Skip to content

Getting to Know You :: Mark and Heather McKinstry

‘Getting to Know You’ introduces you to pastors and ministry leaders within the Fellowship of European International Church network. In this story, we feature Mark and Heather McKinstry, pastors of Malaga Christian Center in Malaga, Spain.

Share with us about your lives ‘pre-missions.’
Heather grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She attended North Central University for two years, received a B.A in Elementary Education from Alverno College, and a M.A. in TESOL from Southeastern University.

Mark grew up in Midland, Michigan. He received a B.S. in Cross Cultural Ministries and an M.A. in Strategic Leadership from North Central University.

Tell us about your call to ministry and what kind of work you did before you came to Europe.
We were both called into the ministry as teenagers. Before coming to Europe, Mark served as a staff pastor for 24 years at three different churches in Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Heather served for thirteen years in various schools and spent her last six years as an inter-city elementary school teacher in Milwaukee.

Is there any particular reason why you chose or felt called to plant an international church in Malaga? How long have you been there and how is it going?
Our call to Malaga started in 1991 when Mark came to the city on a young adult missions trip. We had wrestled with a call to missions for years and felt a release to pursue it in 2014. We began seriously exploring where God might be calling us and had many conversations with missionaries and mission leaders.

It wasn’t until we came to Malaga to pray and meet people in 2015 that we felt a definitive call to come. We served at the international church in Barcelona from 2017-2020 and arrived in Malaga to plant Malaga Christian Center in 2022. We are still in the early stages of church planting which includes getting to know the city, the people, and the culture.

We began our church plant by meeting for Bible study in homes and cafes. We then met one Sunday per month in an event space for just over a year. In March of this year, we signed a contract for a new ministry center and worship space in the city center. We started gathering there every Sunday on April 7.

We understand how challenging it can be to find a building for church. Tell us more about your new building!
Our new ministry center is a gift from God. We have been looking for a dedicated space since before we arrived in Malaga. We made a list of about 25 items we wanted in that space like location, parking, and dedicated children’s areas. In order to rent a space, we started a non-profit which gives us a legal covering. Our church meets there on Sunday mornings and for prayer meetings, fellowship times, and discipleship. We have various community events there every week. Our church planting team also meets together and works out of the ministry center too.

Describe the international community in Malaga.
There are over 60,000 internationals who live in Malaga and another 500,000 who live in the surrounding province. They come from all over the world with the majority coming from Spanish speaking countries. There are many expats living here from the United Kingdom, Northern Europe, and Russia. Most come here seeking sun and a slower pace of life.

What do you guys enjoy about working in international church ministry?
We love meeting people from all different countries and cultures. We love the curiosity that most express when they find out we are planting an international church. This opens the door for a lot of questions and faith conversations. We enjoy learning how people from different countries uniquely follow Jesus individually and in community. We love connecting with internationals as many in that season are more open to new ideas and new friendships.

What do you see as some of the most pressing challenges facing you in Malaga in terms of church planting?
The biggest challenges for us include establishing a solid team culture for the staff, working with the national church to legally organize our church in Spain, and the costs of operating a church in center city Malaga where cost of living is high, unemployment is high, and salaries for the locals are low.

Tell us about your family.
We have a daughter, Ashley, who is a pediatrician in Chicago, Illinois. She just got married in June of this year to Mark. Our younger daughter, Allie, is an environmental scientist in Milwaukee. She is married to Joey, and they have a son named Luca, who is our first grandchild!

They all love Jesus, serve in Church, and live their lives in a very missional way. We are super proud of them and grateful to God for His grace and mercy..

How can fellow FEIC member pastors pray for you guys?
Please pray for:
* Favor and wisdom with the national church
* Hundreds of friends to come to faith in Jesus
* God to connect us with more believers looking for a church
* The newly saved to be discipled and grow in their faith

For more information about Malaga Christian Center see:

Back To Top