Monday, October 31, 2016

October Update - the last 2 months

Much needed caffeine after arriving back in NZ after 20+ hours of travelling.
Wow, it’s been just over two months since we’ve returned back to NZ. It doesn’t seem like 8 weeks have gone by since we returned from the US. I thought it would be good to share what has happened since we returned.

Kitchen demo of the SIM house where we will live.
SIM House Remodel – We started with SIM fulltime as soon as we returned. Some of you may remember that I started part-time (2 days/week) in May to get to know our staff, missionaries, and experience how SIM NZ is run. Even though I wasn’t supposed to start fulltime until the beginning of September, SIM hired me to remodel their guest house (our future/current home that we rent from them). So, on 15 August, we started demolition of an old kitchen and bathroom and began repainting walls. Our hope was to get as much done as we could before the beginning of September when I needed to be in the office more.

Needless to say, it’s October and the remodel is still progressing. We moved in in the middle of September with the cosmetic bits done and one working bathroom. I feel like I did when our family built our house in NH – I keep things moving forward after work and on weekends. We added running water in the kitchen a few weeks ago. The kitchen is 95% done and the bathroom/laundry should be usable in the next few days.

Oasis Home – Some of you also may be aware that we helped out a special needs respite care home here in Auckland. When we landed on the 12th of August, we moved back in as house parents for a month. It both gave us a place to land while the remodel progressed and helped the organisation (they are in-between fulltime house parents right now). Oasis Home is such a cool model to support families with special needs children. Each month, families are allocated a number of nights of respite care where Oasis staff care for their child. It gives mum, dad, and the family a break from the 24/7 care needed for their child. We knew once the SIM transition picked up speed, we couldn’t sustain this but wanted to help when we could. It was a great month with a lovely staff and great bunch of kids.
House Shift – We moved house on 17 September. Thanks to the help of a number of friends from church, we were able to shift in one day. We’re blessed with a great community here that actively supports each other.

The best part saved for last – I formally started the transition into the director role at the beginning of Sept when we started our meetings with the SIM community throughout NZ. We have a great team in New Zealand that I get to work with. The board has supported an extended handover for me to get to know them and to get to know our wider SIM community. To do the latter, Nigel, the current director, and I have been meeting with folks throughout NZ.

My first meeting was with a retired 93 year old missionary. Olwyn felt a call to serve God with her skills as a librarian and served for years in Africa as a librarian for a couple of schools. At 93, she still wants to serve God!

Since then, we’ve travelled from Whangarei (3 hours north of where we live) to Dunedin (bottom of the South Island). Best I can tell, we’ve travelled over 9100 km meeting with missionaries, churches, and supporters of SIM. I’ve had the blessing to meet with supporters who have met in prayer groups to pray for SIM for over 35 years. I’ve spent time with a missionary family preparing to leave a 14 year healthy ministry so they can train church leaders in Malawi. I’ve seen how churches throughout NZ have really partnered with SIM NZ. They don’t just give money – they are active in the regular connection and sharing with the missionaries they support and see them as an extension of their church family. Just this weekend, we saw a church raise over $20k for the missionaries they support through a church dinner and auction (Christmas cakes were selling for $400!). I’ve stumbled into conversations with people like Carol, a retired missionary with heaps of energy and enthusiasm. As a missionary builder, her dad built the hospital in Liberia that just recently was the point of care during the recent Ebola outbreak. She shared more of his story as well, including church planting efforts in Ethiopia and a season as the SIM NZ director (75 years ago). I love seeing how God uses a faithful response years ago to prepare for what he needs today!

East Taieri Church - SIM has ties back to 1907 when they
launched the Bolivian Indian Mission (now part of SIM)
I think my most memorable part so far, though, was a Sunday at the beginning of our tour. My first chance to preach as the incoming director was at East Taieri Church on the South Island. In 1907, this church sent out 2 missionaries (George and Mary Allan) to Bolivia to start the Bolivian Indian Mission (BIM). In the 80’s a mission organisations merged into SIM - BIM was one of them. So, before I even arrived, the place was significant to me. This was a church community that had embraced mission since the NZ historical component of SIM (BIM) started. God was good – I felt He gave me a message to preach, despite the challenges of time and travel that we felt leading up to Sunday. For a pastor, it should always feel like hallowed ground when you step into the pulpit. But, the reality is that some Sundays, it’s harder to leave concerns behind. This ended up being a Sunday where I felt I could preach in God’s sanctuary and really felt his presence with me.

