America And The Power of Prayer

Mark was the pastor of Immanuel Free Methodist Church in Portland Oregon in 1996. (It was the church he grew up in, gave his life to the Lord in and despite a name change, the church he and Marla now pastor.) After the church was set on fire, Mark and his congregation chose to stand in love. The fire damaged the sanctuary and was originally suspected to be part of 40-plus racially motivated blazes that took place in the southeast beginning January 1995. Members of his church had previously prayed for the congregations in the South, but they never imagined they would be dealing with arson, too.  The media covered the event for months.  Local stations aired entire sermons Mark preached. When asked by reporters about the arson, Mark responded in a way that brought reconciliation and forgiveness instead of division. He and his congregation wanted to send a redemptive message to the community.  "We took a whole different approach to maintain unity and a sense of peace," he says. "It didn't matter who did it; it was evil that did it."  Several months later, fire investigators determined that the blaze was set by a black man. Though not racially motivated as originally thought, Mark still had to deal with forgiving the arsonist.

Since the fire, Mark has been leading the Portland community as they labor for personal, social and spiritual transformation in their city.  He has become a bridge builder in both secular and religious communities.  In 2012, Mark created an organization that worked with the local Portland police department.  The collaboration saw a decrease in crime of 30%!  The assistant chief of the Portland Police Department said Marks wisdom and leadership allowed the faith-based and law communities to create a relationship with meaningful dialogue, collaborative efforts and spiritual guidance.  "There has to be some kind of civility where there can be conversation and people have to start within their communities.  "Laws seldom bring about reform," he says. "Real transformation comes through the heart and that can only happen when relationships are built."

Mark has been passionate about the power of forgiveness so when NYT best-selling author Bruce Wilkinson wanted to write a book about the subject, he chose Mark to be his co-author!   With the recent racial tensions spreading across the country, Mark says forgiveness is an important part of the solution to the issues we face. He says we need to pray for our nation. "Thy kingdom come….The heart of God is for us to experience God's kingdom here on earth. So many people are suffering because they don't make the connection between their suffering and unforgiveness," he says.

Mark and Bruce say there are 5 steps to forgiveness:  
1    Open your heart. Unforgiveness begins in the heart. When we are wounded, we retreat and build walls. The problem is we lock our torment in with us and our defenses are useless.
2    Extend compassion to the person who wounded you. Compassion is the door to forgiveness.  It has a unique ability to soften and open a door that is closed.
3    Release the person from your heart prison. When we choose not to forgive a person, we lock them in our hearts and walk away. Separate the person from the wound they gave you. You are the only one with a key to the prison door.
4    Forgive the person for each offense. As you forgive the person for each wound they gave you, the infection from your heart drains.
5    Bless and do good to the person. Blessing the person who wounded you is confirmation that forgiveness is complete.

Mentioned in the Video

Guest Info


Co-author, The Freedom Factor, Zeal 2016

Pastor, Life Change Church, a dynamic multi-ethnic church in Portland, OR

M.A., Biblical Studies, Western Evangelical Seminary, D. Min. Div., George Fox Seminary

Member, Board of Regents, George Fox Seminary

Wife: Marla

4 Children (ages 15-26)


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