Sunday, September 23, 2012


So much has happened this semester that I really don’t know where to start. There have been a few moments of clarity were I’m truly thankful for this time to keep my head in the books while simultaneously acknowledging that this season will be coming to a close in 9 months when I will God willing have completed a bachelors degree in theology. This will be the first bachelors degree in the family (to my knowledge) and is the product of the time, love and support that family has put in. Exciting. It’s to late to assess whether it was my fault or just a school schedule I can’t really get around but I’m currently on the tail end of a marathon 6 weeks(?) of work. I have worked 7 days over the last 4 weeks nonstop with two more to go before the 4th quarter starts and I can re-establish a healthy work/rest cycle. I have luckily had a caring girl friend with a medical background who lovingly tells me what to eat/drink to keep healthy; I surprisingly haven’t got sick but know I’m knocking on that ‘not so metaphorical’ door that is my limit.

Briefly highlighting moments this semester: as always (Praise God) my visa came at the very last moment as funding was secured in the final day before school started. I felt the Spirit tugging at my heart to move back to Avondale to my church family and students. The first was to the Gordon’s house in Te Atatu then a month and a half later I was able to make it all the way to Avondale which has allowed me to increase time and ministry with my students. I was convicted by Jesus model of mission and ministry which incorporated cycles of teaching and sending and I knew that just communicating spiritual truths to my students without putting them into practice would shortly be forgotten. Theory doesn’t help you when life is hitting the fan. The moves were quite taxing on my body. My sleep patterns were thrown off and for about 6 weeks I didn’t sleep for more than 4 hours a night, waking frequently with even a handful of disturbing dreams (My sleep has since progressed to 6 hours a night, and just in the last week 7.5 or 8 hours this last Saturday! Praise God). For over a month I shook things up at youth Church when instead of teaching Sunday morning I took students into the downtown Avondale area to pray over people/wildlife/animals; feeding the fire fighters next to our church; and praying over a addict recovery room. I’m seeking out Gods guidance on this approach, but I feel his pleasure in this. I found out my Mommy is coming to visit me in November and that is super exciting. I had the opportunity to preach at Massey Presbyterian about my life and the Calling of Levi in Mark chapter 2. Then again on the Great Commission at my Church (ABC), giving birth to a sermon that had been gestating in my soul for the previous months. I’m so thankful how school has made me radically question how I live in light of the Gospel. There was a marked change in my when I had 3 classes on missions in one semester and I was able to immerse myself in the study of the missio dei. Other highlights included running a combined youth event with Massey Presbyterian Church, preaching at a Korean church in Ponsonby, becoming a proper barista at the coffee shop (I still don’t drink the stuff) and then becoming a “movie star” at Laidlaw. Last week I was asked to act in an international promo film for 12 hours as the lead. I was stoked and honoured that the school would consider me for this. Now I’m just one assignment away from the two week holidays. This semester I have been stretched to my mental limit; reading the thickest and most technical theology I have ever seen that makes me feel like I'm not cut out for this stuff. I praise God he allowed me to get through the complexity of the arguments and then critically assess them; the two for the same class have been the most difficult tasks to complete in my time here. I submit an exegesis on Romans 5:12-15 Friday at 5pm, run a youth event, sleep and then wake early to pack and leave for camp on Ponui Island for a week. The end is in sight.

As I gear up for my final semester at school, I felt in my heart that I needed a break from ministry. I have been with my Church (ABC) for over 2.5 years running the intermediate/youth and prior to that I had been in the states running a youth ministry for 2 years before coming to NZ. The time has been fantastic and my family in NZ is incredible, but I knew in my heart I needed a chance to be still and listen to what God was saying to me. 2 months ago I alerted the elders, then a month ago the parents and then 10 days ago the students that I would be stepping down from running the ministry. Each November I leave to the South Island to make big money in the vineyard and this year probably won’t be an exception. I figured the summer when things are slowest at church (unlike the states were it picks up) would be a healthy time for the Church to transition with a new Pastor. What is a strange thought to me is that even though I have been living in New Zealand, I don’t really live here. Come June 2013 when I’m not a student anymore I won’t be able to get another visa- I truly am just an international student. It’s a strange thing to think about when this place does feel like home. In my final semester, I loosely plan on attending 2 different churches a month (while still attending ABC) to see what they are doing as I seek Gods guidance on what a church could look like possibly integrating these approaches for the future. I have seen folks graduate with a degree to just quickly transition into a role as a pastor, and that’s not something I’m opposed to if God wills it, but in saying that, there are many incredible ministries out there. Post New Zealand I plan on returning to the states for a few months before leaving to South America for a year to join up with Diaconia Ministries . I say this, but keenly aware that God had other plans for me when I got accepted to teach English in Afghanistan 5 years ago. We will see what he does. Thank you for journeying with me. God bless.