Back in the 1970’s John and Dona Duckhorn and Richard and Nancye Yarrall worked together as church planters in the Andes mountains in the north-east of Colombia. Seeing the need for workers they often talked about ways of stimulating young people to be involved in evangelistic outreach. They took with them on their trips young people from churches in Colombia to catch a vision of serving the Lord. They also thought about taking teams of young people from the USA and New Zealand to be involved in short-term missions. For several years these ideas “simmered on the back burner.” Meanwhile Richard and Nancye Yarrall were led by the Lord from Colombia to Los Angeles to develop a ministry among the growing population of Latinos who were migrating to the USA looking for a better way of life.
While on vacation together in New Zealand in October 2004 the concept of STEP finally came together. One day John and Dona and Richard and Nancye were hiking around Mount Maunganui near Tauranga. John and Richard stopped under a tree and John declared, “I know what we’ll call it. We’ll call it STEP – Summer Team Evangelism Program.” (The word program got tweaked along the way to participation and then to partnership). A vision was realized! John went home to recruit young people from the Mid-west to attend STEP, while Richard worked in Los Angeles to encourage and motivate the Board of Latino Evangelistic Ministries, Inc. and the two churches in Westminster, Westminster Bible Chapel (English speaking) and its sister church Iglesia Cristiana de Westminster (Spanish speaking) who would host the program. The first STEP outreach took place in June 2006 and thereafter each year until 2012, with the exception of 2011.