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The Importance of Dates

The 25 October is a significant date in our house, and no more so than in 2023! On Friday 25 October 2013 we gathered with family and friends in Kirkpatrick Memorial Presbyterian Church in East Belfast for a significant moment in both Pam’s and my life. A commission of the East Belfast Presbytery gathered to ordain me to the ministry of word and sacrament and then induct me to service in the Board of Mission Overseas. We were both commissioned to missionary service in Malawi. So this year we mark the 10th anniversary of that event.

We knew that a day would come when we needed to leave Kirkpatrick Memorial as my assistantship came to an end. We explored opportunities at home, but after a visit to Malawi in 2012 we sensed the Lord leading us to serve with Scripture Union of Malawi. Following a successful interview process and being issued a call by the Board of Mission Overseas the wheel were put in motion for us to leave at the end of October 2013. We both resigned our jobs and positions at the end of August so we would have two months to pack-up and get ready to go. In the midst of all that busyness we had to take the time to plan the service. We discussed the hymns and songs and worked with the Presbytery through our vows.

Throughout this time we were so encouraged and blessed by the advice and goodwill towards the night and as the RSVPs came in we realised just how many of those nearest and dearest to us would be attending. Our church family rallied to provide great music and a wonderful supper; looking back after 10 years it still overwhelms me the kindness of everyone.

To say I was nervous on the night would be an understatement – even more nervous than on our wedding day! The church was full, but there was a wonderful sense of the Lord’s presence and goodness. The singing was strong and filled the building. The Presbytery gently led us through the seriousness of the evening and the vows we took. Then the moment of ordination as Presbytery laid on hands, prayed and I was ordained as a minister in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. You can watch it all again below!

Rev David Steele, former missionary to Malawi, led us through 2 John and presented us with a call to faithfulness in ministry and mission. A number of speeches were made and each speaker spoke kindly of us both and the world we were embarking on. To say the supper was a banquet is an understatement. Our good friend, and elder at Kirkpatrick Memorial, Johnny took photos throughout the evening. If you were there, have a watch and spot yourself.

It is hard to believe 10 years have passed and 5 years since we returned from Malawi. The Lord has been faithful to us and the memories of 25 October 2013 are special. We knew the Lord’s presence with us then and throughout our times overseas as the prayer of God’s people, not just in Kirkpatrick Memorial but throughout the church, upheld us. As we knew the prayers of other, so we continue to give thanks for the mission of the church and the part we had the opportunity to play. As Paul wrote to Timothy, so we continue to echo for those who supported us,

I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.

2 Timothy 1:3 (ESV)

Monday Malawi Memories recaptures memories from over 20 years in Malawi. Photos won’t be in chronological order and can be found on the Lilongwe Letters blog, and my FacebookInstagram and Twitter accounts. You can also find them using the hashtag #mondaymalawimemories.

Visit my Instagram page to see the collection of photos memories at You can listen to the sounds of Africa on my playlist. Listen and follow links to music streaming services at

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