St Mark’s Church, Harrogate, has supported global mission for many years, and recently has built a multidirectional partnership with Latin Link. Associate Minister Daniel Watts takes up the story. 

In 2011 the Missions Support group at St Mark’s was looking for ways to enable the church family to connect more with mission. For ten years the church had supported Andy and Susie Hart and an income-generating project for those with disability in Tanzania. This partnership had raised the profile of mission and encouraged people to get involved, so we felt we should look to support people rather than an organisation.

One suggestion was Paul and Ruth Turner, Latin Link members in Lima, Peru. Paul’s sister is a member of St Mark’s so it seemed obvious to use such ready-made links. Paul and Ruth have been mission partners ever since. At about the same time one of the church’s groups wanted to get involved with a mission project. So they sent cards and letters and raised money to buy Christmas gifts for the children at Arco Iris (Rainbow) girl’s home in Huaraz.

Image of St Marks Step team at airportStep team

In July 2014 a Step team of six from St Mark’s went to Peru for three weeks. This was a fantastic opportunity for the church to show its support to Paul and Ruth by spending time with them in Lima, to understand more of their context and ministry. The team then headed north to Huaraz to work with the Arco Iris home, serving through building maintenance, children’s and youth work, and encouraging the staff.

The trip had a massive impact on us all. Emily was amazed and challenged by the staff at Arco Iris and their passion for Jesus, and the children they serve, despite the challenges. For Helen, the trip was a lesson in learning to trust God hour by hour. It was a time of deepening our relationships with God and as a team.

On returning to St Mark’s the team led services and hosted an evening of story-telling and pictures over Peruvian food as a way of sharing the experience and impact the trip had on us – and to inspire others.

Image of Incoming Mission Strider with woman creating tie dye shirtReceiving from Latin America

In December 2014, we were able to act as the placement church for a Peruvian Strider who wanted to come to the UK. Flor has been such a blessing. She has a natural ability to get alongside people and build relationships, and notices those who might get overlooked. Her presence and ministry is a constant reminder of the importance of giving time to people and loving them, of building relationships. We’re excited to have Flor for a second year.

Crafty developments

Paul also mentioned that he was looking for people to help develop a craft-related project for those with disability in Arequipa. We told Paul about Susie and her project in Tanzania. This link has now developed, as Susie is partnering with the local church in Arequipa and sharing her entrepreneurial experience in developing the project (craftaidinternational.org). We’ve held fundraising efforts for the project and a number of teams have visited.

Growing leaders

There has been one other area of partnership: Paul has identified the need to invest in and develop church leaders in Peru. We’ve been able to link Paul with James Lawrence, who has written a course called ‘Growing Leaders’. Out of that has come a visit to Peru by James to teach the course, and its translation into Spanish. St Mark’s has been part of this through prayer and financially.

Conclusion

It is amazing to see how God has used one short-term mission trip to our mission partners to bring about a chain of events. The personal link has led to increased involvement by the church. As the profile of global mission has risen so more people have been drawn in. Personalisation and partnership – one way to engage a church in mission.