Ad rep swaps his Ipad for the Good Book

Mark Hirst outside Battle Baptist Church, 20/8/13
Mark Hirst outside Battle Baptist Church, 20/8/13

FOR the last two years Mark Hirst has been selling advertising space as a media sales rep for the Observer newspaper group.

But next month the 27-year-old will swap his Ipad for the Good Book to start selling something much more spiritual.

For the father-of-two who lives in Norman Close, Battle will embark on a three year course as a trainee minister at Battle Baptist Church.

It is a world away from driving around 1066 Country each week trying to sell advertising space for the newspaper group.

Mark’s rollercoaster ride into religion began when he met his future wife Izzy while at the Judd School in Tonbridge. The sixth formers fell in love and decided to get married in December 2005. Mark was just 19 and Izzy, who is from St Leonards, was 18.

The pair decided to go to university together and were both accepted at the University of Bangor in north Wales to study music.

“I was very curious about Izzy’s religion,” said Mark. “She went to King’s Church Hastings and I had been to a few services with her.

“I had never questioned God’s existence but I never thought that he might be relevant to my life.”

After both completing a Masters in music the couple returned to Battle and Mark landed a job working as an advertising sales executive in Camden.

But after a year he decided to look for something closer to home. In October 2011 he started work at the Observer looking after the Bexhill area.

As he progressed in his day job, his interest in the church continued to grow.

In February 2012 he talked to the pastor Denis Nolan about becoming a minister but it wasn’t until this summer that he decided to quit his job.

“I had an overwhelming desire to preach and teach people about Jesus.” said Mark. “It was in my mind all the time. It was something I knew I had to explore, something I needed to do. The seed had been planted a long time ago. It was always there so I decided to tell my the church council about it.”

The church accepted Mark as a minister in training and he will start in his new career on September 16.

John Southam, church manager, said: “Mark is a genuine and honest young man who has listened to his calling and is sure to go a long way. As someone so young he has achieved an awful lot.

“He will be an inspiration for everyone associated with our church and a shining light for the future.”