Brian and Hazel Parker look back, and forward, as they come to an end of two years of study at FMBC.
FM: Why did you give up your jobs and move to Scotland to study at FMBC?
Brian: For a long time, we have both sensed that God was calling us to full-time ministry. We attended the FM Satellite course at Portadown a number of years ago and enjoyed the teaching. After a time of prayerful consideration, we applied for the College and were accepted. And actually, once people within our workplaces were aware of our decisions, it opened up a lot of opportunities to speak to them about Jesus.
FM: Was it difficult uprooting your family from Ireland to Scotland?
Brian: Yes, it was difficult because of leaving family and friends, the whole upheaval of moving the family across the water, and losing the security of a house and secure jobs. That said, there were a number of individual incidents throughout the last few months before we left, through which God confirmed to us that this was where He wanted us.
FM: Hazel, as a mother and wife studying the full-time course at FMBC, it must have been a huge challenge at times, especially having a new addition to your family while here. How did you manage to fit everything in and work out your priorities?
Hazel: Yes, it has been a challenge at times, but also a great privilege to have the opportunity to set these couple of years aside to learn so much about God and His Word. With Brian’s support, I tried to make the most of this opportunity and avail of as much of the course as I could in a way that fitted around our family. Most weeks I was able attend class two mornings a week, thanks to a couple of wonderful ladies who faithfully cared so well for our boys. The remainder of the lectures I listened to in the evenings once the boys were in bed, alongside completing assignments. It did require some perseverance to study every evening, after a busy day with a young family. However, on many of those evenings where I lacked energy, I felt a real sense of God focusing my mind.
FM: How has College life worked out for your boys? What are their names and how old are they?
Hazel: The boys have loved their time at FMBC! Luke, aged five, and Caleb, aged three, have really enjoyed campus life, getting to play with the other children around campus in ‘the green courtyard’, and also enjoying the love and attention the other students show to them. They settled well into their schools and enjoying walking to school, often with other children from campus. Jude, aged three months, has also settled well into our home here! We are so thankful for the many answered prayers for our boys.
FM: As a married couple what advice would you give to other couples coming to study at FMBC?
Brian: It has been great to share this experience together, and to be able to discuss all we have learned. However, given that the course is quite demanding, it has been difficult to set time aside away from the books to spend time together and in prayer. Looking back, I feel we may have benefitted from being more disciplined in this area and I would encourage other couples to consider how best to balance their priorities as a couple or family.
FM: Would you recommend FMBC for full¬time study to others?
Brian & Hazel: Yes, we would. We have gained so much from our two years here. The course is varied and has a focus on practical, devotional and academic aspects. However, it is an intensive course that has presented many challenges, but during them all we have felt God’s strength and the prayers of many. We have learnt so much that we feel will be beneficial to our future ministry.
FM: Where are you both for College placement and what experience do you think you will gain that will be helpful to your future ministry?
Brian: As the boys are in school, we will be largely based in and around Edinburgh. For the first week though, I will be joining up with the team on the Isle of Raasay. I will also have a week helping Gordon Thomson with outreach events in Kelty and a few weeks working alongside some of the local churches in Gilmerton and Moredun. I am looking forward to placement, and the different churches and settings will hopefully provide with a good range of experience that will be beneficial for future work.
Hazel: I am looking forward to supporting Brian and the other students in the local placements, largely with children’s events, where possible around school runs and family life. Even though I may be restricted in the ways I can get involved this year I am looking forward to observing and learning from the variety of settings.
FM: You finish with FMBC in mid-July; what are your plans for the future?
Hazel: We are thankful that God has guided and opened up the opportunity to work with The Faith Mission in the Cavan and Monaghan areas once we have completed our summer commitments at FMBC.
FM: So, you are uprooting your family again, and going to live in a different country. Why do this?
Brian: We believe that God is calling us to work in the Republic of Ireland, and we are confident that God is leading us to this opportunity in Monaghan and Cavan. We are excited by the move and are looking forward to the work.
FM: What would you like FM supporters to pray for you as a family and your future work?
Brian: Pray that we would settle into a routine and find the balance between ministry and family time, that we would find a church to worship with, and that we would be able to build friendships with the fellowship.
Hazel: We would greatly value your prayers particularly for the boys as they settle into their new schools. Also that we will be an effective witness in our local community, for meaningful relationships to be built at the school gates, and that we would love our neighbours well.