Laughter and tears were equally present Nov. 4 during a celebration of the life of the late Pastor Mark Fry.

Mark Fry


The standing-room-only service was attended by more than 200 people.

Fry died Oct. 20 after a long battle with esophageal cancer.

Alan Brook, associate pastor for Calvary Chapel, was the first to speak at the service.

“Our goal is to better round out your picture of Mark,” Brook said.

“I liken people to puzzles. When you meet a person, you begin putting together a few pieces of their puzzle in your head. You begin to build a picture of who they are.”

Unlike traditional puzzles, he said, there is no picture on a box to help to develop the end product.

“Only God has the big picture of our life,” Brook said. “Mark believed that once you were saved, you were not just to sit.

“If you believed that you were being called to ministry, then Mark would shepherd you. He would raise you up to do that work.”

Called to be a shepherd

Those who spoke at the service were just a few of those whom Fry shepherded through the years.

Pastor Steve Bliss, who serves at Calvary Chapel in Elk Falls, was one of them.

“I’d never heard someone teaching Scripture (before meeting Fry),” he said.

Bliss joined Calvary Chapel after being invited to attend and was struck by the way Fry handled his role as pastor.

“We’ve seen a life of a servant of the Lord by Mark,” he said.

While Fry did not possess the talent to use a hammer and nails, he gave freely of the tools of his trade.

“When our house burned down … he brought a pastoral care package,” Bliss said.

The package included study tools and one of Fry’s own Bibles.

“I still have it today. … Mark has been my friend, brother and pastor,” Bliss said.

A splash of shofar

Pastor Brad Bowen, who pastors Calvary Chapel in Emporia, spoke of how much Fry loved his late wife, Ann.

He also assured Mark’s family that they were precious to him, as well.

Bowen spoke fondly of Fry’s sense of humor, offering several examples from his memories.

The pair once traveled together to Israel, where Bowen purchased a shofar.

“He said, ‘I’m really thinking we need to use the shofar (in services),’” Bowen recalled.

The ritual instrument of both ancient and modern Hebrews, the shofar is the only Hebrew cultural instrument to have survived until present day.

Despite its martial origins, it served as a priestly instrument in Biblical times. It is shaped like a horn and can be quite loud when played.

Fry told Bowen he would give a signal for him to play the instrument, then explain what it was, according to Bowen.

So Bowen did as he was told and played it during service — only Fry didn’t say anything about the shofar, but instead continued on to the next song.

“Mark was fun,” Bowen said. “I’m going to miss him a lot.”

His last words during the service were words Fry shared with him on a regular basis — often when he was ready to give up:

“Give them Jesus.”

‘To live is Christ’

Tucker Davis, a former student at Arkansas City Christian Academy, also shared his memories of Fry.

“Pastor. Teacher. Mentor. Friend. Brother,” Davis said. “Mark, as a pastor, dissected the Word for me. As a teacher, he taught me the characteristics of Christ. As a mentor, he showed me the grace of Christ. As a friend, he gave me the love of Christ. As a brother, he lived a life for Christ.

“All he ever wanted to do was show Christ to people. He was human and he messed up, but he came back and made sure that he let you know that Christ was the center.”

Davis shared a passage from Paul’s epistle to the Philippians:

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

“Mark being alive was Christ. Mark passing on is even more of the same,” Davis said. “This section of verses here is not just the story of Paul. It is the story of Mark.”

“I didn’t love Christ because of Mark. I loved Christ because of Christ,” Davis concluded. “But Mark helped nurture that in me. He didn’t have all the answers and he made sure to let me know that. But he ingrained in me where to find them.

“Mark didn’t save me, but he lead me to the One who did.”

‘The fragrance of Christ’

Ryan Nichols, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel in Ark City, was the last to speak.

He began by recounting the last few weeks of Fry’s life, noting the hospice nurse told the family she had not seen anyone survive 14 days in hospice.

Fry lived for 15 days.

“From that, there are three things that I know about Mark,” Nichols said. “One: He was an overachiever. … Number two: You don’t just do anything, even die. And three: As in preaching, so in death — you knew he would go long.”

His comments were met with much laughter. Nichols went on to speak about the way Fry lived his life.

In everything, Nichols said, Fry exuded the “fragrance of Christ.”

“He had the fragrance of Christ in death,” Nichols said.

Fry: ‘Talk about Jesus’

On the morning that Fry died, Nichols read 2 Corinthians 4, in which he found these words:

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our inner strength in the Lord is growing every day. These troubles and sufferings of ours are, after all, quite small and won’t last very long. Yet this short time of distress will result in God’s richest blessing upon us forever and ever! So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys in heaven which we have not yet seen. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.

“This is the perfect picture of what Pastor Mark (had) been going through,” Nichols said.

“Death (had) been at work in his body, … slowly but surely stripping away the physical aspects of who he was. But what was truly taking place inside of him — and inside all of us — was life.

“Life was happening inside of him because though the physical man was being destroyed, the spiritual man was being built up. While the physical man was sometimes hard to be around because you could see the wracked pain that was inside him, the spiritual man was so encouraged, so looking forward to seeing his Savior.”

Nichols concluded that Fry’s spiritual self was ministering to the entire congregation even as his physical self was perishing, “because all of us were inspired by seeing how he loved the Lord even in death. All of us were inspired to see way that he followed the Lord, even in the process of going home to be with Him.

“All of us were inspired to draw closer to the Savior that he couldn’t wait to (see). Because even in his death, he gave us the fragrance of Christ. (But) if he were here, he’d say, ‘Don’t you talk about how great I am. Talk about Jesus.’ Because this fragrance was not about him.”