Mark Darling – Story 70
I met Mark Darling early in 1997, my first time at Bloomington Evergreen Church. I did not have too many personal interactions for a couple years, except for his sound teachings in my life, as being a Christian who was finally willing to dig into the Bible and learn, this was very impactful in my life. Then in 1999 Mark headed up a new church plant in Minneapolis, The Rock, and I started to attend there.
Mark has been my pastor for 23 years. I have watched his life for 23 years. I became closer to the Darling family as my husband and I started to grow a friendship with Mark’s oldest daughter and her new husband. We shared small groups together for many years, then house churches, then having kids, we have been sharing life together. The respect and honor that Mark’s own children have for their father speak louder than words. Pastor Kids in our society struggle, often because the man at home is not the same in the pulpit. But not Mark. All of his adult children are mature, solid, faith-filled people. They each have their own life struggles, but yet their character displayed in their very unique struggles is also quite telling of their upbringing and their parents. These kids came from a home with two very healthy and loving parents.
I was a single woman and a married woman in the time I have known Mark Darling. I have never been uncomfortable with Mark in how he interacts with me. He has never been inappropriate in speech or actions. He has always treated me with the utmost respect, either at church, in his own home when I would come to visit his daughter, in my home when he came to visit his daughter.
My walk with God would not be where it is at today without Mark’s direct influence, and I will forever be grateful for this, and his teaching, and his example.
I spent a few years at Bloomington Evergreen, then I joined The Rock when it started up in 1999. As I continued there it became so obvious the sacrifice and love this man has for the church. His faithfulness is inspiring. What makes the Rock Church so special is the immense love and genuine care that Mark has for his church, and the outflow of that love is evident throughout every member and leader of that church! Filled with people that are willing to lay down their lives for one another, because of Mark’s example. It is truly special to find a pastor that devotes himself so selflessly and wholly; and a family that stands behind him wholly and sacrifices much.
Mark remembers everything. Do you know how much effort is needed to remember the little details of everyone’s life, hundreds of people? Many times in passing when he asks how you are doing, and I have mentioned some issue, weeks later, he will come back to you and ask about that issue, and let you know how he has been praying for you. My daughter was hospitalized recently for 7 days, and Mark emailed every day, to let us know he is praying, and apologizing daily that he wanted to visit so badly and was distraught, but could not because of traveling and a back injury. And he would rejoice, every Friday service, for weeks, when he would see my daughter well again. He pours his entire life into his church, he pours his entire heart into the gospel, his church, people, and his family. He is an amazing man and example that I have watched for the past 19 years. THIS is his life’s work.
Mark is a very strong advocate of homeschooling, there are many rich benefits to choosing to do this. He is not shy or restrained in sharing about this. Some may feel like he may be legalistic in this matter. So I share this as an example of Mark’s heart. We have been homeschooling 2 kids for several years, and a couple years ago our youngest just seemed to struggle more and more, every day with school was quite difficult. So after some testing and seeing a few doctors rule out disability, we had the opportunity to enroll her in a small private school part-time. It was the best of both worlds for us. One night after church I told Mark what was going on. In the weeks following, I had nothing but total encouragement and support from Mark. He would email us letting us know he was praying for her first week, that it would go well. At church each Friday he would find us and ask how it was going and excited for our daughter. This is his character and his heart.
I also got see a side of Mark that many have not seen, in some very dark day of his life. His youngest daughter Jessica was very sick for 6+ long, long years. Three separate times they thought for sure she was going to die. Up until this point, it was the darkest days of their lives, but it lasted for 6 long years, with no end in sight, no answers for the sickness, no healing. At one point, I knew that Jessica was too sick to leave the house for physical therapy, and since I have a background in this, I felt led to offer to come to the house to help. A short time after I started coming to their home, Jessica was hospitalized. In that hospitalization time, they finally found a doctor that was able to heal one big area of her sickness. But she had a long road of recovery ahead. My husband approached me and said maybe we should offer Jessica to come to live with us, and I had the same thoughts as well, as I had been spending a bit of time up at the hospital with her and her now husband. Well, God had also placed this on Mark’s heart, as he approached one day, asking if we would possibly consider letting Jessica live with us. This would be a bridge for her from, her life of sickness, into her adult life of independence. And with much help from her parents, and her now-husband Mark, she moved in with us for a year. I have seen Mark in dark days, darker and scarier than any of us most likely have yet to experience when any of us would have absolutely crumbled under the pressure, the fear and direness of the situation. But Mark pushed on. Mark continued preaching, and counseling and helping people through this time. It was not easy-it was incredibly difficult and full of uncertainty, yet he was honest with his struggles, and his wrestling with God through it, and his utter dependence on God. But it is a testament to his faith and steadfastness, his strength, the fruit in his life and his character. You can’t fake it when life is literally crushing you, this is when you will see the true character of a person. Mark Darling’s character NEVER waivers.
Shared by Wendy