Servant Partners / San Antonio

This is a post we had originally written for our previous blog in late 2013, but it briefly tells the story of how and why we hope to move to San Antonio.  For those who didn’t know, Mark stepped down from his position leading the Boaz Trust in September 2013. For some time, there was a nagging sense that Mark was not quite in the right place, despite being in a position of responsibility and influence. We’ve been asked to wait by God, explore a few opportunities that may lead to longer term appointments in ministry, and take a temporary job to pay the bills in the meantime! Jennie has been on maternity leave since July 2013, and as I write this our amazing daughter Kora is nearly 6 months old already.

When we first met in 2009, we were both working in sub Saharan African for the relief and development charity Medair! Not long after getting married in 2010, we returned to live in the UK. Within months of returning, we sensed God had begun preparing a new season for us but we didn’t have any real clarity on what this was going to look like.

Looking back over the past few years, it seems like God has been realigning us and we have been in the midst of a significant transition period. We very much like this description of a Godly transition period, by Terry Walling. “Transitions  are characterized by a prolonged period of restlessness, self-doubt, lack of  motivation, job stagnation, diminished confidence, lack of direction,  distance from God, isolation, relational conflict and tension, lack of effectiveness,  and struggle to stay focused and motivated.”  “Transitions are more about character  development than job description.  In a  transition, God turns a searchlight onto the heart.” Transitions  often bring clarity of self-definition (who I am), role (my contribution) and  new paradigms (presuppositions and worldview).”God  uses transitions to better align people’s lives to his purposes.” We have experienced a deep restlessness at times over the past few years.

We left our previous church to join the GLO church plant in Stockport, Manchester a few years ago. It has been an amazing privilege to be part of the team tasked with the planting of a church on the estate, an urban priority area in the UK. We have learnt so much and really seen God doing amazing things in peoples lives. This past few years has confirmed a growing sense of call and clarity to be living missionally amongst the urban poor. We have become increasingly aware of the new friars organisations, like InnerChange, Urban Neighbours of Hope and Servant Partners. We love their commitment to go anywhere God calls them in the name of Jesus and admire their passion to respond to Gods call In Luke 4:16-19, to preach the Good news to the poor and set the captives and oppressed free:

‘And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

So, later in 2014, we hope to join Servant Partners and move to the city of San Antonio in the US to help lead a church plant on the East Side of the city, an overlooked and often marginalised part of the city. San Antonio is the 7th largest city in the US, but has been the fastest growing city since the year 2000. It is worth saying at this point that we still have to be formally accepted on to the staff at Servant Partners but we hope that soon this will be the case following the completion of our interview process. The world over, people are continuing to migrate to cities in huge numbers and many urban centres have huge numbers of people who are yet to be reached by the Gospel. This is where God has positioned us and we plan to embrace his calling fully.