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.