Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Where has PJ lived?
A: In the UK until age 13 (1971-1984); in Zimbabwe until age 33 (1984-2004); then in South Africa (2004-2016) until age 45. PJ and family relocated to Maryland in December 2016.
Q: What is his citizenship?
A: PJ is a UK citizen, who enjoyed the status of permanent residence in Zimbabwe, and then in South Africa. Ashleigh is a South African citizen.
Q: Describe PJ’s educational background.
A: PJ attained ‘O’ Levels (aged 16 years) and ‘A’ Levels (aged 18 years), and university degrees from Cape Town University and the University of South Africa in Biblical Studies and Church History.
Q: Describe PJ’s spiritual background.
A: PJ came to faith as a young boy, although he feels he properly owned his faith at age 15. Because he was at boarding schools from ages 8 to 18, PJ's first genuine experience of local church life came during college. He attended His People Church in Cape Town throughout his university years, and during that time felt God speak to him about one day leading a church.
PJ reflects on three primary shaping spiritual influences. First, his parents. John and Anne Smyth (who live in Cape Town), led PJ to faith and instilled in him a love for God’s Word and for leadership. Second, His People Church in Cape Town. His People taught PJ about the importance of faith, courage and excellence in ministry. Third, Newfrontiers. Terry Virgo, and other Newfrontiers men and women, taught PJ about the importance of the local church, the Holy Spirit and the grace of God.
Q: What are the churches PJ has led in Africa?
A: River of Life Church in Harare, Zimbabwe. GodFirst Church in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Q: How did the Advance movement of churches evolve, and what is PJ’s role with Advance?
A: When Terry Virgo stepped back from leading Newfrontiers in 2011, he encouraged several men to continue the greater mission of Newfrontiers by developing their own movements of churches. In 2012, assisted by Steve Van Rhyn, Rigby Wallace and Peter Howard-Brown, PJ started the Advance movement of churches. Advance is a family of churches that partner together to plant and strengthen churches. PJ leads the Global Team that guides the Advance partnership on five continents.
Q: Is Covenant Life Church planning to join Advance?
A: A number of Covenant Life elders and wives have attended Advance gatherings in the last year and are sharing their impressions with the congregation through members meetings, coffees and one-on-one interactions. To help the church learn more in 2017 and extend hospitality to the leaders of Advance, Covenant Life will host an Advance Global Conference in June, with two evening sessions open to the congregation and many opportunities to serve during the event. Ultimately, Covenant Life's affiliation with a network of churches will require both congregational involvement and a vote of affirmation.
Q: Where can I get more information on Advance?
A: Visit advancemovement.com
Q: When will PJ preach for the first time as Lead Pastor?
A: PJ will bring a brief message at the Christmas Eve service on Saturday, December 24, at 6:30 p.m. His first Sunday preaching will be January 8, 2017.
Q: Where can I hear some of PJ’s sermons?
A: PJ’s messages preached at Covenant Life are here.
Q: How can we be praying for PJ, Ashleigh and family?
A: For a smooth and fulfilling departure from their lives in South Africa, and an easy transition into their new lives in the USA. That they would all understand American culture in record time, and make good friends. That God would show them whether to support the Nats or the Orioles.