Mark Sam Knows What Compliments Popcorn
Hungry Shoppers Get a Treat
The irresistible aroma of buttery fresh popcorn always attracts people to Mark A. Sam’s popcorn stand at farmer’s markets and special events in southwest New York. Yet the database programmer and developer from Dunkirk treats hungry shoppers and event-goers to more than free bags of fluffy popcorn. Every bag includes a Scripture verse and gospel tract, plus the puffed corn munchers are offered a free Bible.
Mark loads a table by his concession tent with a variety of Biblica Bibles, and in 2010 added a NIV® Bible with his Popcorn Ministry logo and website brightly imprinted on the cover. On the outside of each popcorn bag, Mark attaches a label printed with one of ten Scripture verses such as John 3:16 and Romans 10:17.
“I find that people are hungry for God’s Word. Giving away Bibles is a very important aspect of the Popcorn Ministry. It is important to me to provide the Bibles in several versions,” Mark explains. “I buy them from Biblica because their website is easy to navigate and their service is superb. Sometimes people comment, ‘Popcorn and Bibles?’ and I reply, ‘Yes, that is a great combination. You get fed two ways.’”
What started out in 2007 as providing popcorn at monthly movie nights at his church has expanded to Mark’s currently setting up his popper machine year-round at outdoor and indoor events from summer Saturdays at the Fredonia Farmer’s Market to the mid-February Hunter’s Day of Hope for Children sponsored by former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly and his wife Jill.
“I am not trained in ministry in any way. I simply follow the Lord’s leading in my life. I am a one man show, but the Lord supplies me with help when I need it,” Mark says. “I pray for the money to support this ministry, so the Lord either gives me work or he sends it to me through other people. In 2009 a local credit union sent me a check in the mail, saying to use it as the Lord leads me.”
That leading has ministered to roughly 10,000 popcorn lovers so far. One of them is a college student who tried Mark’s popcorn at the local farmer’s market and then asked for 60 bags of the fluffy favorite to bring to a party that night. Marked prayed for feedback and two weeks later another student who attended the college bash stopped by Mark’s stand and described how the party-goers appreciated the popcorn with its biblical messages.
“Knowing these students were exposed to the Scripture verses and the gospel, popcorn at booze parties works for me,” Mark adds. “A few years ago, a hotel manager put my popcorn into his bar. Later on I went in for a particular reason and overheard people talking about how good the popcorn was.” From booze parties and bars to charity events and community festivals, there’s nothing corny about Mark’s generosity and his love for sharing God’s Word.
“An unusual amount of people tells me it is the best popcorn they have tasted. I think that is from God,” Mark explains. “Christians are blessed when they see the ministry and come to the stand. Many take the Bibles to give to people. I really appreciate that. The Popcorn Ministry is a blessing I can’t describe.”
The master popcorn maker may be at a loss for words when it comes to his outreach with one of America’s snack favorites, but his appreciative following are not. In between mouthfuls of the puffy kernels, you can hear, “This is so delicious. Thank you for the Bible.”