Kathy and Allister are church mission enablers
Over 20 years ago, Allister and Kathleen Versfeld felt an unmistakable calling on their lives to full-time ministry. They have led churches in East Anglia since then and have recently moved to Norwich to work with Salvation Army churches and centres throughout the region. Helen Baldry reports
Allister and Kathleen’s new role is as ‘mission enablers’, whereby they work alongside local leaders and their teams in the East Anglia region to help them reach people with the good news of Jesus. (They have 31 churches and 3 centres)
Kathleen and Allister are from Cape Town in South Africa. In 1994 they moved to the UK for Kathleen’s job as a Chartered Accountant in London. Their intention was to stay for two years and then return to be near to their families in South Africa.
However, they discovered that God had other plans. They describe their calling into full time ministry ‘like a bolt out of the blue’.
Allister returned to South Africa to be with his mother who was dying of cancer. During this time he resolved to make the most of the rest of his life. He and Kathleen committed to pray about their future. Kathleen said, “I needed to make sure I was living my life as God wanted me to.”
The decision to enter full time ministry was made while the couple were 10,000 kilometres apart. Allister was with his mother during the final days of her life, and Kathleen still in London. Allister had a spiritual experience of God that he described as ‘intense heat’ and at the same time Kathleen was sure that God was prompting her into ministry in the church. She said, ‘God brought us both to that point.”
Already members of the Salvation Army, the Versfelds went to training college and were commissioned in 2000. They had previously lived in London and Cape Town and were posted to Fakenham – their response was ‘where is Fakenham?!’ The small rural town was considerably different from the hubbub of the city and the experience showed them what a close-knit community feels like.
The family then moved to Felixstowe, where they oversaw a growing church where many lives were transformed. Prior to their move to Norfolk this summer, the couple led a local church and worked on a busy community programme in Peterborough for four years. They live with their three daughters in Dussindale and are delighted to return to Norfolk where they have established firm connections in the church.
Allister and Kathleen regularly preach at the many churches they work with across Norfolk and Suffolk. Their job involves getting alongside the leaders of the churches and centres to guide and equip them to work in the best ways for their particular communities. They recognise that a ‘one size fits all’ approach doesn’t work with transformational mission because each setting is different. Kathleen said, “Our passion is to share the love of Jesus.”
The Salvation Army is well known for practical works in the community, such as the soup run, charity shops and work with homeless people. The slogan ‘heart to God, hand to man’ sums up the motivation of Christian outreach and something the Versfelds wholeheartedly believe. Allister said, “Our relationship with Jesus prompts us. It’s all about the cross.” They are keen to partner with other agencies and work together for the glory of the kingdom.