|The Damascus Road
The book of Acts begins to tell the story of the Apostle Paul,
and the miraculous working of God in his life to change him from
one who ardently persecuted all who believed in and followed
Jesus Christ, to one who even more passionately proclaimed Him
as Messiah and Lord. We first see him in Acts 8:1 as the fervent
Jewish religious leader “Saul” who is consenting to the stoning
death of Stephen for proclaiming Jesus to be the Messiah, and for
accusing the Jewish leaders of murdering Him. Acts 9:1 says Saul
“was yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord”, when on a dusty road to
Damascus, God stepped into Saul’s life in a miraculous way, transformed him, and called him “Paul”.
Mark Harris is the son of a Jewish mother whose European parents had long abandoned their religion, and
he lived the first twenty-five years of his life as an atheist. Like Paul, Mark, too, persecuted any and all
religious people; ridiculing them and denouncing their faith as ignorant superstition, and a crutch for the
weak. His “idols” were intellectualism, reason, and logic, and his world was neatly ordered by
mathematical probabilities and scientific evidence. Then, God stepped into Mark’s life, using the very same
“idols” of his atheistic mindset that had convinced him there was no God, to now overwhelmingly convince
him beyond any statistical doubt that God did, in fact, exist (read details below).
Prior to coming to faith in Christ, Mark earned a Master's Degree from Stanford University in Civil &
Environmental Engineering. He completed courses in business and real estate law, accounting, and
received numerous licenses and professional credentials including Real Estate Broker, NYSE Registered
Representative, Registered Investment Advisor, and SEC Series 7 license. His primary profession is that of
real estate development, where he has acted as both a principal and consultant in major real estate projects
including hotels & resorts, retail shopping centers, and residential subdivisions. He speaks fluent Spanish, is
learning Mandarin, and is an accomplished musician, playing the piano, guitar and bass.
Mark has been a Messianic believer for over twenty years. In 1982 he began an intensive, seven-year
seminary study program, with special emphasis in the Pauline Epistles. He was ordained in 1989 and
became the Associate Pastor at Pneuma Life Church in Diamond Bar, California. His ministry is devoted to
serving the Body of Christ, ministering to Pastors and Church leaders, and he has traveled extensively in the
US and in foreign countries, speaking and ministering in many churches, home fellowships, Pastor's
conferences, and other Christian forums. He is the creator and author of the "Spirit & Truth" book series, as
well as several Bible study courses including "Be Ye Transformed: Renewing the Mind", a 12-week course on
how to present ourselves to God for His transforming us. He has participated in several study tours in Israel,
and was baptized in the Jordan River by Chuck Missler (Koinonia House Ministries).
Here are excerpts from Mark's personal testimony of salvation:
“ God drew me to faith through a series of unusual events which occurred in my life which were statistically
impossible to explain as random chance. This gave rise to the perfectly rational conclusion in my mind that
there was an active and deliberate force at work; and furthermore, it was a force which was obviously capable of
manipulating physical reality, including people and events. Moreover, it implied that this 'force' also possessed
not only power, but also purpose. This force, I reasoned, could only logically be concluded to be “God”. As a
true intellectual, and devoted to the integrity of reason, intellectual honesty demanded that I investigate
precisely who and what 'God' is. However, having despised and mistrusted religions, which all seemed to
contradict one another, I insisted on one caveat with God: don’t let me be deceived and believe a lie."....
"....At first I wrestled with which religion to go to for answers. Since there were so many, and the contradictions
among them represented so much confusion about God, I viewed all religions as part of a huge, insurmountable
wall, with God on the other side, so that organized religion was actually an obstacle to God, and his Truth.
Once again, God used the very reasoning which had supported an atheist mentality in me to now support a
genuine faith....I heard the words ‘Here is logic and wisdom: Surely God is not confused about who He is,
and what His Truth is. It is, in fact, MEN who are confused about God.’
"...Perhaps most importantly, while certainly curious and anxious for answers, I did not go to any men or
earthly sources in an effort to get answers. I simply asked the questions directly to this supernatural being/force
I understood to be “God”, and I believed that He would answer—someway, somehow. And so I waited. ...
This, of course, is where most people give up—even those who believe in God--and they stubbornly refuse to
believe God would be so personal and reliable."...
