By Stan Friedman
CHICAGO, IL (July 16, 2013) – A friend of David and Wendy Mark suggested he become a chaplain on a cruise ship when the couple retires later this year. They currently serve as the regional directors of Latin America and the Caribbean for the Department of World Mission.
“A lot of people have plans for our lives,” says Wendy, laughing off the cruise ship idea.
The couple’s last official event will be at the World Mission Leadership team meetings in October. They will continue to visit the churches that have supported them throughout the years.
The Marks also will spend the last several months of the year helping their successors, Pia and Eugenio Restrepo, transition from serving in Spain.
The Marks served as missionaries in Mexico for three years with another organization until David left to pursue master’s and doctoral degrees at Fuller Theological Seminary. It was during that time they met Jerry and Nancy Reed, longtime missionaries in Mexico who visited Pasadena Covenant Church, where the Marks were attending.
The Reeds invited the couple to spend a week in Mexico to see the ministry the Covenant was doing. That week turned into 30 years.
Wendy laughs and says the Reeds were sneaky, to which Nancy replies, “Yes, Jerry and I knew they would be hooked.” Nancy adds, “They are a very gifted and talented family with a great perspective and insight in Latin America.”
The Marks served as Covenant missionaries in Mexico from 1983 to 1999 and as regional coordinators from 1999 to 2013.
As regional coordinators, they have cared for missionaries, provided resources for ministry, and assisted national church leaders.
It was a future Wendy had not envisioned for herself. “I went just wanting to be the good Christian wife,” she says.
So it’s with some irony that Wendy says that one of the greatest joys she has had on the mission field is “seeing our young missionaries break out of the mold.” She explains, “They don’t go with God in their backpacks. They go knowing God is already there.”
One of the greatest challenges has been knowing where “there” is. The Marks travel so much that it’s easy to forget which country they are in, she says.
David has been excited about the increasing focus on holistic ministry. Churches in each of the countries believe it is critical to be involved helping alleviate and solve social ills. “That has been especially gratifying,” he says.
David avoids saying that he and Wendy planted churches while serving in Mexico. “The Mexicans would form groups that would meet in homes and then we would come alongside them,” he says.
“We’ve learned a lot about having ears to hear and eyes to see and being slow to speak,” Wendy says.
The Marks are not yet ready to say what they will be doing when they duties are done. They are listening and waiting to see where God will lead.
The couple agrees Wendy is more ready to retire than David is. “It’s hitting me hard,” he says.
David intends to take a sabbatical and then consider how he might help congregations pursue mission in a rapidly changing world. “I can’t imagine being retired.”