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Missionary Fails To Future Minister

If you search the word “Fail” using Youtube, you will generate literally 100s of clips and millions of hits. If they had Youtube in Bible times they could have videoed numerous fails by some very famous patriarchs, judges, kings and prophets. Today we need a Youtube channel for missionary “Fails”, because the question on the field is not whether you will fail, but more importantly, how you will respond. John Mark is a classic example of a young missionary who fails, but eventually dusts himself off and gets back into the game. The most probable first “exposure” to John Mark was when he ran naked after the arrest of Jesus in the garden (Mark 14:52). He is next mentioned as the son of a wealthy Christian woman named Mary who hosted a prayer meeting in her house (Acts 12:12). As the cousin of Barnabas and close associate of Peter he was taken as a helper on the first missionary journey (13:5). Mark’s main “fail” is recorded in 13:13 when he abandons Paul and Barnabas. Many have speculated on his reason for leaving, but they could have included the rigors facing the team in pagan Galatia, the leadership change from his Uncle Barnabas to Paul (13:1, 9, 13), or maybe he was just plain homesick. The next reference to Mark is during the altercation between Paul and Barnabas about his inclusion on the team for the second journey (15:37-40). Barnabas, “Son of ” gives Mark another chance and by Colossians 4:10 we find that even Paul has reconciled with this young missionary and in Philemon 24 calls him a “fellow worker”. Near the end of Paul’s life, the apostle states that Mark is “ very useful to me for ministry” (2 Tim. 4:11 – ESV). The combined effect of all these fails and restorations is a mature believer whom we now refer to as Mark the Evangelist and are indebted to for the second gospel. After 40 years of missionary service, the story of Marks makes me extra grateful to God for giving me a loving “Mary”, a number of encouraging “Barnabases” and a significant “Paul” to pick me up after my numerous “fails”. Every missionary needs such a team around him or her for the inevitable falls and restorations that will be needed over the course of a missionary career.


Larry Dinkins

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