“What I was doing was not only believing the things of God—that He exists, that He is “there”, and that He is
ABLE to communicate, and wants to do so—but I was also ACTING OUT that faith by waiting (patience) and
not going anywhere else for the answers. This is the attitude which is so vital to the prayer life and spiritual
growth of every believer; it is not only believing the things of God, but acting out that belief. And, true to His
word and promise, God generously rewarded me.”
(Excerpted from the Spirit & Truth book series by Mark Harris)
(click here) to read the full text of Mark’s testimony, and the very personal account of his experiencing that
reward from God.
|©spirit & Truth ministries
All Rights reserved
Here is Mark’s very personal account of his experiencing that reward:
Early in the morning of March 14, 1980, I had a “Damascus Road” experience, and met the One, True, Living
God. I was living in a house on the beach in Manhattan Beach, California, with two other male roommates who
were anything but saints. Up until my realization of God’s existence, I had been living a reckless and sinful
lifestyle--right alongside of my roommates and other friends. However, since my recognition of God’s holiness
and goodness, I had now lost all interest in the ungodly activities and dialogues which had previously held so
much attraction, and I had begun spending more time apart from the usual crowd.
On this particular morning, while in my room, I began to feel a sensation of numbing in my feet which moved
slowly up my legs. While fearful at first, a strange sense of peace and assurance came over me. The numbing
reached my neck, and then began to grow more intense, feeling now as if my body was cement, and being
covered or restrained. I wondered momentarily if I were dying, but the sense of peace only made me feel that,
if I were dying, at least I had “made peace” with God.
Then the entire room began to turn a bright white, and a soft “whooshing” sound began to rise. Sounding like
a stirring wind at first, it grew louder and began to sound like a waterfall. Just as the sound reached such a
deafening level I thought my ears would burst, the sound changed into the sound of thousands and thousands
of voices singing, like angels. It was unintelligible at first, but both beautifully melodic and enchanting. Then,
the words became understandable. The angels were singing “It’s Him…It’s the Lord from Heaven…It’s Him”. I
did not hear the Name “Jesus”, yet instantly knew—despite never having read the Bible, or studied anything
about religion—that the “Him” they referred to was Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. And I also knew
this was my “reward” for my faith, and my patience; a formal and overwhelmingly satisfying answer to my
many prayers and requests for the Truth, and for not wanting to be deceived by mere men.
What happened next was the most personal and intimate moment of my entire life. The bright light ebbed
away, and the melodious chorus softened and slipped imperceptibly into the sound of ocean waves gently
lapping the shore. I was on the beach outside my house. I could feel the cool salt air blowing across my face. I
could feel the warmth of the morning sun on my face, hands, and the tops of my feet. The cool, damp sand
caressed my bare feet. As I looked out onto the ocean’s horizon, I saw dark, turbulent storm clouds moving
away from the shore, as at the end of a violent storm. The ocean beneath them was still a dark gray color,
with large, white-capped waves being tossed about by the strong winds. But it was calm and sunny on the
beach where I stood. This devastating storm was moving far away, disappearing beyond the horizon. And I
felt relieved and thankful.
As I turned to look down the beach, I was amazed to see what a horrible
mess the storm had left on the beach. There was so much trash and debris
that had been spewed up onto the beach by the storm that it looked, and
smelled, like a garbage dump. Before I could react or say anything, I was
aware of the presence of another person standing beside me, to my left
side. A gentle and reassuring arm eased across my back, like that of a dear
old friend, and a hand came to gently rest on my right shoulder. I
somehow immediately knew it was Jesus Christ. I did not hear an audible
voice, but I did “hear” the softest, most peaceful and irresistible invitation:
"Let’s take a walk together, Mark”.
I recall being overwhelmed by the sheer volume and
complexity of so much garbage being strewn haphazardly along the expanse of beach. And it
seemed to go on as far as I could see. I recall shaking my head in disbelief, and saying
“what a mess!”
“Yes, it is”, the Lord softly responded. After a few more steps, He said “Look more closely.
What do you see?”
