'Mr Frodo sir!' - a view over 'The Shire" the part of Waikato region that Peter Jackson used for filming Hobbiton
The conference ended Sunday lunchtime (3.7.05) and I moved on with the UCCF team and Val Goold (TSCF Head of Student Ministries) to Papa Moa before heading south for staff conference on the Monday. We drove through the most incredible countryside – stopped on a ‘scenic view’ lay-by to survey the beauty.
“Just down there,” Val pointed to a set of hills that looked as though some child had drawn them and coloured them in the brightest of greens, “is where the Shire was.” You could see why Peter Jackson had chosen this area of the Waikato to set the scenes of innocent joy in Hobbiton, why it would be this part of New Zealand representing that which most needed protecting in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It is truly beautiful and the picture above does not do justice to the expansive reality of how painfully beautiful this area is, as are many other parts of New Zealand.
It is little wonder that often Kiwi’s refer to this land as ‘Godzone’ – its God’s own country, he kept the best for himself! Yet, at the heart of much of this land is a secularism that inherently denies the existence of God, let alone his claim to the rule our lives. The stunning beauty of this land and the stubborn pride of the Kiwi’s in ‘all that we have made by our own effort’ is put into sharp relief by Romans 1.18-22
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools”
It is not an unfriendly place, I am not miserable here: in fact I am delighted that God has called us to such an amazing place and feel a great sense of responsibility to come and take up his call to be involved in his work among this people. For although they ARE deserving of his judgement, they are no more so rebellious or foolish than any other people on the face of the earth
“`Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.' But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?” Romans 10.13-14
I’m joining a team of people who love him because he has called them to himself through faith in Jesus, I am coming to proclaim him and to enable others to do so – looking out over ‘the Shire’ made me profoundly grateful for this privilege and amazingly excited that it should be here and now that he has called me, Ines and the kids to love and serve him.