Leading worship or fixing toilets – serving God looks like lots of things but I think God looks at it all with value – I don’t think He sees one more highly than another.

Have you ever wondered how property services and missions integrate? It’s easy to take working showers, heated buildings or mowed lawns – the seemingly ‘normal’ things – for granted, but in a campus of this size, with 50 acres of land and housing for over 100 staff plus trainees… who takes care of these details?

Meet the tallest man at YWAM Harpenden, Steve, our Property Services team leader! From breaks and leaks to preventative maintenance, he’s the guy with a team, ensuring these things get sorted. One minute you will find him on a mower, the next taking a wood chip delivery or fixing a broken toilet while at other times sat in site development meetings. Even as I sat to chat with him, the phone rings, three people come in asking for various things and he’s got work duties heading out the door to start their given tasks. It’s non-stop action. He’s a behind the scenes kind of guy, yet always interacting, engaging, on the go and clearly on top of his game!

So Steve, tell me a bit about you before we dive into the department of Property Services. I’d love to know what brought your whole family to YWAM Harpenden?

Well, I’m married to Clare and have four kids and we came to Harpenden in the summer of 2017. I met Clare at Holmsted Manor 18 years ago and from there joined our friends Carl and Mel to pioneer a YWAM base in York. In 2008 we stepped out of our full-time YWAM roles and I became the Facility Director of St Michael Le Belfrey in York. However, in 2012 God spoke clearly to us about moving back to the USA where I’m from. Clare and I both built up our own businesses in the US and we bought a house with land which was all wonderful and really comfortable. We didn’t really ever think we’d move again. BUT God! Clare and I started feeling like God was shifting our hearts so we took some intentional time to open our hearts and ears to what might God have in store. As we pressed into what God’s plan for us as a family might be, we realized it would mean something different going forward. We had no clue what, but remained open. Carl then came over to visit us in the USA and as he shared stories about what God was doing here in Harpenden, the conversation opened to what I/we could do if we were ever here. It set some sparks off in my heart but to be honest, we dismissed it because we were happy where we were, and never really imagined God leading us back into YWAM with four kids in tow. Long story short we ended up taking a trip to YWAM Harpenden in 2016 to scope things out. During our time here we definitely felt a confirming sense that this seemed to be what God was leading us to, but we’d asked for a specific word about why Harpenden was the location. Selling everything and raising support would be no joke so we needed real clarity. The day after we landed back in the US, we received an email from a woman who had had a prophetic word for our family, having no idea of anything that was going on at that time in our lives. Part of the word described Lynn and Marti’s house in fine detail – which was crazy because God had made this house stand out to us during our trip in a time of prayer and we had no idea why – till this word came! But we still continued to pray for a couple more months – to be sure. But the day came when we knew that God was asking us if we were willing to give our yes to Him. We did and here we are! There were many challenges like giving up our 2500 sqft house to live in a flat, the kids transitioning education systems, living in suitcases for four months, raising a financial support team – but in it all we had peace and it’s been good.

Wow, Steve! What a journey, I can fully identify what it entails to move a whole family since we just recently did the same, and we also have 4 kids!

When did you take over Property services? What has been your focus in leading this department?

Well, I officially took on the department in January 2018. There was lots of great stuff in place when I took on this role, but one thing I’ve put added focus on is paying attention to the grounds. Having the lawns cut, maintaining weed-free pathways, road edges and pruning. We don’t always have a lot of ability to make big changes and historic buildings are never cheap to improve but I believe that it’s important to take care of what we already have well and the small things make a big difference to the overall feel of a place. There’s also been quite a lot of refurbishing going on – refiguring spaces, new bathrooms, carpets, decorating, kitchenettes etc, especially in our trainee accommodation.

Wow, you have made such a difference within this year! I bet it isn’t always easy to stay motivated especially when manpower or even finances aren’t always easy to come by. What keeps you going and motivated in this role? What’s your heart for leading this department?

