The Concorde Travel Fund New

9.4.2019 | Congregational Life, Global Mission, Mission in Ireland, Youth and Children,

The Concorde Travel Fund aims to  help young Irish Presbyterians (18-25 years old) finance their travel overseas for short-term service so that they might learn from, and contribute to, the life of the wider church.

Application criteria

Any young person applying:

  • Must be a member of a Presbyterian congregation;
  • Must be aged 18-25 years old at time of travel;
  • Must be travelling outside of the British Isles;
  • Must not have previously received a grant from the fund; and
  • Will be expected to produce a short report on their trip which should be submitted to the CCLW Office within six weeks of their return. This report, or parts thereof, may be used by PCI to promote short-term overseas mission and/or the Concorde Travel Fund.

Full details of the eligibility criteria and forms for both individuals and congregational teams are available below:

  Information for applicants

  Grants Panel Guidelines

  Application Form for individuals

  Application Form for congregational teams

Deadlines for applications in any given year are 31 March and 30 September for departures after these dates.

2021/2022 Mission trip to Salou, Spain for 1 year

Jonathan Cochrane, 19, High Kirk Presbyterian

I volunteered alongside a church in Salou (Iglesia Protestante Salou) as an intern. This role involved opportunities split across three main ministries in the church: food bank, youth fellowship and a children’s football project.

The food bank provides assistance to up to 750 families in the Salou community on a monthly basis. I worked alongside other church volunteers several times a week doing simple jobs from stacking shelves and picking up food donations, to chatting to people and giving out food. Experiencing the unity of church and serving alongside its members was a joy.

In youth ministry, I was involved with a group of about 40 young people, serving as part of a team of leaders or ‘disciplers,’ and also had the responsibility of leading a small group with a group of younger boys every week, investing in them through conversation, questions and simply spending time with them in a mentoring context during the week. It was great to be stretched as a young leader through having the chance to walk alongside a group of younger ones throughout the year and also give a couple of Bible talks.

Finally, I was involved as a leader/ coach for the children’s football project for children both from the church and the wider community where we sought to teach the kids Christian values through football. In July, I was able to serve at a Spain-wide Word of Life youth camp as a leader, and was involved in the hosting of 3 Northern Irish Exodus teams as they partnered with 3 local churches to organise outreach and evangelistic events in those communities. Seeing God work in the lives of young people and being able to have very encouraging, open conversations with them about faith has to be a highlight.

It was hard at the start to arrive in a new place and new church and not know anybody. Speaking a different language and living in a different culture, and living away from my family and friends for the first time. It took a couple of months to adjust to speaking, listening and thinking all the time in Spanish and with that, it took the majority of my first term to really establish good relationships and friendships within the church and among young people. Also having new opportunities and responsibilities in youth fellowship proved a challenge including leading a group of 11-13 year olds and giving a youth talk for the first time.

Personally, I have learned to trust in God’s provision throughout the year. I definitely saw God answer prayers before I confirmed my plans to go to Spain for the year. We were praying for an open door for an appropriate opportunity to go to Spain and to be able to defer my university place a year in order to do that. God provided both. Then at the beginning of the year, I was forced to trust God in the process of settling in and forming relationships in church, learning that when we willingly let God lead us out of our comfort zone, he will provide blessings and good, even if it does take a while.

Since the first couple of months this has been a year full of blessings for me. I have learned that God can use us in powerful ways, despite our weaknesses if we are faithful to him. In youth ministry, especially with younger ones I have found myself wanting to see fruit, but I have learned the value of seeing that each time I am with young people, whether at youth fellowship, or a chat over coffee during the week, it is an opportunity to plant a seed in the heart of a young person. Then I have learned to entrust the growth to God, realising that he is the one who provides the growth, and that we, in our own strength or talents, are not the ones who change lives.

Being brought up in a large church in Northern Ireland where relatively speaking there are quite a lot of Christians, I have found it is easier to neglect or fail to see the huge need for Jesus among our community. The experience in Spain has given me a fresh perspective towards the urgency to make the most of opportunities and events to share the gospel and love of Jesus with others back at home. With that in mind, I am keen to get fully involved in church and CU when I go to university in September. Having enjoyed involvement in youth leadership throughout this year as well, that is definitely an area of ministry that I would be keen to serve in in the future. Whether at home or at university, I would like to be able to invest in the lives of younger teenagers and help them to grow in love of Jesus.

2021/2022 Mission trip to Meribel, France

Katie McGonigle , Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church

From late November 2021, I was in Meribel in France with a Christian charity called Altitude Mission, based in the Three Valleys ski resort. Their aim is to show God’s love to all who enter Méribel to ultimately further the kingdom of God. While I was with Altitude I sought to serve the community with compassion and God’s love through hospitality and work in resort. The work we did helped young people who were exposed to situations like job loss or drug and alcohol abuse. We offered refuge beds and food to people who could no longer look after themselves. One of our main areas of outreach was Ski Angeling, which is a form of street pastoring but on a mountain! We would carry skis, guide people down ski runs and perform first aid if necessary. As the season went on I began to realise just how much Ski Angels were needed. There were incidents of people consuming excessive alcohol and drugs and then proceeding to try and ski. This resulted in life threatening injuries and situations where we were seriously needed. Ski Angeling also gave us a great opportunity to speak about Jesus. We became very well known in the resort and many people would come up to us asking why we would possibly be helping people for free. This was an amazing chance to speak of God’s love and allowed us to chat about Jesus freely without having to force it.

