Unfiltered and completely honest. This week's Man of the Week is nothing but raw and personable. We get the story from a man of integrity, Mark Thompson.
Name: Mark Thompson
Occupation: Student at the University of Kentucky
"I once fell in a fire while I was camping. Yes, true story, a massive bumble bee chased me down when I was camping with my dad and it backed me into the fire…I burned my shorts and still have a scar on my butt to this day"
Q: Mark, tell us some about you and your family
A: I’m originally from Louisville, Kentucky and lived there ever since I moved away to college. My family has always been number one to me and they have supported me in every decision I’ve made. My parents have showed me what a true Christian marriage should look like and have always come together to talk out big life decisions. I have one older brother who has set the bar very high. He went to Cincinnati Christian University and has brought that back to Louisville with his incredible wife Emily. They have been together for five years before they got married and show what true love is even if they aren’t even in the same country. My brother has shown me what it really means to be a man and what it means to live life on mission.
Q: That's quite the blessing for sure. So describe to me what kind of person you were before you came to know Christ.
A: Before I met Jesus, I was someone who always took matters into my own hands. In any conflict I played God, I tried to act like I was this powerful person who knew it all. I was someone who acted completely of this world, I would try to achieve mastery in the things everyone else thought was cool. For example, I played lacrosse in high school and with that came smoking weed and partying on the weekends. I tried to become the staple for that, I wanted to be the best at it all to show off how cool I was but in the deepest pits of my heart I knew it was wrong. I also dealt with sexual sins, things that really damaged my heart and the way I viewed girls. I longed for a relationship, I never wanted to do the whole one-night stand thing, but I deeply desired a relationship. I knew I wasn’t doing something right.
Q: Thanks for being so bold in transparency. So what was the turning point for you?
A: It wasn’t until I went on a mission trip to Kenya that I met Jesus. I had already been baptized but I didn’t really care about what it meant to be a Christian. While my team and I were in Kenya, Colossians 3:23 kept coming to my mind which says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”. I couldn’t help but go back to this because everywhere I looked and all the people in their community, we hung out with lived out this verse to the fullest. I vividly remember pouring concrete in this church we helped them build and our team was pretty exhausted, it was around lunch time, the sun was beaming down on us and we were ready to leave. Then, I looked over at these locals and they had the biggest smiles on their faces, they said they could not be any happier to be building this church because they knew what it would do to their community. They just kept on showing that they were doing this work for the Lord and not for their boss or for us, it was for no one other than the Lord
Q: Sometimes we don't immediately realize the impact we have but we don't labor in vain. What did this mean moving forward for you?
A: After I met Jesus my journey has been extremely difficult. This is something I don’t hear from a lot of people but it’s so true for me. Immediately after I got back from that trip in Kenya, I went right back to my own ways even though I had a serious encounter with Jesus. It wasn’t until my freshman year of college that my faith became the most important thing in my life. I had a wake-up call a couple months into college when I was pulled over on my drive from Lexington to Louisville to see some friends after I had been smoking weed. I spent the night in jail and realized that I had finally hit rock bottom, I had to be smacked in the face to realize the realness of God and how present he actually had been in my life.
Q: So you have a part two, so to speak?
A: I tell this story here because it’s not like when you encounter God for the first time you are immediately a perfect human and you never struggle with anything else ever again, that just isn’t the truth. I still have my struggles but after that night my faith truly became personal with God and I have been able to use that story to reach others in that same situation. You see, I was put through that terrible situation but now I get to reach a very large crowd of people that struggle with this. God has made it so easy for me to speak to people who have been through this or that deal with partying and can’t stop, it is none of what I say, but all of what the Holy Spirit speaks and does through me that reaches these people.
God has worked in me and made me a humbler person and given me so much peace and shown me what a simple life is like. After meeting Jesus, he completely changed my life. He wants me to live in complete devotion to Him, I have to surrender every single day to Him and say that my flesh is weak and that I want whatever His will for my life is even though it may cause me a crazy amount of pain. Life after I met Jesus hasn’t always been sunshine and rainbows, but I can promise you it is so worth it, I have found that living how Christ wants me to live is so much more peaceful than living my own way and taking matters into my own hands. I no longer have to be anxious about anything because I fully believe that God is in control of my life and that He will guide me through it, He won’t put me through something that I cannot handle. I have become someone that lives in a peace that is so deep and doesn’t make any sense, but that is so life giving and reassures me of Jesus’ goodness. It’s not easy to be a Christian but it is so worth it. God continues to search my heart and reveal the things in my heart that are not from Him (Psalm 139:23-24).
Q: Wow, you're speaking some real truth here. Many of us need that as a daily reminder. Mark, in three words how would you encourage men today?
A: Love like Jesus.
We are so thankful for men such as Mark, who are not afraid to reveal their past sins in order to show their need for a savior, Jesus. Thank you for those who are like Mark, sharing their story so that others can see there is a place for Christ in all different phases of life. Mark is currently leading high school students at Southland Christian Church making a difference in the next generation of young men and women.
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