As my eyes drew more focused on the refuse, I began to notice items which looked strangely familiar. And
then, one by one, the Wonderful Counsellor (Isaiah 9:6) began to call to my mind the significance of each and
every piece of garbage on that beach. Each item was related to events in my life which contributed to the
waste which had become my life and who I had become as a person. These items of garbage, created by the
raging storm winds I myself had fomented and fanned, bore stark testimony to the wages of sin: the
degradation of my very soul. The Lord allowed me to see, step by step, sequence by sequence, all that had
taken place throughout my life, and the events in which my own actions, and the way I chose to respond to the
actions of others, resulted in the harboring of resentment, bitterness, and unforgiveness; both within myself,
and in others. The ugly sight and stench of rotting garbage reflected the emotional shallowness and self-
centeredness which devolved in my heart as a direct result of the insincere and careless pursuit of momentary
pleasures and self-gratification. It wasloathsome to see myself so clearly; so inexecusable. So true. In fact, it
is the way the Lord sees each one of us. And yet, He loves us, and is ever-mindful of us. Indeed; what manner
of love is this?
I am not sure how long this walk continued…it seemed to go on for hours. Or days. All I knew is that I was both
a captive and a wholly willing participant in it. It was at once both repulsive and cathartic; contemptible and
reassuring. And then we came to the end of this vast field of garbage. The largest item on the beach was a
heavy, water-logged, over-sized old chair. It was enormous, and laying on its back. There were heavy, old,
wet and frayed ropes wrapping around the arms of the chair, the back, and the front legs. As we drew nearer,
I could see a dead, rotting carcass of a man in the chair, and who had been tightly bound by the ropes. It was
apparent the body had been floating in the storm for a long time, and had decomposed quite a bit, as there
were mostly bones exposed, with scraps of decayed flesh still clinging to some of the skeleton. It was hideous,
and stunk the worst of anything else we had seen, but I could not turn away. I had to look.
There was no head; the body had been decapitated. There was also a large cavity in the chest, as if something
had been ripped out. I beheld the ghastly sight and ask the Lord “who is this”?
He paused for a moment, then said “It is you, Mark. It is what the storm of sin in your life, and all of the
devastation and garbage that it brings, had caused you to become. It is death, and you are dead this day. But I
have given you a new life, and new heart, and a new mind. Come and walk with me, and serve me all the days of
your life". I said softly "Yes, Lord".
And then I was instantly back in my room.
I lived in a sort of stunned fog for several days afterward, trying to comprehend the totality of all that had
happened. While I had received my answers, I now had many more questions, and I was even more troubled
about how I would find the answers. I knew it would involve asking God for the answers, refusing to go to any
men, and some period of patient waiting for the answers. I just did not know how long, nor what form they
would come in. Would there be another “vision” and walk on the beach? I did not know. I did know of a
certainty, however, that God is VERY real, Jesus Christ is His Son, and the “bridge” between God and I, and
that there was a supernatural, spiritual level upon which mere human beings could contact and commune with
All of this new understanding only made me starved for more information. Again, I wanted answers, but I did
not want to be deceived or believe a lie.
“Better to know nothing, than to half-know much” came the soft words of the Lord to comfort me.
“Yes”, I replied. “That is so true. For what good does it do a person to have partial truth, mixed up with some
subtle lies and falsehood, when you cannot tell one from the other?” Better to wait upon the Lord for clarification
before adopting anything into ones belief system and “traditions”. ( “The traditions of men make the Word of
God of no effect” Mark 7:8, 13)
I recall praying earnestly for many days, asking God “how do I learn Truth? How do I learn about you and my
Lord, Jesus Christ? Where do I go, or to whom do I go to for answers? Please help me, and answer me, Oh God.”
It is of interest to point out how relevant and operative the scriptures are in life, even though one may not
believe in them, or even be aware of them. Although I had never read the Bible, like Paul, I, too “did not confer
with flesh and blood”. Despite a tremendous anxiousness for answers, and the natural human impulse to go
out and pro-actively seek answers through investigation on my own, consulting priests or other individuals who
were presumed to be knowledgeable about religious matters, I did nothing except...waited. I just believed
that God would be somehow able to communicate the answers without any effort on my part.
Yet, when you really think about it, NOT doing anything when our brains want answers is, in fact, a great
effort. And that is the "work" of faith, and really the only thing God asks us to contribute. He is able to do the
rest. We just don't really believe He will, that's all. I think that is a very important lesson for "believers". We
need to believe that He is truly "able".
I waited for a period of three long weeks. Though only twenty-one days, it seemed like forever. I could not
imagine how God was going to answer my prayers for knowledge, I only knew that He would. I recall
wondering if He would answer with another vision/visit from Jesus, who would "take a walk" with me again.
