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Missionary story of new Norwich church leader 

The African-born son of former missionary parents has been appointed as the new Assistant Leader at Oak Grove Community Church in Norwich. Keith Morris reports.

Daniel Starling was born in Chad, Central Africa, where his Norwich-based parents, Graham and Shelagh, were missionaries in the small town of Bebalem with Christian charity MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship).


Graham was a pilot and flew missionary doctors, nurses, aid workers, teachers and evangelists around the vast but sparsely-populated country. The couple already had two small children when Daniel was born at the mission hospital.


But tragedy struck when Daniel was only one-year-old, when Shelagh contracted malaria and subsequently died of an infection.


The family moved back to the UK and settled in Folkestone. When Daniel was at high school they moved back to Norwich and Oak Grove where his grandparents were based.


“Engaged with the youth work at Oak Grove, I decided to make my family’s faith my own and pursue a relationship with Jesus,” said Daniel. “I made the decision to get baptised aged 15 on Easter Sunday.

Jesus has continued to be good to me my entire life, he’s always been a great comfort in times of mourning and a friend to celebrate with when life goes well.


“I have worshipped at Oak Grove Community Church ever since and the church family have developed my spiritual gifts over the years. I met my wife there, we have now been married seven years with a beautiful daughter who also adores the Oak Grove family.


“When I left uni, I wasn’t sure what God wanted to do with my life, it felt like a toss-up between working in the video games industry or pursuing Youth work so I applied for all the jobs I could find for both. God granted me a part-time position at Integrate Youth For Christ and a year later, an additional part-time gig with North Breckland Youth For Christ.


“I cannot begin to express the gratitude I have for the lessons I have learned, the memories I hold and the role models I’ve met over my tenure at Youth For Christ. In that time, God was preparing me for a role in which I can serve the community where I live and worship and I’m incredibly excited for the next season.”


As Assistant Leader at Oak Grove Community Church, Daniel will be overseeing the youth and children’s work within the church and community.

Darren Woodward, Senior Leader, said: “We are really excited to welcome Daniel on to the staff team at Oak Grove, and are looking forward to seeing the impact that God will have in this community through his ministry.


“His appointment comes at the perfect time as we emerge from a pandemic-affected 18 months, stepping into the future under God’s guidance working to see his kingdom come in North Norwich.”


There will be a commissioning service for Daniel on Sunday October 17, 10am at The Hub, Catton Grove Primary School and Aled Griffith, leader of the Synergy family of churches, which Oak Grove is part of, will be preaching. 


Oak Grove Community Church gathers together every Sunday at 10am at The Hub, Catton Grove Primary School, Weston Road and weekly activities take place at The Chapel, 70 Catton Grove Road.




Pictured above is Daniel Starling, new Assistant Leader at Oak Grove Community Church.


Keith Morris, 13/10/2021

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