Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Bible Patrol Man

The Rev. Mark Hyde established himself as the Bible Patrol Man in 2003 and
travelled around in a Ford Crown Victoria to minister to people in the community.
(Courtesy photo by the Rev. Mark Hyde)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” – John 1:1 (KJV)
The words that John wrote eons ago are crystal clear and evident to the Rev. Mark Hyde that God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and that His Word will live forever – and in man’s heart as well when man surrenders to God’s authority.
Hyde has done just that – surrendered it all. Now he’s exegeting the Word of God – as did John and other men of God in their day – trying to win souls for the “Kingdom.” And he’s doing all this and more as the “Bible Patrol Man,” a moniker that defines his ministry.
 “I explain the Word of God on a kindergarten level and try my best not to offer an opinion,” said Hyde, who came to the United States in 1987 from the Caribbean island of Jamaica. “Once you accept the truth, you find a church to go to.”
Hyde’s story began once he settled in the U.S. and acclimated himself to the culture here and a different kind of democracy, which differs from the parliamentary democracy of Jamaica. Ten years later, he married the former Angela Miller and bore a son, Joseph Hyde.
Hyde started his ministry after meeting his wife at a Bible retreat for singles. Afterward, he matriculated at South Dakota Mission College of Evangelism, a small, personal college for “those who want to be soul-winners for Christ.”
The direction Hyde was headed kept him focused on his mission: to win souls for Christ. After graduating from college, he served a stint in ministry in Colorado, where his mother-in-law, Annie Miller, touted his ministry to the Rev. Joe Crider, then the pastor of Mallory Heights SDA Church of Memphis.
Crider urged Hyde to come to Memphis. He explained that his innate talent for winning souls was greatly needed here. Shortly thereafter, Hyde relocated and picked up where he’d left off in Colorado – winning souls.  
With Bible in hand, Hyde started knocking on doors, determined to spread the same “Good News” that he’d been afforded. But his work in evangelism at the onset was anything but good news to those who saw him coming and going with some trepidation.
“I didn’t get a good response from anyone,” he said. “Someone would look out the window and say, ‘Mom…the police.’” That’s because Hyde was driving a Ford Crown Victoria, which was mistaken for a police cruiser.
Hyde was gifted the 4-door sedan in Colorado and used it daily to travel to and fro exegeting Scriptures. Then it dawned on him that the police cruiser that was widely used in law enforcement was seen as a threat to people in low-income communities where the police was unwelcomed.
“I prayed and asked God to show me what I could do to reach the people,” said Hyde, trying to find an unencumbered way to connect to the community. “That’s when it happened. The Lord gave me the name Bible Patrol Man.”
It had hit Hyde like a “Damascus Road” experience and suddenly his prayer was answer. He purchased a magnetic sign and placed it on the cruiser, and the problem of mistaken identity was solved. The sign read: “Got Questions? Who You Gonna Call? Bible Patrol Man.” A telephone number was imprinted as well.
“It’s a play on words,” said Hyde, referring to his moniker. “It’s still a patrol car, but a patrol car for a different reason.”
That was 12 years ago. Now the 48-year-old Hyde is making headway as the Bible Patrol Man, claiming since his arrival in Memphis in 2002 that as many as several hundred “souls” were baptized as a result of his ministry.
But it was Janis Fullilove’s talk show on radio station WLOK 1340 AM that rocketed Hyde as the affable Bible exegetist, which, he said matter-of-factly, endeared him and his mobile ministry to her listening audience.
“Janis Fullilove had invited me to come on the radio station around 2004 or 2005, and that thing took off,” he said. “[Afterward] when they saw the car, they would say, ‘That’s the guy on the Fullilove show.’” 
Since then, Hyde has ridden the crest of support from followers who look to the gospel preacher, teacher and evangelist to imbue them with the Word of God and point them in the direction leading to the “Kingdom.”
Pansy Ray noted her appreciation of Hyde’s ministry in a Q&A that was printed in a souvenir booklet honoring his 12th anniversary. She responded to all questions with frankness, but her response to one of them was affirmation that Hyde had made the right decision when he took on the moniker Bible Patrol Man.
“My faith in God became stronger once I met Pastor Mark Hyde. I became a bolder witness for Christ…I want to be more like Jesus just like the Bible Patrol Man,” said Ray, responding to the question What did you find as a result of having the Bible Patrol Man experience?
Hyde has traveled as far away as the West Coast to answer the call of ministry, including mission trips to other countries. He also has provided food, clothing, furniture and air conditioning – making sure one’s spiritual needs and physical needs are met – and lends a helping hand at times to charitable organizations.
“I travel all over the city whenever the need arrives,” he said. “I go out there and patrol. I visit people in the hospital, pray for them and anoint them. My main thing is small group Bible study, or one-on-one Bible study.”
The ultimate goal, he said, is for people to have a true understanding of the unadulterated truth of God. “I get satisfaction when I see someone accept the truth and go to a watery grave (baptism). I want to enlarge the kingdom, de-populate hell, and expose the devil for who he is.”
Sometimes Hyde’s wife and son go out on patrol with him. For the most part, Angela and Joseph take their cue from Hyde and patrol when their schedules permit. But not in the Ford Crown Victoria; the engine, he said, died in 2014.
“I’m deliberating on putting the magnetic sign on another car,” said Hyde. “If I put it on anything, it has to have that same look. I want it to look like a police car.”  

