INTERVIEW – Terry and Wendy Virgo on Itinerant Ministry

This is the second installment of my interview with Terry and Wendy Virgo which began yesterday. That segment can be read here. The video version of this part of the interview can be seen here.

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Adrian
Wendy, I want to ask you something now because it’s been awhile since you’ve had a chance to get a word in edgewise—I suspect you might be used to that! (Laughter) How has it been for you with your husband—obviously in the younger years, away a lot—leaving you at home with the kids—five I think?

Wendy
Yes.

Adrian
This is a very personal question, because my poor wife has the same problem.

Wendy VirgoWendy
Oh, yes, she has five kids, too.

Adrian
And me traveling more for work, of course. But how did you cope being left alone, like she is right now, with five children and actually no car, I’m ashamed to admit.

Wendy
Oh, right. Well, when Terry was away, usually it was abroad, so I did have the use of the car, which was very helpful.

Adrian
Well, she usually does as well. This is, in fact, the first time since we went down to one car that we’ve been in this situation.

Wendy
Oh, right.

Adrian
Well, what about you? You were left at home; he was away . . .

Wendy
Well, our main focus is to build churches, which are really all one another in context, so we aren’t left alone, in fact. I was very much involved in church life and very beautifully loved and served by the church that I’ve been in now for twenty-five or six years. And, I didn’t actually feel that I was left alone. Obviously, I missed Terry a lot when he was away, but life was very busy and very full, and I never felt solitary, if you know what I mean.

Adrian
Yeah, yeah.

Wendy
Terry and Wendy VirgoAnd it has been great that as the children have grown up and now have their own homes (they’re all married now) that I can travel much more with Terry. I think it is a new season. Terry always used to travel with another guy or a group of guys because it was part of his training of them and part of introducing them to our values and helping them to see how an apostle works and how to work with an apostle, and developing a whole understanding of apostolic work. So, to take a group of guys with him was very helpful and instructive to all concerned. But now we have a number of men who would be in that position, like David Holden, Dave Devenish, and so on, who would also take groups of people with them, teams I would say. But as they have developed teamwork as well, they are now going off with their wives because their children are also grown up. So it’s becoming a bit of a pattern, I think.

Adrian
You’re very much involved, right in the thick of things, then?

Wendy
Probably not as much as say, some people like Dave Devenish, who goes into a place for several weeks or months at a time.

Adrian
And he’s taken his wife in those situations?

Wendy
Well, yes, that’s the thing. It’s quite a sacrifice, I think, at times. Tramping around places like Kazakhstan, places I can’t even pronounce. But, actually, Terry now will be going to Australia for three months at the end of this year, and that will be a new adventure for us.

Adrian
But you went to America for three years, didn’t you?

Wendy
Two years.

Adrian
Two years!

Wendy
Yes, yes. Actually that was a very positive time, too.

Adrian
Yes. So, I’m going to move back to Terry for a moment now because your wife just mentioned this funny “a” word—apostolic, apostle work. What about that? Because obviously there will be a lot of people who will, I guess, not really understand what that means for Newfrontiers.

Terry
Yes. I think it’s very important to say that we see different types of apostles, even in the Bible—Jesus the great apostle; the twelve, unique obviously, in the book of Revelation.Terry Virgo But then you see in Ephesians 4—Jesus ascends on high and gives from his ascended position apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers—so there’s that ongoing ministry. He says this will be until the Church comes to fullness of stature, to a mature man. So, in a sense, this is an ongoing thing that God will continually give these varied ministries. So one isn’t looking for more Bible writers. I think very often we from the reformed tradition have thought—well, an apostle writes the Scripture and that’s his role. But, really, I don’t think that stands up to close inspection. Several of the twelve did not write Scripture. Several of the people who wrote Scripture were not apostles, so it’s not really the point. The point is more church planters. Paul says as a wise master builder, “I lay the foundation”—he traveled, he planted churches. We feel that’s really what we’re talking about—modern day church planters. People who pioneer new ground, establish eldership, establish churches, and a fathering, ongoing care for those churches, strongly built on relationship, so that we’re friends in the ministry, as Paul referred to people. Even at the end of Romans, in chapter 16, there are all these personal greetings to people. So we’re building very relationally. We’re building new churches, planting churches. And now v
arious teams have been raised up doing apostolic work. [Ed: See post Apostles Are Meant For Today for more information.]

Adrian
Right. So I guess in summary what you’re talking about, for those people who have different vocabularies, is someone who can church plant and help establish churches. That’s obviously exciting. I mean, there are 500 churches in Newfrontiers now, aren’t there? Is that right?

Terry
It’s probably nearer 600 now.

Adrian
Wow! Last time I checked it was 400, so the number must be going up very quickly.

Terry
Yes, it is. I’ve been in touch today, just a moment ago, with Edward Buria in Kenya, where there are now some 130 churches, which he has helped start, and we served with him and are very much in touch with him at the moment with the political tensions there. And then we have churches in South Africa, and indeed, around the world. So when you add them all up around the world, it’s untold. It’s difficult to keep up because Edward plants so many churches in Kenya. But we’re also planting churches in West Africa, South Africa, and into Asia, and as Wendy was saying, Australia now, New Zealand. So we’re planting churches very widely.

Adrian
You didn’t mention anything about America, though.

Terry
Yes, we are. I’ve been to the USA, and in fact, we’ll be at the . . .we’ve been in March to the Leaders Conference, and then we’re going again in June to our midwest family camp [ONEBLAZE] held in Warrensburg [Missouri] just outside Kansas City, and then in August we’re going across to the West, where we have growing involvement in Oregon, and in Idaho and Montana—a number of churches that are reaching toward us. Quite a lot of these pastors are coming over. I understand thirty pastors are coming from the West to our Brighton Conference, Together on a Mission, in July, where there will be about 5,000 gathered there. But just from that part of America, we have thirty coming. So I would think there might be something in the region of sixty coming over from the US to our conference in the summer. [Ed: For more details see Newfrontiers events in the USA.]

Continued in part 3 . . .

About Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock is a medical doctor, a writer, and a member of Jubilee Church, London since 1995, where he serves as part of the leadership team alongside Tope Koleoso. Together they have written Hope Reborn - How to Become a Christian and Live for Jesus, published by Christian Focus. Adrian is also the author of Raised With Christ - How The Resurrection Changes Everything, published by Crossway. Read more about Adrian Warnock or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

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