10 Questions with ... Robin Mark
March 14, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- 1993 Not By Might
- 1996 Days of Elijah
- 1997 Room For Grace
- 1998 This City, These Streets
- 1999 Mandate - All For Jesus
- 1999 Revival In Belfast
- 2000 Sanctuary
- 2001 Mandate - Men of Faith
- 2001 Come Heal This Land
- 2003 My Song Is Love Unknown
- 2004 Revival In Belfast 2
- 2006 Arise; A Celebration of Worship
- 2007 East Of The River
- 2009 Year of Grace
- 2011 Fly
- 2014 Liberation Praise
1. Brief History / Synopsis
Born in Belfast Northern Ireland in Donegal Pass near the city centre, raised on the east side of the city in a Presbyterian household and attended Elmgrove Primary school then Grosvenor Grammar school (High School ) 1 brother and 1 sister. Have lived in Belfast all my life and still reside there, about 1 mile from where I was raised. Attended Queens University, University of Ulster and Heriot Watt University in Scotland. Taught Construction and Engineering Science in local college as a first post grad job, Then formed Northern Irelands first Acoustic Consultancy in the late 1980's which I led for circa 20 years. Also have taught Acoustics in Queens University Belfast as a 'visiting professor/ part time lecturer for the last 25 years. Music ministry developed over the self-employed years. Worked for a short while part time in Christian Fellowship Church as Director of Worship, but have been responsible for worship in a voluntary capacity in that church for 25 years +. Married to Jacqueline, 3 grown up children, Catherine , David , and James
2. What does a normal day at home look like for you?
Don't have any normal days. sometimes I'm in the University, sometimes on tour in the US, Canada or Europe. Sometimes I work from home.
Perhaps the most commonest day is 7:30am start, I generally sort breakfast for family. Once all are out to college/work etc. I go to computer and catch up on emails. Answer and re-direct enquiries and generally sort out current issues. Then either practice guitar, plan tours and concerts planned, or take some time to study and write. Regularly I have meetings to be at with folks from church, or business, or friends and colleagues , also a lecture to deliver at the University, and often some other matters to schedule and deal with.
3. What's the song that you just can't get out of your head right now?
Guiding Light by Foy Vance (a local artist from Belfast currently gaining international recognition). It's a beautifully stark but melodic song about life's journey which resolves in the chorus with the words - 'When I need to get home - You're my guiding light'. I like it as it is a song that everyone can relate to, yet it resounds with hope and promise that wherever you might go, whatever you may do, the way back home is not out of reach.
4. How much do you travel, what are the challenges? How do you juggle life on the road with wanting to be home?
I travel on average about once a month away from home for maybe four or five days, plus my family and I live in the US for around 2 or 3 months per year.
Whenever I'm on the road I want to be home. That's just how I am. So, for me, I try and suspend that desire for a bit, concentrate on what I'm supposed to be doing, and do the best job I can. I cover it all in prayer as much as I can. Then when its time to go home, great!! It sort-of works, but, as my wife always says, doing what I do beats 9 to 5 . Also, to beat the travel issues, we are, as a family. all together for the USA summer trip and that is sweet. I also never am away from home for more than 10 days at a time. I did once have a 21 day tour - absolutely hated it, and decided to never do it again!!
5. What's the biggest "God moment" that you've ever experienced, personal or professional?
In a way , every time I was at the birth of any one of my 3 children, was a God moment. etc. I've had a lot of great moments all through life -
But Maybe a good one was when I had around 20 people, adults and children travelling to Portland Oregon and the travel plans were not working out well with serious flight delays, engine troubles, missed connections and other huge issues. We all arrived in Portland way past our scheduled time and had to drive for hours to the hotel late at night and tired with real danger of falling asleep at the wheel. We had a few close calls on the journey. People were lost in other locations and it took forever to get everyone to the right spot.
When we got to the hotel the reservations person in the hotel had messed up our booking (and then slipped away to avoid any hassle) and the newly appointed manager (even though the hotel was practically empty) didn't want to give us any rooms. We spent a stressful, couple of hours sorting it all out and appeasing the manager (who didn't seem to appreciate that letting people have rooms and charging them money was what he was supposed to do! ) Well, after the kids were all finally put in bed we decided to meet in the lobby to relax and reflect for a short while before retiring. The kitchen was opened late night and we ate, shared and prayed.
