A RUSTINGTON couple celebrating their golden wedding in Texas were presented with an official flag once flown over the United States Capitol in Washington DC in their honour.
Norman and Grace Barnes, of Emmabrooke Court, Rustington, were in Azle, near Fort Worth in Texas on a farewell trip, having preached and taught at churches in the USA for the last 28 years.
A gala dinner in their honour was attended by church leaders from across the States.
Norman said: “I think that there is no greater honour we could get outside of America. It’s normally reserved for big heads of state. We’re both so pleased.”
Originally from London, Norman, 72, and Grace, 79, became Christians and started to travel the world in their teenage years, and have not stopped since.
They became pastors of Chadwell Christian Mission, and a trip to Germany and then Ghana in 1979 opened up opportunities for them to travel, preach and teach across Africa.
Since then, they have spoken in many more countries and set up the missionary organisation Links International, linking churches and individuals in the UK with others around the world.
Their evangelical organ-isation has provided help to many communities across Africa, India, Thailand and the Philippines.
It has concentrated on supplying aid through sustainable projects such as wells and clean water systems, micro finance, health care, and education in the Amazon.
After 21 years as chief executive, Norman handed over responsibility for Links International nine years ago. The organisation, with its office in Rustington, continues to distribute more than £1 million a year to needy communities.
Norman and Grace say they now count Arun Community Church as their spiritual home.
Though they have no biological children of their own, very many people around the world regard them as their parents.
Now, rather than Norman and Grace travelling to visit others, they are preparing for more people to come and visit them in this country and benefit from their vast knowledge and experience.
Norman said their marriage secret was to never go to bed without talking and praying together each day.