This is what I truly hoped would happened, and I recall the almost giddy sense of anticipation every time I
thought about it. I did not recognize it at the time, but our enemy, Satan, made a major attempt to get me to
give up hope of an answer. It came in the form of a deep feeling of hopelessness and anxiety; a very non-
specific malaise. Then a sense of fear came over me, and something which flooded my mind with doubt,
causing me to question whether or not any of what I experienced had really, in fact, happened.
Satan's greatest ploy against faith is to use one's reasoning mind and pride as allies to overthrow faith. Prior to
coming to my coming to faith, as an atheist--again, fully dependent on reason and logic--I assumed anyone
who believed in God must be weak, and even psychotic. Of course pride caused me to not want to be viewed
by others as being "crazy" or "weak", so I prejudicially denied the reality of God and faith. Reason cannot
understand faith, no more than darkness can comprehend light, and therefore it can only dismiss it as
something without any validity. This, of course, is contrary to the very foundation of reason and logic which
holds that simply because one is not aware of or personally experienced something, does not necessarily make
it invalid. On the contrary, honest reasoning dictates instead an open-minded, and thorough, investigation
and study of the matter. That, as my college science professors so aptly taught, is the heart of scientific
method. So, the atheist betrays his own rational principles when it comes to God and faith. This is evidence of
a supernatural, negative spiritual force at work which is threatened by faith, and must work to deny and
discredit it. If this were not the case, atheists would look into and investigate faith with a completely open and
rational mind. And I can assure them all, the answers are, in fact, all there, on open display, and make
perfectly logical and reasonable sense--at any level of inquiry. God hides nothing from people. Rather, it is
people who hide themselves from God's Truth.
In that moment that Satan came against me, and the doubts were beginning to overwhelm me, I simply fixed
my heart on the recollection of those angels singing "It's Him; it's the Lord", and the gentleness of the words
"Let's take a walk". I don't know why, but when it seemed like the doubts were at a crescendo, I simply said
the word "NO!" in a loud voice, and that was it...the doubts and inner wrestling stopped immediately. Peace
and deep inner joy returned.
It was March 30, and my two hedonistic roommates had pulled together an impromptu April Fool's Eve party.
Impromptu parties pretty much happened every night at the beach, and this one just happened to be at our
house that night. However, I had not felt any interest whatsoever in participating in these parties any more,
and my time since my walk on the beach with the Lord was now spent pretty much alone, working, walking on
the beach, surfing, and sitting in my room talking to God and waiting for an answer.
I fell asleep that night feeling like I was in some very safe, loving place; as if God were sitting right there in my
room with me. Silent, invisible; yet, an abiding,peaceful presence. I said "thank you, Jesus", and fell asleep.
The next morning, I awoke to the sounds of loud music, hooting and laughing. As I went downstairs to see what
was going on, my roommates were cleaning up the house after the previous nights revelry, and I heard them
saying "What a joke!", "who would leave that "f---ing" thing here?!" "That had to be an April Fool's joke, man!"
"That is hilarious!" They seemed like they were very stirred up about something, and were a lot more
animated than usual after a night of drinking and partying, and I wondered what had made them so loopy.
"What's all the excitement about?" I asked.
"Oh, some IDIOT played an April Fool's joke and left a BIBLE here last night. Can you believe
that?! What a riot!"
"What?", I asked in amazement, knowing that no one in our circle of friends would be
caught dead with a Bible.
"Yeah, is that crazy, or what?" one of my roommates laughed. "Check it out; it's right
there on the mantel, above the fireplace".
Sure enough, there it was; an old, black, very used Bible, sitting prominently on the
center of the mantel in the living room, above the fireplace, nestled among the beer bottles
and ashtrays. It was not at all impressive looking. No "aura" or divine grandeur about it
whatsoever; paint specks splatter on it...frayed and tattered edges. Didn't even
have the golden pages eges; just faded old red ones. Yet, I immediately felt a familiar
presence upon my shoulder, just as I had felt in when Christ had touched my shoulder on the
beach. I heard the words (not audibly, but powerfully within my heart) "That is for you".
In that instant, my heart inexplicably lept for joy. Without hesitating, I grabbed the Bible, and hurried out of
the room. I'm sure my roommates thought I must have been racing outside to throw it out in the trash.
Instead, I went into my bedroom, closed the door, and jumped excitedly onto the bed, like a kid with
Christmas present he had been anxiously hoping for.
