On March 7, 2016, Dr. Mark Jackson went Home to be with his Lord. Jackson, 87 at the time of his death, was director of Gospel Literature Services from 1986 to 1995 and interim national representative of the GARBC from 1994 to 1996. Read more about him in “Remembering Mark Jackson” and “Front Row.” The following are tributes to Dr. Mark Jackson.
Arnold and Helga Becker (and family)
We are saddened by the news of Dr. Mark Jackson’s Homegoing, yet we rejoice in the assurance that he is now in the presence of the One he loved and served so well. We remember Dr. Jackson as our senior pastor at Walnut Ridge in Waterloo, Iowa, and as a personal friend and mentor.
Pastor Jackson loved to teach and preach the Word of God, and he did so with such vigor and authority. He preached through books of the Bible, verse by verse, as a gifted servant of the Lord. We’ll never forget the large sign he kept at the pulpit with the word “AMEN!” which he enthusiastically pulled out to prompt his congregation to respond to the hearing of the Word. This also reflected the way he sought to train and equip his people to respond to the Holy Spirit’s work in their lives. Certainly only eternity will reveal the breadth and depth of God’s mighty work through him.
One of my fondest memories of serving under Pastor Jackson’s church leadership was the trip he made to Baptist Bible College in search of an assistant. He returned with not one, but three recent graduates: John Greening, Tim Vermilyea, and Bruce McDonald. Together, this Dream Team (as we referred to them) trained and served under Pastor Jackson at Walnut Ridge, in the local community, and throughout the world.
In addition to his impact as a preacher and church leader, Pastor Jackson marked our lives by his friendship, wise counsel, and example. His integrity and authenticity seemed to match the measure of his giftedness as a leader. We treasure the times he and Irene sat at our dining table, sharing in a meal and sharing in life. Their genuine love and respect for one another was clearly apparent, and the words he preached represented his personal life.
Another specific memory that stands out to us comes from when he would break from the set plan of a service, pause from his speaking, and lead us with his resounding voice in the a cappella singing of “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” We imagine him today singing that last verse with even greater resolve.
In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in Heaven so bright.
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow.
If ever I loved Thee, My Jesus, ’tis now.
—Arnold and Helga Becker attended Walnut Ridge Baptist Church, Waterloo, Iowa, during Mark Jackson’s tenure as pastor.
Dr. Mark Jackson was a choice servant of God, one of His gentle giants who profoundly impacted the world for Christ in quiet but profound ways. I knew him always, it seemed, as he was my senior by nine years and our fathers were close friends in the early years of the GARBC. My dad (Dr. H. T. Commons, president of the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism for 36 years) often spoke of Dr. Paul Jackson with deep respect, and his son Mark the same way. A treasured memory as a seminary student was having Dr. Paul and Dr. Mark come to speak in chapel as a tag team. That picture of shared legacy, showing reciprocal honor and esteem between father and son in ministry, blesses and motivates me to this day.
When I was a young missionary, Mark invited me to his Michigan pastorate for a missions conference, recommending Sharon and me to his church. Thus he became my supporting pastor and remained my mentor through all the years following. When he was president of Baptist Bible College and Seminary (now Summit University), whenever I came to campus to speak in chapel and interview students for missionary service, or as adjunct missions prof in the seminary, he always took time to chat with me, motivating and encouraging me in the struggles of life and ministry. His passion for God and global missions continually rekindled the flame in my heart. He was a devoted servant-soldier, faithful to his Lord through thick and thin, a consummate Christian gentleman and wise leader. I honor him, miss him, and eagerly anticipate the reunion that will last forever.
—Bill Commons is a retired ABWE missionary and administrator.
Dr. Jackson loved missions and missionaries. He traveled globally to many mission fields to find ways in which Gospel Literature Services could help missionaries accomplish their goal of reaching people for Christ. That included sending Sunday School and VBS materials, printing books, sending tracts, raising funds to buy printing presses, or purchasing gospel literature in languages as requested by the missionaries.
Dr. Jackson taught me to trust in miracles. When the Iron Curtain came down and GLS could send gospel literature to the former Soviet Bloc countries, Dr. Jackson and Vernon Miller of RBP planned to send six and a half tons of RBP Sunday School materials to Romania. Knowing that would cost thousands of dollars, I doubted those funds could be raised in six weeks. The containers were ordered, trusting that the funds would be in-house so that shipment could be sent. Many churches and individuals sent funds so that the materials were shipped within four weeks with the costs fully covered. After that miracle, when big projects were planned, I never doubted again. I knew God would supply the needed funds.
Dr. Jackson practiced learning a new word every day. That was a challenge for me when he dictated letters. Sometimes I couldn’t find the words in the dictionary. One time during staff devotions Dr. Jackson used some of his newfound words; one of the editors remarked that she felt sorry for me because some of the words he used would be a challenge for an editor to spell.
—Judy Emery served as Mark Jackson’s administrative assistant.
