17 December 2017

Rejoice Interview with Mark McKinney

We do not worship a God who stands aloof. Rather, Scripture tells us that our God is a personal God who is intimately involved in every aspect of our lives, from our conception as we are, “…knit together in our mother’s womb,” (Psalm 139 v.13) to the fine detail of our everyday existence, “…the very hairs on your head are all numbered.” (Luke 12 v.7.) God values each one of us and He involves Himself in our everyday circumstances, proving Himself to be real, reliable and worthy of our praise.

Rejoice Always: Firstly, thank you for taking the time to share your story with us. I know our readers will be impacted by it. Could you take a moment to explain how you came to be a Christian?

Mark: I want to begin by saying that although I am now a Christian I came from a non-Christian family who went infrequently to church. Nevertheless, my father and mother loved me and always encouraged me to believe. I had the pleasure a few years back to pray with my mother and father and to hear them both confess that Jesus is Lord of their lives. Praise Him! Like many, when I got saved I was very excited and I was so sure that the whole world would join in my excitement. After all, the evidence that God existed was overwhelmingly obvious to me now the scales had fallen from my eyes. My evidence was that I had gone to a gospel meeting and when the call was made for people to give their lives to Jesus and accept him as Lord and Saviour, my heart was pounding so hard I thought it was going to break through my chest. Then, as I held on to the seat, convinced I was going to levitate to the front of the meeting and make a complete fool of myself, I managed to fight God off. However, that night at home I could not sleep. I felt such anguish that eventually I got down on my knees and asked God to be my God and thanked him for Jesus’ death on that cross for me. I was swept over by a great peace and the journey began – and oh what an adventure lay ahead.

Rejoice Always: It is a common misconception that once you become a Christian your whole life will be sorted – no troubles will bother you and you will be successful in all you do. Has that been your experience? 

Mark: Not at all. After I accepted Jesus I found that I was still searching for stability in my faith. This continued for a few years and my faith was all over the place. One minute I was sailing along enjoying God, the next thing I was sinning and doing all the same rubbish that I had done before being saved. Eventually I got involved with a church and was asked to lead a University house group. I started to see God move in amazing ways. One young lady in the group was not yet a believer. One evening she challenged God to tell me her middle name. She was keen to see the reality of the God we spoke so passionately about. Of course, God did. She was blown away. God answered and there and then she gave her heart to the Lord.

Rejoice Always: In those early days, did God teach you anything that you can look back on and say that it really was foundational for the difficulties you would eventually face?

Mark: Absolutely. I learned a very important lesson at the start of my life with God – when I pray God generally answers and I expect him to. I believe that when God says, “Ask and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you,” that He means it and I do not doubt Him. Interestingly, this scripture is repeated twice in the Gospels – once in Matthew and a second time in Luke. I reckon that God wants us to know that this is important. I still stand on this lesson today, and know that my close communication with God and my expectation that He will speak to me and guide me was foundational in helping me through the more difficult moments in my life.

Rejoice Always: You had a clear expectation that God would speak to you and lead you. Where did He direct you in the early days of your career?

Mark: Well, a few years later, after walking with God and listening to His direction in my life He called me to start a business. He directed me to call it ‘Alpha.’ I was a naive young man who had never run a business, but God had brought some men across my path who wanted to set up a contract cleaning company and so ‘Alpha Cleaning Services’ was born in 1989/1990. It was great. I still remember God telling us as we prayed that he would give us favour. Within about 6 months this business grew to a turnover of more than £100,000. Then God spoke to me and said one of the men had evil intent in his heart and I was to leave this business and take nothing with me! So I obeyed God.

Rejoice Always: That must have been bewildering. Clearly you were acting on your lesson that God will speak to you and guide you. After making the difficult cut from the business did you ever hear anything about the partners you left behind?

Mark: It was a surprise, but God spoke clearly and I knew I had to obey. Then, about two years later one of the partners came to me. He had turned grey and was visibly pained by all he had endured. He told me that all God had revealed to me had come to pass, and even more. He asked for my forgiveness, which I gave immediately. God had protected me and I was so grateful for His hand in my life.

