By Dick Stark
I bought a full table at the High-Tech Prayer Break-fast held this past Wednesday at the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner. This is an amazing annual event with more than 800 attendees. The speakers this year were Marcus Bullock, Founder and CEO of Flikshop, and Jeff Struecker, Author, Pastor, and former Army Ranger. I was not prepared for for the amazing stories they both shared. Here’s a brief report:
Marcus Bullock kicked things off by saying when at 15 years old he was tried as an adult and convicted to eight years in prison for stealing a car. Marcus, whose mother is a preacher, thought that God had left him during those eight long years in prison. He kept going thanks in large part to the frequent letters and pictures his mother mailed him, her regular visits, and her calls to the warden to help “look out” for him. When he left prison in 2004 he had “grown up,” and after working in a paint store came up with an idea for Flikshop, an app that makes it easy for inmates and their families to stay in touch.
So, several years after his release, Marcus created Flikshop. This free app for smartphones lets users take pictures, write messages, and send them off in the form of a 99 cent postcard to friends and family in over 2000 registered correctional facilities across the US. Since frequent communication from home kept Marcus going while in prison, he figured it would have the same impact on others. Thanks to the internet, there is little interest in letter writing, and no internet in prison. Flikshop now makes the difference connecting over 140,000 inmates. And most of the inmates that use Flikshop don’t go back to prison. Marcus summed things up this way, “No matter where you are, God is calling you. He has told me that I’m here for a purpose and I can help change the world.”
Jeff Struecker knew at an early age that he wanted to be an Army Ranger, and when he turned 18, enlisted and served for 22 years before retiring as an Army Chaplin in 2011. During his service he saw plenty of action—the invasion of Panama, Gulf War, Iraq War, and the Battle of Mogadishu/Somalia, which he relayed in great detail. It turned out that this battle, was depicted in the popular movie, Black Hawk Down, in which Jeff played a key role of leading a three-vehicle convoy, that returned a wounded Ranger to base. Upon return, he set out again, on a “suicide” mission to rescue others. Jeff said that it was his strong faith in God that gave him the courage to face his fears and complete the mission successfully. He recounted the story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, prior to his crucifixion, as detailed in Luke: “Father if you are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” At that point, Jeff knew, that live or die, he wouldn’t lose either way. Jeff returned from the battle unharmed and his fearless behavior during the final mission convinced others having faith in God does indeed help deal with the good and not so good times that we all face.