Maple Grove resident Jan Markell spreads her message of understanding current events from a biblical perspective.
What Jan Markell has to say isn’t for everybody. She knows that as well as anyone. Markell is the founder of Olive Tree Ministries and host of the Christian radio program, Understanding the Times.
Based in Maple Grove, the weekly hour-long program launched in 2001 and features guests and discussion topics that take a biblical approach to current events. Markell believes that we are currently in the end times, a concept prophesized in the Bible that outlines the final days of human existence. Markell says that about one-third of the Bible deals with the end times, and a literal reading leads her to believe we have entered the end times. “It doesn’t mean we’re doom and gloom,” she says.
Markell started out writing books in the 1980s, and moved into radio in 2001 with the rising popularity of Christian programming.
Most episodes feature one or more guests. While many of the names are unknown in the secular community, she often speaks with evangelical Christian leaders. More widely known guests include former congresswoman Michele Bachmann and author David Limbaugh, brother of talk radio host Rush Limbaugh.
Markell balances her own beliefs with an awareness that many people won’t agree. “It doesn’t have to be whacky, but you do have to believe in the Bible,” she says. “If you don’t believe in the Bible, no matter what I say, I’ll sound goofy.
“The date-setters have done so much damage,” Markell continues, referring to religious extremists who claim to know the exact day the world will end. “It could be in the next 10 years. It could be in the next 10 minutes. I’m just so careful because of the damage some people have done by setting dates and being sensational.”
The exact timing isn’t the point. “We encourage holy living,” Markell says. “Christ’s return could be today and our responsibility is to live our lives in a way that glorifies God for whatever time we have left.”
While her message may never reach a mainstream audience, Markell has found her own niche. Her program is syndicated on 655 radio stations around the United States, and is heard online worldwide. In the Twin Cities, Understanding the Times can be heard on several stations, as well as on The Patriot, one of the few secular stations that broadcasts her program.
Olive Tree Ministries