move or cause to move slightly. begin or cause to begin to be active or develop.
"the Holy Spirit stirred their hearts and they considered the ways they could lay their lives down for Christ."
Interesting things are happening. Between graphic design projects, classes and assignments, home and parenting life, and working with the worship ministry at Shore, we've been walking with several friends who are considering some practical and potentially life-changing ways to give their entire lives over to the cause of Christ. Among others, two young men in our life group and another good friend may be in the process of hearing a call on their lives toward ministry.
As you may know, since we moved to Auckland at the end of 2015 to work toward our next church plant, we sensed God asking us to wait on Him, to go to school, to support Shore Community Church, and just wait. We're not about to claim that all of our questions are being answered now, but we are beginning to feel God stirring us and those around us and we're wondering if He's up to something here. We sort of assumed that what we were waiting for was the next great church plant leader to join us in our church planting goals. How great would it be, though, if what we were waiting for was for God to move the hearts of future leaders around us - and that we weren't actually waiting at all because God had already begun the work in them and in us? One friend is currently considering leaving a lucrative corporate job and going to bible college. Another one, a professor and PhD scholar at a local university, has been devouring church planting books and is keen to explore what God might be asking of him. Whitney has been meeting with a young woman who has past church leadership experience and who may also be feeling another stirring. And another friend is studying social work with a dream of impacting as many lives as possible with the grace and compassion of Christ.
Perhaps one or all of these people will join us in church planting in the future. Perhaps not. But what we do know is that disciples are being developed right now and that is ultimately what we were called to New Zealand to cultivate. We plan to continue walking alongside each of these people individually and studying a church planting book with them and others in the near future. Please pray for God's continued leading and guidance for us, for each of the ones we've mentioned, and for the other lives around us that God intends to disrupt for His great story.
We soaked up the last few weeks of evening sunlight by taking the kids to one of Auckland Zoo's final late night openings one night last month. Pictured above is Whit and Finn having a look at the "Rhiner-rosser-russ" as Finn calls it. Now that we've moved our clocks back, we've lost an hour of evening light in the southern hemisphere, which means the kids are getting to bed earlier each night and waking up earlier each morning. We're also being quite social as a family these days with many play dates and visits. While it's great to see the kids (and ourselves) making so many connections, we also do our best to balance time with others, time with just our family, and "alone time."
First, an administrative change
With the coming changes of autumn upon us in New Zealand, change is also coming for us from a stateside administrative standpoint which will take place on the first of April 2017 (BTW, this is not some weird, elaborate April Fools joke). Our sponsoring organisation (SPCF) has made the decision to combine with a larger missions organisation called NMSI. Upon receiving news of this change, we were given the option to either join with NMSI and incur a monthly 10% administrative fee or to ask a supporting church to become our sponsoring stateside organisation. We have opted for the latter option, and we are happy to report that our new official sponsoring organisation is North Terrace Church of Christ.
What does this actually change?
- If you're a financial supporter, beginning on the first of April, checks will need to be made out to North Terrace Church of Christ or NTCOC and sent to the same forwarding agent and address as always:
Nate & Whitney Hutchison
c/o Alison Morrow
50 Winding Valley Drive
Delaware, OH 43015
- All funds given will then be forwarded to our NZ-based non-profit which remains in tact and who will then pay us and our NZ taxes on a monthly basis. They will remain in charge of our NZ ministry bank account and will continue to account for our ministry expenses.
What remains the same?
- All gifts remain tax deductible and receipts will continue to be issued for all donations.
- Alison Morrow remains our forwarding agent and her address (for donations) remains the same (above).
- We remain financially accountable to our amazing supporting churches who receive monthly financial reports (NTCoC will take a more central role here).
- We remain in good standing with our friends at SPCF and we intend to collaborate with them and others in our church planting efforts within New Zealand and the South Pacific.
Now, stories of lives changed
Pictured in the video above is Keren. She came to Shore CC a few months ago on what she considered to be "the last day of her life." Suicide is an epidemic problem in New Zealand. This is Keren's Story. Included on the linked youtube channel is her husband's story of change - two new videos in our #ThisIsMyStory social media campaign at Shore CC. Both Keren and Andrew accepted Christ and were baptised last month.
Another place we're seeing lives touched by the love of Jesus is on the streets of Auckland on Friday nights. We almost always walk away in awe of God's goodness and love for the down and out. Last week he led us to an encounter with a young man in his twenties named Justin. We had come to know him over the past few months, so with the help of donations at Shore, we filled a backpack full of things one would need on the streets: clothing, water, toiletries, a torch (flashlight), and a Bible where Nate wrote a personal note to Justin encouraging him to engage with the Story of God in the pages. Justin was intoxicated when we found him but he was coherent enough to share how grateful he was for what we were doing for him and that he thought of us as family. He went on to explain that his mother took her own life two years earlier and that he felt responsible in some way for her death. Hugo, a former alcoholic and one of the other men helping us that night, put his arm around Justin and for about 5 minutes shared about the incredible love of Jesus and the life that can be found in Him - a life that still includes pain, but a life that can be free from dependence on alcohol because Jesus walks with us through our pain. Justin, with tears streaming down his face, met Jesus that night through Hugo. Afterward, we all wept and prayed together. It was beautiful and heartbreaking all at the same time.
