It’s nothing personal, Austria

Joseph, Rachel, Emily & Nigel Bainbridge

Nigel became a Christian at Dover Apostolic Church when Scotsman Derek Meldrum was lead pastor. This has remained his home church for the 35 years since then. Nigel and Rachel have two adult children, Emily and Joseph. Nigel has served in various pastoral capacities, most recently as East Europe Missioner for ActionOverseas. The Bainbridges are preparing to be commissioned by One Church Dover to a church planting ministry based in Pécs, Hungary.

We had to stop in Austria – for overnight accommodation. A university friend and I were Inter-Railing around Europe in the summer of 1988. Well, not quite ‘around Europe’ we had targeted to visit Norway, Finland and Athens! In between connecting trains from Copenhagen to Athens we spent the night in Salzburg. Since that summer I’ve literally lost count of the number of times I’ve travelled to Austria’s neighbour, Hungary, but those 24 hours in the summer 33 years ago were the only time that I have ever spent in Austria. I’ve nothing personal against Austria, but after visiting Hungary the interest to travel to Hungary’s western neighbour never felt like a priority. God has touched my heart for this small central European country.

Years ago, in a spontaneous moment, while sitting with a friend in Budapest, I simply blurted out, “I could live here.” In four months my family will be sent out by One Church Dover to serve as missionaries in the Hungarian city of Pécs – ‘Mission Pécs’. This is the biggest challenge our family has ever faced. The lives of four adults will be uprooted and re-planted into a foreign country.

How did we get to this point?

Before sitting down to write this article, I walked from my house in Dover and realised that within a half-mile radius I could see the house I grew up in as a child, the primary school I attended, my secondary school, three of the four houses that Rachel and I have lived in, and the buildings for both of the two jobs that I have ever had! How parochial can you get?! And yet the seeds of overseas mission have always been in my and Rachel’s heart.

In 2005 I received my first opportunity to visit Hungary. I travelled with Pastor Warren Jones, who had made a new connection with the Apostolic Church inside Hungary. From 2007 (until Covid), I visited Hungary at least once each year. Friendships grew, partnerships developed and many leaders from the UK were involved in this valuable bridge-building. In recent years I served as the East Europe Missioner for ActionOverseas and I was able to meet church planters and new church plants in many nations.

Friendships grew, partnerships developed and many leaders were involved in this valuable bridge-building.

In 1994 I received a prophetic word that I would “work in new churches abroad.” I always accepted this word and kept it in my heart but nothing appeared to emerge until quite recently. From early 2019, Rachel and I could feel God accelerating and clarifying plans for our family’s future. We stated our desire to serve in Hungary. An invitation also came through prophecy and from the Apostolic Church’s National Leadership Team in Hungary.

Prophecy is an invitation to step out but the stepping remains our responsibility. Paul’s revelatory call to seek the ‘man from Macedonia’ led him to meet a woman in Philippi. But before he stepped onto this God-promised path he had to find a boat that took passengers, pay the fare, convince his colleagues of the plan, cope with potential sea sickness, prepare for a different (less Jewish) culture, travel through at least two towns – and even then there was no clear route map. It is wonderful to read how, on his arrival, Lydia came to faith in Jesus. Obedient walking always eventually leads to seeing Jesus move. 

Obedient walking always eventually leads to seeing Jesus move.  

Even prior to departing from the port of Troas, Paul and his small team, having trekked for days westwards from Syrian Antioch, eventually took their third preferred path – a path that led to the first church plant in the European continent. Their two God-given prohibitions (not to travel to the north or the south-west) did not come like a soldier standing in the road with a gun, but was rather a form of inner conviction. Sensitivity and obedience to such leadings of Holy Spirit ensure we walk on the correct paths.

Even after receiving these two spiritually-barred routes and the specific revelation about crossing to Macedonia, the Bible describes Paul’s group as ‘concluding’, literally bringing together all the data, before setting sail. I keep a record of prophetic words, significant prayers and impactive sermons as these all help me ‘conclude’ about God’s direction for my life.

I keep a record of prophetic words, significant prayers and impactive sermons as these all help me ‘conclude’ about God’s direction for my life.

The account of Paul’s Macedonian Call recorded in Acts 16:6-10 sums up many of our own lessons learnt on the journey of pursuing the call of God for us:

  • When God closes a door, it is a blessing because he has a better one open nearby ready for us to push.
  • Use all relevant ‘data’ to come to a conclusion about the destination.
  • Having come to a conclusion, travel to the next stop.
  • Travel with others.
  • God will probably ask you to travel down a road that no-one has travelled down before.
  • Don’t fret over timings – remember, there was about 14 years of Biblical silence about Paul between his Damascus Road vision and his first missionary journey.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Note the term, your paths.” Graciously, God has bespoke paths for all of us. We would love you to support our Hungarian journey – please followMission Pécs! – or, better still, why not help someone embark on their own path?

I don’t know what will happen to us in August after we drive the less than one mile from our home in Dover to the ferry terminal, but we have confidence in the Great Path Maker. Actually, I hear that Austria has good pastries so I may even drive my family there from Pécs for a second visit! But it’ll only be a day trip – our path heads east, not west.

One thought on “It’s nothing personal, Austria

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: