Our trip to New Zealand and Bougainville was full. If you've followed along you've caught up on much of what we did. However, no trip to NZ is complete for me unless I catch up with some of the people who first took me there. The Churches of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of New Zealand.
It was great to connect with several of the church people we have gotten to know over the years here. The first Sunday we went to Papakura to visit our dear friends Edgar and Judy Hornblow - yup - that’s really their name - they are the coolest people you could ever know.
When we first visited Papakura in 2002 they were meeting in a doublewide house converted to be used as their church. They are now building an enormous ministry center that will include two video venues to use as outreach to the community, they have an early childhood development center in place and the new gymn also includes a first class rock climbing wall. (Faith church, we may want to redesign our new building!) : )
In the video below, Edgar takes us on a tour of the new Papakura building:
The message that day was brought by a young woman name Jo. She spent 3 months at Kentwood Community Church and is following a call to ministry now that she is back in NZ. We were blown away by the message she brought - it was powerful, well constructed and well delivered. I got a chance to see her again the Sunday before we left - It is encouraging to see what God is doing in this country. As I sat in the Papakura church on that Sunday morning I was so moved by what God has done in seven years. Our partnership with NZ in the West Michigan District (Rockford is Papakura’s partner) has had an impact that continues to go on and on. This was affirmed again and again over the next several weeks.
Our first contact with New Zealand were Richard and Jane Waugh at the East City Wesleyan Church (partner with Kentwood Community Church). It was great to see them again and spend a fair amount of time with them. The church is in its new facility which was also only a dream when we first met. We got to worship with them on the morning of the last Sunday in NZ. Richard and I always have the most stimulating conversations about what the church could be in the future. He is one of my favorite people in the world.
I got invited to meet with the national missions board and share some of my experiences in Bougainville. Mike Yates (Shore Grace church) is the head of the team and another West Michigan partner (Watermark). Bougainville is one of the key places New Zealand Wesleyans are reaching out to and is having a great impact. Kathy Clifford is a missionary from NZ, splitting her time between Northeast India and Bougainville. She is a great asset to the kingdom. I had the privilege of meeting with her a few times and getting my missions worldview tuned up.
I was also able to spend several hours with one of our Faith Church missionaries, Brent Dongell. Brent is doing great and told me that he really feels like he is beginning to get into the rhythm of life in New Zealand. You can tell by hearing him talk and by how others are responding to him that he is having a great impact. He is filling the youth group gap at Cession Community Church (partner with Lowell Impact) where Brett is lead pastor and Kristen is the catalyst behind children’s ministry. I asked Brent if the children’s ministry would be fueling the youth program in the near future, but he said that the families are largely young and so there are very few even upper elementary kids. So he really is building the youth group out of unchurched kids - Go Brent! Go God! Brent is also leading small groups at Cession.
Cession is doing well. Their band is awesome (Brent sang in the worship team our last Sunday there - I have video!). There are several new families since we last were here, they’ve begun a Sunday morning service and are introducing an alternative Friday service once a month beginning this week. Brett does a great job preaching and there are several others who are very capable leaders and speakers in the church. Brett’s forte is developing and empowering new leaders. I’m so very proud of my family’s church and what God is doing there.