With these three cute arrows in our quiver (pictured above), we are blessed beyond measure, our cups are overflowing, and numerous other Christianey clichès. Need we say more? But still, pray for us. Raising these cuties away from the support of extended family comes with its challenges.
Please pray for this blooming new ministry led by a young man Nate is discipling, Joe Jay. We are being blessed each time we go out to bless others in the name of Jesus. Pray that more people get involved and that God continues to sustain the leaders of this ministry.
The Cosio Family
Please pray for this young family who lost their wife/mum to suicide in February. Pray for comfort and healing and practical help with the children.
Please pray for our financial partnerships to remain strong. We found out that one of our supporting churches is having to halve their support this year, due to financial difficulties at their church. This comes at a difficult time as the exchange rate is not great, and the cost of living in Auckland continues to rise. Please pray that God will provide for what we need, and that we will be good stewards of what He provides.
Praise God for providing our new sponsoring organisation, North Terrace Church of Christ (see above for details).
We continue to have good conversations with people that we hope will become leaders and volunteers at our next church plant. Please pray that we follow God's leading in this, and that He will provide the workers we need for the spiritual harvest.
We're seeing a lot of progress and heaps of potential in the members of our group. Please pray for continued participation and continued discipleship.
Please pray that the kids make positive friendships at school, and that they will connect well with their teachers this year. Please pray also for Nate as he continues studying counseling as a support to our ministry here.
Pray for good health and positive friendships.
Last weekend was rough.
It started on a high note. Nate had the privilege of singing and leading worship in a friend's wedding. You may remember us asking for prayer for a church leader in our neighbourhood named Gavin who lost his wife to cancer last year. This widower and father of two young children was united in a beautiful ceremony to a lovely and godly woman over the weekend. It was a beautiful resolution to a painful year for Gavin and his kids. However, just before the wedding began we learned of heart-breaking news that a young woman in our church who had been struggling with post-natal depression had ended her own life the night before. Danielle, married to Simon, was mother to a two-year-old boy and a seven-month-old girl. Nate has been doing what he can to support the staff at Shore who are doing their best to help this family. He led the church in a song of lament on Sunday and will help lead songs at the funeral. Please pray for comfort, healing, grieving, and for practical help for Simon, his kids, and for extended family. Pray that we can support the church leadership here who have been supporting this family for a while now.
On a lighter note, Nate was able to log quite a few hours in the church office this month, helping with some administrative needs. He has also started meeting weekly with a young man in our home group, to build a mentoring relationship and to study the Bible together. Nate's counselling classes will start up again at the end of this month, and he's looking forward to another year of gaining knowledge and skill in such a huge area of need in this country.
Kiwis losing the faith in record numbers
And finally, we encourage you to have a read of an article that was published just today, which talks of the rising trend in NZ toward no religious affiliation. The article cites research that shows that Kiwis (people from NZ) are moving swiftly away from any sort of formal religion in record numbers, which is in contrast to the highly religious immigrant population. Here is a link to the full article.
Nate's not the only one starting a new school year. Lane and Henry had their first week back at school last week, so we are slowly readapting to the routine and busyness of term time.
We also celebrated Finn's third birthday last week. He asked for a "kitty cat party with kitty cat cookies"...a unique request to say the least. We took him to a local cafe that has a cat room - yes, you read that right - and let him pet the cats as much as he wanted. Turns out, playing basketball with the cat toys is much more interesting to a three-year-old boy than sleeping cats are. Oh well, at least we tried!
In January, Nate was able to take Lane and Henry to a weekend family camp about two hours from where we live. It's a Christian camp and there were about 100 people from our church attending, so it was a great opportunity to develop deeper relationships with some people from the church and to give our kids their first overnight camping experience (in a tent!).
So far, the days of early 2017 have been filled with restful summer days for us (along with most of the rest of the country). It is common for the rush to the December holidays to leave people feeling quite ready for a break. And last month was no exception for our family...
Partnering with Local Church Plants
Nate was busy worship leading at Shore CC and performing Christmas music at local holiday open-air events around town. These events are perfect ways for us to support local churches and church plants who help put the events on (one in our own neighbourhood and one at the school where Shore CC holds its regular services). On the first day of the year we had the opportunity to run a small scale trial of an idea Nate has been developing with a few local church planters: The Church Gathered. The idea involves gathering a number of local churches and church plants for worship with some regularity in order to provide an environment for interaction between churches, a quality and visitor-friendly worship atmosphere, and a much needed break from weekly service planning and rostering for smaller, under-resourced churches. Our gathering on New Year's Day at Mairangi Bay Beach was a great first-run at the idea.
