By Nathan Jones
Can having a secular background help prepare you for ministry?
Dr. David Reagan and I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Mark Hitchcock on the show Christ in Prophecy. Mark is a leading Bible prophecy expert, prolific author who has penned over 20 books on the end times, senior pastor of Faith Bible Church located in Oklahoma, and adjunct faculty member of the Dallas Theological Seminary. He is also a much in demand speaker at Bible prophecy conferences all over the nation.
Dr. Hitchcock was invited to answer questions based on a book he has just published about the widespread speculation and even hysteria that the world will come to an end on December 21, 2012. The book it titled 2012: The Bible and the End of the World.
Before we got into whether or not the world will end in 2012, Mark shared with us how the Lord had taken him on an unexpected route on his way to becoming a full-time pastor. It is an encouraging story about finding one's place in God's will.
Mark Hitchcock on God Preparing Your Path
Nathan Jones: Dr. Hitchcock, I love reading your books, and particularly I would like to know a little more about you as this is the first time I have gotten to meet you in person.
Dr. Hitchcock: Well, I grew up in Oklahoma City area. I went to Oklahoma State University. Then I went to law school after that and I worked for four years at the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals for a judge there. Then, I left there and went to Dallas Seminary and came back to Edmond, Oklahoma where I have been the Pastor of Faith Bible Church there now for 18 years. It is hard to believe it has been that long.
Nathan Jones: With you being a lawyer, what really got you into Bible prophecy?
Dr. Hitchcock: I got interested in Bible prophecy as a young man of about 12-13 years old. Late Great Planet Earth came out in May of 1970 when I was 11 years of age. The people in my youth group and my sister who was a couple years older than me — all these young people were reading this book. I remember reading it as a boy and understanding that it really has to do with what is going on in our world today.
Like a lot of young people I was kind of dormant in my spiritual life for awhile. Then, in my early 20's when I began to study the Bible, I just realized there were large portions of the Bible I had no idea what they were about. I came to see that if I was going to really understand the Bible, I had to understand Bible prophecy. So, that's really what got me interested.
What I would really say for myself is that I have a love for Bible prophecy, but really I love the Bible. And to me, if you love the Bible which is almost one-thirds prophecy, then you are going to love prophecy. So, I don't consider myself as someone who is necessarily in love with prophecy. I just love the Bible, and prophecy is a big part of it.
Dr. Reagan: Now that you have become a Bible prophecy teacher, lecturer, writer, and so forth, and you look back on your life, how would you say your legal training has helped you?
Dr. Hitchcock: When you go to law school you learn how to examine evidence and not just take what people say at face value. One needs to look at the evidence, examine it, and think critically about it. I think the experience I had in law school shows God's providence in our lives. I went to work for a judge researching and writing opinions for him. I had no idea that I was going to become someone who wrote books. You can look back on your life and see how God was really guiding and leading your life every step of the way for what He ultimately wanted you to do, back when you didn't even know it.
Dr. Reagan: Same thing happened to me. I ran from the Lord for 20 years. You weren't running, but I was, because the Lord had called me and I said, "Here I am, Lord, send anyone but me." And, I finally came to the end of myself and said, "Okay, Lord, I am tired of this." He then handed me a ministry in Bible prophecy. For 20 years I had been teaching International Politics and Bible prophecy and the end times is all about international politics, so even when I was running He was preparing me for what He wanted me to do.
Nathan Jones: I experienced a similar path to full-time ministry. After Bible school I served at the headquarters of a mission board to prepare myself for the mission field. After two years there my wife and I were preparing to go to Brazil to work with street children. The candidate director suggested I get some real world experience first, so I moved on from the mission.
I quickly discovered a Bible degree will not get one full-time secular employment, so I went to tech school and discovered a love for Web development. I gained a lot of experience in Internet banking and then working for a large ISP building websites and ecommerce packages for our clients, as well as starting my own Web development/design business.
As much as I was enjoying my work, it felt far from the original goal of going to the mission field. And then, I saw online that a mega-church in Kentucky was looking for someone to build and maintain their website. This was an opportunity to merge my technical skills with my ministry training in service of the Lord.
After six years at the church and time in seminary, through a mutual friend I found out Dr. Reagan was looking for a Web Minister to reach the world for Christ over the Internet. I moved to Texas and found that now my reach was no longer just to a single congregation, but to the entire world. My mission field just expanded potentially to over two billion people. I look back now and see how God had been preparing me for a mission field beyond my wildest dreams, and feel so blessed to be a part of His work.
Dr. Hitchcock: It is wonderful to look back on our lives and see how God has worked. I think doing that can be an encouragement to parents watching their children and even young people who are wondering about what God wants them to do. Just follow what God is showing you to do and along the way He will be preparing your path.