Aedan and his rugby team
So, that’s the last two months in a nutshell. DaNae and the boys are doing well. Thanks heaps for your support of our ministry here. We all feel really blessed to enter into this next season in our lives. Let me close by sharing something I’ve shared with each of the groups I’ve met with so far. Our journey with SIM has been one of just taking the next step and seeing how God responds. Each time I’ve met missionaries we send from our office, I’ve come away more sure of our calling to this role. Our office gets to support these missionaries as they faithfully step into God’s call. We get to care and look after them so that their call doesn’t get prematurely cut short. We work with their sending church as partners in the work we all do together. We see the remarkable resilience they show in the face of real challenges like ministering in hostile areas or adapting to sudden shifts in ministry due to unforeseen circumstances. We get to see calls come to life in people as they start their journey by saying, “Here I am, God. Send me.”

One of SIM’s tag lines is “By Prayer” and I’ve seen that lived out since I started in May. So, with that in mind, I’ll close with a few prayer requests for the Reynolds. We’d love you to pray with us so please send prayer requests back this way too! If you want to pray for SIM as an organisation, check out the SIM by Prayer app (for Android and Apple). You can subscribe to the NZ prayer list there, too.

With love until next time,

Rob, DaNae, Caleb, and Aedan

Prayer Requests

  • Please pray for sustained energy in the next few months. I’ve travelled every weekend in October and while I love meeting people, balancing travel with being away from family, the regular office demands, and then finishing the remodelling bits can be draining. Most of these weekends, I’m preaching. Pray I can share so people can see who I am. Because I’m not a kiwi, there can be assumptions people make that I don’t want them to (i.e. why is a foreigner running our office?).
  • Pray for our team. We are currently interviewing for a member care specialist. This role provides pastoral care specific to those serving in cultures different from their home culture. Pray we find the right person for the role.
  • Pray for our transition. While it is always going well, it is still a change and can have all the bumps and challenges of any change.
  • Pray for more prayer groups. As I’ve met with our prayer groups, most are made up of retirees.
  • Prayer has been the foundation of SIM – getting younger people involved in prayer is a burning issue for me.
  • Continue to pray for us as we raise support. We need to raise $30,000 NZD ($21,500 USD) this year and then grow it to $50,000NZD ($35,000 USD) in subsequent years.
  • Pray for Caleb as he finishes his High School (homeschool) in December.
  • Pray for Aedan as he finds his space as a 12 year old.
  • Pray for my nephew Max. He’s 4 and was recently diagnosed with Leukaemia. This guy’s a superstar and doing well but the ongoing treatment for the next few years can be brutal. Pray for both Max and his family as they travel back and forth from Boston for treatment, especially in the upcoming winter season.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Change is in the Air


Kia ora Folks!

DaNae, Caleb, Aedan, and I sure hope you are well. You’ve probably noticed we’ve gone a bit silent over the last several months. Some of you have even contacted us to make sure we are OK – I assure you we are. We’ve had a great year so far as I’ve served in a pastoral role at cession and DaNae has continued to build into our arts community. If you’ll allow me, we’ll update you on this activities in a following email. Today, I want to share why we’ve been a bit quiet over the last 7 months. It’s been intentional (not personal) as we’ve had heaps of change since returning to NZ from a home visit last summer. All really good and exciting change. If you’ve got time, let me wind back to what God was starting around last June and catch you up.

Before I dive in, though, let me assure you that our call to cession hasn’t changed. If anything, we’ve become more intentional since my ordination in 2014 and love the role we get to play there. Our missionary efforts in New Zealand have been anything but normal with God using multiple avenues to support our ministry (this is where some of the change has taken place). OK, buckle in because here we go. I’ll try to stick to the highlights but happy to share more if you desire.

You may remember that in 2012, God used a job at a Christian humanitarian organisation called Tearfund to both provide for and expand the reach of our ministry here in New Zealand. Tearfund had been able to fill the gap in our funding and allow us to continue ministry at cession with the support we had coming in. Last year, I started to sense that God may be preparing us for a transition. Nothing was going wrong – I was just feeling our directions were no longer aligned as well as they once were. We prayed about this while we visited family last July/August and returned to New Zealand with a clear sense that we’d look for new opportunities over the next year. That was about all the clarity we had at that time.

A week after we arrived, Tearfund announced they were reorganising the marketing department (where I worked). Through significant prayer and wrestling, we felt God was telling us to leave now instead of going for another role. So, at the end of October, I let my job become redundant and suggested they keep me on as a contract employee to help them through their transition. They offered me a contract through Easter - this was a win-win for both of us. I love this organisation and was able to leave really well, even though I had no idea what was next. We knew God wasn’t finished with us in New Zealand – we just didn’t know what He had planned. Whenever I saw friends take steps like this (moving when God tells you even though he hasn’t revealed what was next), I thought, “That’s more faith than I have.” Well, that’s the place we found ourselves and felt real peace being there. It just felt right.

