Markus’ example from his life spoke more powerfully than any words could.
“Every situation can become your salvation!”
The sentence seems to hang in the room. About 60-70 young people are listening as the 35-year-old man speaks. They have known him for many years now. He has been together with them, conference after conference. Always with the same warm smile, the same warm eyes, the same enthusiasm for sharing God’s Word, which appears to be so living for him in his own life. He is brimming with joy, as he knows what he speaks about is true, and that everyone sitting in the room can experience it the same way he is experiencing it in his own life.
“Can you believe that?”
Markus is looking at the different young people sitting in the hall, asking the question with a great desire for each and every one of them to say “yes” in their hearts, and to enter into the same life that he has personally entered into. To run the same race, the same track, where joy, peace and righteousness increase day after day.
That is a fantastic life!
A month later, I stand at his funeral watching his casket disappear down into the earth. Markus died suddenly and unexpectedly. He got acutely ill while on a plane back from a business trip. He was rushed to a hospital, but it was too late and he died after a few hours.
A life in strong connection with God
Markus Angerer was one of the most special men I have ever known. It was not only his energy, enthusiasm and great joy in life. His ability to clarify things, to help people understand and see things from new angles. His ability to use simple examples so that God’s Word, and the choices we have to make as young people, became so real and living right in front of our eyes. Most significantly, it was his strong connection with God, whom he loved more than anything else, and his deep desire and longing to serve Him in a way that was well-pleasing to Him. That has made such a lasting impression on me.
I saw Markus over many years, in many different situations, in many different circumstances. At Christian conferences, together with many friends from all over the world, who got help listening to him and loved being together with him. In small gatherings in private homes, with a few young people who had a desire in their hearts to be disciples of Jesus, and many questions to ask. In a car on an early Monday morning, driving some of his friends to a hotel on his way to work, so that they could get a good breakfast while he himself continued driving in order to catch his appointments. In a coffee shop buying drinks and snacks for a group of young people, carefully making sure each person got his or her personal favorite drink or snack.
On airplanes when he traveled around the world because of his job, where he would use the minutes while the plane was taxiing and taking off to pray for people that he cared about and loved, before turning on his computer to continue working when the plane was in the air. In small gatherings at hotels, hostels, beaches, mountains, in many different countries, always speaking about God’s Word, always interested in helping people, with the same joy, energy and enthusiasm. Always ready for every good work. Always with a mind to serve and lay down his life (2 Timothy 3:17; John 15:13).
I still often think about Markus and his life. A life that spoke more than any words could.
Through death, into life
“What is righteousness? Can anybody tell me what righteousness is?”
I am back in that special meeting four years ago. The question hangs in the air for some seconds. Then Markus answers himself.
“That is that I die; that is righteousness.” Markus does not speak about a physical death, but he speaks about the death which Paul writes about in 2 Corinthians 4:10-12. A “death” over the sin that is in my, my sinful nature and the which try to dominate my body and make me a slave.
“If my flesh is permitted to live, in a situation where I am tempted to anger or impatience for example, then many unrighteous deeds can come up. But my body is not to be an instrument for unrighteousness! My body is an instrument for righteousness!” (Romans 6:13)
The joy of this righteous life where he could put his own will on the cross, and die to all that involved living for himself, was so evident in Markus. I believe the key to his happiness and joy in life, and the reason why he could also be a living example to many others, lay in this zeal and eagerness to “die” to himself. He laid down his own will and his own life, and chose instead to follow Jesus and run in this race to become more and more like his Master whom he loved so much.
“The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd.” Ecclesiastes 12:11. This verse comes to me when I think about Markus. There are so many words and expressions I have heard from him that have been driven like nails into my memory, which come back to me in different situations of life. Words of God that I can put into practice. Words of true encouragement and help! His life’s example still speaks in my memory, even stronger and more powerfully, and gives the words that he spoke power and authority. I knew what he spoke about was real! I had seen it with my own eyes!
It was written about Jesus that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory.” John 1:14. When I think about the work that God was able to do in the 35 years of Markus’ life, it fills me with a deep longing and desire to also follow Jesus as a disciple, and be faithful as never before in my circumstances. It was evident in Markus’ life that God richly rewards those who are faithful, in their situations of life, for now and eternity.