Crossing Oceans: Jonathan and Nela’s Story

The amazing story of one church and one couple following the call of God across the oceans, from the Philippines and the US, to Wales…

‘We knew we couldn’t afford a pastor, but we decided eight years ago to pray for one – to pray for God to do the impossible! And we’ve been on a stretching journey to see him answer that prayer,’ Dave says with a wry smile.

Dave is a deacon at Deer Park Baptist, Tenby. Deer Park is a unique congregation, with its ministry to summer holidaymakers and Gothic building. But despite a fruitful ministry over the years, recently the membership had dropped to single figures for the first time ever and there were no midweek activities.

Things had become so challenging that conversations were taking place about the church’s future. 

“Our first response was of course not – is Wales a mission field now?”

Around that time, a Filipino-English couple thousands of miles away in the US were visiting a conference as they explored what they thought would be a call to mission in Central or South America.

‘We talked to Foursquare Missions International about our desire to go to the mission field,’ Jonathan explains, ‘They asked the question, “Have you considered pastoring a church in Wales? Our first response was of course not – is Wales a mission field now?’ But the more they considered it, prayed and researched the more it seemed like God may have been preparing them for exactly that.

And when they visited Wales in 2019 , they felt at home. 

In December 2020, Jonathan and Nela were commissioned as missionaries to Wales by their sending church in California, but they did not know where exactly they were to go.

During the service, Nela received an unexpected vision of the ocean. In March 2021, she got another vision of an ocean as she was praying and that’s when she thought she heard God saying he was calling them to Tenby.

She also received Psalm 29 verse 3 – and Tenby’s motto is all about the sea! This was further confirmed by circumstances and prophetic words from others.

They arrived in Wales in summer 2021.

At the same time, Dave had heard of Jonathan and Nela’s arrival and invited them to come over and meet the church. The relationship blossomed, and Jonathan established a weekly drop-in ‘tech for seniors’ session for older people to come in and receive free help with their IT needs, building relationships with the community.

“So, we saw God do the impossible!” Dave affirms. “The membership voted unanimously for Jonathan and Nela to come here as joint pastors, which was just further confirmation. God has turned things around completely  – we now have four mid-week outreaches, and pastors coming to work here full-time with us. It has all been built on prayer.”

“So, we saw God do the impossible!”

Jonathan and Nela were inducted as ministers in a faith-filled service at Deer Park on Saturday 25th February 2023. Since their induction, they have seen attendance increase, with 20-25 at most Sunday services over the summer months.  They have rejoiced in accepting a new member into the church and they have also seen the start of multiple small local ministry and outreach efforts within the church.  The church feels “alive”! They are also praying for ways to reach the younger generations, and want to keep prayer as a key foundation in their ministry.

We are excited for what God has in store for Tenby! Let’s pray for Deer Park, Jonathan and Nela as they embark on this new adventure of faith in Tenby together!

For this story, and to read many more wonderful stories of God at work in Wales and across the world today, head to the BUW’s The Messenger Autumn 2023, and previous editions.

To find out more about Deer Park Tenby, visit their website at: Deer Park Baptist Church – A gospel-centered community following Jesus in Tenby.


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