By admin | July 21, 2008
Submitted by Prof. Renihan
Last Monday I returned from my third trip to New Zealand–what a blessing it was to be with those beloved men again. I have come to love and appreciate very much their friendship as well as the work they are doing. After an overnight flight from Los Angeles (my luggage decided to stay in LA for a day or so), I flew on to Wellington to be met by Mike Beck, pastor of Gracenet Community Church in Tawa, a northern suburb of the capitol city. Gracenet were hosting the meeting of the Fellowship of Reformed Baptist Churches of New Zealand, and I was to speak to them on Saturday.
The Fellowship meeting was a great joy to attend. At last year’s gathering, many of the men expressed discouragement over the state of affairs in their churches and in their country. But this time, every church representative gave a positive and encouraging report on progress in their assemblies. The contrast between the meetings a year apart was really striking, and I was deeply appreciative of the hopefulness expressed by these pastors. There seems to be a genuine sense of expectation and progress among the men and churches. New works are being begun, established works are moving forward, and difficulties are being overcome. What a joy!
I has been asked to speak on church planting, and so I delivered my material on a Theology of Church Planting–a message I usually deliver at the ARBCA School of Church Planting. The men were appreciative. I am just glad to see our friendship deepened.
After the meeting ended, I drove about 2 hours north with Dafydd Hughes and Ian Fuller, elders of Grace Reformed Baptist Church, Palmerston North, to their city for the next week. The main purpose for the trip was to teach Baptist History for the annual School of Theology sponsored by their church. I preached twice on the Lord’s Day, noticing growth in their assembly, and we began the School on Monday afternoon.
Ian is a Lecturer in Geography at Massey University (and a Fellow of IRBS!) and arranges for the School to utilize a classroom at the University for our week of class. It is a well-equipped lecture room and serves our purposes very well. The course this year was Baptist History and there were 11 students for the week. Not only were Kiwis present, but also men from Australia. Among the features of the lecture room is a high speed link to the internet attached to a projector and screen. Using the amazing program Google Earth we regularly employed this equipment to follow the expansion of the Baptist cause across England and America. It was a real enhancement to our lectures, helping us to see how our churches grew and spread.
Dafydd and Ian took excellent care of all of us during the week. They (and their wives Maria and Kath) are really the unsung heroes of the week. The church provides housing and meals to the students and the lecturer, and we enjoy a week of true fellowship and camaraderie. Relationships are built on these kind of experiences. I am very thankful to be a part of this annual work.
After the School, it was back to Wellington to preach at Gracenet on the Lord’s Day. Mike and Candice Beck hosted me again, and I had the privilege of preaching to their congregation. They have a truly amazing story of reformation in their church. They came to NZ from South Africa as part of a team to plant a charismatic assembly (as Mike says, ‘the name Gracenet was given by prophetic revelation’!), but through the influence of Mike’s brother, who had come to the Reformed faith, reformation came to the church. It was really wonderful to worship the Lord with them.
On Monday, Mike dropped me off at the airport for what became a day of traveling adventure–I had 3 scheduled flights with boarding passes in hand and never got on any of them, but that’s another story–and finally returned home many hours later tired but thankful.
It was a wonderful trip. Please pray that the work of God will continue to move up down under.
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