Friday, January 8, 2016

Mayor Jim Strickland makes it clear that it’s a new day in Memphis

"The people of Memphis called for a change, and that call has not gone unheard,"
Mayor Jim Strickland told a capacity crowd after he was sworn in on Jan. 1 at the
Cannon Center for the Performing Arts. (Photo: Wiley Henry)
      Now that Jim Strickland has been sworn in as the new mayor of Memphis, he’s working posthaste to effectuate change in city government that he’d promised to do on the arduous campaign trail.
The campaign was intense, but Strickland had promised to shake up government if the electorate would send him to city hall to govern from the seventh floor suite overlooking downtown Memphis and the Mississippi River.
 “You are looking at the biggest shakeup in Memphis city government in a quarter of a century – and we are just getting started,” said Strickland, speaking to a capacity crowd at The Cannon Center for the Performing Arts on Jan. 1, the day he was sworn in as mayor of Memphis.
Strickland was given the oath of office by his law school ethics professor, Judge Bernice Donald of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. She also gave the oath to Kay S. Robilio, the new City Court Clerk, and all 13 new and re-elected members of the Memphis City Council. 
Kemp Conrad, the incoming council chairman, compared the New Year to a blank page that could be filled with “a better government…more open, more responsive, more cooperative…and more focused on results.”
 “Let us set aside ambivalence and misunderstanding,” he said. “Let us put away indifference and division and let us cast out isolated concerns. Let the next chapter be about cooperation. We’re greater as a sum when all of us work together.
Strickland recognized his predecessor, mayor A C Wharton Jr., before laying out his agenda for the next four years. “Mayor Wharton, you are, and have always been, a credit to your family, the profession of law, and the city you love,” he said.
Strickland beat the incumbent 2-to-1 in the no-holds-barred mayoral contest and won the favor of voters who tapped him as a change agent who could lead Memphis to fiscal responsibility while curtailing violent crime.
 “The people of Memphis called for change, and that call has not gone unheard,” Strickland said.
Wharton had served as Shelby County mayor for seven years prior to being elected mayor of Memphis. He served six years, but lost a second term in the Oct. 8, 2015, election, presumably, because he’d reduced the city’s pension plan and increased the city’s health benefits plan.
Wharton drew the ire of Memphis policemen and firemen in particular who vehemently protested the revamped pension plan and health benefits. As a result, 10 percent of the police force called in sick in what was known then as the “Blue Flu.” The mayor would grow battle-weary and find himself mired too deep in debate.
Memphis is approximately 65 percent black and nearly 30 percent white, comprising a total population of 646,889, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. However, there are 364,669 registered voters – and 101,679 of them split the votes between 10 candidates.
Elections, past and present, have been racially polarizing, but Strickland is the first to break the color barrier since Dr. Willie W. Herenton beat Richard C. “Dick” Hackett in 1991 by a mere 142 votes. Wharton would succeed Herenton, who’d served five terms.
After assembling a 150-member transition team, Strickland began moving people into key positions. He replaced many of the holdovers from the Wharton administration with his own team to build his administration.
“On Election Night, I told the people of Memphis that on Jan. 1, we would have ‘new eyes to solve old problems.’”
Strickland kept his eyes on the prize (City Hall), promising to reduce and restructure city government. He reiterated that point in his address, saying, “We have restructured government in an unprecedented way to save tax dollars.”
He also said more women will be brought into his administration in leadership positions than ever before.
Charles Nelson, an employee with Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA), who stumped for Strickland on the campaign trail, could be heard between applauses shouting, “Go, Jim, go!” He seemed to relish every word.
Strickland continued, revving up his address and punctuating it with key points.
Over the next four years,” he said. “I will do everything in my power to restore trust where it is broken and hope where it is lost.  I will work every day to make our streets safer and our city stronger – to create jobs and increase wages – to provide better roads and transportation, and to improve the quality and service of city government.”
He noted that public safety is at the forefront of rebuilding Memphis. “We will focus on the goal of retaining and recruiting quality police officers and firefighters,” he said, promising to bring both departments up to their full complements.
He also said families should feel safe and children should have a chance. “It is unacceptable that because of a child’s circumstance or station in life, they too often become the victims or perpetrators of crime; and we know of them only through a mug shot or memorial – a child we failed to reach.”
The problems are too vast to be solved by government alone, said Strickland, and too big to be solved overnight. The solutions, he added, rest with each of us, doing our part, and that the responsibility is now ours – Memphians.
The mayor said he’ll work with public and private partners to expand early childhood programs, provide greater access to parks, libraries and community centers, and increase the number of summer youth and jobs programs to help young people.
Strickland will announce this month a partnership with the State and the West Tennessee Drug Taskforce to target and remove gang leaders from the streets and to force those who are threatening and recruiting kids out of the neighborhoods.
He also plans to introduce a legislative package that will include enhanced sentences for repeat domestic violence offenders, and will allow law enforcement to seek immediate emergency orders of protection for victims.    
 “Let this be crystal clear; it is a new day in Memphis,” the mayor said matter-of-factly. “We will no longer tolerate those that violate the safety of our citizens.”
Nelson approved.
“Go, Jim, go!”