"I came up with the idea while driving around," said Mitchum, a registered nurse in a cardiac cath lab in Panama City, Fla., and member of First Baptist Church. "I would see lots of Christian symbols, like the cross, fish or dove, or even a clever bumper sticker or two, and would think, 'Hey that's cool. They're Christians, but what do they know about me?'
"I figured a simple Christian hand gesture could connect us for a few seconds and allow fellowship and encouragement."
In researching Christian gestures, however, Mitchum said he found nothing in mainstream pop culture seen as "Christian."
Until now. Mitchum is on a mission to spread the three-finger Trinity sign to the Christian community.
"Mark has given the body of Christ a simple yet meaningful symbol for encouraging one another as we are walking in the world," said Craig Conner, pastor of First Baptist Panama City. "A simple 'threethrow' reminds us who we are and challenges us to fight the good fight of faith."
Mitchum hopes to see threethrowing used to promote fellowship and community among followers of Christ whether in "traffic, ballgames, concerts, photos, or anywhere else the Word can't be heard."
In order to raise awareness of the Trinity symbol, Mitchum created a YouTube video titled "Three Throw the Trinity Christian hand sign!" which shows it being used at a busy intersection. Mark was also interviewed about threethrowing on K-LOVE national Christian radio last year.
In addition, Mitchum has given his three-finger Trinity artwork to the Panama City Rescue Mission to help raise funding for their multiple ministries.
"We are inspired by Mark's generosity," said Amanda Harris Bawn, the rescue mission's director of development and public relations. "The Trinity sticker has the power to be a worldwide movement and we are honored to be part of it. We are especially thankful for the awareness Mark brings to issues of hunger, homeless, poverty and abuse here locally. Mark is a great example of believers standing up for what Jesus called us to do, and the Trinity sign is just one of his many blessings offered to the Panama City Rescue Mission."
Mitchum, a 1995 graduate of the Baptist-affiliated University of Mobile, hopes the Trinity symbol also can spark the curiosity of nonbelievers, providing a convenient icebreaker for them to ask questions and begin dialogue.
"I think this expression of our faith has the potential to sweep across the nation and world," said Bruce Raley, national education ministry leader with Lifeway Christian Resources and former teaching pastor at First Baptist Panama City. "This simple sign is a means to let others know of our faith and life in Jesus Christ. There is encouragement in knowing that others in our community are Christians and not ashamed to proclaim so."
Matthew 18:20 serves as a cornerstone for Mitchum's threethrowing initiative: "For where two or three are gathered together, I am there in the midst of them." Mitchum encourages believers to lift up Christ and promote a sense of Christian unity where it's never been evident before.
More than just holding up three fingers, the Trinity gesture can be a way of glorifying the name of Jesus in a creative, unconventional way, Mitchum said.
"There is just something different, eternity-centered and all-completing about helping initiate and establish a way for the King of the universe to be exalted in more places and by more people than before," he said.
"What we as Christians did for the glory of our Savior, Jesus Christ, will be the only true criteria for any effort worth remembering and celebrating."
Adapted from reporting by Amy Wright of the University of Mobile. For further information about the Trinity "threethrowing" symbol, including the K-LOVE interview of Mark Mitchum, go to www.threethrow.com. To obtain Trinity stickers by donations to the Panama City Rescue Mission, go to www.pcrmission.org.
Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net