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By Leigh Goodwin July 2016
It felt strange hearing of the Brexit result and the knee jerk reactions to the outcome while I was recently visiting our mission partners in Iceland recently. Being in the context of Iceland reminded me that Britain may have decided to leave the political and economic structure of the EU, but in fact we were still very much part of Europe. British AOG also remains actively involved and partnering in many European nations.
Over the summer assistant to the mission director Leigh Goodwin travelled with some AOG GB leaders to visit mission contexts to encourage and connect with missionaries and to strengthen our links with them. Leigh was inspired by the different approaches that these leaders had to missionaries and mission, so we asked him to share more...
Where did you go first?
At the beginning of June I travelled to Alicante with Aran Richardson, AOG West Area Mission Team Representative and Senior Pastor at Exeter Riverside church. We travelled there to meet up with British AOG Missionaries Gordon Burgess and Peter Austin, Spanish AOG leaders and other missionaries sent out from the Exeter church who are working in Spain.
What was it like visiting mission contexts with Aran?
Aran Richardson is very generous in the way he gives himself to people. He takes time and care to understand the hearts of people before he makes evaluations of them. He demonstrates great listening skills which enables people to know that he is genuinely interested in them and what they have to say.
He is not hasty or dismissive, and so he builds relational credibility and trust with others. It was a privilege to see Aran’s leadership qualities exhibited throughout our time in Spain as a relational networker and insightful pastoral mentor. I could tell that the missionary couple from the Exeter church felt so affirmed by their leader’s visit and care of them on the mission field.
Who else did you meet there?
While there we also met Ken Williamson, Senior Leader from Bethel Church in Dagenham. Ken has travelled many times through to Spain not only to visit Gordon Burgess, who has been faithfully supported by Dagenham Assembly for many years, but also to connect up with national Spanish AOG leaders and churches.
Then at the end of June I was able to join with Iain Duthie in Iceland. Iain is the Senior Leader of Kings Community church in Aberdeen, a great church that is already very large and is continuing to grow.
What about him?
Ken Williamson clearly possesses good working knowledge and relationship with the Spanish AOG leaders because of his regular commitment to continue visiting that part of Spain. Ken understands the value of a long term mission investment in the same area and ministry. That kind of mission investment produces the fruit of mutual trust and meaningful partnership.
Ken’s deep seated conviction to honour the veteran missionary, Gordon Burgess, was practical and committed, and very special to see. Our missionaries should be esteemed by those of us who are leaders. It is vital that we practically honour those who have given up much to serve in other nations.
Where to next?
At the end of June Leigh was able to join with Iain Duthie in Iceland. Iain is the Senior Leader of Kings Community church in Aberdeen, a great church that is already very large and is continuing to grow. We met Chris and Ethna Parker, who are lead a church and support a network of churches through their engagement in Iceland. We met with Aron Hinriksson, National Leader of the Icelandic pentecostal church.
What was Iain like?
Iain Duthie is very down to earth, under-stated and genuinely one of the humblest leaders you will ever meet. When Iain met with the leaders of the Icelandic Pentecostal church movement he gave a great example of how to explore and develop missional partnership. His conversation was without personal agenda or desire to control. His motive was clearly a desire to understand and learn about the real challenges and opportunities faced by the Icelandic leaders and churches. The Kings Community church model of missional engagement both locally and globally is very much about mutuality, relationship and partnership of communities not just about leadership association.
Why is it useful for UK leaders to be engaged with missionaries?
It is great to travel with church leaders that represent British AOG well in other nations and who benchmark wonderful qualities that help us build missional partnerships all over the world.
AOG Mission cannot promote missional initiatives without local UK church leaders and churches being willing to be personally involved. AOG Mission wants to celebrate the many good things that you are doing through the missional connections you have forged.
Let us know about your local church’s missional partnerships in other nations. Your stories and experiences will be an encouragement to others.
Having a social media presence is growing more and more important for churches! Whether you take quick snaps on a phone or have a full photography team with DLSRs and photoshop, these snaps are a good basic start to put on Facebook, instagram, snapchat or whatever you use throughout the week.