On Thursday the 8th of September 2016, after spending some time in a chapel praying, I launched Virtue Ministry into the world. This little idea that began with a personal conviction was formed into something much greater than I could ever have imagined. You can read the Genesis of VM article over on the blogs section of our website.
Every year, as this time approaches, some different aspect of ministry will capture my attention. Some years it’s about our mission and work, other years it’s about its inception, and other years again, the people we have encountered. This year it was the team.
June of 2016, I flew back to Norway to visit my family. I have memories of sitting on my parent’s balcony swing, drawing, drafting and talking to God about what He wanted to see. I still have scribblings of the original logo and website designs in my notebook. Towards the end of the trip, my parents invited me on a pilgrimage to Fatima, Portugal. They had been once before and wanted to show me the place, and I gratefully accepted, thinking this would be a wonderful spiritual opportunity for extra prayers before launching this ministry. It seemed fitting. Little did I realise just how powerful and meaningful that experience would end up becoming, but that’s a story for another day.
On 24th June 2016, the feast of John the Baptist, we visited many of the holy sites at Fatima, including the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima, Basilica of the Holy Trinity, and the chapel of the apparitions, where my parents invited me to light a candle and make a prayer request. I vividly remember mum saying to me ‘pray for anything you like Stina. Anything your heart desires. Dad and I will pray too’. I was so touched by their openness to my heart’s desire regardless of what it was, and their willingness to intercede for me too. I remember walking over the grounds between the Basilica and the Sanctuary on a cool day. The place was quite empty, mostly because it was a quieter season for pilgrims. My parents wanted to pick out the longest candle they could find for me, and meanwhile I was having an internal battle. What is the one thing my heart desires most right now? The very first thing that came to mind was Virtue Ministry.
I narrowed it down to one thing. The only thing that made sense, I just wanted His will to be done. That was the only prayer that made my heart sing for joy and equally rest peacefully.
Having made up my mind, I entered the candle lighting area carrying an exceptionally long candle my parents had selected for me and a heart with nothing more than ‘Lord, anything that you like’. I spotted a lit candle, bent over and burning between two tall pillar looking candles, and something about that resonated with me. So I went to light my candle. What happened next was nothing short of surprising to me. Here I was at ease, when suddenly a surge of urgency came forth, with my mind, body and soul all in unison screaming ‘Virtue Ministry’. It took conscious effort to keep my lips tightly closed so it wouldn’t come out as an audible sound!
My heart was screaming: ‘For Virtue Ministry! – the team, the people we encounter, its mission’. Every part of me was united in that one prayer which startled me for a couple of moments. Then when my mind followed up with ‘if it pleases You’, the urgency departed, and peace regained once more. What was that about?
Back in 2016, there was no team for Virtue Ministry, it was just me. Now in 2022, as I sat meditating on all the gifts this ministry has received, I was moved to find our newest member of the team was visiting Fatima ahead of Virtue Ministry’s Birthday. Six years later, our Social Media and Marketing whizz, Grace Feltoe, sent me a picture lighting a candle with a prayer for Virtue Ministry in the very place I had once been allowed to pray for her, before I even knew we would one day have her on the VM team. That’s God and His Goodness.
To say I fought back tears is an understatement.
Stina was born and raised a Norwegian and completed her Bachelor of Psychology and Master of Social Work in Australia. She is a Family & Relationship Counsellor (individuals, couples and children), and the former Young Female City Ambassador (Miss Wagga Wagga 2019) for Wagga Wagga, NSW. Stina also works with separated families and supporting TAFE NSW Students through their Education.