We must not downplay what God is calling us to do as a Movement
Iain Hesketh has recently stepped into his new role as Elim’s Director of International Missions. He spoke to Elim's Direction Magazine's Matthew Murray
MM: How did your appointment as Missions Director come about?
IH: It started with a conversation at the ordination service in June, which prompted what I can only describe as an unshakable and undeniable nudge of the Holy Spirit. Five weeks before I was appointed to the role of International Missions Director by the National Leadership Team, I had no desire to leave Encounter Church. We had been planning the launch of our new name, and had been working through clarifying our vision for months prior. The timing seemed terrible but I couldn’t get away from the Holy Spirit leading me into this role.
MM: What is your vision and plan for Elim Missions?
IH: I want Elim Missions to continue to build on the work that Paul Hudson has overseen in recent years. We will continue to support and serve our churches in the UK, and seek to engender an even greater engagement with Elim Missions. We will continue to plant churches and send missionaries so that together we can continue to make much of Jesus throughout the earth.
We will seek to develop teams to gain greater engagement, and work strategically with our other departments to truly reflect our ‘One Movement, One Mission’ mandate. We will champion what God is doing through Elim Missions/Global. There are so many kingdom possibilities before us, so let’s see where the Holy Spirit leads us in the adventure of following him. Ultimately, we want to make much of Jesus above everything else!
MM: What has your own journey in missions looked like?
IH: In regard to overseas missions, my first experience was when I went to Ghana on placement with a team from Regents Theological College at the end of my first year. My passion for missions really took a grip when I was assistant to Billy Fenning at All Nations Christian Centre. Billy has been a huge supporter of missions for many years and he invited me to join him on a trip to the Philippines and that was it!
Over the course of walking with Jesus, I’ve been gripped by God’s mission to rescue, reconcile and restore broken humanity, and all creation back to himself. It was John Piper who said that ‘mission exists because worship doesn’t’. We only truly know what it is to be alive when we are living a life of devotion to Jesus that spills out of us to the rest of the world. That’s why I’m so excited about missions!
MM: What has been your most memorable missions moment so far?
IH: There has been a few, but if I can give you three that would help! Firstly, being part of the initial group of people to form the Himalayan Working Group who worked with Steve and Helen Kempton and Bhab Ghale, who pioneered what continues to be a most fruitful ministry. Secondly, working with David and Esther Allen in Cambodia. I’ve been out there three times in recent years and being able to invest in their leaders has been a joy! Thirdly, and finally, taking more than 30 young people from West Brom- wich, Coventry and Derby on a joint mission to Thonon, France, with Luc and Rachel Favre!
MM: How vital is missions for the average believer?
IH: Charles Spurgeon said, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.” I’d have to agree with him! I don’t think we can be disciples of Jesus and not be about the mission of God, whether that is in Cleethorpes or Calcutta.
If we aren’t seeking to live a life that bears witness (through words and works) to the resurrection power of Jesus in every environment, then I fear we have missed the point of being a disciple. It is God’s job to save, but is our job to live a life that demonstrates what it looks like to be alive in Christ. I want to be that kind of disciple, and help shape those kind of disciples.
MM: Who are your missions heroes?
IH: That is a great question! The easy answer to this question is Jesus – he was the perfect missionary but I don’t think that is what you’re looking for. The stories I’ve heard recently mean I’d have to say our missionaries are incredible and they are heroes.
I’m inspired by people like Francis Chan, who left a large church in California to go and pioneer a new work in San Francisco; I’m challenged by the Cambridge Seven who no doubt could have had successful careers if that had stayed in the UK but chose to go to China to work with Hudson Taylor’s China Inland Mission. I’m equally challenged and inspired by the people I’ve known who have left family and comfort to follow the leading of the Spirit and go where Jesus sends!
MM: You’ve done a great job at Selly Oak, how does its future look?
IH: Very, very exciting. En- counter Church is an amazing church with brilliant leaders at all levels. The vision was never built around me, so I’m very confident they will continue to walk in step with the Spirit to help people encounter Jesus, raise disciples and send missionaries.
MM: How can churches and individuals support you in your new role?
IH: I’d really value people’s prayers as I step into a hugely exciting role and settle my family into a new routine and church community. Another way to help is by getting involved in Elim Missions. There are lots of good things going on beyond our Movement but there are some amazing things happening for the kingdom through Elim people. In our desire to be kingdom minded let’s not downplay (or worse, neglect) what God is calling us to do as a missions Movement both overseas and in the UK.
MM: Tell us a little about yourself and your journey to this role.
IH: The biggest consideration throughout this process was trying to figure out how this role would impact on our family. My wife, Rachel, and I have two young daughters, the youngest of which is just about to start school. We’re really aware that we have to create a new normal and want to make the most of that opportunity. Rachel is amazing and up for the adventure! She is as determined as I am to walk a life of radical obedience and follow God’s leading wherever he calls.
We want to demonstrate to our girls what it looks like to walk a life of obedience to Jesus, and help them to understand that they can be a part of it to. What an opportunity for my family to get to see and hear what the Holy Spirit is doing across the globe!
For Iain, his wife Rachel and their two girls always come first. But we wondered about some other favourites in his life...
Favourite food? Seafood paella or curry
Favourite football team? Liverpool FC
Coke or Pepsi? Diet Coke
Favourite hobby? Cycling (although I’ve not actually done it for a while!)
Favourite holiday destination? Cornwall or Sunshine Coast, Australia
Dairy Milk or Galaxy? Dairy Milk