Stranger 59, Day 59 – Meet Mark, the “Father On A Mission”

Stranger 59, Day 59 - Meet Mark

Today’s Stranger actually occupies the office directly across my company’s. At Atlanta Tech Village, there are about 300 companies with 1,000 people. My company occupies one of the larger offices, but across from us is a smaller office to which I have walked by thousands of times, but have yet to meet anyone there. So today, I took a chance to walk straight into his office. Actually, today’s Stranger wasn’t even in the office at the start — his coworker was. However, as I continued to talk to his coworker, he came in. For various reasons, he became today’s Stranger. (Was that not confusing? Whoops.)

Meet Mark, 46

Who are you?

“Who am I?” he laughs. “Let’s see…”

“Husband. Dad. 4 kids. And… native Georgian, and yup, grew up in Athens. Work in the legal services space, primarily. And that’s it! Yeah.”

What are your passions?

“Family. Travel. Work with my church, and missions sort of things. Mission-related-type thing through our church and externally as well.”

What mission that you’ve been on has really stuck out for its impact on the people and on you?

“One of the things is we’re involved with our radio and television ministry has a heavy emphasis on the Middle East. It’s really globally, but more of the emphasis on the Middle East — Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan… That’s one thing.”

“… Another that we’re recently getting involved with, it’s not so much of a Christian ministry, but it’s charity work out in New York, and providing clean water into the world. And then, also just an admirer of the passion movement like Passion City Church. One of our sons is involved there, so really watching that closely, too.”

What motivates you to keep doing these missions, and why do you want to help (like bring water to everyone)?

“Partly driven by compassion, and partly… missions… just, you know, what I believe, and what I believe we’re taught to do — to help those that they can’t help themselves. Just sort of from a spiritual perspective — I believe that’s required of us. That’s part of what drives me, especially from the trips we’ve been on.”

How do instill some of those values in your kids? You have four of them with all the technologies out there… Do you Snapchat them values?

Mark laughs. “Snapchat the kids? No, no, no… I try… I try not to.” Haha

Mark’s kids are 18, 16, 13, and 11 years old. “So they’re right in the middle of all that.” (technologies)

“So no, I think it’s the offline stuff. Trying to model it for them, but then second to that, just making sure purposely take time to talk to them about things… when they’re not distracted by everything else. It’s not easy. I mean everybody’s so distracted everyday. It’s tough. But yeah, I think, I don’t know if I’ve always thought like it’s important before the age of 12. For some reason, it seems like 12 is like a key age. After that, it’s never.”

“So I think that’s been an objective from the beginning — hit it early.”

Some of this that you’re trying to instill with your kids was probably learned from your parents. What’s a good lesson you’ve learned from your parents?

“For sure, the biggest lesson was to put God first in everything. And that was sort of the early on, not so much stated, but it was shown to me that that was more important to me than anything else. And then from there, family came second. I think that was the biggest lesson I learned from them. More in terms of what we do everyday matters, but what we do here is also temporary. Think more in light of eternity versus the everyday. But yeah, I think that’s one of the big lessons I learned from my dad. He always said what matters most is what happens when your front door’s closed. So what happens at home what really matters. Because we all do a good job of faking it outside.”

I share with Mark how Rhonda, Stranger 52, asked her Stranger question touching on this very topic — what happens in public vs. private.

What’s your purpose? (Thanks to Christina, Stranger 58)

“So what’s my purpose…” Mark thinks about this as he leans back in his chair with his hands behind his head.

“My purpose is to live each day honoring Christ the way I should the best way I know how, and how I share that with others with my family first and then others. Honoring life… that’s my main purpose.”

What would you like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

Mark smiles big thinking about this one. I could tell he wanted to make this a good, deep, insightful question. Thinks about this for a while before saying anything.

“Hmm… I think one question I’ve thought a lot about — if you lost all the people closest to you, what would you have? What would you still have?”

After the handshake.

It was great to finally meet the man (and his colleague) across the hallway. I’ve seen Mark thousands and thousands of times. I’ve done the customary and courteous thing which is to smile and wave (much like the Penguins from Madagascar). However, I didn’t even know their names… till today. Mark’s coworker who I first met is named Matt. They’re actually working on a pretty cool technology that might even be useful for my company moving forward.

Mark was one of those happy guys who, while keeping his voice low so as not to disturb Matt on the phone, kept his smile, and was open to sharing his passions and motivations. I was excited to hear, too, how Mark was driven by his higher calling (his religious beliefs) to help others. Helping others is a common theme I’ve heard through these 59 Strangers while people have had different motivations, the desires are all the same — to help.

Meet Mark. No longer a Stranger.

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