Stephen's interest in mission began while he was doing a course at Belfast Bible College from 1989 to 1991, and his experiences during the field terms of the course gave him a taste for mission and outreach.
Stephen has been actively involved in mission support for over 20 years, from fundraising and prayer support, to pastoral care in relation to mission work in Argentina – in particular supporting a colleague working with Latin Link.
In 2010, he was invited to be on the Board of Southern Theological Seminaries (STS), a small Belfast-based mission working in the Patagonia region of Argentina and served as a treasurer for three years.
Following the completion of a Masters in Theology at Union Theological College, Stephen began learning Spanish, with the thought that this might further opportunities to serve in Argentina. However, soon after he met a member of the Spanish Evangelical Church who shared his interest in mission and invited Stephen to Spain to learn more about the church and mission needs there.
After discussions with Presbyterian Mission Overseas (now Global Mission), Stephen was invited by the Spanish Evangelical Church to serve in the Torre del Mar Christian Community Church (now Torre del Mar Presbyterian Church), located on the southern coast of Spain.
In July 2014, Stephen took up the Church's pastoral oversight. He also hopes to lead involvement in community development and outreach in the wider Torre del Mar area, working with both English-speaking and Spanish communities as opportunities arise.
The past few months have brought a major change here in Torre del Mar Presbyterian Church (TDMPC). In November I was informed by the Spanish Evangelical Church (IEE) of their decision to bring an end to the Torre del Mar Mission Church Project in which PCI had been partnering with them.
PCI confirmed this and decided that, as a result, I will officially leave Torre del Marr at the end of June 2018. In the remaining 21 weeks, I have the challenges of seeking out another church connection for the small community here, and doing some basic training with members to allow them to prepare material themselves for Sunday mornings. It is a challenge on both fronts, but the congregation have expressed a desire to stay together (there are no other real options for Sunday mornings) and, once the initial shock of the IEE and PCI decisions subsided, there has been an assessment of what is required and some moves towards the goal.
On another level opportunities have opened up. We have been approached and asked to be involved in a homeless project, to provide a team to prepare and serve lunches, as well as provide some basic items. It has been a very humbling experience as their gratitude is so evident. I have maintained my contact with the Evangelical Presbyterian congregation in Malaga and also met with some local SERGE missionaries, both with a view as to how to work together and how this might impact TDMPC. I have also commenced, with five members of the core group, a 12-week Renovare Spiritual Formation Programme entitled ‘Connecting with God’ with the objective of exploring and deepening their walk with/experience of God. With the potential of some funds from my home congregation, as well as several books from my own library, I am also working towards establishing a small resource library for the congregation.
Overall, I am trusting that the next 21 weeks will be a time of development and formation for the congregation, but I ́m not unaware of the tight timeframe and the size of the challenge.
- Pray that the congregation will continue to bind and have a positive view of the adventure that lies ahead of them.
- Pray for wisdom and gentleness as I seek to encourage and develop skills in a new leadership team.
- Give thanks for the local contacts and for the possibility of a small resource library. Pray that these will be fruitful and utilised for networking and learning.
- 21 weeks is a short period of time with much to be done. Pray that I will be able to prioritise and use the time well, and have wisdom and understanding as the balance of involvement slowly changes.
General Prayer Points
- For the witness of the Torre del Mar Community Church to develop in both word and action.
- For guidance from God for Steve as he adapts to and seeks to lead the congregation forward and in the preparation of material for the building up of community life.
- For wisdom and discernment for Steve as he engages with people inside and outside of the church.
- That the Lord will bring to the congregation those people it needs to help it continue to grow as the body of Christ.
To download a printable PDF of this bulletin or for a previous bulletin visit the Mission Reports listing at the top or the Global Mission monthly bulletin archive.