Reaching Out to the Streeties
December also included the beginning of our involvement with a homeless outreach ministry led by a young man in our own life group. Every Friday night a few of us gather in the city to meet with and provide meals for many local "streeties" in downtown Auckland. It's a privilege to serve in such a meaningful way alongside some wonderful people. Pictured is a new friend named "Daz" who has introduced Nate to a few other people in need of a helping hand. Please pray for guidance and provision as we try to help meet an ever-increasing need on the streets of Auckland.
2016 is now over but you can still make a 2016 tax-deductible donation to our ministry via check if you date the check for December. Please make checks payable to SPCF. More info for donations here.
Christmastime when you're living a world away from your family of origin can be quite a nostalgic time of year as we miss the chaos and togetherness of the holidays with extended family. But to our three kids, a relatively quiet yet magical Christmas at home with just mum, dad, and siblings is normal. This year, as always, we made time for a Skype call with both sides of the family in the USA, but our extended family holiday traditions are memories to us and mere stories to the kids. So this year we began a holiday tradition of our own: bowling on Christmas Eve (it's called 10-pin bowling here)! And Christmas Day (or a day soon thereafter) always includes a day at a local beach (Finn at Mairangi Bay pictured above).
Speaking of Finn, this month (hopefully) marks his final nappy-wearing days as we'll begin toilet training soon leading up to his third birthday on the 3rd of February.
November and December (so far) have been very busy for our family, so let's get into it!
For the past couple of months we've been focusing on projects for Christmas at Shore CC, including leading worship, doing music for other community events (Nate) and several design projects (Whitney). It's a busy time of year in the life of a church, and we want to help out where we can. Whitney was also asked to write an article about our family road trip (see Family Update) to be published in a local parenting magazine. The issue will be out in January 2017.
Another fun project for us has been "Christmas on the Point" - a free family-friendly Christmas celebration that takes place every year in our neighbourhood. Nate was asked to play some live music and to lead everyone in some Christmas carols. He assembled a fantastic band and did a wonderful job. Whitney designed the poster for the event. About 350 people came along and enjoyed celebrating the season with their neighbours and friends, while also hearing a local pastor share the gospel.
At the end of October, we flew down to our "hometown" of Christchurch and began what Nate called "the journey of a lifetime." We hired a campervan (a small RV) and drove it from Christchurch back up to Auckland -- a 7-day trip that covered 1,542 kilometers (958 miles). It was a wonderful chance to spend some time together as a family, and introduce our kids to the in-between bits of the country that they've never seen before. We had a great time, made heaps of memories, developed an even deeper love for this unique and beautiful country, and even got to catch up with some old Rechurch friends.
The kids are finishing their final weeks of school, sports, and music lessons before the summer break, which takes place mid-December through the end of January. It will be a time for them to rest and play and be carefree the way only kids on summer vacation can be! In New Zealand, because Christmas takes place in the summertime, it's common for shops, businesses, schools, etc. to close down for a few weeks so everyone can enjoy time with their families. After such a hectic couple of months, we are looking forward to spending a quiet Christmas together before jumping back into things in January.
A lot has been happening down here in New Zealand. Nate has just finished his first year of part-time Counseling studies through Laidlaw College here in Auckland. He has received straight A's in all of his classes so far, and he's looking forward to continuing his studies next year.
Nate was also able to lead worship for the Military Christian Conference in Taupo, NZ earlier this month. This is a conference for people involved in New Zealand's military forces (yes, we have those) - soldiers as well as chaplains and other personnel. He led a band of volunteers for the weekend and received very positive feedback from the conference attendees.
Another exciting development this month was a meeting with some local church leaders and representatives from SPCF to discuss possible pathways to a more intentional development of Kiwi church planters. This could include scholarships for pastoral training, salary funding, etc. If your church is interested in becoming a financial stakeholder in these developments, please contact us for more information.
There are many milestones in the life of a family: marriage, births, graduations. Our little family experienced a special milestone this month when our oldest child, Lane, decided she wanted to be baptized "in God's ocean." We have been having conversations with her since she started asking about getting baptized over a year ago, and after speaking with the Children & Family Pastor at Shore CC, we all agreed she was ready to make this decision on her own. On the 16th of October, a group of about 30 friends and church members gathered on a local beach, and watched and cheered her on as she made her confession of faith and was baptized by her very proud mum and dad (tear!). If you'd like to hear Lane give her testimony and watch her baptism, click here to watch the video.
At the end of October, we flew down to our "hometown" of Christchurch and began what Nate called "the journey of a lifetime." We hired a campervan (RV) and drove it from Christchurch back up to Auckland...a 7-day trip that covered 1,542 kilometers (958 miles). It was a wonderful chance to spend some time together as a family, and introduce our kids to the in-between bits of the country that they've never seen before. We had a great time, made heaps of memories, developed an even deeper love for this unique and beautiful country, and even got to catch up with some old Rechurch friends.
Praise God for Lane's decision to accept Jesus as her personal Saviour and be baptized. We couldn't be more proud of her!
