Saturday, May 26, 2007

Twenty-Eight Days of Peace...

...followed by many years in prison for another Pastor Gone Wild.

The Reverend Mark Olds was convicted of stealing more than one million dollars from a charter school he founded.  The crime itself is pedestrian, but his story is amazing for its level of hypocrisy.

Olds converted to Christianity in prison. Olds knew prison well. He spent 16 years behind bars for various violent crimes (desertion, bank robbery,  assault &  murder) before his release to become a Reverend at Eagle Rock Covenant Assembly in Cleveland.

Upon release, Olds began a noble fight called Twenty-Eight Days of Peace which was aimed at  reducing violent crime while at the same time helping non-violent ex-convicts expunge their criminal records. He called it "a jobs bill'. He seemed to have the communities best interest at heart.

Reverend Olds moved on to writing his conversion story in a ghost written self-important tome called "Not Without Scars: The inspiring Life Journey of Mark C. Olds as Told to Christopher Broussard". These books are obligatory, typically self-published, and uniformly "uplifting". What more can you expect from a murder who became a Christian Reverend?

Unfortunately for Reverend Olds, the temptations of the flesh eventually won out. He started a Charter School and eventually figured out how to embezzle over a million dollars from its operation while at the same time  providing a substandard education to students in a building with crumbling walls and no heat.

As usual, the federal indictment makes for excellent reading.

It is at this point in the story I would like to yell "hypocrite".  People like Olds instantly see the power of legitimacy that comes with attaching the words "reverend" or "pastor" to their names. They use and abuse without fear because the compelling story of their conversion holds more power with the faithful than it deserves. When they are caught - we often hear "the devil..." blah, blah, blah.

A few questions for the faithful:

How is it that a man like Olds can move from prison for the pulpit? Are there no standards?

How is it that a man like Olds can start a private charter school? And what fool would put their kids in his care? What are his qualifications? He did not even write his own autobiography - this should be a clue that he might not know anything about teaching.

And... Where is the outcry from within the Christian community? This man did immense damage to your community, yet I find nothing about it in blogs or on the web. Is it better to ignore this hypocrite and hope the story goes away? How do you police yourself?

It make me sick.


Anonymous said...

Wow! You decry that Christians should be outraged and should be admonishing this man for his mistakes. That would make the Christians that fall prey to your suggestions, what? I think the very thing you called Mark Olds, hypocrites! Why? Because the Bible says that if a man falls, we are to forgive him 70 x 7. Do we agree with any lawbreaking that may have occurred. Absolutely not. Are we to judge another man and whether or not he was rightfully ordained a minister? Not according to the standards by which we govern our lives. What standards are those, you ask? Those found in the Bible. Because we are Christians, we leave judgement to God. Whereas you are able to view what presumably is horrible and make a overwhelming decision about a man, I look at the work that he did leading up to the mistake that cost him his freedom. Mr. Olds did a lot of good for the Cleveland community and that is essentially what enabled others to trust them with their children. He gave of his own substance to encourage and enable individuals who had limited hope. I cannot speak on Mr. Olds' total story or why he fell in the manner in which he did. I can only say that based on the information I have been able to find, he did a lot of good before finding himself in his current situation.

Mojoey said...

are you kidding me? this man is a common criminal hiding in the church. He learned that Christians forgive, exploited it, then got caught ripping you people off. Forgiveness? whatever.

Anonymous said...

Mark was miraculously delivered from federal prison through an extraordinary commitment to God. He likewise was marvelously blessed with golden opportunities for personal advancement in education, administration and ministry to his family, the church, and community. He was often heard to say that he never wanted to forget where he came from when engaging in prison ministry. Unfortunately he now has to remember the hard way.
There is no doubt that Mark was a sincere Christian. Unfortunately, the process of sanctification often takes difficult detours when our selfish nature is not dealt with incisively each moment. Those with the background of a criminal personality type are not transformed overnight. Often there egocentricism is just projected into more socially acceptable enterprises. A narcissistic lust for money, attention and influence can get the better of the best of us.
Marks fall is made all the more difficult to forgive - not only because of his hypocrisy, but because of the mistreatment of innocent children in the process.
True Christians may be able to forgive him. The real question is, 'Will this current prison sentence help to finally transform this gifted man?'

Anonymous said...

The answer is painfully evident. Almost ten years of further incarceration has done little to humble Mark or cure his apparent sociopathology. Go to his 'voice for inmates' site and you will see for yourself:

His grandiosity is palpable, referring to himself as an apostle and prophet and 'nation builder' - who is an exemplary leader etc. ad nauseum (opportunities to contribute monetarily to his religio-political cause are ample). Anyone who falls for his pleas is more mentally ill than Mark at this point. All of this said, I still pray for this old friend.