Well, it’s been a bit of a strange year so far for the Parkers in Iceland. We arrived in Iceland in early January 2012, to be greeted by one of the coldest, snowiest winters to hit Iceland since 1984. Snow started falling in Iceland in Oct/Nov and forgot to stop until the end of May. Although those poor souls who had bravely pulled on a snowsuit every day for almost nearly seven months were getting a mite tired of the ever present white stuff, Chris and I were thrilled. We had missed Iceland and we especially missed the white stuff. Sad, I know. I am pleased to report however, that the blessed white stuff is back with a vengeance and as you can see from the photo taken just a couple of days ago, even the sheep were taken by surprise.
As you know from the last blog post, we returned to England to itinerate in the NorthEast of England. We managed to visit 20 Churches, the majority of whom we had a good working relationship with already and 2/3 we hadn’t had previous contact with. Five Churches decided to support us financially for at least the next twelve months. A select group of family and friends have decided to support us with a monthly gift for at least the next twelve months. We know the financial situation of our friends and we know that they are not giving out of abundance, they are rather, giving sacrifically. We are thankful for every one of them for their financial gift and for the way they have supported our vision for Iceland. Thank you one and all. We are also thankful for every Church donation we received and for every Church that has decided to support us into the future. Thank you so much for investing in us and in the Icelandic Church.
When we first moved back to the UK, the idea was to itinerate and try to raise the finances necessary to cover Chris’ salary for at least twelve months. Because only 5 of the 20 Churches in our region decided to support us financially over the longer term, we were left with a big gap in our finances. Others (aka sensible people) may have taken this as a sign to give up. But not Chris and I. Instead we choose to remember something we believed God had spoken into our hearts many, many moons ago. So that you understand the significance of what Chris believes God said to him, you need to know something about this lovely man of God who I am blessed to call my husband.
When Chris first became a Christian way back in 1992, he believed God spoke into his heart about how he would be trained up for ministry. Those of you who know Chris, know he is dyslexic. Chris’ dyslexia was compounded by the fact that he had attended more schools than most people have hot dinners (Chris’ father was an NCO with the Army). Unfortunately, this meant that no one person/teacher took responsibility for Chris’ education and as a result, when Chris emerged from the education system at 16, his general level of education was low (mainly because he was frequently sent out to work with the gardener or whoever else was around at the time) and his literacy skills were very poor. In fact, when Chris and I married in 1981, he was unable to write a cheque as he couldn’t spell well enough to fill in the amounts. Not to worry though, I wrote enough cheques for both of us 🙂
Several months after Chris became a Christian, he started to feel pretty down. He desperately wanted to preach, teach, lead ministry and get involved with various projects in the Church and start a few of his own. But, knowing his literacy skills were poor, he despaired that he would ever amount to anything. One day, as he sat quietly mulling things over with God, Chris felt God say (and here I take the liberty of paraphrasing as I wasn’t actually there), ‘Stop feeling as though you can’t do anything. I am going to teach you everything you need to know.’ The words were a gentle salve to Chris’ hurting heart, filling him with hope and, as you can imagine, quite a lot of questions. Just how would God accomplish this?
Over the years, God has proved Himself faithful in so many ways and when Chris needed to learn a particular skill, God sent a special man or woman to equip Chris with everything he needed. More than that, in every project Chris started or contributed to, God surrounded him with an endless supply of helpers and encouragers. Those of you who know Chris personally, will know he started, or contributed to multiple projects in England, Romania, The Gambia and Iceland and in each of those projects, God has used Chris’ unique skills to bless many hundreds of children, young people and adults. Over the years, Chris has developed and grown into a gifted preacher, communicator and mentor. He has though, never forgotten the day that God told him to stop fretting.
Because we have seen the outworking of this promise on an almost daily basis, we had no reason to believe that if God had asked us to go to Iceland, He wouldn’t sort out the things we couldn’t. So, Chris returned to Iceland and simply got on with the job of making the vision God gave him a reality. Within days of arriving back in Iceland in July, Chris discovered that the Church in Kirkjulækjarkot (Church by the river) had been planning ways to raise financial support for us as a family. Chris was invited to a meeting at the Church and was informed that the Pastor (Jóhannes Hinriksson) had decided to give up his salary at the Church so Chris could be appointed as a part-time Assistant Pastor. Jóhannes was about to take up a new job that would leave him with less time to run the Church on a day-to-day basis. So, he really needed someone on the ground. The Church Council was unanimous in their decision to appoint Chris to the post. Chris has been in post for approximately five weeks and he couldn’t be happier. Because the work at Kot will take up approximately two/three days a week, Chris has plenty of time to get on with developing the vision of the mission movement. As you know, Chris was appointed as an Elder to the Church in Selfoss earlier in the year. He will continue in that role, supporting the Church in Selfoss for the forseeable future.
There are a number of reasons for sharing this information with you. First, we want to be transparent in the things that we do, so that you know what our needs are and so that you can rejoice with us in the many blessings we receive. Second, it is good to give God the glory when we see His plan working out in our lives. Too often, His intervention in our lives goes unrecognised. Lastly, we hope that in sharing something of our lives that you will be blessed and encouraged to keep going. Be encouraged that if God has asked you to do something, then even if things seem a bit bleak at the moment, His plan will come to pass. Still your fretting heart and know that He will sort out the things we cannot.
“For the eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” (NLT) Chronicles 16:9.
Enjoy the video below, it captures perfectly the sense of peace and strength we experience when resting in the centre of God’s Will…it feels like home to me.