Please pray for emerging developments and buy-in from Kiwi church leaders around us, for people who are considering joining our team, and pray that we will follow God's leading, not our own, as we make plans for the future.
Please pray for our weekly small group. Pray that we can develop a healthy culture of community and service within this group.
Nate has finished his physical therapy for his shoulder and is nearing full range-of-motion. Thank you for your prayers! We are hoping he will have fully recovered by the end of the year.
Please pray that the kids make positive friendships at school, and that they are nurtured and supported in a safe environment. Please pray also for Nate to have the opportunity to continue studying counseling as a support to our ministry here.
Pray that our financial partnerships remain strong so we can continue to work and live in New Zealand (it's not cheap!). Also pray that we are good stewards of the resources God has generously provided for us.
Pray for good health and positive friendships.
We began working toward our first project in New Zealand in 2006. TEN YEARS AGO?! We can't thank you enough for enabling us to support and plant new churches in New Zealand. Take a few minutes to watch some highlights from the past 10 years and a message from Reuben Munn, Senior Pastor at Shore Community Church.
The past month has seen our home turned into a bit of a quarantine facility. The kids have systematically passed the chicken pox virus on to each other resulting in someone being homebound with one sickie or another for nearly six weeks straight. Thankfully, it looks like we've gotten through the contagious phase just in time for their two-week school holiday (break).
Nate has been asked to lead worship for the Military Christian Conference near Lake Taupo next weekend, so we've decided to make it a family trip and spend some quality time together over the weekend in a beautiful setting.
Our city is experiencing unprecedented growth. Auckland City Council has a plan to accommodate for this growth in many areas, but planting churches isn't on their radar. That's why we're here. In order to keep up with this dramatic population increase, comprised of people from nations all over the world, dozens of churches will need to be planted throughout the city. Will you join in with us as we seek to contribute to this goal?
An update to our timeline in Auckland.
Today marks the first day of Spring in the southern hemisphere...hard to believe that winter is already over! We're looking forward to the weather getting steadily warmer, and the daylight hours stretching out past dinnertime.
Spring is a time of renewal and new beginnings, a time to feel refreshed and hopeful. In the spirit of the season, we thought we'd take this month to share with you some new developments that have been taking shape around here.
When we returned from our furlough a year ago (time flies!), we had planned to spend this year serving Shore Community Church via their worship ministry, while simultaneously developing a team to plant a new church with in northwest Auckland. Our goal had been to launch the church in 2017 or 2018. Since then, we've realized two things:
- It takes a long time to develop a church plant staff team. It's a big commitment - upwards of 5-10 years. And it's a job that requires flexibility, irregular hours, and a lot of patience. So we don't expect people to jump in straightaway; it needs to be a thoughtful, prayerful commitment - a calling. And those can't be forced.
- We're passionate about developing Kiwi (indigenous) leadership. We believe that a big part of why our Christchurch plant was successful was that it was led by a Kiwi - someone from New Zealand. It's not that we have something against Americans, it's more that we believe indigenous leaders give church plants a credibility and authenticity that takes an immigrant pastor years to develop. Unfortunately, as Christianity has declined in NZ, so has the number of people interested in training for full-time ministry. On top of that, many of those who do train for ministry end up working in secular jobs or moving overseas due to the high cost of living here.
In light of these two discoveries, we have come to the conclusion that our original timeline is unrealistic for our current circumstances. We are now reworking that timeline to look more like a launch in 2019 or 2020. This timeline would allow for some of our contacts to finish other projects, do fundraising, etc. In the meantime (Lord willing), we will be keeping busy with the following:
- Serving at Shore Community Church through small group leadership, leading worship, and mentoring other leaders
- Continuing BCounseling classes through Laidlaw College
- Serving/leading worship at events around New Zealand, such as the Student Life Conference and the Military Christian Conference, to do whatever we can to promote the development of indigenous Kiwi leadership
- Networking & connecting with other churches in the area
- Developing a team and vision for our own church plant
To be painfully honest, we're a bit disappointed. We want to plant another church...like...yesterday. But we also know that God's plans are perfect, far more effective than any plans we can invent. And we also know that sometimes He asks us to wait for our own benefit, for our own protection. And we're just gonna have to decide to trust Him on this one...even when it hurts.
This month we celebrate 14 years of marriage...we can't believe it! Time has a way of sneaking past you when you're busy answering emails and wiping runny noses. Between earthquakes, 3 children, and 4 major moves, we have shared many wonderful and stressful times together over our 14 years as a married couple. Many people have invested in us and our relationship during these times, and we are very grateful for that. We've always subscribed to the idea that while marriage can bring us a great deal of happiness, happiness itself is not the end goal of marriage. It's more of a byproduct. Instead, we believe the goal of marriage is to make us more selfless, more humble, more service-oriented...more like Jesus. We pray that God grants us many more years together, as well as opportunities to continue investing in the marriages of others.
