need wise friends to help us. Third, Grace and I are committed to devoting our entire life of ministry to Mars Hill Church. Unless God should some day say otherwise, my plan is to have only ever been the member of or pastor in one church—Mars Hill. With so many years left and so much remaining to do, I want to keep repenting, learning, changing, and growing by God’s grace, rather than getting comfortable and settling into a life and ministry that cease to press forward. My goal is Christ, not comfort or convenience. The good news is that I am quite healthy. I have a wonderful Christian doctor who has made a world of difference in my wellness. My assistant has done a great job of taking a lot of work off my plate and being a good travel partner. The elders and deacons at Mars Hill are working very hard and in the senior leadership positions of the church we have the most competent, trustworthy, and fruitful leaders we have ever had. With Pastor Jamieleading Mars Hill, Pastor Scott leading Acts 29, Pastor Rick leading The Resurgence, Pastor Tim leading Central Operations, and the Campus Pastors leading the mission of each campus, the workload is distributed well. That is a great joy and relief to my family and me.

For the remaining portion of the trip you can pray for a few things. Since I’m preaching/teaching about twenty-five times in South Africa, you can pray for my voice; it’s a bit dried out after twenty-seven hours of travel and being in air conditioned dry spaces most of the time. You can pray for my stamina, as there’s a ten-hour time change (although the jet lag has been minimal thanks to No-Jet-Lag, which is a really helpful travel supplement). You can pray for my health. I’m not sick yet, but with shaking sometimes hundreds of hands a day and praying for people each day over the course of two weeks, there is always a likelihood of getting sick. You can pray for conversions, as among the more than twenty-five thousand people I’m preaching to, there are hopefully many who come to meet Jesus as God and Savior. You can also pray for the churches and pastors we are connecting with in South Africa. There are some amazing leaders here filled with the Spirit and devoted to the Word whom God is using for some wonderful ministry. They are a tremendous source of insight and encouragement. With Jesus’ love for Jesus’ fame, Pastor Mark

This post is republished material from Mars Hill Church for teaching and archive purposes only.