Eyam Parish Church is an evangelical, rural village church in the historic village of Eyam, Derbyshire. We have about 100 members of all ages. The church has supported mission both at home and overseas for many years, but from a distance.
How did it start?
In December 2014 Adam Innes (Associate Pastor) and Rachel Blake (Youth Minister) started discussing the possibilities of taking a team from the church on mission. The initial thought was for a youth team, but the idea of an all-age group seemed more helpful in reaching all ages. Having discussed the practicalities of taking a team on mission, it was decided taking a team to a European country was more pragmatic (no injections or large flight costs).
A day was set aside at the beginning of January 2015 for prayer and fasting, to seek God and discover where in Europe He wanted us to go. At the end of a morning praying for all the countries of Europe, we concluded that God was calling us to Spain. After a break the three of us who had prayed came back together in the afternoon with scriptural confirmation from God that Spain was indeed the country where He wanted us to go to.
But where in Spain, it is a big country? Through connections with TEN (Transform Europe Now), Abel and Rafi, the church leaders of Iglesia Evangélica de Alcalá la Real invited us to take a team to them in Summer 2016.
At the beginning of February 2016 Adam Innes and Chris Hill visited Abel and Rafi in Alcala la Real to pray with them and discuss the details of the mission later in the year. This was important as it showed the partner church that we were serious about our intentions and it also helped to flag up to the town officials that we were serious about coming to their town.
We were also able to join Kings Kids International at the YWAM base King’s Lodge, Nuneaton for a training day. Andy Kennedy led the day which involved all age worship and teaching, as well as some practical support in planning mission trips. We also set up regular team meetings, and Andy was able to join one of our team times providing some input which helped the families who were exploring coming make the decision to commit to the mission as he shared testimony and practical help for how it works taking all ages on mission together.
The Mission Trip
We went on a 10 day mission to Alcala la Real working in partnership with Abel and Rafi. We took a team of 21 of all ages the youngest being 5 years old and the oldest 60. We took part in English Conversational Classes in the mornings and outreach in the town park during the evenings. Our aim was to raise the joy level , to encourage the church and its leaders and to help them connect with their community.
The English classes were held from 10am-1pm each day and we had 47 people attend each day during the week. All ages were given opportunities to be at the front of the class leading games or sharing about the British culture, as well as getting the chance to lead small group discussions. A thirteen year old girl has testified how she found this very daunting to start with, as the classes were aged from teenagers to people in their 50s. She prayed about it on the first night and has said that after this she felt so much more confident and knew God was with her.
During the English classes we were able to build relationships with the Spanish people. One team member wrote that it was “amazing to connect with people, hear their opinions and learn about them.” We did find we shared quite deeply and people were keen to take photos at the end as friendships has been formed. Through conversations we were able to share testimonies of faith very naturally and we were able to offer to pray for situations for people at the end of the week.
The evening outreach in the park involved circus skills, face painting, games, crafts, giant bubble making, and then would finish with a puppet show of songs and Bible stories. One the last night we also had a couple of people share testimonies. These drew big crowds, as well as having people from the English class come to spend time with us in a more relaxed environment
One team member said “Great experience to create community and share God’s love and to create joy.” Another said “fantastic to see young people naturally outreach.” Another said “I think this helped me become a lot closer with God just because of the whole experience of it.”
The team stepped out in the evenings and did things they had never done before. We also prayed openly as a team in the square and we saw God answer lots of prayers. Most evenings we had around 50 children watching the puppet show plus similar numbers of adults around.
The church members of Eyam have been part of this for over 9 months, fund raising and praying. They have been really encouraged by the answers to prayer, and seeing how the team has grown. It has grown their faith too.
Our intention with this connection has been about partnering with the church in Alcala to be a support and encouragement them, not just in the short term but to walk with them long term.
We have a good relationship with the church leaders and pray this will continue.
The benefit for us is not just the 21 people who went to Alcala la Real who have received much from the mission trip but the whole church is excited about tangible mission and hearing and seeing God at work.
For our partner they feel God has blessed them that they are not alone, that God hasn’t forgotten them after years of little fruit from their work, they see new opportunities that God has opened up for them in their ministry.