Mike Schrage, Executive Director
The little sunbird was trying and trying to push its way through the glass window pane to get into our dining hall here at the guesthouse on the outskirts of Nairobi. Up and down, side to side, backing up, literally ramming the glass time after time. It was painful to watch, and it had to hurt a bit. Bottom line: it was useless. With time, and then a little coaxing, it turned directions and flew away, free to soar and do what sunbirds were created to do.
How similar is that experience to our life at times? We push and strain in a certain direction, sure that this is what needs to happen; this IS the direction we will take. We wear out under our own strength, leaning on our own one-directional perspective of understanding. We think we see clearly, but we do not. Over time, and with a nudge from the Father, a new perspective is reached, and we get to soar again, just as God has designed and even ordained.
Four years ago in this very building outside Nairobi, Kenya, called Heart Lodge, Mark Allen’s heart was touched and prepared for new levels of soaring and impact. Mark had come along with Don Anderson, executive pastor of Chandler Christian Church (now Compass Christian Church). Mark was on staff at the time as the media person and came to record the trip for Don and the congregation to see later.
Mark traveled with Don and two of us from GNPI to our regional center in Nairobi. Mark was enthralled with the focus of the ministry to empower local people to use media for their own purpose in proclaiming the Good News. Mark took copious hours of footage and interviews.
There were urban Kenyans to visit with at GNPI-Nairobi, Kenya, and small town ministry partners in Eldoret, Kenya, where an emerging Nomad team had formed. There was a visit to the rustic rural area in northwestern Kenya to actually see how GNPI productions were impacting the local people in their local language. Then there was a flight to Kadiolo, Mali, in West Africa where another Nomad team was forming. All the while, God was working in the heart of Mark, wooing him ever closer to a new career, moving his direction like the sunbird ever so slightly to soar.
A few years later Mark accepted the call to be the Project Nomad Coordinator for GNPI. He would again be traveling the world, now not only recording what God was doing through nationals using media but, more importantly, actually training others to do as he was doing. Mark was making media disciples. He said, “Mike, I feel that all I have experienced and learned was for such a time as this here at GNPI.” Truer words were never spoken, my friend.
Mark, in two years time, learned the DNA of GNPI, put the Nomad curriculum into video training format, and traveled the world teaching over 200 students in 10 different countries. He listened and learned from his students and then taught, shared, and coached each of them. He was loved by all who met him and his contagious personality drew people of any culture to him. He was a natural.
On June Friday 16, Mark had a severe car accident as he drove from his home in Tyler, Texas, to Yuma, Arizona, for Father’s Day. Mark, an only child, agonized over the balance of world travel for his ministry with GNPI and the needs of his aging parents back in Arizona. Mark passed away early the next day.
Mark is survived by his wife Lorri, his parents, and her parents. While Mark may have had a small biological family, he had a huge spiritual family as emails and texts came flooding in from around the world at the news of Mark’s passing. Mark left an impact and a legacy, and it all started when Africa grabbed his heart here at the Heart Lodge in Kenya.
Like the little sunbird outside the dining hall at Heart Lodge, Mark searched for years to find his sweet spot in media. With a nudge from the Father, Mark discovered that it was through Project Nomad, and for two years he soared. Mark, you will be missed, brother, but you are now doing what we are all ultimately called and designed to do, which is to glorify and worship our Father. This is the perfect ending to any video drama story.