Relationship Opens the Door to Influence
We want to highlight a relationship we have had with Wayne and Gwenda Simmonds for an incredible, nearly 40 years.
Through those years our lives have coincided many times until today where we are strategising together on Transformation schools throughout Europe. I am always so grateful for relationships that span the decades and believe that as ‘iron sharpens iron’ we can have long term impact in each other’s lives.
The relationship started when Wayne was a teenager growing up in South Wales. Through a youth camp that I was involved in running, Wayne was called by God to join Ace Teams. This was a year-long youth discipleship training programme that I had initiated while heading up the Youth Alive, the AoG Youth Department in the UK.
From that time until now our paths have crossed many times. For a couple of years, we worked together at Next Level International, church planting and Leadership Training into Europe.
Three years ago Wayne and Gwenda contacted me to mentor them as they launched a new ministry. In their words’ I knew we needed someone who has done what we were about to start, someone further down the road than us and God put Ian on my heart. We met and talked and Ian said yes. Ian has been a rock of strength and encouragement for many years to us but more so the last few. He is challenging our thinking, changing the way we lead and mentoring us into our destiny in God.’
Those early years serving on the Ace Team programme were formative years for both Wayne and Gwenda who met each other on that programme. In their words ‘ it was a life-changing year for us, experiencing the teaching and the ministry opportunities as we travelled around the UK working in churches, schools and clubs with evangelism and discipleship. It was the key foundation that launched us into the youth ministry we had for the next 25 years in Wales, England and Denmark where I became the national youth director to the Pentecostal churches. Much of what we have done and taught was heavily influenced by what we learnt during that first year.’
God has taken them on quite the ministry journey. They initially started their ministry as youth Pastors in South Wales and Stoke on Trent. They built a strong youth group, schools work, short term missions and street evangelism ministry as well as a regional youth rally and youth Bible school. From there they went to work as youth pastors in Biddulph AOG. From there they were called to Denmark where they worked in the schools in Mariager and then at the church as pastor. During this time they set up Youth Alive, the national youth ministry of Denmark training 100’s of new youth pastors and volunteers. Then they moved back to the UK to work with me in Eastern Europe at Next Level International where they were responsible for the leadership training conferences in the Baltic region and Moldova. From there they planted a number of churches in the UK before going back to Denmark where they have founded and run a full-time bible/ ministry training school in Copenhagen for a number of years.
It is during the past couple of years they began to experience dissatisfaction in the effectiveness of what they were doing. Again our relationship was key to helping shape their thinking on how in their training can they bring the Transformation message and be more effective in training the whole church. l challenged them to think of narrowing down the curriculum and travelling to different regions and hold classes over a Friday and Saturday each month (six-hour classes). They hold Transformational schools in the local church and other churches come together in one place to learn. Their philosophy is to help raise the whole church together. To give everyone the chance to get equipped in their calling whilst helping pastors to have a strong emphasis to bring authentic discipleship into the culture of the Church.
They have seen these churches grow incredibly over this last year and many other “side effects” happen too. The challenge now is to equip people who are working in Politics, Social Services, Business, the Media and Creative Arts to disciple communities they are already apart of. They have a staff of 10 teachers at the moment who travel to South Wales, England, Denmark, Faroe Islands and starting in September, Romania.
We have been exploring the Biblical concept of being transformed people to transform our communities, shifting from only church centric thinking to include Kingdom centric thinking. They have all sensed something is missing in the church centric model we see growing in Europe. People become more spectators that disciples’ and the “ministry” is for the church stage and not for outside the walls of the church. I am privileged to help them re-define what the ‘Gospel of the Kingdom is and the importance of every believer has a part to play in transforming their community.
Wayne and Gwenda are quality people with a huge heart and passion. It is an absolute honour to encourage them and have a part in all God wants to achieve through them.
If you would like to connect with Wayne and Gwenda, you can contact them here.