As I plopped onto the bed, the Bible slipped out of my hand, landing on the bed, and the impact of my weight
caused it to bounce upwards slightly, and it landed back on the bed in an open position. It was opened to the
book of "Mark". My eyes were immediately drawn to an area of text on the inside margin of the left page,
about two-thirds of the way down the page. The heading was "Chapter 4". And I began to read verse one:
"And he began to teach by the seaside...."
And I began to weep with joy. He had heard me, and He answered. And His answer came in such a
powerfully personal and miraculous way. I can still recall vividly my feelings in that moment, as if it happened
this morning. I was overwhelmed with both thankfulness and awe at His ability to understand my heart, and
to both enter and influence my insignificant little temporal life from His infinite spiritual domain, wherever and
whatever that was. As I contemplated that "miracle", He continued to bless me and "speak" to me.
"The book of Mark", I said aloud. "That's my name!", I thought. Then my mind noted the scripture reference:
Chapter 4, verse 1. "Hey, that's 4-1, as in April 1st--THAT'S TODAY!!!"
In that instant, He showed me how carefully He had been planning this moment, over the three week period
that I had been praying and worrying whether or not He was there, or whether He heard me, or if He would
ever answer. I immediately felt ashamed that I had ever doubted Him. "What an incredible God this is!" I
muttered over and over through my tears.
God then spoke to me and said, "All of the answers you will seek, you will find here, in My Book. It will tell you
about Me, My Son and your Lord, Jesus Christ, and show you everything about life and the world. And I will not
let you be deceived. I will guard your heart".
I recall sitting there in amazement for quite a long while, flipping through the pages, wishing I could read it all in
that instant. As I reflected on the incredible moment, and the significance of what God had done, I suddenly
realized how unworthy I was of such personal love and attention from God; replaying in my mind many of the
instances in my life that I had so adamantly denied His existence, and had mocked and ridiculed those who
tried to tell me about Him. I was now very puzzled as to why God would be both so forgiving as well as
generous with His blessings to someone such as myself. "Why?" I simply said aloud. "I don't deserve this. It
makes no sense"....
Then, as clearly and as deliberate as I have ever heard anything in my life, He answered.
"Because I do not have to UNteach you, son. Your mind is a clean slate. Wait upon me as you have in this
instance, and I will write upon the tables of your heart, and teach you all that you desire to know".
People often ask me which scripture is my "favorite", or that stands out most in my life. While difficult to
answer in one sense--as they are ALL wonderful--there are ones that stand out in relation to certain aspects of
my life. Certainly 1 Corinthians 2:2 is the "watchword" of my ministry ("...for I determined not to know anything
among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him Crucified".).
However, in consideration of the foregoing testimony of my salvation, and the unique manner in which I met the
One, True, Living God, and came to faith in Jesus Christ, perhaps one can appreciate, I hope, why I hold another
scripture so dear, Colossians 2:6. I exhort it passionately to all who know Christ as Lord and Savior, for it is, in
reality, both a corollary and in a real sense, a paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 2:2:
"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him" Colossians 2:6
The conventional interpretation of this might be paraphrased as "Since you have now come to salvation through
faith in Jesus Christ, now continue to walk in that faith in Him". While this is certainly an "accurate" explanation
of this verse, as with all scripture, there are infinite layers of insight, meaning, and wisdom within the words.
For me, this verse has an even greater meaning and significance; which might be expressed in this way:
"In the same manner in which you received and came to faith in Christ Jesus the Lord, so continue to walk and
grow in Him".
For me, this meaning is a daily reminder that God can and will teach us through His Holy Spirit, if we simply
believe that He can, and wait upon Him to do so. A supporting scripture (that you will not hear very much in
most churches and pulpits because it threatens their religious "system") is 1 John 2:27:
"...you need not that any man teach you, but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is Truth, and is
no lie..." (emphasis added) Yes, this is really in the Bible and, yes, it is not ambiguous in its meaning, despite
how much religious leaders try to contort it.
This interpretation is also consistent with the revelation of the mystery God gave to Paul, and why he realized
that believers needed to STAY at the Cross, and allow the power and the miracle of salvation to also continue
to work to heal, sanctify or "perfect" them in Christ and through the Gospel of His suffering, crucifixion, death,
burial, resurrection, ascension and seating at the Right Hand of the Father.
This last paragraph is the beginning of the "preaching of the Cross of Jesus Christ", and the foundation of this
ministry. Please refer to the "Further Study" page to continue.