“When I see him, I see the message of grace”
One of the most visible pastors supporting Donald Trump comes from the most unlikely of places: the small town of Easley, South Carolina. Trump surrogate Mark Burns, 36, is a televangelist, and he runs a church television studio in Easley with his wife and six children. Trump’s candidacy has thrust Burns into the national political spotlight for the first time. For Burns, it is a sign of God’s blessing. “For someone like Donald Trump to say, ‘Hey, your heart is right, your spirit is right, you’re my real friend, come follow me,’” Burns says, “that speaks volumes.”
Burns is a speaker at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. He has been prophesying throughout the primaries, naming and claiming a Trump victory at the polls in November. Until then, he will continue to preach his twin messages of Jesus and Trump both in his church television ministry and on the campaign trail. “I actually feel appointed for such a time, I feel just like Esther did,” Burns says, referring to the Biblical story of the Jewish queen of Persia. “When Mordecai came to her and said, you need to have your ear to the King, you need to go out and speak to the King, you have access, so you have to help protect our people.”
TIME spent two days with Burns and his family in Easley before the RNC. Here is an inside look at his life and ministry.