Stephen "Steve" Plank
|Born||? years before Rapture|
|Died||Midpoint of Tribulation, during the second Bowl Judgment|
|Occupation||Former senior editor of Global Weekly, later Nicolae Carpathia's public relations person, then supervisor of Global Community detention center in Colorado|
|Spiritual State||Saved during the Tribulation|
|First Appearance||Left Behind|
Stephen "Steve" Plank is a minor character in the Left Behind series.
At the outset of the original 12-book series, Plank is the executive editor of Global Weekly magazine, and the boss of Cameron "Buck" Williams. Within two weeks of the Rapture, Plank accepts a post as press secretary for rising international political leader Nicolae Carpathia, and nominates Buck to take his place as senior editor.
Plank falls under Carpathia's spell and serves him faithfully until he becomes surplus to Nicolae's needs. He disappears for several years, presumably lost in the bombing of New York City by the Global Community but blamed on American militia forces.
Plank resurfaces shortly after the midpoint of the Tribulation, using the alias Pinkerton Stephens, and a believer in Christ. Rayford Steele and Albie encounter him in The Mark, working undercover as a GC operative in Pueblo, Colorado. He is badly disfigured and wears a prosthetic to hide the fact that most of his face is missing as a result of injuries caused by the Wrath Of The Lamb earthquake. He was presumed death in the Wrath of the Lamb earthquake and temporarily lost his memory after the quake. During recovery, he assumed the new identity of Pinkerton Stephens. Though he is hideously disfigured, the seal of the believer is visible on his forehead. He says that he had already been convinced before the earthquake, and that he "was praying the prayer as the building came down."
After revealing his true identity to Rayford and Albie, he helps them rescue Hattie Durham from the very facility where he has been working undercover.
Plank next appears in The Remnant, when the GC brass order all personnel without Carpathia's mark of loyalty obtain it immediately. Global Community Director of Security and Intelligence Suhail Akbar said to Nicolae Carpathia that less than one thousandth of one percent (one in one-hundred thousandths) of Global Community personnel had not received the mark of loyalty and that the number was fewer than ten in world. According to Akbar, these personnel without the mark, such as Pinkerton Stephens, were closely watched and did not draw the suspicion of Akbar for being a mole leaking information to the Judah-ites.
After agonizing in prayer, Plank surrenders himself to the GC, refusing to take the mark. Chang Wong even offered him to change his status in the GC database to make it appear as if he took the mark, but he refused saying that he did not want to risk blowing Chang's cover as the Tribulation Force's mole in the GC Palace. He also refused Chang's offer for a flight to Petra. Also, shortly before he was to leave for the loyalty mark application center at Carpathia Resurrection Field, south of Colorado Springs, Steve called Cameron Williams for moral support and counsel, and Cameron tried to dissuade him from forfeiting his life so easily and encouraged him to at least make an effort to escape. His deputy, Vasily Medvedev, drove him to the loyalty mark application. While on the way there, he comes clean to Vasily, confiding in Vasily that he is really Stephen Plank who was on the masthead of Global Weekly. Vasily had remembered Global Weekly before the vanishings. He was also dumbfounded by Steve's admission wondering what he was going to do with it. Stephen Plank offers Vasily the opportunity to shoot him because it would look good on his record as a Global Community personnel who shot someone for trying to escape to avoid taking the mark of loyalty.
When he was at the mark application site, he told the attendant Ginger that his name was "Pinkerton Stephens" because he did not want to use his real name because it might implicate other members of the Tribulation Force. (Vasily killed himself out of despair after Plank was executed so that resolves any issue of him linking Steve Plank to the Tribulation Force, and Steve confiding in Vasily also illustrates the bond that they had.) Even while choosing to place his head on the guillotine (the "loyalty enforcement facilitator") at the loyalty mark processing center, Plank uses wit and disarming cooperation as he is positioned for execution, bantering good-naturedly with his executioners, and trading quips about the stand-in executioner owing him a favor for assisting in operating the guillotine.
One irony of his martyrdom is that although he was eager to share the gospel, his cover as Pinkerton Stephens prevented him from doing so. Plank played his role too well. Although his deputy, Vasily Medvedev, was eager to receive God's grace, it was too late for him as he already had the mark of the beast. As Plank was about to be executed, he gave a speech professing his faith and discouraging the people in line from receiving the mark of loyalty and forfeiting their soul to Satan, but it was unlikely anyone in line was moved to reject the mark and choose beheading. Instead, they eagerly anticipated personally witnessing someone losing their head.
“Well, anyway, I’m in the wrong line.”
“I’m not accepting the mark of loyalty.”
“You’re not? Well, that’s not really an option.”
“Oh, sure it is, Ginger. I mean, the other is a much shorter line—in fact, I’ll be the only one in it. But it’s most definitely an option, isn’t it?”
“You’re choosing the, uh, the loyalty enforce—”
- Ginger and Stephen Plank
- Plank is named for Steve Board, one of author Jerry B. Jenkins' early bosses while a journalist.
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Characters of the Left Behind series: List