'I put stickers on my car and on my cricket bat, saying Jesus is Lord'
Mark’s story | High voltage service
“To be honest, I’m pretty simple. I left school at 16 and I got an apprenticeship as an electrician with Prospect County Council [part of the Electricity Commission of NSW]. My dad was working there and I thought it’d work for me. It was a plan. I threw myself into it. There were 30 other apprentices and they were all into drugs, alcohol, and sex.”
“I thought, I’m going to stand up for my faith. I’d grown up in a Christian family and from early on, I had no doubt that Jesus was Lord. When I was younger, I’d accepted Jesus mostly as an insurance policy … but at 17, I understood grace. I prayed, ‘I’m yours, Jesus!’
“There’s a crazy thing in Australia. If you’re good at sport, you connect. I was good at sport, so the other apprentices respected me. They were happy for me to be passionate about Jesus. I shared Jesus all the time. He’s amazing, I said! I put stickers on my car and on my cricket bat, saying Jesus is Lord. I wanted everyone to find Jesus! People noticed and some of them came to faith.
“I loved sharing Jesus, but after a while, I thought I needed more time to do that. I was still enjoying work (making a lot of money, working shift work in high voltage operations, lots of adrenaline). But then after a while, I did some soul searching. I read Paul’s words in Philippians 3:8 – ‘What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage that I may gain Christ.’
“That was my call to ministry. I started to see that God had given me all these capacities that I could use for him. Everything else was loss. In 1993, I resigned from my job at Prospect and told my boss I was going to Bible College. He said, ‘Could you please come back afterwards and be a chaplain?’ It was amazing. It was Prospect County Council … and they believed in me, and what I was doing in going to Bible College. They gave me a great redundancy package and I used it to pay our way through.
“Bible College was a different world – wordy, musical, artsy. I’m not like that, but I grabbed all the evangelism subjects … and during that time invested in the church we helped launch. I just kept telling people about Jesus. And people came to faith. I’d sit with atheists and listen to their arguments – that we live and die and we’re done. I’d say to them, ‘Do you like thinking like that? What do you do when you’re in trouble? Who do you turn to?’
“I think everyone knows underneath that there’s more to life than we can see. It’s in our gut. And God sent Jesus to show us that eternity matters. He fully gets us. But we don’t turn to Jesus as a moral code. He’s amazing! He’s got it all. He knows us better than we know ourselves.
“After some years in the church plant, quite a few of the other churches in Western Sydney began asking me to help them. What could we do? So a mate and I started Greater West for Christ. It’s a movement that merged business and the church. It’s a way to help the local churches connect with their community. It can be messy, but it’s good. We’ve added chaplaincy and funerals and childcare and coaching. But even in all that great ministry (which is wonderful), I have to say that it’s just ‘stuff’ compared to knowing Jesus.
“Even now, nobody ever calls me Pastor Mark. I’m just Mark, the electrician from Western Sydney, who didn’t finish high school and who loves Jesus. My favourite line in a song is from that old hymn. ‘My richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride.’”