Author: Sam Hutchens

Remarkable

I’ve not been keeping up with posting about our journeys and experiences thus far, and I intend to change that in the coming weeks. We are getting ready to send out our first prayer letter in the next week or so (email me at shutchens.nz@gmail.com to receive a monthly copy via email), so I can’t reveal too much and spoil the letter. We have had, however, a blessed six weeks on the deputation trail.

We’ve had meetings in Canada, Minnesota, Louisiana, Florida, North Carolina, and tonight we finish a missions conference in West Virginia. We have seen old friends and made brand new ones as well. We’ve had incredibly long drives at times, and other days we’ve had the chance to get out of the car and “smell the roses.” We’ve seen church plants being pastored by two stellar WCBC grads, Josh Robinson and Jonathan Redford. We’ve congratulated a pastor on his 40th anniversary of pastoral ministry. We’ve yet to come close to lacking – the Lord has supplied for needs in an irrefutable way. We’ve had our desire to get New Zealand and to get there quickly enlarged. After six weeks and thirteen meetings, we sit at 12.23% of our needed support raised, with more promised.

But we’re only six weeks in; still a long way to go. Despite that, one word has already defined this period of our lives:

Remarkable.

It’s remarkable to think that the God of the universe loved me enough to come to this earth as a human being and pay my sin penalty on the cross, only to rise again three days later to prove his undeniable power over death.

It’s remarkable the spirit of unity and giving we have seen in the churches we have visited as they invest in us to take the Gospel to another country.

It’s remarkable to see how God is using people with whom we have become close friends to reach their Jerusalem.

It’s remarkable that I get to make this incredible journey with a loving wife and a cheerful daughter.

It’s remarkable that every single need has not only been met, but been exceeded.

It’s remarkable to meet godly Christian laypeople who desire to reach those who don’t know in the Lord in lands they’ve never even seen.

It’s remarkable that I get to travel across this great nation.

It’s remarkable that God would allow me to serve Him in a beautiful nation like New Zealand.

Fellow Christian, sometimes we need to stop and think about how tremendously blessed we truly are. Whether your mission field is the neighborhood in which you live, or a country across the ocean, realize we are blessed with the gift of salvation. We are blessed with friends and family. We are blessed with material possessions. We are blessed with our bond we have with other Christians in Christ. We are blessed to serve the King of Kings!

Today I couldn’t help but think on these things and be grateful. May I challenge you, wherever you may be, to do the same. Stop. Turn off the phone. Stop thinking about what you don’t have. Consider what God has done for you and what you get to do for the love of Christ.

It’s just remarkable, isn’t it?

Why Christchurch?

If you’re like I was about 12 months ago, you probably don’t know very much about the country of New Zealand or the city of Christchurch. Several of the questions I’ve been asked recently were questions that sounded in my mind at first.

“New Zealand — where exactly is that located?”

“Is Christchurch the actual NAME of the city?”

“Do they speak English there?”

“Wait — winter is in JUNE, JULY, & AUGUST?!”

Hopefully, I can answer some of the questions as well as the more obvious one to all of us — “How in the world did you choose Christchurch?”

New Zealand is located approximately 1,200 miles to the southeast of the country and continent of Australia. The country was founded on February 6, 1840 and was settled by the British. Today, New Zealand is considered a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, alongside other recognizable nations such as Canada, the UK, & Australia. The nation is divided into two islands (appropriately called the ‘North Island’ and ‘South Island’) and has a total population of 4.2 million. Over a quarter of the population is found in and around the city of Auckland, on the northern portion of the North Island. The capital city of Wellington is home to a little over 200,000 people, but the entirety of the urban area has a population of right at 400,000, making it the 2nd largest urban area in the country. Wellington is located on the southern tip of the North Island.

Christchurch is the largest city on the South Island, and the 3rd largest urban area in New Zealand, with a total population of approximately 366,000. It is located halfway down the east coast of the island. The climate is considered to be sub-tropical, with moderate summers and cool winters. The average summertime high will be around 72-75 degrees in January (the warmest month) and the average wintertime high will be around 50-52 degrees in the month of July (the coolest month). Snowfall typically occurs once or twice a winter — snowfalls in July and August of 2011 are some of the more recent severe snowstorms on record.

I first heard about Christchurch in March of 2015, right after my pastor visited the city. At the time, my wife and I were praying about possibly going into missions and/or church planting. We had prayed about many areas in the United States and the world, but had yet to have peace about any one area. Pastor Chappell had become acquainted with a small congregation there that was without a pastor, and he mentioned this to our church as a prayer request during a Sunday evening service. Immediately our interest was piqued, and we began praying about the opportunity. It was a slow process of learning and praying, but in November of 2015, I had the opportunity to fly over and see the area, and it was during that time that the Lord confirmed in my heart that this was where He would have us to go. In the months since the Lord has made it clear that He would have us move to Christchurch, New Zealand.

It’s a simple story – not a lot of glamour. When it comes to discerning the Lord’s will, especially in the area of a major calling such as this, there is a lot of discussion — many times accompanied with confusion. I have personally claimed the promise of Psalm 37:4…

Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

When I read that verse, I’m not thinking that if I follow the Lord, I’ll convince Him to give me what I want; rather, I believe it means that if I follow the Lord, He will makes the desires of HIS heart the desires of MY heart. That doesn’t mean that I got to New Zealand and immediately knew that what’s God wanted for us. I was actually pretty nervous about figuring it all out. I had a ton of thoughts flying through my mind — until my first morning there. I woke up, grabbed my Bible for my devotions, and read Proverbs 16:3…

Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.

In that moment, I realized that if I would simply do what I knew the Lord wanted me to do in that moment – preach, teach, encourage, pray, etc – He would establish my thoughts. So I committed that week to him, and 7 days later I boarded a plane with a quiet confidence that I would be back.

Our goals for our ministry in New Zealand are as follows:

  • To help to organize via a restart and to pastor the church already there in NZ.
  • To evangelize, baptize, and disciple.
  • To encourage and edify believers through the preaching and teaching of the Word of God.
  • Ultimately, to start other churches from this church that we will be working with. I would love for this church in Christchurch to turn into a “mother” church for dozens of other church plants both in New Zealand and around the world.

With that in mind, we have the following prayer requests:

  • For a fruitful finish to our work and ministry at LBC/WCBC/LBS.
  • For a speedy deputation process. The small congregation I mentioned earlier that is without a pastor has indicated that they would like to join us in the starting of this new church. As a result, I feel a great burden to get there quickly due to the fact that there are people ready and willing to work and needing someone to minister to them.
  • For an easy transition on my family – moving to the far side of the world is not a light task!
  • For a smooth application process for our visas.

We appreciate your prayers and support! Please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have concerning our family and/or future ministry!

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