It can be hard to know where to pick up, when communication has been so sporadic. Let me open some small snippets of the fabric of ministry over these last few months in the hope that you will get a chance to put together something of the larger picture.
Cafe Conversation (overheard on campus)
“that girl is such a bitch. yeah the Christian one – she was crying and saying something about being hurt and putting it all on everyone else. She is never to blame. Hypocrite. They’re all like that. Did you hear about…”
I quietly prayed before God whilst sat at the table next to this conversation. “Father, move these women to see the reality of who you are – to move beyond petty judgementalism and to see Jesus. Help this Christian woman they know to own and live for Jesus in ways that transform her from evident selfishness to selfless joy”
“just remembered: I arrived in NZ 5 years ago today. I was nervous about much in the 'future' - I am now thankful for all that lies behind!” June 29th 2010
Students gathered outside the venue for the conference to begin. I’m responsible for the programme and the smooth running. I feel woefully inadequate and more than a little stressed. What will the students think? What will my colleagues think? How will it go? What will guests from mission agencies think? How will it go? They look at me as I read the opening challenge of the conference “The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.” (Psalm 24)
“Oh God my hands and heart are not clean. Right now I’m self absorbed. But for Jesus I have no hope. Have mercy and use what I, what we, have prepared that you might be glorified as these men and women are taught your Word. Draw near and do what you would purpose”
4 days later tweeting: “heading to bed at the end of the last full day of TSCF Ntl Conf. Been a great day and brilliant evening. Feel privileged 2 serve in this way”
On a full day of preaching on Christ in the Workplace (3 morning and 1 evening services) at our church we took some time to walk together as a family in some cracking winter sun. It was a perfect time together just talking, walking the dogs, enjoying Auckland life. Thankful for my family.
Gillian and Shi-Ern joined me from NZ travelling to Australia as I spoke at a student weekend. Nursing and science students working out what it means to be community under God’s care and call. Stunning scenery of the Blue Mountains and standing to speak on two nights when my body clock was telling me it was near midnight. Seeing some students convicted and encouraged by the call of God. Praying that God would use me through frailty. Glad of friends and colleagues who would travel so far and risk much in partnership.
New Life in Auckland
Dave has just become a Christian. A lecturer who was profoundly impacted by the life and faith of one of his students. We were introduced to one another by said student. We’ve been meeting for a few weeks. We eat, drink coffee, talk about life and Jesus and life in Jesus. “I feel like, well, like I’ve got a new life… kinda like we look at in the gospel a few weeks ago.” I smiled, what else could I do?
An Average Day
Working at orientation at Manukau Institute of Technology and meeting with a team leader to plan campus ministry. 2 tweets say it all.
The TSCF staff team gather for our annual training event. I look around the room. Two potential new staff here for a ‘look-see’. Reports of more staff coming. Friends and colleagues speak of encouragements and struggles: students coming to faith, personal disappointments, frustratingly stubborn issues, predictably frustrating people, pain in loss and joy in gain. These people are as family. We pray, talk, laugh, cry, eat, walk, relax and work hard together.
Fly Away Comments
sitting in the airport waiting for another flight. grateful that air travel shortens travel time so that national work means a more sensible schedule than would otherwise be possible. Still sometimes feel I spend more time with Air New Zealand staff than is healthy. Sometimes feel guilty wondering what people who pray and give are wondering about my travel. I pray that my wandering will be effective and give thanks for those who support so that I can support and work in gospel endeavours here in NZ and around the Pacific.
Every time I see Elliot I thank God for him. He is passionate about Jesus, about living with integrity, about passing on the hope and power of the gospel, about people, about life lived as worship from footie field to bible study and on into worship leading at conferences and church. He always has been from student leader at AUT to staff member and most importantly for me, a friend and brother. He thinks he’s learned some stuff from me, I’ve learned heaps from him and God’s work in us both. I continue to learn from and be grateful for the lasting fruit of the gospel in his life.
We gathered with 150 professionals in all sorts of disciplines and professions at the Catalyst conference. “This is not the conference I was expecting, but it is the conference I needed”. We are witnessing many avenues of ministry opening up among postgraduate students and recent graduates in the workplace. Our work is to see them transition and contribute – picking up and applying the gospel they came to love as students into this new phase of life and service. Mark Grace is heading up this ministry and it is amazing to see it unfold.
Ongoing Call and Partnership
In 4 days time Ines, the kids and I will have been in New Zealand for 5 years. I’m writing this on the 5th anniversary of when we left the UK (we spent 4 days in Singapore in between!) Nigel Pollock asked us if we’d consider coming to NZ in November 2004. When he did we sensed God calling us but we knew nothing of the details.
Now we call this land home, we have a sense of place here and have invested time, work, prayer, life and at time tears. We have seen much that has transformed us and the work here. We have been humbled and broken that we might be lifted up and made whole. We have seen many miracles and answers to prayer. The work continues. The calling is clearer and stronger now than it was when we arrived. For this, and for so much more, I’m really thankful.