Interview with Mark Hamby {Part 1: Suffering and Endurance in Stories}

Mark Hamby is the president of Lamplighter Publishing, a division of Lamplighter Ministries. He has graciously joined me for a two part interview that I pray is encouraging and enjoyable! Link to the Lamplighter website is found at the bottom of this post. 

Hello, Mr. Hamby! It is such a pleasure to get a chance to interview you! Thank you so much! Lamplighter Publishing has been so influential in my life, personally. The first exposure I had to it was when we were gifted the audio drama for The Hedge of Thorns. I listened to it in one sitting, and then all over again that night as I was going to sleep. To this day, it is my favorite thing to listen too. A lot of times I’ll put the disc in as I clean or drive or do other things. It really changed not only the way I think, but the way I live. What motivated you to start the company?

Madelyn, I have been asked this question more times than I can count, but your opening statement is the exact reason I started Lamplighter Publishing and Lamplighter Theatre! To change the way people think and live by creatively crafting the Word of God in stories that bring God’s truths alive and make them unforgettable. I would dare to say that you will never forget the truths that were brought to life in The Hedge of Thorns.

Over 30 years ago I began to observe a problem in Christianity—people didn’t seem to really know God’s Word intimately, and if they knew it by rote, they weren’t in love with its truths. There was a lack of passion toward a God who promised to withhold no good thing from them who walked uprightly. They seemed impotent from the fact that Jesus lived in them. The Apostle Paul wrote that the Kingdom of God was not in mere word but in power. To be a born again Christian, one who has been given a new life, needs to be lived in such a way that the only explanation they can give to the unexpected and unexplainable things that take place in their lives is—GOD! The Apostle Peter wrote that “God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness ACCORDING TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIM who has called us to his own virtue and excellence.” Wait! Time out…upon closer examination, the word KNOWLEDGE is not just to know something but it is the word for INTIMATE KNOWLEDGE OR A FULL INTIMATE KNOWLEDGE.

This is what makes the difference in someone’s life. When they immerse themselves in God’s thoughts and ways, the Word and God’s promises start to be poured out. Listen to what Peter says next: “…has given us everything we need according to a full intimate knowledge of him who has called us to his own glory and excellence, BY WHICH (referring to his divine power), HE HAS GRANTED US GREAT AND MAGNIFICENT PROMISES, THAT THROUGH THESE (his promises), WE MIGHT BECOME PARTNERS IN HIS DIVINE NATURE!!!” This is what God has in store for those who love and follow Him. And this is the reason I started Lamplighter. To make ready a people prepared for the LORD by building Christlike character, one story a time. To produce stories that would give parents and children powerful insights through inspiring role-models and life-transforming stories.

You put a strong emphasis on stories that build character, rich stories, which I think is wonderful. Reading and storytelling are powerful tools when it comes to character building, spiritual growth, and general education, these truths are what motivated me to start the blog. I’ve noticed though, that most of the books you publish, and sell are very old. How come? Do you have a hard time finding rich literature in contemporary books? If so, what would you say is missing in the contemporary selections?

Well, thirty plus years ago when I was first introduced to these rare life-transforming stories, I began to see how deeply my character began to change. The characters in the stories and the truths that were revealed began to be etched into my conscience. I found myself thinking about these truths in my daily decisions.

Since I was first saved in 1977, the books that seemed to be most life-transforming were always the older biographies and writings of men and women of the past. My modern heroes like Elisabeth Elliot and John MacArthur, and Chuck Swindol, and John Piper all seem to have one thing in common—the writers of old.

When I discovered the Lamplighter collection of books that was when I realized WHY these stories and other stories of the past had a deeper influence upon my life. It was the Romans 4 and 5 connection! Ok…I know you’re wondering what that connection might be so here it is.

In Romans 4 we learn that Abraham was fully convinced that God would keep his promises. In Romans 5 we learn that even though God keeps his promises, that doesn’t mean that he will keep you from suffering. In fact, God allows and places us in difficult and sometimes painful circumstances just like he did with Abraham. Why? Because according to Romans 5,

“Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope never disappoints us, because the love of God is gushed out in our lives through the Holy Spirit given to us.”

Now there is much more to this than meets the eye. I see these as the 5 steps of spiritual growth. It starts with suffering and ends with love. But what happens in between is critical!

Most people don’t endure when suffering comes into their lives. Endurance is step 2 or level 2. It is essential that we model endurance for our children when we are going through difficult times. When we are experiencing the suffering of relational struggles, or loss of a job, or a critical boss, or an illness, or false accusation, or misunderstanding by a friend or family member, or conflict in the church—our children need to see us endure. When we endure, it changes our character.

It is essential that we model endurance for our children when we are going through difficult times….When we endure it changes our character.

As our character grows, then hope begins to be cultivated, and when hope is cultivated, it changes the way we view difficult situations and relationships. We move from despair to hope and begin to believe all things…that all things are possible. Why? Because the last level is ours to experience—the love of God gushed out into our lives!

Some English translations translate this word “gushed out” as “poured out,” but it’s a stronger word and means “gushed out!” That is what those who have endured and grown in their character and turned despair into hope, will experience—God’s unfathomable love!!! When someone experiences this kind of love, they are unstoppable in their faith. They are unstoppable in their forgiveness toward others. They are unstoppable in their belief that nothing is impossible with God.

What does this have to do with your original question? This was the common theme of the writers of the past, and it is sorely missing in today’s books and authors. They don’t seem to bring forth truth out of a life that had been tested by suffering and endurance, character, hope and love. When a Lamplighter book is chosen for print, it must have these truths imbedded into godly themes throughout the story.

That is what those who have endured and grown in their character and turned despair into hope, will experience—God’s unfathomable love!!!

Wow, Mr. Hamby, that was an excellent explanation. It is something I have been pondering myself lately, this process of suffering, enduring, and producing hope. You put it so well. Thank you so much.


Next week will be {Part 2: Book Recommendations and a Word on Harry Potter} of the interview with Mark Hamby, where we discuss how to cultivate a love of rich literature in children and what sorts of book defeat that purpose. Stay tuned! Building Christ-Like Character…One Story at a Time

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