Saturday, March 12, 2011

American Friends, We are OK.

Hi all - a note to say we are OK - the physical impact on New Zealand was pretty minimal (I believe the waves were about 20 inches high when they reached our coast). Our hearts are pretty heavy after watching the footage in Japan. We are praying for the country as they continue to respond to the tragedy.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Significance of March

March is a significant month for us here in New Zealand. It was back in 2004, about this same time, that I first stepped off a plane in Auckland for the first time to help plan and launch the Wesleyan Church’s youth camp. I still remember heading home after that trip was over. For most of my waking moments on that flight, I remember thinking through how I could share the experience with DaNae and Caleb. I had expected to spend a week planning and learning and instead, fell in love with a culture on the other side of the globe. You could say that our journey here started on that trip.

March 2004 is also significant for cession|community. It was then that cession|community was birthed as a church by East City Wesleyan (ECW). Brett and the early leaders had a vision for a community that reached out to young adults not necessarily connected to a traditional church. They began meeting on Sundays in the early evening in the same space ECW met in the morning. Who would have known that this dream would have developed as it has – cession has grown from a starting group of people to a community reaching out to the people and families God has placed about them. So, I guess their journey started about the same time.

The reason I was reminiscing like this about us and cession is because March 2011 is another marker for our shared journeys. DaNae and I came here to partner with cession and help lead their community ministries and we do that through a community trust the church has established. This past week has been huge for us because we’ve made two big steps forward.

In December, we were asked to staff the Depot (the community center that we meet in) with a youth worker who could act as a chaplain for students in some of the programs there. This week, Paul (cession’s Intern Pastor), along with Sara (a cession member), started a weekly class discussion/teaching time centered on life topics with a biblical perspective. They start with a video and then facilitate a class discussion afterward so begin building relationships with the students in class. Paul also has office hours at the Depot where he can be present as needed. I think what excites me most about this is the match with Paul. It allows him to focus on counseling and one-on-one ministry (a sweet spot for him).

In December, we also saw God working in another way when Sara began pursuing a dream she had for a music ministry to at-risk students in our area. God started moving the roadblocks in a serious way for her (new job that freed up her schedule, time to think and plan so her dream could happen, a grant we could apply for to purchase instruments). She already has two schools interested in the program and just needs drums for it to happen. This week, we sent in our first grant application. We know it was received on time and is being evaluated as you read this.

This may not seem like a big deal to Americans as you read this but it is here. Grants are one avenue the New Zealand government uses to address social and community needs. Cession has known they were there but never tried to access them before, largely because they didn’t have a point person to lead the process. With DaNae and I here, they now have that point person, which gave Sara the freedom to run with her vision and pursue funds. She was a superstar in this process. Please pray as we wait to hear if the application was approved.

We share this with you because many of you were key players in making this happen. We couldn’t have made it here if it weren’t for the support of a huge team. Your investment has enabled us to be involved with cession|community and has helped to give birth to these dreams of ministry. All this started with investments and action in 2004 – seven years ago. I can’t help but wonder what another seven years will bring!