I want to tell the story of two men of faith. Both named Mark. The Marks of Faith. Both are incredibly strong believers and both are in a literal fight for their lives. Please keep both of these men in your prayers and pass their stories to your prayer warrior friends. The more people praying for them the better.
Mark #1 - I have known Mark for a very long time, probably over 20 years. He has two sons and one daughter and an incredible wife. A couple of months ago Mark was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. Some people when they are told they have cancer they naturally get upset and wonder how they were chosen to be the recipient of this terrible disease. I know if told I had cancer that is how I would react. But not Mark. Mark’s reaction was “Well God has allowed me to have this disease and I trust him with the outcome.”
Mark has not had one “oh whoa is me” moment. Instead he has kept a very positive attitude and has trusted God. He has endured 8 weeks of radiation and 8 hours of surgery so far. The great news is today after the surgery and after the pathological report came back, the doctor declared Mark cancer free. He still has a long road ahead. Mark faces recovery from his current surgery, one more surgery in 12 weeks and then 6 months of chemo.
Mark is the king of puns and calls himself “Chemo-sabe”. My favorite memories of Mark are the pop bottle rocket fights we had with his kids in a field outside of Denver. Yes it was not very smart but I assure you it was fun. I still have a shirt with burn holes in it! He is a good man and Jesus loves him and I do too.
Mark #2 – I have just started getting to know Mark and Sara Bender over the last couple of weeks. Mark has an incredible story. About 6 weeks ago Mark and Sara were in Hawaii celebrating their anniversary when tragedy hit literally out of nowhere. Mark was body surfing when a rogue wave came up and flipped him over the front of his board and snapped his neck leaving Mark paralyzed.
Mark and Sara are from the Seattle area but now find themselves in Hawaii and instead of going home, are now having to spend several months at Craig Hospital in Denver. The company Mark works for, HTC, generously allowed his family to fly from Hawaii to Denver in their corporate jet and have told him to not worry about his job. Mark will have one waiting for him when he gets better.
I met Mark with a friend of mine at church on Palm Sunday at the hospital. I will be honest I wasn’t sure what Mark would be like when I went into the hospital. The person I met was smiling and welcomed Brad and I like he had known us a long time even though this was the first time we met him. We spent some time talking about his injury and then with his family, Brad and I prayed and prayed with tears running down our cheeks asking God to heal Mark and give strength and courage to his family.
The doctors say that the prognosis for Mark to walk again is slim but Mark has faith in a very, very big and powerful God. At that first meeting he was not really able to use his hands and now he has excellent motion with his arms and the doctors are amazed at the improvement his hands and fingers have shown.
My wife and I went to see Mark and Sara last night and asked him how his faith had changed after the accident. Mark said he has never been closer to Jesus. He admits that he had taken a lot of things for granted before. Don’t we all? But now he is taking everything to the Lord and seeing and feeling him work. Mark said he has never been closer to Jesus.
Mark and Sara are very active people who love the outdoors and taking in all of God’s creation. Mark was training competitively for track cycling hoping to compete in the national championships. That is still a goal he keeps in front of him as he endures hours of grueling rehab. The Bender family has a faith not found in many people. God has big plans for them during and after this journey. I am so glad I got to meet them and become friends. They are an inspiration to me.
Here is a link to the Bender support Facebook page. They welcome any prayer support we can give.
Both of these “Marks of Faith” live out Hebrews 11:1 in their lives everyday. Their strong faith make me think about how I live my life. How many things do I take for granted? How many things do I complain about? I am not sure I would handle the challenges they face with the same grace, humility and faith the “Marks of Faith” have shown.