Then out from the kitchen came one of the waiters who had served us. I should stress that he had no idea who we were and wasn't party to our prayer time or conversation.
He was carrying a huge family type Bible opened in his hands, and he came over and asked could he read something to us.
Surprised and puzzled (like who keeps a huge Bible in a hotel kitchen?) - we said yes.
This is what he read:
He who watches over you will not slumber; 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD watches over you- the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all harm- he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
6. What's the last book you read?
Actually, the last book I read was Catastrophe by Max Hastings. Max is a historian and the book was a huge tome on the events leading up to the 1st World War. (I like to read as widely as possible - history, commentary, Christian authors, pulp fiction...etc)
Max's book was his attempt to explain how that terrible war developed, and why he regarded it as a necessary event. He was trying to explain how a huge world-wide conflict costing millions of deaths evolved from a single terrorist act (the murder of Arch Duke Ferdinand by members of the Black Hand group in Serbia). In the end, despite his best efforts I don't think he succeeded. I finished the book feeling that WW1 was a totally unnecessary conflict and a pointless, savage waste of human life guided by some of the most incompetent military generals and leaders in history.
7. How did you become a believer. What caused you to want to serve God in full time ministry?
I became a Christian in my first job as a drawing office technician when I was sixteen. Two men in the office where I worked used to engage everyone in religious discussions regularly each lunchtime. (That is, they always managed to turn the usual office chit chat into some form of conversation about Christ.) In one of those times, one of them was talking about eternity and made the following observation - He said
'Eternity is the time that it would take for a sparrow to fly to the moon, peck of a small piece of dust or speck of rock, then fly all the way back to earth with it, and keep on doing that til it had pecked the entire moon away'
The thought went through my head that if that was how long eternity was, I would rather spend it with Christ. So I committed my life to Him right there, with a silent prayer. And I've never looked back
Regarding the full time ministry question, I never wanted to be in full time ministry actually and, as you can tell from the first answer, I'm not actually in 'full time ministry' as commonly described. For me, we are all in this 'full time' and when I started my Acoustics Consultancy that was just as important a calling from God than any other part of my working life.
8. What organization/service group are you affiliated with?
OK, at the risk of sounding too much like a non-conformist here, I am not affiliated with any single group. I have worked with Compassion, World Vision and several other ministries but I have always declined offers to become an artist specifically aligned to one team. I'm happy to work in any way I can for any worthy cause and support those causes. My Canadian tours organizer, (Unite Productions)' are supporters of World Vision, so most Canadian concerts I do support that cause. We have managed to assist sponsoring of hundreds of children, indigenous pastors, orphanages and hospitals all over the world. I just prefer that, rather than to be contracted or restricted to one organization I 'm free to support whoever. . But - I absolutely support and confirm all the great artists in the Christian music industry that work so hard for their chosen organization - they do a fantastic job.
9. Person you'd most like to have a discussion with, living or dead.....Deities are excused from this question
F. B. Meyer. He was a Baptist theologian and Pastor at the turn of the 19th Century and worked tirelessly in establishing orphanages in the poorest areas of Britain. He was also a beautiful writer and totally absorbed by God's grace. His writings are beautifully composed and deep and observant and I find reading his works illuminate and impact my heart.
He managed to convey the deep truths of the scriptures to the ordinary folks he pastored and taught, with great skill. He once said (and this is not absolutely an accurate quote) that 'God was so enamored of the grace and power of the work of redemption through the cross, that He told the story over and over again in the great works of literature, in paintings and music'. I like that sentiment and I'd love to listen to him talking about that. It's like if you watch a regular movie and some redemptive theme comes through in the story line that catches your heart for a moment - and you realize that the source of all redemption/ grace/ sacrifice and salvation is Jesus. I suppose I'd like to be able to write songs that would have the same effect on folks outside of the Church.
10. Favorite Bible verse....life verse. Why?
Hab 3 v 16, 17. Thats the verse that says 'if there is not cattle in the pen, no corn in the field and no fruit on the tree, yet will I praise Him'
I just love the truth of that statement by Habakkuk where success, money, wealth and provision are not what makes him want to praise his Heavenly Father. That in the absence of any and all - He will still praise him.
What artist or pastor has had the greatest impact on you, and why?
Probably my old friend and former Pastor Paul Reid who always had my back when I was the regular worship leader in CFC (every week!) and through whose sermons and stories many of my most influential songs were written.