Mark Phillips is a young man with a delightfully interesting past and a future that follows a totally new path in life.  Born and raised in Amarillo, Mark met his wife, Debbie, at church, married a year after high school and then promptly moved to Abilene to attend McMurray college.  With the stress of youth and obtaining a higher education running rampant for the next four years, odds that this partnership would last were not very good.  However, Mark and Debbie are a couple that have built a foundation of faith into their walk of life and not only enjoyed this time together, but also received degrees while being active in the community.

After a few years of youth ministry in Canadian and Pampa, Mark and Debbie packed their belongings and growing family and relocated to Ashbury, Kentucky where Mark attended a Methodist Seminary.  Upon receiving his Masters degree, Mark was appointed an Associate Pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Abilene.  This occurred in the marvelous year of 1993; the year before major tragic events began to occur in the Phillips family.  This was a year of building a faith centered life with their two daughters, Holly and Ashleigh; a year of talking more seriously with one another about writing a book together; a year filled with serving the community and growing closer to the God they both loved.

1993 - "it was a very good year."

Let the Fireworks Begin!

Fast forward to July 4, 1994.  On this beautiful Fourth of July of July, Mark was taking an early morning motorcycle ride with two of his friends.  This particular ride, however, was the last "gentle" ride in life that Mark would see for a long time to come.

Mark's bike was suddenly airborne and flipping end-over-end.  One of Mark's riding buddies was medically trained and realized the seriousness of the injuries and Mark was taken to the hospital.

At the hospital, a 15% chance to live was predicted and then when pneumonia set in, a 5% chance of continued earthly life was the prognosis given to Debbie for the light of her life, her mate, the father of her two girls.

Debbie did not falter. Debbie did not ask why.  Debbie prayed.

Two weeks later, Mark awakened from his deep coma.  He could not walk or talk.  He did not remember how to swallow and was fed through a tube.  He did not remember much of anything.

Mark's Comeback

Ultimately, Mark was unable to return to his ministry.  Life was somewhat back to normal.  The book Mark and Debbie had discussed writing was coming into fruition.  Mark's motor skills continued to improve, and Mark was constantly on the lookout for new ways to increase these motor skills.

A New Interest

An interest in woodcraft and an encounter with an old friend selling woodcrafted pens would lead Mark to a whole new direction in life.  Mark became enthralled with the intricacy of the crafted pens and began crafting as a hobby with his motor skills increasing as a benefit.  During the next five years, Mark slowly gathered tools, finances and knowledge relating to his "hobby".

You might think this young man has defeated the greatest of his life's challenges--after all, he has gone fron infant to adult and then back to infant and adult.

Surely, there are no more major challenges of life for this individual. Well --

Fireworks Begin Again!

In 2001, Mark was diagnosed with colon cancer.  This diagnosis brought with it the aftermath of six months of chemo and radiation.  He, of course, was given medical leave from the Methodist church and was also given a full life term of leave from pastoring.  But that did not stop Mark from living.  Mark took off running full speed directly toward his life.

Mark's Second Comeback

Mark discovered early on with his "disability" diagnosis that "serving as a minister" is not confined to "the pulpit pastor."  He became a speaker and counselor for a camp in Red River, New Mexico for youth with brain injury.  He also made presentations for the Texas Rehab Commission.  The TRC had funded Mark's schooling for his woodcraft.  Mark pursued his hobby with love.

A Chance Encounter

In August of 2003, Mark was one again scheduled to go to Red River.  However, Mark chose to go to a seminar being held by the Commission the same week to receive an award.  At the event, Mark had his first encounter with the Amarillo based foundation called SECOND CHANCE.

At this seminar, Mark's woodworking craft was not only noticed, but he was asked "What can we do for you?" by many of the attendees.  As Mark relayed his needs, he heard just one drop of a name - SECOND CHANCE.

Second Chance meets the need

Mark's needs required a workspace.  The Second Chance Foundation has given Mark a beautiful workspace; a building in the backyard.  This is a space that provides Mark Phillips with a means to support his family while again enjoying his earthly life.

Let the Fireworks Begin Again!

Mark has been cancer free for 3 years now. Mark and Debbie did write their book.  It is entitled 'The Last Ride, from Tredegy to Triumph' and is published by Prayer Print Press.  And finally, the new woodworking business, On the Mark Exotic Wood Pens and Gifts, is a reality.  For more information about Mark's beautiful pens, keychains, and kaleidoscopes, please call 806-373-2747.

Diann.Brown@bsahs.org