Simon Turner and Jess Canode have been living in Iceland for a number of years. Simon has been based in Iceland since 2010 and shares what it looks like to long-term invest in one place:
What’s your link to 24-7 Prayer?
I actually visited the very first prayer room in 1999 and then a few weeks later we ran our own prayer room in a friend’s dining room! When I moved to Iceland in 2010, it was inspired by 24-7 Prayer and I actually saw a huge red moon rising over the airport the day I landed.
My wife Jess, and our other team member Becca, first discovered 24-7 prayer during their time in YWAM, which ignited their passion for prayer; which led them to mission in Iceland, eventually moving here.
What is your vision?
Our vision is simply to be obedient and faithful to God, to start prayer rooms, bring unity within the church, and to see lives transformed.
Iceland is one of the most depressed nations, with a huge percentage of people on prescribed medication. We want to see hope and joy break in.
How do you foster and grow community?
We’re still working that one out! Iceland isn’t the easiest place to foster community, but it starts with open, deep friendships. Icelanders can be quite guarded and private, so it takes a while to build trust.
We’ve tried many times to grow community among Christians, but recently we’ve simply asked “What is God actually doing?!” And in this season, we just want to make deeper friendships outside of Christian circles; to open up our lives and home to all kinds of people, as this seems this is what God’s breathing on.
"We live in a culture of instant gratification, but the Kingdom of God is very different and requires patience and faithfulness..."
What does prayer, mission and justice look like for you?
We like to prayer walk in the summer and spend time praying for others in the 24-7 Prayer network. We have prayer cards for each of the people in Iceland we know, and pray through those. We are also helping our church to start a permanent 24-7 prayer room (which is actually in the church boiler room!) so that’s a really big focus for us this year.
Mission for us, simply looks like being friends with people. We also run a summer mission team each August, and have been giving out coffee and fervently praying there for 7 years. In Iceland it feels like there is a lot to pray into before results are seen, so we are grateful for small moments where we see God moving.
Justice takes many different forms. Jess and I are involved with Stop the Traffik here, and we’re also big environmentalists. We try to recycle, eat organic, local food as much as possible and avoid using a lot of plastic.
What are the highlights and challenges of where you are at right now?
We have the privilege of serving God under the radar, in a spiritually dark and often isolated place. I remember being in countless church meetings praying “God, send me out, to the dark places that need the light”, and here we are.
We feel called just to go, pray, love and prepare the ground. Often, we feel a little lonely and isolated, and miss getting regular encouragement that comes with a thriving community. But then we have the privilege of persevering: trusting God that He is enough.
What’s your advice on growing as a community?
I think being outward focused is important; it’s easy to become depressed or hopeless here in Iceland, but making daily decisions to smile and be available for people helps to break out of becoming down and self-absorbed.
Growth also needs to be long term. When I first arrived, I wanted to quickly grow and then move on. But it’s been slower than that and we had to make a choice to persevere – to water and to sow so that fruit might come, even if it takes decades.
We live in a culture of instant gratification, but the Kingdom of God is very different and requires patience and faithfulness.
What is your vision for the future?
I’ve learned to dream small and steady. Big dreams cannot be realised from your armchair, but come with the cost of living out daily what you want to see.
We’d love to see a Boiler Room Community established in Iceland, and we’d love to see people becoming disciples of Jesus, overcoming addiction and depression and being an expression of hope and joy.
If even we could prepare the ground for that to happen in the future, we would know we have done what we are called to do.
This is the fourth part of our Community Roots blog series, unpacking global stories from 24-7 Communities. Find out more on the series homepage.