EVERETT — Dan’l Markham has been a county commissioner, a pastor, an author and a reality TV personality rumbling through the Texas backcountry on a motorcycle with a band of Christian bikers.
For much of his life, the Gospel of Luke 14: 12-24 has been his calling.
It says in part: “Invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind and you will be blessed…”
Those words have guided Markham for many years, including stints at nonprofits that help people with disabilities.
They explain why these days, at 66, he can be found at the Everett Gospel Mission, where he connects the homeless shelter with churches from Snohomish County and Camano Island. He often meets with pastors and ministerial associations, giving advice on how they can lend a hand in a meaningful way.
Each month, with the exception of December, the Mission offers a “Poverty 101” class at a church. Markham hopes it breaks down misconceptions and explains the challenges of long-term poverty.
A class called “Faith in Finance” matches people from churches with those who have been homeless.
“Typical church finance courses are about wealth building, and there is nothing wrong with that,” Markham said. “We focus on journeying with people with where they are at in poverty and the key elements of moving out of it.”
The Mission also is working with communities to provide transitional housing. In Marysville, it joined forces with city officials and a local church. The city has offered up three houses while the Mission manages programs and trains church volunteers to help the boarders build relationships and move toward independence. Recently, the Marysville United Methodist Church provided a house and liaisons between the clients and the Mission.
“Cities are realizing, ‘We aren’t going to be able to handle this ourselves. It’s not going to go away no matter what we do,’” Markham said. “And to the credit of this city (Everett), the faith community is a part of the answer.”
It is hard to say exactly when the passage from Luke seeped so deeply into his consciousness and daily life.
Markham wonders if it might have begun with his mother, a nurse on the Long Beach Peninsula in southwest Washington from World War II into the 1970s. She worked at a small hospital, but also went to spots well off the beaten path of rural Pacific County to check the health needs of farmers, oystermen and others. He came to look at her as a kind of Florence Nightingale and he would bring home birds with broken wings and other critters for her to mend.
Luke 14: 12-24 was oft-quoted when he worked for Joni and Friends, a Christian ministry that focuses on the disability community.
He also worked for Life Without Limbs, which was founded by Nick Vujicic, an evangelist and motivational speaker born without arms and legs. Vujicic once said: “If God can use a man without arms and legs to be his hands and feet, then he can certainly use any willing heart.”
In his most recent book, “Contagious Love,” Markham described Luke 14: 12-24 as “a vision from the heart of God to us, a vision and mission of inspired simplicity.”
He has written both Christian-focused books and about history.
As a child growing up near the mouth of the Columbia River, he was fascinated with the rich history of the fishing and shipping industries. His great-grandfather and grandfather journeyed along the Oregon Trail for opportunities in the West. They were among pioneers in the fishing industry off Ilwaco. Markham later became a volunteer chaplain for the Cape Disappointment Coast Guard station. He was a contributing writer to “Man and the Sea,” which chronicled shipwrecks along the Columbia River Bar.
These days, he’s writing a post-Civil War historical novel trilogy with the working title: “Revenue and Redemption: The Chisholm and Santa Fe Trails.”
He’s also looking at returning for another season on a show called “Long Ride Home,” which is broadcast on the Eternal Word Television Network, which presents Catholic-themed programs.
He was invited onto the show by Bear Woznick after being interviewed by the radio personality about one of his books.
The first season took Markham across Texas on a Harley.
“Here I am this protestant preacher with these Catholic guys,” he said. “It was a great journey. We all love Christ.”
Markham didn’t take part in the second season, but said he has been invited to take part in a third season set for Ireland in the fall.
For now, he’s keeping plenty busy at the Mission, writing and helping his wife restore a 1916 cabin off Big Lake in Skagit County.