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!