It’s been a while since we’ve done a ‘proper’ blogpost so when Anna Roberts from AOG UK asked us to answer some questions on our new life in Iceland, it felt right to share those responses with you here on the blog. Chris and I returned to the UK at the beginning of May for a three-month itinerary. We visited 20 Churches across the UK, sharing the vision for our project in Iceland. The purpose of the itinerary was to raise financial support for Chris so that he could devote himself fulltime to developing our project in Iceland. We were unsuccessful in raising all the funds we needed, so we may have to think about another itinerary next year. Despite this setback, Chris is back in Iceland working hard on the first stage of the project. I will be following him shortly. If you are interested in learning a bit more about the work we will be involved in, download the PowerPoint presentation at the end of the blogpost. If after reading the blog you are interested in finding out how you can get involved in the project, please contact us, we would love to hear from you.
What is your vision for your second trip to Iceland? What do you want to see change and happen?
When we first went to Iceland in 1999, we worked with children and young people from (mainly country) Churches around Iceland. This time around we believe God asked us to work with the National Pentecostal Church of Iceland. Some time ago, God gave Chris a vision for Iceland. In the vision was a plan for linking the Icelandic Pentecostal Churches together via mission. Pentecostal Churches in Iceland work in a similar way to Pentecostal Churches in the UK, in so as much as they are all independent Churches in fellowship with each. Unlike their UK counterparts however, the Icelandic Pentecostal Churches do not currently have a robust infrastructure to support, guide and lead mission.
There are many aspects to the vision that God gave Chris and even after a short time back in Iceland, some of those things have already come to pass. But, I’m getting ahead of myself! In the beginning, Chris and I wrote down the vision and Chris shared with it a local Pastor – Jóhannes Hinriksson. Jóhannes was very excited about the plan and asked Chris to elaborate it further and to be prepared to present it to Pentecostal Church Leaders at their upcoming AGM. Leaders from every Pentecostal Church in Iceland were represented at the meeting, which took place over a long weekend. After Chris presented the vision God had given him for the Church, leaders were asked to vote on whether it should be accepted by the National Pentecostal Church as a project that would come under their management and supervision. The vote was unanimous.
What Chris proposed was that he and a small team of people would develop a ‘home missions’ department that would take responsibility for encouraging and supporting people to get involved with mission to geographically isolated regions of the country. Due to a combination of vast distances and difficult driving conditions, few people are in a position to visit country Churches on a regular basis. This means that some Churches are cut from fellowship, teaching and support during the long months of autumn, winter and spring.
What we envision is that Churches will contact Chris and the team with details of the support they need. That support could include a request for a small team to travel to the village and support the Church in their outreach programme, or it could be a request for help in painting the Church, or support to develop a presence on the Internet. Whatever need the Church has, the home mission team will develop a plan to support it. Meanwhile, Chris and the team will have a database containing contact information for people who have expressed an interest in contributing towards a project, together with details of their skills, talents, knowledge, preferences and availability. The idea is of course that the need of the Church will be matched to people with the relevant skills to help.
There is a launch conference planned for October 2012. During the conference, Chris and the team will expand on the vision, sharing their thoughts on how the project will unfold in the following 6-12 months. The project has caused considerable interest and quite a few people have already signed up to attend the October conference to see how they can contribute.
If you’ve a bible verse or passage that is a part of that please share it!
Our family Bible verse has always been Joshua 24:15: “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
What are you most looking forward to the most?
Well, that would have to be our first call from a Church asking for support! And of course, Chris and the team being able to respond by sending out workers. What a lovely day that will be.
What is difficult about going back out on mission after having been home – and you know what it’ll be like?
Well, this time we are going back to Iceland without our children – James and Kim. James and Kim were very involved in the development of the work first time round in Iceland, so it will be strange to go back there without them. They have promised to visit though! To be honest, there is nothing terribly difficult about going back out on mission to Iceland. Perhaps this is because we are going back to do something completely different, so there is a sense that we have moved on. We didn’t go back thinking we would pick up where we left off, which is always a bad idea, as of course everything and everybody moves on. Learning Icelandic is a challenge of course, anyone who has ever tried to learn it will testify to that! Most Icelanders speak English though and that is both a blessing and a hindrance. Because their grasp of English is so much better than our grasp of Icelandic, we often end up speaking English. Icelandic is though such a beautiful language, one poet (whose name escapes me) once famously wrote that he learnt Icelandic so that he could think. And, why not?
What, from your last time in Iceland, were you most inspired by/pleased with?
Chris and I were in Iceland from January to May earlier this year. During that time we were invited to join a weekend conference run by fellow missionaries Mike and Shelia Fitzgerald, a wonderful couple who hail from the US. They are the directors of Lindin Radio in Iceland, the only Christian radio station in Iceland broadcasting the Good News 24/7. During the conference, several people gave testimonies about how the children and young people’s work that we had helped to pioneer in Iceland was still going strong. They talked about the tremendous blessing the work had (and continues to be) to the Church, but particularly to the smaller country Churches. We were blessed beyond measure to know that our work had been so well received and was still blessing the children and young people. You can’t ask for more than that!
What preparations are you currently making for going back to Iceland?
Chris went back to Iceland at the end of July to begin putting things into place. He is already busy developing plans, meeting people and preparing for the conference in October. His feet haven’t touched the ground since he got there, which of course, suits Chris very well. I am still in the UK, writing up the final chapters of my PhD thesis, which is exploring aspects of dementia care. As soon as that is submitted, I will be returning to Iceland, ready to start the next part of our great adventure in Iceland.