Mark Jackson was an influential, dignified leader with seemingly boundless energy and enthusiasm for ministry. He was a friend and encourager to a myriad of pastors. His global perspective took him to many distant nations to make new friends and proclaim God’s Word. He always demonstrated a love for his Lord, his wife and family, the church, and our association. His platform presence and skill in communicating made him a man of distinction. My ministry was profoundly influenced in the formative years when I was privileged to serve as an associate pastor on staff with Dr. Jackson. I have more personal good memories of him than any other leader.
—John Greening is national representative of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches.
God used Dr. Mark Jackson in the GARBC International Ministries as a promoter and a pioneer. He accepted the directorship of Gospel Literature Services and took it to new heights. Tirelessly he presented this ministry in churches and cast the vision to resource national churches with Regular Baptist Press Sunday School curriculum. What had been relatively unknown emerged front and center. From all over the globe, notes of appreciation are received in my office weekly. The vision and momentum of this ministry is traced back to Dr. Jackson.
John Greening conceived the idea of establishing an international partnership between associations of independent Baptist churches. He approached the retired Dr. Mark Jackson, a world traveler due to his role with Gospel Literature Services, with the vision to investigate and possibly initiate an international partnership. With jet fuel already in his veins, he took the bait. Making contacts worldwide, he wooed fundamental Baptist ministries out of their comfort zone of isolation into a beloved partnership of collaboration and cooperation. The IPFBM now has 62 partnering associations in 20 countries representing 10,000 local churches.
When I stepped into this role as his successor, I asked him to accompany me on my first visit and what would be his last visit to India. I saw firsthand from church leaders all over the subcontinent their love and respect for this man of God. That trip and the lessons I learned are an indelible part of a treasured memory. Thank you, Dr. Mark, for your enthusiasm, passion, and godly wisdom. Your example keeps me pointed in the right direction.
—Chris Hindal is director of Regular Baptist International.
H. C. Stephen
The Homegoing of Dr. Mark Jackson brought me a mixed emotion. I rejoice with the Homegoing and promotion of this spiritual giant to Glory. I also feel nostalgic as our path seems lonely and long. Our path crossed in the early 2000s when he came with a group to India to explore and promote the cause of the International Partnership of Fundamental Baptist Ministries. His passion, labor, and leadership paved the way for the birth of the IPFBM. The Lord knit our hearts together, and our friendship grew over the years. He was my big brother, he was my friend, he was my colaborer, and he was my leader. He came, ate, stayed, and slept in my house, and I stayed in his house on occasions. I have observed him closely as a family man, as a loving friend, and fellow servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. He mastered the art of making and keeping friends around the globe for the cause of the gospel. His humility and holy life attracted and attached many people to him.
I also admire and deeply miss him as a fellow servant of our King. He loved our Lord Jesus Christ and His church dearly. He loved, lived, and labored [for] the gospel around the globe untiringly.
As I say good-bye to him, I will appeal to all his friends around the globe to commit ourselves to his vision and passion for the great cause of the IPFBM. His footprint is clear. He will be cheering us [on] with the angels in Heaven. Let us lift up the banner of Christ together and march forward towards the gate of Hell to save the perishing souls. In sum, I am pleased and proud to follow his footsteps in making Christ known around the globe.
—H. C. Stephen is chairman of the IPFBM Council of Eight.
The first time that I walked into Calvary Baptist Church in Muskegon, Michigan, was May 3, 1970. I was 17 years old. I had a school friend, Ike Villalpondo, who had invited me, and he met me at the door. I walked with him down the right side aisle, almost halfway to the front of the auditorium, to sit in the youth group section. This was all very new and different to me. Strange songs were sung, the Bible was read, the choir performed, and then a man stood up and opened the Bible and began to speak. This was Pastor Mark Jackson. Sitting there that morning, I had no idea how profoundly he would influence my life.
Eleven days later, I kept an appointment I had made to talk with him. I was wide-eyed as I looked around his office. I sat down and began asking questions. An hour and a half later I was on my knees, calling on the Lord to forgive me and save me! I had been born again!
One month later, Pastor Jackson baptized me. Whenever the church was open, I was there. My pastor would preach from Philippians in the morning and Revelation in the evening, and I grew spiritually. Now I say that I learned more in the two years I sat under his ministry than in the four years I spent in Bible college.
Dr. Jackson came to my college graduation in 1977. He gave the ordination message at my ordination in 1982. When my oldest son was born, I named him Mark. When my wife was diagnosed with cancer in 1985, he was the first one I called. I had Dr. Jackson speak at every church I have served except here in Iowa. I called him numerous times for advice and encouragement. I baptize the way he baptized, and I serve the Lord’s Supper the way I saw him do it. If only I could have inherited his warmth, charm, and personality!
My heart ached when I learned of his dementia. It was the greatest disappointment of my life that I could not attend his funeral.
I first learned of the Rapture from my pastor—Mark Jackson. Perhaps soon, the great reunion will occur! Even so, come Lord Jesus!
—Chris Tjapkes is pastor of First Baptist Church, Perry, Iowa.