Aaron and Diane Lincoln: Starting anew after 28 years in England
“We knew we wanted to be long-term missionaries,” said Aaron.
The wise, warm and witty couple, 28-year veterans of church- and community-based ministry in the Midlands region of England, were in our Indianapolis home office recently while on furlough and shared some insight into their commitment to long-term ministry.
What led you to service with CMF in England?
Aaron: We had a missions professor, Tim Doty, who was on furlough from service with CMF in Kenya. He was instrumental in leading us to CMF. We were originally slotted into service in Mexico, but then the field in England opened up and CMF asked us to go there. I thought, “Why England? There are church buildings everywhere there. But there are very few people in them.”
What have been the focuses of your work?
Diane: We started in church planting with the team already in place in England. Then in our most recent terms, we moved to Rugby for 11 years, and the key characteristic of our ministry was community-based outreach in local partnerships.
Aaron: In England, asking someone to come to church is like asking them the question, “Do you want to come see my ant farm?” They have zero interest in that. Church events are not the first point-of-entry for most people coming to faith. We tried to be the bridge to show people the good news outside the walls of the church building through ministries like Street Pastors, which ministers to people in need on the streets on weekend nights, and Christians Against Poverty, a financial ministry.
Diane: Another focus of my work specifically was research for my Ph.D. in theology, which I completed in 2019. I interviewed church leaders and read emerging church literature looking for the theological themes that undergird their ministries. The goal was to be better equipped to teach, and I plan to do more of that in the future.
Tell us about raising your two sons in England as Third Culture Kids (TCKs).
Diane: Our sons Reece and Fin were born and raised in England, and in their own ways, they experienced straddling two cultures. They had English accents until about age 4, but then they lost it on furlough. When they returned to England, they retained an American accent because it got them a lot of positive attention from their classmates. Later, though, as teenagers, having a different accent was sometimes a challenge.
Diane: Reece is currently in a Ph.D. program in aerospace engineering at Bristol University (UK) and married Hope, the vicar’s daughter at the church he attends, last July. Fin, 17, completed his schooling in England but came with us to the U.S. this year and did a senior year at an American high school. He wanted that American experience and made some great friends. This fall, he’ll attend George Fox University and we’ll go back to England as empty nesters!
What are you looking forward to as you return to England in January?
Diane: We call our next term “the great unknown.” We are not sure where we will live and exactly what we’ll be doing. We have a lot of networks and relationships and are wide open to the possibilities of being involved in a new church plant and community-based ministries. We will take a quick trip over in July to explore where to live and serve in a new place in the Midlands.
Aaron: And I can be English again! I don’t think about being an American when I’m there.
Diane: Yes! I can’t wait to have a ‘cuppa’ with my friends. I’m excited to find a new place, meet new people, and begin a new ministry!