A highlight of our month in July was the Worship Leaders' seminar that Nate had the opportunity to organize and lead for Shore Community Church. Shore is a church that has been blessed with many volunteer musicians and leaders, so this was a time for them to collaborate, edify one another, and talk about Biblical worship. Nate received quite a bit of positive feedback from the day, and he is already looking for more opportunities to do similar sessions for other church plants around Auckland and conferences around the country.
Another exciting development that happened this month was the start of a weekly Bible study group in our home. So far the group is made up of Christians who live around us and attend Shore, and we look forward to developing a sense of community with them in the months to come. Please pray that this group is a positive environment to talk about faith and learn about the Bible. Please also pray that our kids cooperate by going to bed on time! :)
We've had a fairly mild winter here in Auckland, especially compared to the arctic winds we're used to down south in Christchurch. It has been nice for the kids to spend some extra time playing outside during these short, dark days of winter. That said, we're starting to get excited about Spring as it will be arriving soon!
Nate is continuing his recovery from shoulder surgery and sees a physical therapist every 2 weeks. He is making progress, and we are still praying for a full recovery by the end of this year. The kids have started back at school after their 2-week winter break. It's always a trying time to reestablish those routines after some time off of school. Lane has started taking piano lessons this year, and is progressing steadily. Our dream is that she will someday be able to lead worship alongside her father (though we'll leave that decision up to her, of course). Our family loves music, and it brings us great joy to see the children beginning to take an interest in it as well. In fact, this morning Nate and Lane held a piano workshop at Lane's primary school teaching some beginners a few piano playing basics.
More than anything this month we have been reminded of all that we have to be grateful for - three healthy children, our own health, a God who loves and cares for us, and enough money to pay the bills and even do a few fun things as a family. When we went through the Canterbury earthquakes a few years ago, we very quickly realized that there just a few things in this life that truly matter: food, clean water, heat, shelter, the people you love, and the hope that we're here to share.
While winter technically begins on the first of June here in NZ, the end of June is when the weather changes in Auckland and it really starts to feel like winter. One way to stay warm in the winter is to stay busy, so that's what we're doing...
Nate is currently in Hamilton, New Zealand leading worship for a 5-day conference for Student Life. University students from all over the north island of New Zealand convene at the conference to worship God, and some of them bring their non-Christian friends who may be interested in finding about more about Christianity.
At the end of this month, Nate will be conducting a Worship Leading Seminar for Shore Community Church. This will be an opportunity for him to share some of his knowledge and experience with other worship leaders at the church, as he continues to develop the talent and passions of other leaders. This opportunity is especially exciting as it is giving Nate a chance to trial this type of seminar, which he hopes to be able to do to support churches throughout NZ. We don't just want to plant churches in NZ, we also want to equip other leaders to be able to do ministry and church planting as well.
Also at the end of this month, we are starting a weekly small group in our home. This will be an opportunity for us to build some community with other Christians who live near us, and to possibly develop some core members for a future church plant.
In the meantime, Nate has enrolled for another semester of studying Counseling through Laidlaw College, which starts this month as well. We have just received a donation that will cover the costs of his studies for at least another semester, and we continue to be humbled by the way God provides for our every need. He will also continue to lead worship at Shore CC about once a month, and to mentor and develop some of their other leaders. He is also spending two days a week in Shore's office, restructuring their worship admin process. Like we said...we're staying busy, but our busyness has a mission and a focus that has us excited about the future.
We had an exciting month of birthdays last month, with Lane and Henry turning 8 and 6 years old, respectively. They're growing up so quickly, and we are regularly reminded that New Zealand is their home country, making them brilliant mini-anthropologists. When we disagree with Lane on matters of philosophy, parenting, or the weather, she'll often respond by saying "Mum, that's because you're from America, but I'm from New Zealand." Touche!
Whitney continues to focus primarily on managing the family and keeping these kids on the straight-and-narrow, which is always an adventure. While we pray that our children will someday be actively involved in ministry, we know the most important thing we can do for them right now is to nurture their personal and spiritual growth. Sometimes it's hard to know how to do this while negotiating the chaos of the everyday, but we are thankful for the people and resources we can call upon to help us figure it out. We've really enjoyed being involved at Shore Community Church, and taking advantage of their parenting resources and seminars. It really does take a village!
Worship Leading Seminar
Please pray for this seminar that Nate is leading at the end of the month for other worship leaders at Shore Community Church. This will be the first seminar of this kind that he has done, and he wants it to be an encouraging time for other leaders.
Please pray for the development of a small group that will be meeting in our home, starting at the end of July. We are looking forward to having community with this group.
We're having some crucial conversations. Please pray for people who are considering joining our team, and pray that we will follow God's leading, not our own, as we make plans for the future.
Nate's shoulder surgery in April went very well, please pray that he continues to get stronger and makes a full recovery.
Please pray that the kids make positive friendships at school, and that they are nurtured and supported in a safe environment. Please pray also for Nate to have the opportunity to continue studying counseling as a support to our ministry here.
