The 700 Club with Pat Robertson


Mark Mynheir: Inside the SWAT

By Chuck Holton
The 700 Club Mark Mynheir has worked in law enforcement for seventeen years. In that time he’s seen his share of ugliness. From busting drug dealers to investigating grisly murder scenes in his hometown of Palm Bay, Florida -- Mark has done it all.

But twelve years ago, he came to the realization that the ugliest thing in his life was the darkness in his very own soul.

“At the time, I was a young, arrogant cop. As a former Marine and wannabe tough guy, my world revolved around busting bad guys. Spiritual issues were far from me,” he recalls. “Back when I was on the SWAT team, our training days always seemed to degenerate into big cuss-fests, as each man would try to outdo the other. And in this environment, I was king. I could be filthier, nastier, and tell raunchier stories than anyone.”

It didn’t escape his notice, however, that his partner Ernie never took part in these displays of depravity. Neither did he accompany Mark on the nights when he would go out drinking.

“I was a mean, belligerent drunk. Basically a functional alcoholic,” Mark says.

Ernie didn’t flaunt his faith, instead making a daily statement with his actions that he answered to a Higher Authority.

Ernie’s faithfulness was making an impression on Mark -- especially on one unfortunate night in 1993. “I was struggling with a man and my gun went off accidentally, killing him,” says Ernie.

Mark says, “He could have said it was in self-defense, but he didn’t. And that kind of integrity blew me away.”

The accident cost Ernie three years of lawsuits and troubled times for this family.

Not long after that, Mark had some hard times of his own. His wife was pregnant with their first child, and six weeks before she was due, the doctor delivered some devastating news.

“They said the baby had a life threatening condition,” Mark recalls. “We were helpless to change. I didn’t know what to do. I was crushed.”

Ernie saw the difference in Mark’s countenance. “In those weeks before Mark’s wife had the baby, he was a different man.

"He just wasn’t the life of the party anymore. He was definitely in a tough spot.”

“I started bargaining with God,” Mark says. “I never really thought I needed Him before and even used to rib Ernie when he prayed. But now I had nowhere to go. So I went to my knees.”

Six weeks later the doctors told Mark and his wife that their baby was healthy. “They handed me this perfect little baby boy, and that’s when I knew that God was real – and that He had healed my son.”

Things started to change for Mark almost immediately. Now the faith that his partner had displayed so consistently took root in Mark’s life.

“Well, first, I lost half my vocabulary. But it didn't take long to get used to the English language without all of the expletives and colorful adjectives,” Mark says.

“I was still going out [drinking] once in awhile, but when I did, something really convicted me. Finally I realized that I couldn’t go on living like nothing had changed because something had. God took away my desire to drink, and I haven’t had a drop since.”

Things changed at work, too. Mark and Ernie started praying together before they’d go out on a SWAT mission. Before long, their quiet example resulted in nearly half the team being saved.

“We started saying we should put a ‘Jesus Saves’ sticker on our battering ram so we could leave a better impression on our ‘customers’,” Mark jokes.

Mark and Ernie are still partners today -- covering each other’s backs both at work and spiritually. They have since left the SWAT team and now have jobs as crime scene investigators.

“It really feels good when we can solve a case and get some bad guys off the streets,” Ernie says. “But it’s not nearly as exciting or glamorous as it looks on television. ”

Be that as it may, the job is not without it’s dangers. One night three years ago, Ernie was nearly killed while apprehending a suspect.

“I was holding the kid on the ground when a car pulled up and this HUGE thug got out,” Ernie recalls. “Next thing I know I’m waking up in the hospital with a nasty concussion.”

“They put me in charge of the investigation, and I was out for revenge,” says Mark. “I pulled out all the stops but after two weeks, had nothing at all to show for it.

“I was so frustrated, but Ernie reminded me that God was in control and said he forgave the man who hit him. I was blown away by that, and it was a good reminder of how helpless I am when I try to do things on my own.”

The very next day, a tip came in that broke the case and led to the arrest of the perpetrators!

These two detectives do their best to shine their light into some very dark places, working not just to catch criminals, but to change them from the inside out.

Ernie says, “I know of one guy that Mark arrested who is in prison now. Mark has been writing letters to him for some time, and we recently heard that the kid gave his life to the Lord.”

“I know that doing this job can easily make a guy so jaded that he becomes apathetic to the problems around him,” says Mark. “I know that my faith has helped me continue to show compassion to the people we deal with, and I can really understand that the struggles people are facing are sometimes more spiritual than physical.

“I used to think that being a man meant being the meanest, toughest guy on the block. But now God has taught me that I can be much more powerful if I will let Him be in command of my life.”

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