Welcoming the newest Serve Globally Staff

Post a Comment » Written on September 28th, 2016     
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mark-seversenIntroducing Mark Severson!

As Chris and I have journeyed as believers, as a family, and in the work we are doing these last 14 years, Mark Seversen has been thread through it all with his teaching, his wisdom and guidance, and his encouragement.

After marrying, we thought to find a new home church as a couple, rather than defaulting to where I grew up. But after several Sundays at Hillcrest Covenant, where Mark had recently begun as the new lead pastor, we were drawn in to stay – not because he is a great speaker (though he is) but because he led us to the cross over and over.  He pointed to Jesus and spoke His truth.  He taught humbly and with vulnerability and with passion – and continued to do so for the entire time he was at Hillcrest.  When we moved overseas, we regularly streamed his teachings and valued so much how he was grounded in the Word and pushed us to run hard after Jesus.

It was Mark who helped us dedicate all three of our children to the Lord at Hillcrest.  Then, in 2013, he was a part of the baptism of the older two.  When we think on these significant times in our family life, we will always be thankful for Mark’s part in encouraging us as parents.

Mark is responsible for our direct route to East Asia.  Well…Mark and God using him to fulfill his purposes.  When we were ready to start the journey toward overseas work, we thought the best place to start would be with our pastor.  We planned ahead of time what to say, which was, for various reasons, that we wanted to start somewhere in South America and eventually end up in East Asia.  We said just what we wanted to, but we didn’t know that Mark had just returned from a vision trip to East Asia.  It seemed as if God had covered Mark’s ears for all that South America business and he launched into enthusiastic support of our move to Asia.  He connected us with people he had just met (Peter and Anna K) and helped me to let go of my pushing against or delaying God’s plan for us.  What does this say about Mark?  That he is and has always been tremendously missions-minded.  His passion for the Church does not sit within the walls of one building.  He is always pointing to the others in our neighborhoods and communities and making sure we see them with God’s eyes.  It’s never about bringing people into the church, though that’s certainly welcome, but about us all going out to where the world is and engaging it there.  Mark is out there in the world – be it in East Asia, in Haiti, in downtown Kansas City….he does “mission” and then encourages us to do it, too.  This trip to Asia was just a small piece of it all…and because he was passionate about the mission of the church, his trip essentially changed the trajectory of our lives.

When we found ourselves thrust unexpectedly back to the US in 2011, Mark and the whole staff of Hillcrest welcomed us back warmly and gave us a soft place to fall.  Even in the midst of the busy life of a pastor, he compassionately took time to invite us into his office to see how we were doing. That mattered to us.  Big time.

One evening during our home assignment, Mark and his wife, Beth, came to our home for dinner. They asked how support raising was going and we shared that we were at the part where we needed to make those awkward phone calls. They shared about when they worked with a campus organization and, at fundraising time, a group of them would encourage each other in making those phone calls by celebrating with pizza or ice cream after calling a certain number of people.  Mark said to us, “Pick a number of how many people you’re going to call this week.  When you’ve done it, text me and I’ll have a pizza delivered to your house.” Those calls were made (there may have been crying under my desk at one point, but they were made) and, sure enough, Mark sent us a pizza.  And then, to our chagrin, he texted back immediately, “Now pick 40 more people to call.”  As much as I did NOT want to call more people, we did it because Mark lit a fire under us.  (And were surprised to find that 40% of those that we personally asked did choose to support us financially!)

Then, as we went through the process to transition to long-term workers we were delighted to find, when we arrived in Chicago for our interviews, that Mark was on the board interviewing us.  Sitting in the room with this man that had been wound throughout the whole journey felt so right, and so unexpected, to us. It felt like a hug from God. He was there at the beginning of our “short-term” – being the one to commission us from Hillcrest – and he was there as we were consecrated as “long-term workers” and began this next adventure.

Hearing the news of his move to working at Serve Globally has felt similarly like a hug from God.  While we are very sad that he won’t be our home church pastor anymore, if he had to go anywhere, we’re thrilled it would be within our own personal ECC family.  And it’s so right and fitting… Now he can challenge and push and encourage people and churches on a much larger scale.  Now so many more people can benefit from his passion and compassion and drive to point people to Jesus and go out to meet the world where they are at.  We are so thankful for Mark Seversen and are delighted to now get to share him with you all!

Diane W.

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