As many of you may know I, Scott took the 12 hour flight to New Zealand again. I arrived in NZ on Wens, 28th and mucked around Auckland for about 8 hours. I spent my first night in NZ with Peter Somerville and his family. They were warm and gracious hosts and their many kids made me miss my own mightily. Thursday I drove down from Howick (a suburb of Auckland) to Hastings (in the Hawkes Bay region of the North Island). During this 6 hour drive Peter and I spoke about a lot of ministry ideas. We arrived in Hastings in the evening and I met up with my conference hosts from last year, Denys and his wife.
The next 5 days were spend at the 'Impact Bible Conference'. Scott Ardivanis, the pastor of Placerita Baptist Church in Santa Clarita, and Dr. Michael Grisanti from TMS were the key note speakers. Their two respective series delivered powerful sermons on the grace of God and the Holiness of God.
The Wednesday following the conference I spent the day taking a tour of the cities of Hastings and Napier. This region of the North Island is well known for wine making and its Art Deco flair. This whole region was created in 1931 when a magnitude 7.9 earthquake tore the region. Uplift in the area reached as much as 9 feet creating 48 square miles of brand new land. If you have ever seen Agatha Christie's Poirot the Art Deco imagery of the movies can be experienced in real life in Napier.
I met that evening with a number a couple of ministry leaders to discuss possible future ministry opportunities. We had a warm and engaging conversation that resulted in the opening of a more serious dialogue about where I might fit in at the Shepherds' Bible College and the Riverbend Bible Church .
I left the Hawkes Bay region on Thursday afternoon by flying back to Auckland on a little Bombardier 400. The views from the air were spectacular, es specially when we punched through a layer of clouds at 10,000 feet. The only thing above the cloud layer besides us were a couple of volcanic peaks, the biggest being Mount Ruapehu. It was beautifully other-worldly to see.
Back in Auckland I spent two nights with Jonathan McFarland at his parents house. 'Jono' as he is known by will be attending the Masters' Seminary soon. I could do a whole blog post about this guy but let it be sufficient to say here that TMS has been well forewarned! He was a great host and guide, taking me around to many of Auckland's beautiful parks and vistas. He also took me a 'Primal' meeting which is a church movement in NZ geared toward the 16-28 year old crowd. Again another blog post for this topic alone might be worth it but lets just say mix seeker sensitive with Charismatic spirit anointing with a Saturday night DJ dance club and you might approximate what the experience was like. The 21 minute sermon delivered by a 21 year old girl exhorted us to 'leave room for God' when facing life. I was crying by the end, though I'm not sure if was because I was laughing so hard at the lunacy of it all or whether it was because what I saw made my heart break. (Enough on that for now :) )
I next participated in Friday night youth night at Howick Baptist Church were Jono leads the youth program. We played a rousing game of dodge ball where I nearly knocked a guy out but had the favor returned a few games later. After adjusting my smashed up glasses off of my bashed in face, we all moved into a class room for the evenings lesson. Isn't Christian fellowship just fun sometimes!
The following Sunday I worshiped at Howick and the 200 some odd saints who call that church home. It is an amazing story, what is unfolding there (again another blog post sometime). But the Lord is working and bringing life back into that church. I had lunch that afternoon with an associate pastor named Calvyn Jonker and his family. As we consumed the world renowned South African borovos (sp?) sausage and steak, we talked about ministry in NZ and life in the States. I left lunch to meet with Peter and we worked out some ministry options if I were to come to Howick. In 4 weeks I will have an offer from the Shepherds' Bible college as well. When I do I will post some of the details on the this here blog and ask for your comments and feedback.
Whew! Then after that I flew home to Los Angeles. And here I am now typing the regaling story of my latest NZ adventure. We'll I feel that that's a good start for now. I'll post some more stuff later such as my now infamous photos of me herding sheep and what the sheep thought of that.