There were many highlights but if I had to choose one it would be Enya’s story. She was in a really dark place as she had just lost a friend and was having a difficult home life. Her mum was a vicar, but she had little to no faith herself and was struggling with understanding why God would let these bad things happen in her life. As she carried on working in Méribel she found herself involved with alcohol and living in accommodation filled with drug abuse. We kept inviting her to the chalet and she absolutely loved coming into a safe environment. Over time she began to come back to faith and started coming to our church and worship services every week. Now Enya is back in the UK she is looking for a church to join and says she wants to give her life fully to God!

I feel as though this time away has been pivotal in my journey with God. I have had to push myself in ways that I couldn’t have done before. It has been very socially challenging as you are constantly trying to meet as many people as you can and invite them to events or even just back to the chalet for dinner. I have had to lead discussion groups and prayers which are both tasks that pushed me way beyond my comfort zone. Despite the challenges I have grown significantly and have explored areas of my faith that I hadn’t done before. I have learnt about and developed my spiritual gifts and I can’t wait to continue growing in my faith.

I have learnt that God accepts everyone, he always forgives, and it is never too late for someone to have a relationship with him. Throughout my mission trip I saw God moving in a visible way; I witnessed people who had never encountered God experience his love for the first time and people who had strayed from God come running back to him. These experiences reminded me that God will never stop pursuing you.

I’m excited to get involved with local mission in my congregation and show people that God is always waiting to welcome you with loving arms, no matter what your background is and how far you have strayed.

I am very grateful for the support that PCI have given me, through the Concorde Fund, and for the interest they have shown in the mission I was involved with.

2019 Mission Trip To Laslea, Romania

William Small & Jayne Dickson, Loughbrickland Presbyterian Church

"We worked in Romania for approximately nine days in around the area of Laslea. During this time our team worked with children aged 4 to 14 bringing them food, clothing and worship. 

"A main part of the mission was to build a house for a family in great need of a new home before theirs became uninhabitable by the winter mudslides, which would soon be on the way. This was one of the highlights for the whole team – being able to play a part whether big or small, in helping a family create a new place to call home. We stood on the foundations and prayed for help from God and he provided. Within four days a building was well under way and a short time later the house was ready. 

"Another highlight was being able to say at the end of our time in Laslea that we had touched the lives of over 150 children. We provided them with showers, toothbrushes, clothes, shoes, as well as playing games and giving the children their own version of ‘Disneyland’. We also involved the kids in worship. The Bible story we brought to the kids was Jonah, and the kids enjoyed singing, doing the actions of the story and making crafts. 

"One of the challenges we faced was seeing the poverty that these people live in and will continue to live in. Homes falling to the ground, children with little or no clothes of their own, animals sharing the home of the family and much more. Another struggle was to see teenage girls from as young as 14 being married and/or having children of their own. There were also girls of around 10-14 years of age helping raise their siblings, as parents were absent a lot or there were too many children in the home for the mother to cope. 

"Overall we can say our faith has grown massively. The Lord works in ways which we cannot fathom but he helps us and guides us when we come to him. A verse that stood strong for us on our trip, and one the people of Laslea seem to strongly stand by in their day to day lives, is Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

"With the help of PCI and the Concorde fund young people like us were able to go out and make a difference in the lives of others."

2019 Mission trip to Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Kathryn Pink, Ballyhenry Presbyterian Church

"The highlight of my time in Cambodia was working with Mark and Liz Fetherstonhaugh. Through Eggshell Cambodia they have recently set up a Daycare Centre, where I had the opportunity to spend time getting to know the staff and children. Each day  the children hear Bible stories and pray together. They learn English and their own language, Khmer, benefiting them when they begin school. When we visited, we sang ‘Jesus Loves Me’ and spoke of God’s love for them. However, we weren’t only making an impact on the children, but also on the staff. Since the opening of the Daycare Centre, one of the staff members has become a Christian, one is becoming more involved in their Church, and another is beginning to attend Church.  

"Through this mission experience I have seen God at work in people’s lives. I have seen his name make an impact and I have seen him in the children we met, who readily told us ‘I love Jesus’ as we shared his love with them.

 "In street work the children were asked to draw a picture, depicting what they would ask God for. These children had nothing, asking for a roof over their heads. When all these children want is somewhere safe to lay down their heads at night, it puts into perspective the difference between the lives we lead and the abundance we enjoy.

 "However, there were also challenges. For me, the biggest challenge of the two weeks was walking through the red light district. It really hit home that these women were my age and younger, selling themselves so that they could make a living. 

