Mark Cline: A Servant Remembered
It was 1981 when he came walking through the door at Car Craft Car Audio Workshop located in Dallas Texas. A divine appointment near closing time. He introduced himself as Mark and explained his predicament in his usual cool manner. Like many twenty-something individuals of that era, he became interested in a high powered car audio system for his Toyota truck.
However, his model was not well suited for the system he wanted and the attempted installation by another shop did not go well. I followed him out to his truck and the scene was self-explanatory, the oversized indash unit protruding out with an equalizer unceremoniously crammed underneath. Markings around the dashboard suggested tools from the stone age might have been used in the attempted installation as well.
Mark and I were truly a study in contrast. My reaction was not unusual for me at the time. I passed an unmerciful verbal judgment on the perpetrators that cannot be repeated here while Mark suggested unqualified good intentions were to blame. As we sat in the cab, it was decided that I would do the installation. Therefore, I investigated further by pulling the units out of the dash only to reveal wiring that looked like monkeys had stuffed scrape wiring behind the audio units. I don’t know exactly why (back then who would know other than God himself why I did anything), but I began grabbing the wiring and ripping it out of the dashboard. Mark’s reaction was hysterical laughter. That might be when he decided I was his next mission.
I informed Mark that my social schedule was empty that night and I would stay late to work on his Truck. He requested to stay as well. As I worked on his Truck, his parents showed up with various snacks and beverages. “We” worked on his truck all night long and a friendship was born.
Mark was a member of a large singles group at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas. He invited me to many of their functions. Over the next two years, I would except one invitation out of ten as hanging out with Christians was far from my preference. In other words, he dogged me with unrelenting tenaciousness. I was his mission and Mark was faithful. Over that time, his counsel and testimony convinced me that there indeed was a Holy Creator God who died for our sins. Concerning his walk with God in front of others: impeccable. As a matter of fact, Mark invited me out to lunch one day. It seems that he had something that he wanted to inform me of, an announcement of sorts. He would be removing the radar detector from the dashboard of his truck, God had convicted him that it was wrong to use it. Another thing I might mention about Mark: he had a long long line of “I want to be married to Mark” wannabes. But I think Mark may have had the gift of singleness, or so it seemed anyway.
However, I was not about to give my life to the Lord at that time. I had it all planned out. I would live my gleeful life of sin until I was old and then sign up as an elderly person who could no longer have fun. That’s when Mark’s helper, the Holy Spirit, started to become evident in the situation. One day as I was looking for a replacement for a technician who was caught stealing, I called a young man who had applied by the name of Joe. A woman answered and at first seemed agitated that I had called him. The woman was his mother and Joe had been killed in a motorcycle accident two weeks prior. Of course I felt terrible, but she then told me how all was well because he had given his life to Christ two weeks prior to the accident. As I hung up the phone, I must have sat there in a stupor for at least 10 minutes, another grand scheme of life by Paul Dohse laying in pieces on the floor. Over the next several weeks, God would bring several other such testimonials into my life, the heat was on but the grand event was yet to come.
Meanwhile, I met a lady while doing volunteer work at a runaway shelter, Shirley Anne Lay. Later, we decided to wed in a private ceremony as I had a phobia in regard to being the focus of crowds, something I still struggle with till this day. Mark nor any of his friends knew, but somehow Mark found out and called me about it. I pretty much told him he wasn’t invited. However, he insisted, offering to take the pictures for free. I reluctantly agreed. Besides, it was evident he was not going to take no for an answer. Afterward, he assumed he would be invited to the reception as the official wedding photographer. There he was at the reception, his favorite place, sitting in the midst of his calling with drunks and scoundrels. I will never forget the way he studied each of them with the mind behind those eyes whirling and calculating. Afterward, he invited me to a yearly event of epic proportions at that time in Dallas Texas, Cowboy’s / Redskins. We were to go after Shirley and I returned from our honeymoon and a reception by my family in Dayton, Ohio.
After our return, the call came at 3:00 am sharp, one of Mark’s suitors, a lovely oriental girl full of godliness named Karen. Mark had gone into minor surgery for his sinuses and was accidentally struck down by a surgeon who had worked 18 hours straight. The gig was up, If I didn’t give my life to Christ at that time, what else was God going to do? I had an overwhelming sense that God would not call again. A short time later, I called one of Mark’s Christian friends, Larry, wanting to officially profess my commitment to Christ. Larry could not make it that day, but I insisted, informing him that it was obvious to me that Christians didn’t live long and I didn’t know how much time I had left. Larry conceded and came over right away, somewhat humored by my concern. Larry would then go on to disciple me in Mark’s stead. Larry was a true Texan and not lacking in colorful demeanor. Our friendship is a whole other story full of awesome memories. Larry felt obligated and delighted to continue Mark’s work in my life, and was more than faithful in doing so.
The funeral was at a large Baptist Church in Dallas. There was standing room only in the lobby. The funeral and reception afterward was Mark’s coming out party. In other words, it was revealed that there were many many many Paul Dohse’s in Mark Clines life. His life is a testimony to God’s complex tapestry of life. My training in Car Audio, bungling technicians, a Toyota truck being assembled in a factory, my decision to move to Dallas, it all works together according to God’s plan.
Secondly, though at home, his work lives on. After my conversion, came my wife, my father, my grandmother, my grandfather, my daughter and others. Through God’s family tree and my daughter, a remnant of Mark’s work lives on, even in Kenya. But wait, multiply that by all the other branches revealed at his funeral. One plants, one waters and another reaps. Only God knows the extent of Mark’s planting.
Thirdly, Mark’s testimony reveals the simplicity of following his example. Two easy steps: Make time for others and get involved in their lives. Teach them as you learn and simply show them and tell them what God has done in your life. Mark was by no means a deep theologian. Christ healed a demoniac who understandably wanted to follow him to the death. But unlike what Christ demanded of others, he said no, you stay here and “tell them what I have done for you.” Any man or woman who sends the message that one needs a seminary degree or a counseling certificate to impact the lives of others with God’s wisdom stands to be shamed by Mark’s testimony.
I once saw a wall placard with this poem written on it: “I shall pass this way through life but once. Any good I can do, any happiness I can bestow, let me do it now, for I shall never, never, pass this way again.”
I don’t know who the author is, but those words are burned into my mind with Mark’s memory. The kind of works he did are the only works we will take with us.