Friday, 2 June 2023, 13:26
Nick Miller is the current pastor at Nerja's New Life Church. He and his wife Linda have lived in the town since July 2020, but their relationship with the area and indeed Spain goes back much further.
Nick, 70, was born in London but lived in a number of places in the UK as the family moved around because of his father's job. He worked as a navigating officer in the merchant navy from 1970, until an accident meant that he had to leave in 1980. "I got to see the world," Nick says of his time in the navy and with two uncles who were master mariners he says that the sea "is sort of in the blood".
After leaving the merchant navy, Nick got a job at the London department store Selfridges, working in the health, safety and fire department, where he stayed for four years. But with the compensation money he received from the accident he had while in the navy, Nick set up his own painting and decorating business and the couple settled in the Essex seaside town of Frinton-on-Sea.
Nick said it was during that time that he became a Christian and the couple got involved in the local church.
They spent three years at Birmingham Bible Institute and Nick explains that they "had a calling to serve God abroad". In 1993 the couple, along with their young daughter Natalie, emigrated to Madrid where they worked with an English-speaking church.
During their time in Madrid, Linda was involved in a women's prayer group through which she had contact with other English-speaking churches in Spain and in particular along the Costa del Sol. They became close friends with a lady called Jean Parker, who was involved in the then Fellowship of the King church in Nerja and they came down to visit her regularly. While they were in Nerja, they would go to the church with Jean.
Nick and Linda stayed in Madrid for 11 years. However, in 2004 a combination of their parents' declining health and Natalie away studying at university in England, made them decide to return home.
But their love affair with the country they had called home for 11 years hadn't ended; in 2006, Linda and Nick decided to buy a flat in Algarrobo Pueblo, which meant that they continued to visit regularly and whenever they came, they would go to Nerja and to the church.
In 2017, and with plans to retire in the UK, they decided to sell the flat. But, Nick explains, "For three years, nothing happened. We had different estate agents and only had two viewings."
What happened in July 2020, four months into the Covid pandemic, can only be described as a miracle. "Out of the blue we received a phone call from the estate agent saying that a local family wanted to buy the flat. Less than 24 hours later, we had another phone call from someone at the Nerja church asking us if we would go over and help out. The then pastor had left and the church was struggling," Nick explains.
So with no plans to return to Spain to live, Nick and Linda's lives did a complete U-turn. Three years later, was it the right decision? "Absolutely," confirms Nick, who says that he and Linda "are very much a team".
Although Nick is officially the pastor, the couple work together to keep the church and its various activities going. Nick says that attendance has gone up, they have a core membership of around 15 people and a lot of returning visitors. The church attracts mainly British, but also Irish, Dutch, Belgian, Scandinavians, Finnish and Americans. "It's a lovely mix," Nick says.
The church works closely with Club Internacional de Nerja where Nick is quiz master for their regular quiz night. They worked together to support the Ukrainian refugees who came to the Axarquía on the bus organised by Nerja residents in March 2022. The church also supports Nerja Solidaria foodbank.
At the church in Pasaje San Miguel in Nerja, they organise activities including bible study, prayer groups, games afternoons and regular breakfast meetings; weekly Sunday services take place at 11am.
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