Praise God for a recent donation that is allowing Nate to continue taking some Counseling classes. Pray that our financial partnerships remain strong so we can continue to work and live in New Zealand (it's not cheap!). Also pray that we are good stewards of the resources God has generously provided for us.
Pray for good health and positive friendships.
Thank you for your continued prayer and support!
Winter Is Here!
It may be hard to imagine, but the first of June marks the first day of Winter in New Zealand, and it has hit us with a bang! Over the past week we've seen temperature drops, hail, torrential rains, and even thunderstorms. We're breaking out our "woollies" and bundling up for the next few months.
June also marks the end of Nate's first semester of Counseling studies at Laidlaw College here in Auckland. He's taken two classes this semester and has done really well in both of them, gaining valuable insight into how to use his gifts of empathy and encouragement to help others. During our time in NZ, we have experienced first-hand how much secularism has worked its way into people's lives, often leading to brokenness. The message of salvation that we share with people gives them the chance to start again as a new creation in Jesus, but we've found that many continue to struggle with the daily effects of past choices and behaviors, or the long-term consequences of the choices of others. In other words, people need help! Abuse and suicide rates in NZ are some of the highest in the world. While continuing to lead worship on Sundays, Nate hopes to also use his God-given gifts and his newfound knowledge of Counseling strategies to help people move out of these patterns of broken behavior and start on a path toward reshaping their identity in Christ. He will continue his studies next semester with one class, and (Lord willing) will continue studying on a part-time basis next year as well.
As for church planting, we've been having a lot of intentional conversations with other church planters in the area to dream and discuss how best to meet the growing needs of this growing region of Auckland (here's a video about that). There are so many thoughts, ideas, and strategies floating around, and we find ourselves praying that God will use us in the best way for His glory, not ours. Please join us in praying specifically this month for potential team members whom God may be prompting to plant a church with us. Pray for God to confirm people to plant a church with us, and pray for our ability to submit to God in this area.
Nate's shoulder surgery in April hit us a bit harder than expected, with his recovery period stretching well into May. But thankfully he's finished with his arm sling and is growing stronger every week thanks to his sessions with a physical therapist. He was even able to get back into the worship leading saddle this past Sunday at Shore Community Church. His shoulder was quite sore afterward, but it was all worth it as he got to do what he loves. He will continue to see the physical therapist for several months and is expected to make a full recovery.
As any family will tell you, Autumn and Winter are tough times for sickness with little ones, and ours is no exception. Colds and ear infections are working their way through our little family, and we ask you to pray that no serious illnesses hit us this year.
Lane and Henry both have birthdays this month, turning 8 and 6 years old, respectively. We can't believe how quickly the years with them have flown by, and we are so grateful that God has blessed us with this bundles of (noisy, sticky, unpredictable) joy!
We're not giving you the cold shoulder, we've just been a bit preoccupied with life after Nate's shoulder surgery. He's recovering well despite some pain and discomfort, but the pain meds help with that. Nate injured his shoulder while wrestling with the kids last September. After a few months of unsuccessful physical therapy, the sports doctor opted for surgery. He'll be in a sling for 5 more weeks and then should be cleared for worship leading on guitar and a bit of running. After 6 months he can get back to basketball and general exercise. Keep us in your prayers as family, church, and school life continues during recovery.
There are some exciting developments happening as we continue to serve at Shore Community Church and work toward a new church plant. We'll be back in a couple of weeks with more details, but until then, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your outstanding partnership. We're stoked to have you backing us in New Zealand!
We'd like to devote a bit of our update to direct you toward a prayer need that is very near to our hearts. Would you please take a minute right now to pray for a baby named Ginny?
Ginny is the 7-month-old baby of our church planting friends, Tony & Kelsey Collins. They have been working in New Zealand since 2011 but have recently left to move back to the USA to continue their church planting work there. While stopping over for a few days in Australia, their baby girl was rushed into hospital for an emergency surgery on her bowels, which had become twisted, causing her to get very sick. After recovering, she became extremely ill again and had to have a second emergency surgery which resulted in a stoma bag and feeding line. Ginny will require a third surgery possibly very soon. Could you please pray for wisdom, peace, endurance and healing? Family members have flown over to help (especially to look after their other 2-year-old daughter), but they will likely need to return to the states on Sunday. A few of us will be taking turns to fly over to Brisbane and lend a hand this month in their absence. We've set up this give-a-little page for anyone who would like to help the family with extra expenses.
Oh The Things We Do...
Summer has officially ended, which means relief from the heat is here along with plenty of engagements on the agenda.
S C H O O L | Nate is into his third week of tertiary (university level) schooling. He's taking two courses in the counselling program at Laidlaw College. With cross-credits from his KCU days and part-time study he could earn a bachelor's of counselling by 2019. That said, our church planting goals (which are beginning to take more shape), will take priority when the time comes. It looks like we'll be able to give more details on that in the next few months.
