In March 1991, Chris and I became Christians at Darlington Assembly (AOG UK). We quickly became committed to our local Church and to learning more about God’s plans and purposes for our lives. As we became committed in our walk with God, He set a word in Chris’ heart:
“He told them another parable: The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches”. Matthew 13:31-32.
As this word literally ‘took seed’ in his heart, Chris began to understand that God had called him to serve His people, although we weren’t sure what that meant at the time, we knew it would be the work of a lifetime. As a family we were convinced of God’s calling and received confirmation through prophetic ministry that this would come about. Within a year Chris began to preach in the Church and he also attended a Regional Candidate Ministers Course.
During the mid 90’s Chris became involved in some of the practical work carried out by Incare, took part in humanitarian trips to Romania with New Life Missions and carried out short term mission in Gambia, West Africa. In Romania, we worked with travellers, raising finance so that families could buy the land they lived on, therefore becoming-self-sufficient. We were also involved in the distribution of humanitarian aid over a period of several years in Romania coordinating a relief effort (with the kind assistance of the management of Aycliffe Hospital, which at that point had been recently decommissioned) that resulted in Romanian hospitals receiving surplus to requirements equipment, such as, sterilising equipment, sterilised needles, blankets, medicines (antibiotics, etc) beds, tables, wheelchairs and such like. We were also involved in projects to introduce sanitation and clean water to a remote village and the building of a local community centre that acted as classroom, community meeting point and Church.
It was during a trip to Gambia, that Chris believed God spoke to him about working in Iceland. This seed grew in both our hearts and became so important that we sought out information about Iceland and the Pentecostal movement there. Chris made contact with Hinrik Þorsteinsson, who was the Icelandic leader of the Nordic Mission Movement and Pastor of a Church in Fljotshlið in Southern Iceland. After meeting with Hinrik, we arranged to visit Iceland as a family and to decide if this was the right path for us. During this visit we both felt great peace about the decision and decided to move to Iceland as a family. This was not a decision made in haste, but the result of two years careful research and prayer.
In those early days of language learning and skills development in Iceland, God began to show Chris how little work was being done with young people in isolated areas across Iceland. Together with our good friends Þröstur Sigfússon and Helgi Georgsson, we began to think about and develop the Guardians programme, affectionately known locally as Útverður Íslands or Guardians of Iceland This was a pioneer work based on the principles of Christian discipleship and fun. Working with a dedicated group of young leaders, we held our first summer camp in 2001, which attracted around 20 young people. In the years that followed, the Guardians project has attracted thousands of young people from every corner of Iceland and has now been adopted in many of the Pentecostal Churches in Iceland under the banner of Royal Rangers Iceland.
The Guardians project grew out of the young people’s hunger to be taken seriously and to be discipled in a way that was relevant to them. The uncompromising message of the Guardians ignited within the young people a willingness to learn to witness, pray, preach and teach. Their growing skills and willingness to serve has blessed all the Churches where the Guardians project is established. In 2004, the mantle of leadership was handed over to Þrostur Sigfússon, a young Icelandic man whose original dream of a uniformed youth project inspired the development of Guardians and under his leadership, it continues to flourish. As the Guardians project grew, it became clear that not only should it be handed over to an Icelander but also that our time in Iceland was coming to an end. As we made plans to move on, God led Ethna and I back to Darlington AOG, where David Gibson was now Pastor.
Chris worked with Pastor David for twelve months full-time as an unsalaried worker. During that time he began a number of initiatives that helped the Church grow, for example, a men´s fellowship group was formed, a youth group was formed and a project to renovate the Church building was begun. While serving at Darlington AOG we both continued to seek God’s direction for our lives while in England and were led to Cornerstone Christian Centre in Evenwood. Chris applied for the position of Pastor and after preaching with a view over the spring and summer 2006, the fellowship voted unanimously to accept Chris’ application.