Robin Mark lives in Belfast, with his wife Jacqueline and three children, Catherine, David and James. He combines an international ministry in Praise and Worship with the role of Director of Worship at his home church, CFC, in Belfast; partner in acoustics company F.R. Mark and Associates and Lecturer in Acoustics in Belfast's Queens University.
This year sees him reach the 20th anniversary of worship leading in his local church in Belfast. With the help and support of his church leadership, members and the many talented musicians in the body, he has matured not only as a worship leader but also as a truly gifted songwriter.
A first Church based album in 1992, "Captive Heart", spawned several songs that are still being used in worship not only in his home church but throughout Northern Ireland and the world. Further locally produced albums, “Not by Might” and “Days of Elijah” became best sellers in Ireland in the mid 1990s. News of Robin's songs and albums was spreading fast and UK distributors, publishers and event organisers began to make contact.
Europe wide release of new albums followed including the award winning certified U.K. Gold selling "Mandate" conference series with a unique blend of old and new songs presented in the context of the largest men's conference in the U.K. held in Belfast's Waterfront Hall. Further songs also followed including the anthem "Revival", the poetic "Take us to the River", and many other psalms, hymns and spiritual songs used throughout the world by congregations seeking to praise the King and Lord of all.
Not that Robin regards himself as a "songwriter" per se. In the Worship Together, Toronto worship conference in 2000 he stated,
"...I write only when I feel I have something to say. I cannot sit down and write automatically or prolifically, God hasn't given me that gift, unfortunately! But whether it’s in music, song, business, family or other area of service, so long as I am praising Him, that's all that matters."
Perhaps it was this "heart" attitude that prompted Integrity Music (U.S.) in 1999 to pursue the project which became known as "Revival in Belfast". After discussions, the combination of a local church expression with an international recording company was graced by God to become one of the most compelling worship albums of the year. It continues to be a world wide best selling album having chalked up over 400,000 sales. Over half of these have been in the US where the album stayed in the top 50 worship album sales charts for over 4 years and remains a top 100 album. The album became “gold” in Canada in 2004, gold in Australia in 2006, and is one of the best selling worship albums ever in South Africa.
Two years after “Revival” the follow up "Come Heal this Land" continued where the first Integrity album left off, introducing new songs of praise and worship with the Celtic flavour inherent in Robin's work and reaching sales of over 250,000. His last release “Revival in Belfast 2” is still selling well with over 100,000 sold in the first year of release having been the number one best selling worship album in Canada, the US and Australia.
This year sees the release of a new studio album, his first for 8 years, called “East of the River”, with another superb collection of songs, hymns and melodies. Early reviews by industry professionals describe it as being among some of Robin’s best work to date.
Naturally invitations to minister have come from all over the globe and, whilst balancing a strong commitment to family and his home based responsibilities, he has traveled the world on tour and conference dates including Canada, the US, Hawaii, Australia, Singapore, Hungary, Italy, Scotland, England and Wales. In 2007 he is in the Far East and Africa along with engagements in Europe and America.
Having had 13 album releases with world wide sales well in excess of one million, it perhaps came as no surprise that in March 2004 he was awarded the prestigious International Artist of the Year Award from the Gospel Music Association in America. He attended the presentation a few months after coordinating and presenting the largest ever Christian Worship Concert in the history of Belfast. In 2006 he topped that attendance at a second event, this time filling the arena to its full capacity.
With such an anthology of album success, awards and touring experience, you might have expected all this to have gone to his head a little. But not so. His attitude and approach is most simply encapsulated by this recent quote during a press interview when asked about his life and ministry.
“I remember being told by an old Pastor to “hold everything loosely”. Everything that I have ever had or will ever achieve is simply God’s grace and pleasure. Any talent that I might muster has been given to me by the Lord, as the Bible says, “in accordance with my ability”. The worth or value of my ministry pales into total insignificance when set against what Christ did for me. All I have ever done is, at its core, an offering of worship in response to Him. Were it all to end or change tomorrow then, so long as I have tried to do whatever He asked me to with all my heart and soul, that’s all that matters. I have been very blessed”.
And, so, what of the future?
Well, the new CD, due out in late Spring early Summer 2007 will be followed by a new book on worship intriguingly entitled “Warrior Poets of the 21st Century”. Shortly after that he hopes to issue a DVD collection from concerts and other events, featuring a mix of old favourites and new songs, plus interviews and talks. Invitations to lead and conduct services of worship all over the globe come into his home base almost day and daily. He is still based in his city of birth, Belfast, living “East of the River” and sees no immediate call to move from these Irish shores.
In the midst of all this travel and expanding horizons he still feels the need to invest in his family and continue to praise the Giver of all gifts within the context of the broken, but slowly healing, society where he grew up. He remains firmly rooted in Northern Ireland desiring that the fulfillment of the prayers of many people, that God would "come and heal this Land", will soon be completed.
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