S H O R E | Both of us are finding creative outlets with our work at Shore Community Church. Whitney has been designing booklets and handouts while Nate devotes some time each week helping Shore's worship ministry prepare for Sundays, upgrade processes, and in worship leading. He's enjoying working with the many talented musicians and fellow worship leaders at Shore. He has the privilege of leading 3 times in a 5-week period including Easter Sunday this year. It's good that he's able to help so much now because his shoulder surgery (scheduled for 6 April) will take him out of the game for a wee while.
K I D S | As kids grow up they tend to want to spread their wings and try new things. Laney is giving piano lessons a go along with ballet while Henry is right into his touch rugby and soccer. We're doing our best to support them and tell them how proud we are. Finn is also busy being a bossy two-year-old. His self-directed schedule at home is by far the most demanding :-).
M U S I C | Nate and his worship-leader friend, Phil Rose, have also kept the creative juices flowing on their recording project. We're particularly proud of the latest song, Even So, because it's lyrics were written by Nate's dad, Jim! Even So will be uploaded to the Rose n Hutch soundcloud page in the next day or two.
The Bible is full of people waiting...
Noah waited for the waters to recede.
Sarah waited for children. Abraham waited for God to fulfill His promise.
Jacob waited for his opportunity.
Joseph waited for redemption, and then he waited to forgive.
All of Israel waited for their Messiah.
The Messiah waited for his destiny.
We find ourselves in familiar territory these days. We want so badly to know what our future holds, in nice, tidy, definite terms. We want to know when and where and how. But God doesn't seem too concerned with those details. Just as in those stories in the Bible, God seems far more concerned with our hearts than He is with our circumstances. He allows us to wait - perhaps He even causes it - because the waiting produces patience. And the patience produces endurance. And the endurance produces a complete, well-rounded faith that "lacks nothing." [James 1:2-4]
So we wait. And in the meantime, we work.
Nate continues to assist with the worship ministry at Shore Community Church here in Auckland. His goals are many, including improving their worship database, encouraging and mentoring other worship leaders, and encouraging the staff and leadership (as well as leading worship, of course). He has also been writing and recording music with another worship leader. Have a listen. Whitney has also had a few opportunities to assist Shore with graphic design projects, including a booklet that the entire church will be going through together in preparation for Easter.
Nate is also researching an exciting opportunity to continue his counseling training through a local Bible college. He is in the process of transferring credits and determining which prerequisite courses he needs to take. He hopes to begin taking 1 or 2 classes this semester, starting at the end of February!
Thank you for continuing to walk this journey with us. Thank you for your prayers and your support. Thank you for waiting with us.
It's our first summer back in Auckland in seven years, and one thing's for sure - it's HOT and HUMID! We've been beating the heat by enjoying homemade ice blocks (popsicles) and hanging out near the heat pump (we don't have central a/c, so we use a wall unit - called a heat pump - in the afternoons when the sun is at it's hottest). Sun safety is also of high importance in New Zealand, where the ozone layer is thinnest and the rate of skin cancer is the highest in the world. Hats and sunscreen are daily necessities, and we avoid the sunshine as much as possible in the middle of the day.
Our baby, Finn, is not such a baby anymore! He turns 2 this month, and he's keeping us all on our toes these days. Talking, running, tickling, wrestling, dancing...he never sits still for long!
Both Lane and Henry will be starting school early this month. (New Zealand does year-round schooling, from February to December each year.) Henry is starting school for the first time, and while we are sad not to have him at home during the day, we know he will have heaps of fun learning new and exciting things! Please keep him in your prayers as he transitions into this new routine.
Another local church planter whom we've gotten to know has very recently lost his wife (age 31) to cancer. She leaves behind two young children, Bella (5) and Benji (1). Please pray for Gavin and the children as they grieve their loss and begin to find a way forward as a family.
Nate's Temporary Role At Shore
Pray that Nate can be a positive influence on the worship ministry at Shore Community Church in Auckland, and that he will be able to learn more about ministry with and for Kiwis.
It seems like Nate has been battling one injury after another for the past two years. He's currently undergoing physical therapy on his shoulder, and may eventually need surgery. He is also having difficulty with his knees and back. Please pray that these areas will improve and surgery won't be necessary!
A new school year is starting this month, and Henry will be joining Lane at school this year. Please pray that they both make positive and long-lasting friendships, that they feel safe and nurtured, and that they have good relationships with their teachers.
Pray that we connect well with other church planters (and potential future team members) in the Auckland area. We've been trying to be intentional about making these connections. Pray that God would build our team and a strong network.
Continued Financial Partnership
Praise God for continued and strengthened partnerships. Please pray that our support base remains strong as we continue our work in New Zealand.
Please pray for us as we work toward a new church plant in Auckland, New Zealand. Pray for God to raise up the right team, the right partners, and the funds to bring this church to fruition.
Please pray for our family: for good health, a positive marriage, and a sense of security and stability for our children.