This same partner then asked if I would take over another business. I prayed about it and God said, “Yes. I will bless it.” It was called ‘Alpha Chemical and Hygiene supplies Ltd’, quite a mouthful so we quickly changed it to ‘Alpha Environmental Services Ltd.’

Rejoice Always: It is amazing to think that because you acted on God’s prompting He protected you from harm that lay ahead. Having learnt this lesson, could you see the evidence of God in your work in ‘Alpha Environmental’?

Mark: Yes, God took the failing business and grew it to a turnover of £4 million, with 40 staff and good profits year on year. However, as one of the major shareholders of the business I really felt we had lost our way and that the business was not as God intended. During the summer of 2004 I got down before God and said, “Whatever it takes God. I want to follow you and be led by you.” This prayer should come with a Government health warning! Within a few days God spoke to me so clearly in an audible voice. It was August 2004 and God clearly said, “ Sell your big house.” I said, “What?” and again He said, “Sell your big house and move into something smaller with no mortgage, de-clutter your life get rid of all the trappings of this world.” I said, “God if you are serious about this you need to speak to my wife and tell her the same thing.” So I asked my wife to come in and sit down. I said that God had been speaking to me about something really big. Immediately she said, “Yes. It’s about the house and decluttering our lives.” We put our house on the market in September and it was sold in the same month. We sold many of our possessions such as large cars and other clutter. God then spoke to me again in October, 2004 and said that I was to never be in business with one of my business partners again. Despite having trusted God so far in all my business dealings and following His amazing leadership, I knew that on this occasion I was fighting God. I was angry at what was going on. I sinned against God through my arrogance and self-centeredness. Then, in May 2005 I had a meeting that was to change everything once and for all. In that meeting I was told that I was leaving the business. I had been pushed out. This came as a complete shock as I truly (and naively) believed that the company could not do without me. My place in the company had been pulled out from under my feet.

Rejoice Always: Praise God that He had led you to downsize before this catastrophe. I think we all find it difficult to follow every prompt we feel from God, for a wide variety of reasons. Your story reveals to us the importance of listening to God and trusting that the centre of His will is the only safe and right place to be. Having learnt this lesson again Mark, can you tell us how you moved forward from this difficult point in your life?

Mark: It just so happened that I was taking my wife away on a 40th birthday treat (even though she is only 27) to Dubai. God said, “If you will pray and fast while you are away I will speak.” So in 5* Dubai I began to fast and pray for 12 days and nights.

This was a pivotal moment as God revealed to me so much about how self centred and worldly I was. He brought me so low to show that I loved all the wrong things in life. God told me what was going to happen over the next few years…and everything transpired just as He said. Let me explain…

God said that from the ashes he would bring gold. My company, ‘ATG’ (Ashes to Gold), was formed in 2006 and was profitable in its first year and profits continued to grow year on year. In 2007 he told me not to get involved in a business venture. I explained to God how good it would be, but He just kept saying that it would end in tears – guess what? In May 2010 it did and almost cost me everything. By the time everything was sorted ‘ATG’ had very little money in the account and we had suffered our first year of losing money since the business started. Once again I had learnt to always trust God’s word and act according to His will, everything else really is sinking sand. In these hard times for ‘ATG’ God told me, “If you will humble yourself and confess the sin to your staff I will rebuild it.” I immediately called a staff meeting and confessed my sin to all my staff in ‘ATG’ and asked them to forgive me and trust in God to rebuild our business. By February 2011, 6 months after the prayer, the business had doubled, the bank account was healthy and the future is looking very good.

Rejoice Always: It is clear that God has remained evident in your life from the moment you accepted Him all those years ago in the Gospel Meeting. Is there any last thought you would like to share with our readers?

Mark: Yes, my message is simply this – with God all things good or bad work together for good to those who love the Lord. Be blessed. God is alive and wants to speak to you. Just ask.

Rejoice Always team