As we stepped into the unknown, we felt God wanted us to explore. My contract with Tearfund would carry us up to Easter so we had some freedom to sit with God and wonder what could be next. This season was incredibly encouraging because offers and ideas started flooding in as people became aware that I was a “free agent.” At one time, I had eight different opportunities to pray about ranging from pastoral roles to ministry roles. In this time, the only bit we were somewhat sure of was that God wanted our continued involvement with ministry at cession and He wanted us to explore instead of just grabbing the first opportunity that came along.

One of the opportunities we were praying about was a director role with a missions agency. It was a role a friend was leaving and he half-jokingly said, “You should look at my role”. I did and started to get a little interested. The position description fit my gifting like a glove. At the end of November, I applied and started their lengthy interview process.

On April 17th, I found out that the board and missionaries of SIM NZ had overwhelmingly affirmed me as their next National Director. I am thrilled to be able to serve this team in this role. SIM is an international mission agency that believes it is unacceptable that people live and die without hearing the gospel. They were started in 1893 and have more than 4000 missionaries in nearly 70 countries across the globe. Here in New Zealand, I’ll be leading a team of 10 people that support over 60 missionaries sent from New Zealand. I started part-time with them this month and will go to full-time in September. Check out sim.org to learn more.

I’m both eager and a tad apprehensive of this new role. I get to lead a great team and organisation but I know it will stretch me. I think these feelings are normal :-). I can see how God has used our time here as missionaries and my role at Tearfund connecting with churches and international partners to prepare me for this next season of ministry.

So, what does this mean ministry-wise? Several things, actually.
•We will still be engaged in ministry at cession. Believe it or not, at an even greater role, too, since I no longer will spend 10+hours/week commuting (The SIM office will be a 2 minute walk from my home). Brett and I have been talking through intentional pastoral roles with the church. Right now, I’m focussing on a few projects with him to help us connect with our community.
•We will definitely NEED your prayer support. While I feel qualified for this leadership role, the reality is that I have previously gravitated toward middle management roles. I’m aware that this is a new step responsibility-wise and am relying on our team for support and wisdom as I grow into this role.
•We will be support-raising as part of my new role (all SIM senior leadership are responsible for their support just like missionaries on the field) AND will be back in the states in July (both New England and Michigan). We’d love a chance to catch up with you and share more of what we will be doing in this new role and what we’ve been doing this last year.

We started this missionary journey 5 years ago and never would have imagined it would have led to where we are today. From day 1, we just committed to joining God on a journey and following where He leads. Cession was and continues to be the driving force that keeps us here but God has broadened the call. We continue to be committed to staying on this journey with him wherever it leads and pray you’ll continue to join us on our wider team. Thanks for being a part so far.

Keep an eye out for further updates as this letter is intended to give you the big picture. Over the next several weeks, we’ll fill in the details of different steps of this journey and how we saw God work along the way. Until then, enjoy the journey God has you on!

Cheers,

Rob, DaNae, Caleb, and Aedan


May Prayer Points

•We just did a temporary home shift until we fly to the states in July. Pray for us as we adjust to a new temporary home.
•In May and June, we are helping a Christian ministry as house parents for their special needs respite home while they search for a permanent couple to fill this role. Pray for us as every day is different and brings new challenges. Each night, we’ll have up to 4 wonderful children/teens with special needs. Pray for insight when it is challenging and that we can make the home a place of respite and comfort for them when they are away from home. Pray for their families as well so they make the most of their respite break.
•Pray for Caleb as he finishes his final year of school. Studies are quite intense this year and he’s set a high bar for himself.
•Pray for DaNae as she wraps up a successful Stations of the Cross season and begins evaluating what next year’s ministry will look like.
•Pray for Aedan as he’s in the midst of rugby season. Pray that he could be a competitor with character and be a witness on and off the field.
•One of my roles at cession is leading our tweens ministry. Pray for our team as we work to make faith real for 10-12 year olds at church. Rhys, Hannah, Mattias, Aedan, Liam, Devon, Isabella, Chevon, Seth, Daniel and Sophie are great kids with a lot of energy!
•Pray for this support-raising season. My goal is to raise $30,000/yr NZD by September (we are about 1/3 of the way there) and grow that to $50,000/yr NZD by April. At SIM, we believe it is unacceptable that people live and die without hearing the gospel. These funds enable me to make a difference by leading this team and helping them grow as a sending and receiving organization.
•Pray for people who would be willing to host informational evenings when we are home. If you are one of these people, let us know and we’ll be in touch.