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Long before the days of rocking stages while fronting one of the most popular Christian bands of all time, Audio Adrenaline, a fourteen’ish year old Mark Stuart wanted to do something great—and, like so many good Christians that had gone before him, he, too embarked on a mission trip to Haiti. One of the first items on the trip’s checklist? Of course, “helping” to erect a new church building.

“I had worked on this rock with a sledgehammer for an hour…hour-and-a-half,” recalls Stuart. “I chipped away at it, and eventually this Haitian guy was like, ‘Okay, good job.’ (He wanted me to feel important.) Then he broke it apart—this boulder—in like, three swings. It cracked in half, and then, they picked the boulder up! I was like, ‘What just happened, here?’” Stuart, probably scratching his sweaty, teenaged, wanna-be rock star hair-do, had to be wondering about this “great thing” he was doing (and no-doubt wishing he was lying in the backseat of his dad’s Chevette).

“Then, I resorted to just shoveling stuff out as [the Haitian man] broke it, because he was obviously more skilled at sledging and picking. Next, he got bitten by a scorpion, cut himself with a machete, sucked the poison out, and wrapped his arm in a shirt… Again, I was like, ‘What?! I’m way over my head, here.’”

Stuart goes on to recount that this Haitian man wasn’t some super-human, overworked construction worker after all, but actually the pastor of the church! “And then that night I realized that I was sun poisoned and I wasn’t allowed to get out of the tent for the rest of the week.”

He may not have known it in those early, sunburned days in this island-nation, but this was God’s way of beginning those transformative conversations with Stuart that has paved the way for ministries like The Hands And Feet Project, and more recently, Ikondo.

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About The Author

Kevin Sparkman
Managing Editor

After both on-stage and front-office experience in the Christian recording industry, (including co-founding Exit 3 Entertainment, Inc. and General Manager of hip-hop label Beatmart Recordings), Sparkman returned to Salem in 2014 from a Dir. of Communications position in the United Methodist Church. He became the Managing Editor of CCM Magazine in January 2015.

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