Hailing from Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland, Philip McAlister and his wife, Ruth, have three children, Stephen, Jonathan, and Ruth, and one granddaughter. Philip is field strategy coordinator for Northern Europe on the Eurasia Region, which includes Ireland, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Germany, Switzerland, and Hungary.
Q: What would HT readers be surprised to learn about you?
A: I was a high school physical education teacher for eight years before entering ministry. (I was 40 pounds lighter in those days.)
Q: What is the best thing about your life?
A: Seeing my family involved in the church. I am a first generation Christian. There is nothing I like more than to see my family in church and following the Lord.
Q: What habit would you like to change?
A: Leaving a mess on my desk.
Q: Is there a habit would you like to start?
A: Watching sports on TV.
Q: What word do you overuse?
Q: Name a misconception about Northern Ireland.
A: Many believe that people kill each other here in the name of religion.
Q: How has being a resident of Northern Ireland affected your view of the world?
A: Raised in the "Protestant tradition," I was taught not to trust people from the "other" tradition. I recall sitting on my grandmother's knee and being told not to trust "them" because "they" would stab me in the back if they got the chance. Before coming to Christ, I was a bigot and sectarian. Since Jesus Christ came into my life and changed me, suspicion of others' motives is one area that I have had to battle.
Q: What's a key to conflict resolution?
A: I have sat in a room with former terrorists from both sides in Northern Ireland, brought together by personal faith in Jesus Christ and a desire for peace.
Q: Define "peace."
A: Peace is knowing that the vertical relationship with God is intact. If the vertical relationship is correct then there is hope that the horizontal relationships can be intact, also.
Q: Where do Nazarenes fit into the religious landscape of Northern Ireland?
A: The Church of the Nazarene has been in Northern Ireland for almost 60 years. Currently we have 12 churches in Northern Ireland plus one church plant, which was initiated in 2006.
Q: What book, other than the Bible, has impacted you the most?
A: The Gospel According to Mother Goose by Edmund Wells and the story of "Little Jack Horner." The writer illustrates how a motel became a nursing home and said, "If the church is not on the highway of life it will become a nursing home for saints." When I read that statement I determined that whatever church I pastored would be a church on the street corner of life.
Q: Do you have a ministry motto?
A: "If they are not going to come to us, we are going to go to them."
Q: How do you relax?
A: I enjoy offshore fishing. I rarely catch anything and when I do, I release it, but I love being near the sea and God's creation.
Q: Who has had the greatest influence on your life, other than family members?
A: Les Hands, a Nazarene elder. I followed him as pastor in my first church. He retired and stayed to help a young pastor find his way in ministry.
Holiness Today, January/February 2007