The Lost Mandate
The Lost Mandate
Chapter One - No Immunity
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me...To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness..." - Is. 61:1-3
It began in the fall of 1994 upon my return from my third short term mission in three years into the heart of Russia. It was immensely exciting and joyful to come back to my wife, three daughters, and my vibrant church, which was part of my childhood Pacific Coast fishing village.
My roots run deep in the very southwestern corner of the State of Washington where the Columbia River, flowing through temperate rain forests of the Pacific Northwest, meets the Pacific Ocean. It was here, after crossing the Oregon Trail, my great grandfather, a Civil War veteran wounded at the Battle of Holly Springs, pioneered in the 1870s. As a charter member and lay preacher of the Methodist Church in Ilwaco, Washington, Town Marshall, and a civic leader my great grandfather and later grandfather, who worked the rough and tumble boom and bust salmon fishing industry, left quite a legacy for me. Dad, Ernie Markham, was a World War II vet who everyone loved. He was laughter with a capital "L". I had the best of lives - realizing my dreams of raising a family in this Tom Sawyer-like town - hunting, fishing and working on the waterfront from the time I was a runt.
I was blessed beyond measure to see my dream come true as Christ used me to make a major kingdom impact in my home town area, pioneering a growing evangelical church, and even being elected to the community's highest elected position of County Commissioner.
My mission trips to Russia were glorious, seeing God do so many wondrous things after the Iron Curtain fell, as the Gospel of Christ was being proclaimed with power. Hundreds came to Christ through my preaching and teaching ministry. As part of a Youth With A Mission training team scores of Russian-born missionaries and future pastors were trained to change the spiritual landscape of their beloved nation. As I called back to my church during those weeks, its vision for the local community and the world expanded.
Years of sacrifice and hard work coupled with God's grace were culminating in fruitfulness and success as my fondest dreams were coming to pass. Life couldn't be better.
Except...except little did I know as I stepped off my plane in Portland, Oregon, that what awaited me was going to be a nightmare that only the enemy of our souls could devise. My dream realized was about to be shattered and devastated by defeat on every front. I was about to be a repeat of the story of Job.
I had no way of knowing that the coming obliteration of my life and soul would eventually be the seed that would germinate into an even greater fulfillment of a God-given dream larger than my mind or heart would allow.
Upon my return home the elders of my church quickly let me know that something was amiss with my wife in regards to her personal ministry to a troubled person in our community. What started as ministry to a lady, who supposedly came to seek counsel from me in regards to her homosexuality, turned into a bonding and affection between my wife and her that was disturbing to family, friends, and church members.
"What is this?" I asked with bewilderment. Surely, everyone must be misreading what was going on. But reality defeated my denial. Upon seeing that the relationship between the two was unhealthy, I challenged my wife to end this "ministry" relationship. I was rebuffed.
I was stunned