 "The second biggest challenge was the fear of the unknown. We were given a rough idea of what we would face. Realistically, I don’t think anything could have prepared us for the poverty we saw. The rich-poverty gap in Cambodia is steep; the Royal Palace is on one side of a street and by crossing the road there is an old, dilapidated hotel where homeless people reside. The lack of government support for the destitute was challenging for many members of the team.

"As I return to my home congregation, I want to encourage the congregation to let God use them. Romans 12:4-8 describes how each of us has different gifts, but that doesn’t mean God has made each of us to go and serve him in other countries. God has made his Church, his people, to work together, using our different God-given gifts and abilities to glorify his name. As a team we are actively encouraging people to challenge themselves. 

"Mission doesn’t have to be complicated, it starts with God – pray about it, talk to a friend about that event that is coming up in your Church, tell them about your experience of God working in your life. I know from my perspective I keeping talking about God’s work in Cambodia and as a team we are discussing what’s next. What can we do, how can we get others involved and where does God’s plan lie for me?"

2018 Mission Trip to New York, USA

Rachel Stoops, First Bangor Presbyterian Church

"I worked for four months with a team based in Harlem, bringing a Sunday School program to children who lived in the projects in the area. We went out in a customised truck where we could set up a stage with sound for a Sunday School on the sidewalks - we did this three or four times a day, four days a week. I was given a site to take care of, developing relationships and visiting the local families on a weekly basis. On Saturdays we picked up 60 children from a different part of New York to bring them to an indoor Sunday School where 1,000 children would come together to hear the word of God.

"My personal highlights were working with children who, despite having so little both in material possessions and family relationships, had so much joy in their hearts. They found happiness in the smallest of things. Better yet, despite their circumstances they experienced God in such a huge way. We got to preach, sing and dance and play games with them, and for those 30-45 minutes they forgot about everything around them and worshipped God. Simply being present in these children’s lives meant so much to them.

"The biggest challenge I faced was taking myself out of my comfort zone. I knew this experience would stretch and test me, but nothing could have prepared me for the extent of the challenge. In visiting these children we were travelling into areas that were dangerous - we were given self-defence lessons to try and prepare us, but nothing could have prepared me for what I would see. I was going into where the children lived, in conditions I had never seen, where I had to overcome fear. With this came an awareness that I had to dispel any fear I had in order to connect with these children, something that I could never do without the presence of God.

"God has a far bigger plan that you have for yourself, you just need to listen. Even in my discomfort it brought me closer to God than I have ever been because I had to rely on him every step of the way. He never leaves our side, and coming to that realisation was something I never thought I needed to be reminded of until I was pushed to my limits. I have come home with such a reassurance of my ability to reach both children and families, knowing what it takes and just how far I can go to show God’s love. I am so excited to bring what I have learnt to my home congregation - God’s love is for any place, anyone, at any time.

"I am so thankful that God provided for me through the Concorde travel fund - the support I received from PCI was invaluable."

2018 Mission Trip to Uganda

Julie Weatherup, Woodburn Presbyterian Church

"I used my Concorde Travel Bursary Fund towards going on a mission trip to Uganda. We completed street reach, health and hygiene talks in schools whilst providing hundreds of girls with reusable sanitary packs. We also ran water filter training, and helped with the sewing machine project in schools and in the Abaana New life Home for boys.

"Some of my highlights were spending time with the street boys - playing games and sharing God's Word. Those were times I will never forget. Seeing the pure joy in the children's faces when they were given a simple gift such as a teddy bear was humbling. Some children also saw balloons for the first time!

"The biggest challenges for me were in seeing young children and babies (especially girls) who you knew would end up getting married at a young age, and who would perhaps never have a chance to get an education. It was also very difficult when teachers and children alike would ask you for money, or ask for you to take them back with you to UK. This was hard, knowing a small amount of our money would go so far for them.

"Overall, I have learned that God is powerful, faithful, and never changing. The support I received from PCI and the Concorde fund has been great."

2018 Mission Trip to Nagybereg, Ukraine

David Stewart, First Larne Presbyterian Church

"Our team spent seven days running a summer camp in a school in Nagybereg, teaching english and running Bible studies for a group of over 30 campers aged between 12 and 17.

"One of the best things about the team was getting to know each of the campers individually, and helping them to learn basic English. As well as this, it was great being able to show them the relevance to today of some particular biblical stories through our Bible studys and daily devotions, such as Daniel being thrown into the lions den for refusing to stop praying to God. I also loved trying to learn a bit of the Hungarian language from the campers, and learning some more about their own culture.

"The biggest challenge we faced as a team was overcoming the language barrier. It was not easy going into a new country to teach english, however our excellent translators helped us to overcome this hurdle.

"Throughout my time on the team, I have learnt that God is there to support not only me and my team, but also each and every camper. No matter where in the world you are, or what difficulties you may be going through, God is there and ready to support you. Having now come home, I am keen to get involved with any mission opportunities that may come up again.

"PCI have done a great job in supporting our cause with the Concorde fund, especially as students, as raising funds can be a difficult task!"