Tis the Season to be Busy
The kiwi summer has begun and we are fully immersed in the mad rush to Christmas. New Zealand's laid-back, or "cruisy" summertime culture won't really kick in until after Christmas. At that point, some shops and local cafes will close for several weeks as many families retreat to their favourite holiday destinations. Some stay away well into (or completely through) January. But the impending time away creates a bottle-neck of events and goals to be met in November and December. The school year comes to a close, performances are held, staff Christmas parties are enjoyed, work deadlines are met; all in the days leading up to Christmas!
We've been getting amongst it in many ways. Nate has been quite happy to help the other worship leaders carry the load of leading at Shore as he's led worship three out of the past six Sundays. He's up again this week with some of his favourite Christmas carols on the service plan. We're also looking forward to several baptisms to be held at the beach after church this Sunday.
Later this month we'll be headed back down to Christchurch to spend 12 days of Christmas with friends that we miss dearly. It's good to know that they're always just a plane ride (or a FaceTime) away.
This girl continues to capture our hearts with her love for dance. If music is playing she just can't help herself. Last Sunday evening she performed in a ballet performance in front of several hundred people at Massey High School in Auckland. When she's not dancing she's reading books or jumping on the trampoline with her brother and best mate, Henry.
He must be ready to hit another growth spurt because we can't seem to keep him satisfied when it comes to food. It's handy that Finn doesn't seem to be interested in eating heaps, though. Henry's happy to finish any of his left-overs :-). He will start school at the beginning of the school year in February. He seems ready. Much of his time is spent figuring out how to spell words these days.
Finn (22 months)
Our baby is turning into a little boy before our eyes. He's still a handful, of course, getting into trouble any time we turn our backs. Plus we'll be on to toilet training before we know it. One more to go and we're done with nappies! Finn brings us so much joy. We're not sure we want him to grow up. We're so lucky to be called mum and dad by each of these wee beauties.
It's reassuring when you read something in God's Word that you sense is giving direction to your current life circumstances...even when it's not necessarily what you want to hear. The dust is now settling from a very busy year of transition. This year we've sensed God's direction and promise that He has something planned for us around church planting in Auckland, but we haven't known many of the details. So now we're slowing down, finding our footing while we plug into Shore Community Church, and straining to hear what God is saying to us about the timing of our next church planting season. Over the past week or so, we've come up to a bit of a crossroads in our church planting plans and this is the message we've clearly heard from God:
Our current circumstances, godly counsel, and these two scriptures in particular have led us to this conclusion:
"We're in no hurry, God. We're content to linger in the path sign-posted with your decisions. Who you are and what you've done are all we'll ever want." Isaiah 26:8 (MSG)
"But those who wait upon the Lord get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles. They run and don't get tired, they walk and don't lag behind." Isaiah 40:31 (MSG)
While we're eager to know the details of our next church plant like...yesterday, it seems that God is stepping in and asking us to rest in Him first. At the end of the day, if God is asking you to wait, you wait. If He wants you to rest in Him, you rest. It's good to be reminded that God is the one who has always been in control of our plans and that He cares for us deeply.
In the meantime, our first couple of months of ministry at Shore Community Church have been good. Nate's role in the worship ministry is beginning to take shape and he's been getting a lot of positive feedback from the staff and the church members at Shore.
A Bit About the Kiwis (New Zealanders)
Much like the USA, New Zealand is a multi-cultural, post-modern, post-Christian, first-world nation. The intensity of these elements in New Zealand society are perhaps much greater in this island nation due to it’s small size and close proximity of people groups. The city of Auckland is an extreme example of such concentration. There are more people groups in this city of 1.5 million than there are countries in the entire world. The city is now more diverse than London.
The post-modern way of thinking (i.e., “what’s true for you isn’t necessarily true for me;” the assumption that there is no absolute truth) makes it very tricky territory for church planters. Our goal is to plant churches that focus on creating laid-back and non-threatening environments where post-modern thinkers can explore a biblical faith in Jesus Christ. Quick conversions and fast church growth are rare in such a society. It takes a long-term commitment to relationship building to see disciple-making fruit in New Zealand, but when it comes, true disciples are born. Other barriers to faith include the busyness and materialism that comes with the culture of most first-world western nations, and Auckland is no exception. Pray for us as we work to plant culturally relevant and biblically faithful churches in New Zealand.
After four and a half months on furlough in the USA, we're finally back in New Zealand. Since arriving in Auckland we've been focusing on finding our next home, which we hope will be one we stay in for a long, long time. We can't afford to buy a home in Auckland, so we'll continue to live the life of a tenant (no equity, inspections every 3 months, and praying that the kids don't decide to draw pictures on the wall with permanent marker, etc.). Renting in Auckland is more expensive than in Christchurch (where we helped to start rechurch from 2009-2014), so our organisation suggested that we raise additional funding to cover the cost. Thanks to our AMAZING supporters, we've reached that fundraising goal over furlough. Thank you! Now we can find a suitable home to rent for our family. Pray that we find the right one for our family in the best location for our current and future projects in Auckland.
Getting Geared Up For Ministry in Auckland
As we set the stage for a new church plant to be launched in 2017 or 2018, we'll first be working with an existing congregation on Auckland's north shore...read more.