We’re continuing to feature one of the 41 missionaries and ministries Vision supports, and this week, we’ll be getting to know Mark Coffey, a missionary on deputation to South Africa.
In 1995, Mark Coffey went on a life-changing 5-month mission trip to Peru. It was there that the Lord did a great work on his heart, and from that point on, missions became his life. Mark trained and worked under veteran missionary and pastor Austin Gardner for more than a decade. He was a part of the in the ministry in Peru for 5 years before returning to the US. Whether on the field or in the States, his heart for missions never changed. After working as a stateside missions mobilizer for over 5 years, Mark knew the Lord was leading him to the foreign mission field of South Africa, and in 2011, he started deputation.
In a little over a year and a half, Mark, his wife Amy, and their children, Tyler, Chase, Emilee, Luke, and Addison, have traveled over75,000 miles in 35 different states. While on the road, they have been blessed to see people get saved and surrender to the mission field. Mark has also had the wonderful opportunity that all parents of teens have…to see his oldest son, Tyler, get his learner’s permit, a circumstance that has definitely raised his blood pressure a few times:
When I first allowed my oldest son, Tyler, to drive with his learner’s license…we made it about an hour, and then my nerves were shot so bad, I had him pull over! He ran two cars out of their lanes. He will get better, though, and God is giving me more patience.
Mark and his family will be living in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and working to train leaders and plant churches among the Xhosa-speaking people. Port Elizabeth is a city of around 1.2 million, with 80% of the population being black and Xhosa-speaking. On a recent survey trip there, Mark noted these distinctions:
The standard of living is very different. The majority of the black population is very poor. They also believe in ancestor worship, which is something we haven’t been around much. They sacrifice animals to appease their ancestors so that their life will be problem-free. They may attend a church that sounds Christian, but their beliefs are a mix of works-based “Christianity” and ancestor worship, which is what most of the mainstream denominations try to cater to.
Mark hopes to train young men who will go out and start churches all over South Africa and the world. For those considering the field of South Africa, Mark has this to say:
Get ready for the greatest life ever! We are going to have a blast working together. There are so many things God is going to allow us to be a part of to see Southern Africa and the world reached with His Gospel!
The Coffeys leave for South Africa in June of 2013.