Well, I see myself as a full-time missionary in what I’m doing here. We are all called to be missionaries wherever we are but I gave up my financial security and right to be the traditional ‘provider’ for my family, to re-enter a vocational life of missions because I’m passionate about seeing people empowered in missions and property services is part of that. It’s a part of my personality to solve practical problems, facilities management it’s what I’m trained in and if you aware of the “StrengthsFinder” course, ‘responsibility’ is one of my greatest strengths. The combination of utilizing what I’m good at to facilitate the impact of people giving their lives to be long-term missionaries makes me happy! Imagine this amazing property without skilled people maintaining it? It would be a disaster! This past year at the campus ‘at home days’ I was seeking God’s heart for property services, to ignite my own heart and I felt God telling me that it’s not just about fixing things, but that it’s about ‘honouring people’. This is my primary motivation behind what I do every day.

Wow, I’m just thinking about the gravity of those words and the impact you can have on people within your position.

Yeah, I want this base to be a place that people can feel good in when they come here to study. To be an environment they can grow and thrive in, a place where showers are working, things are not falling apart and an outdoor space that inspires them. A person can’t think and study in a place where the practicalities are distracting. Of course, we can’t create the Ritz Hotel out of it, you can go down the road for that! Steve laughs… But we can maintain this place and do our best to make it clean, and functioning. My heart and my expectation are to ensure this happens. Added to that, I value nice grounds because we also welcome many daily visitors who come to walk, play with their children and use our grounds and the cafe – I want them to be blessed being here.

How do you feel being responsible for this very large property?

Well, it’s a really huge gift to have this property and space and such an honour for me to take care of a place with so much history. It’s a place of many resources, where we can facilitate large events for other churches, organizations, host concerts, as well as national and international YWAM conferences. If one looks at how much this place is actually worth then it gives a whole new perspective on my job!

It’s such a huge task to manage a place like this with so much detail entitled to ensure a great overall picture. With that said, do you have enough staff within property services? And what is your vision for your department?

Firstly no, not really! Currently, I have two full-time team members, Chris and Tom. A dear friend and skilled carpenter named Valdemar is just about to leave, so we will have to try to fill his place. Additionally, we have mission builders that come and go, as well as trainees who do help daily with tasks and they all, play a vital part. To achieve the vision of YWAM Harpenden, including a 300-500 student turnover, I’m praying for and dreaming of a team of 15 skilled people full-time. It might be a pipe dream but one never knows how fast God can move things into place.

You just said that you’d need 15-20 people, could you give me some insight on that?

Well, I’d love to see skilled tradesmen – plumbers, gardeners, electricians, decorators, carpenters, handymen as part of the team, as well as 5-10 apprentices here full-time. I’d love it to be a place where we can train people as we work together.

Thank you for giving me insight into your long-term plans, it’s amazing what you’ve already accomplished to improve this base and the stay of all the current trainees including our family. One last question before we wrap this up! How long do you and Clare see yourselves here at YWAM Harpenden?

Well, we are here till we feel God call us somewhere else. It’s how we have always felt God has called us to live. Let Him lead and wherever we are investing, work hard, build community and stay faithful. Yes, we had lots of home comforts back in the US and we’ve had to lay some of that down, but we love being here, love what God is doing through this campus and feel very committed to the vision – plus our kids love it here.

So wonderful! I’m always amazed at how God moves whole families across the globe to set roots, bear fruit and impact in a whole new way. You guys are heroes! Thank you for sharing your heart with us all. Steve, you are such an example of using the gifts you have, while being open handed and going to serve God with all you have wherever He leads.

Steve is 43, he was born in Delaware, USA. He did his DTS in 1998 at Holmsted, followed by staffing a DTS, B2B’s (Leadership Training), being an Anglican youth leader as well as co-leading a Summer Youth Outreach program. In 2004 Steve married Clare and they embarked on their YWAM journey together. He has a Degree in Business Management and owned his own business. Together with his wife Clare and his four children, they returned to working with YWAM in 2017.