In 2018 Mark Grace officially transitioned from TSCF staff to becoming the full-time Ambassador for the CCCNZ network of churches. His friend Mark Santich, who heads up the Canterbury team, recalls the contributions he has made to TSCF.
Mark Grace and I joined TSCF staff around the same time more than 16 years ago. It has been a great privilege and joy to serve together. Having the same name meant we often received each other’s emails, but we have shared so much more than that over our time together—especially as our families grew to know and love each other over the years. Despite living on different Islands, Mark in Palmy and myself in Christchurch, we have had a close ministry bond and friendship.
Mark has always been entrepreneurial, thinking outside the box and always dreaming of new ideas. I’m more of a slow plodder, happy to put my head down and get on with ministry. This led to a great, complementary gospel partnership. In the earlier years, I would spend a week each year in Palmy for “Word Week” to help teach and train students in Palmerston North. Mark helped this Australian to keep growing in my understanding of Kiwi culture and biculturalism, to learn about Aotearoa’s rich gospel heritage, and to keep growing in my love for Jesus.
We also benefited from key student leaders Mark had invested in—Scott Mackay and Erin Robinson, who served on campus in Palmy and came down to Christchurch as TSCF interns and staff.
Mark’s creativity helped TSCF in many ways over the years. He formed missional prayer groups on campus to help people consider serving God on campus and overseas, and developed Catalyst, our graduate ministry and a resource to help students through a book ministry.
Mark’s great creativity has been matched by his great desire to see people come to know Jesus and to serve him. He leads by example. He wants students to step up their evangelism on campus, so he met with a number of students who didn’t know Jesus and read a gospel with them. Mike Butcher, a student at Massey University in Mark’s earlier years, is one of the people who will be eternally grateful for Mark’s help in coming to know and love Jesus.
In order for students to reach other students better, Mark invested time training them in handling God’s word and in ministry skills, often with early morning sessions. Mark’s love for others was evident throughout TSCF—there was a strong bond in the Palmy student group for community and mission that had an effervescent effect on others around the country.
Mark has always made me think more about how I am living for Jesus and glorifying him in the things that I do, whether in everyday life or ministry. He loves reading. It has always been encouraging to wrestle through matters together, whether theological, ministry or just everyday life and relationships.
Mark has a beautiful family who have been very much a part of TSCF life. His wife, Emma, has contributed greatly to Mark serving with TSCF for this length of time.
So as you finish your formal time with your TSCF family, Mark, I want to thank God for the way you have left Jesus’ mark, not just on campus in Palmy, but throughout the TSCF family.