Update April 2012

Hi Folks

An update on the last few months:

I am still living in Noosa in Queensland, Australia. It is two hours north from Brisbane and is a tropical looking subtropical seaside resort town with achingly beautiful views of seas and rainforests. It’s a foodies town with triathlons and food festivals and venues each year and many holiday makers come there from colder countries. I attend church, when I am not preaching at Christian Outreach Centre.

I travel about Australia taking inter-church meetings. They used to be mainly Christian Outreach Centre meetings but it is widening to include other denominations and venues now. This is more in line with how I have ministered in other countries.

In January I spoke in Townsville in the North tropics and in Caboolture, Noosa and Ridgewood. Good to catch up with old friends and to see how the fellowships are doing. Some of the groups are undergoing great changes and it doesn’t always feel or look great, but pruning and chastening for growth are part of Gods programme, although we prefer it when He appears to agree more with our favourite ideas. He loves us too much to leave us the way we were, and He sets up opportunities to practice and receive forbearance and grace when we would rather not. Church people often inspect and label each other and find it hard to let go their judgments. They sincerely believe the other person has a bad attitude and so they remain hurt and labelled. It takes courage to admit our assessment may have been faulty and to tell ourselves another story than the justifying narrative we adore.

February, I visited churches in New South Wales in Maitland, Cessnock and Lakehaven. It felt great to visit the Hunter Valley wine Country again and to eat in one of my favourite restaurants again.

I flew in late February from Sydney to Wellington the capital city of New Zealand, sometimes rightly called Windy Wellington. Walking around the waterfront in the early morning light with my friend Rob McGregor on our way to early breakfasts in town we leaned against the chilly blasts. I spoke in Wellington then at Upper Hutt Christian Fellowship (UHCF), I think they would have podcasted the meeting, it was about missions.

I spent a week in ‘Wellywood’ (Wellington) and then went to Auckland to meet with my good friend Maurie Hooper and stayed with him and Colleen at Snells Beach which is about two hours north of Auckland.

While there I spoke at elders meetings for Warkworth Presbyterian and at Wellsford Christian fellowship, also at Sunday meetings for both. It was great to be reunited with good old friends again. I have usually visited these fellowships to speak once a years and this has gone on for a few years. I always look forward to hearing their progress and adventures and seeing how the people and Pastors are doing.

In March and April, I have been in the Waikato area in the centre of the North Island. This is close to Tauranga, the port town where I was born and grew up. I spoke there at Greerton Baptist in a church where my sister in law used to tie up her horse in the front paddock before there was a church there and was able to spend time with two of my brothers. My twin brother Graeme, who has just moved house and my second brother Barry and his wife Nola. Graeme gave me a large pile of letters I had written to Mother over about thirty years and it was a trip down memory lane to read them all and remember how things were and to look at old photographs I have sent her. She died in 1982.

In Cambridge I stayed in what was termed a Heidi House. A Swiss style sleep-out in the form of a chalet. It was at the rear of a beautifully landscaped property in the countryside with dove cotes, paths and a pool and each morning a rabbit and blackbirds visited the lawn outside the window to feed. Each night a friendly old Labrador slept across the step at the doorstep and I could hear him snoring from inside the house. Nearby was a paddock with grazing horses…a tranquil and pleasing scene.
I blew the door off a microwave cooking a morning egg but my hosts from the big house graciously forgave me. I became ‘The Mad Bomber’.

I spoke at Bridges Church in Cambridge twice and at a union church in Raglan and at Gateway Pentecostal church in Hamilton and several meetings at Chapel Hill Brethren (Chapel Hill Community Church). Now in late April I am back in Wellington again I spoke at Western suburbs Christian Fellowship last Sunday on the subject God as Father in the New Testament. I think these too will end up as podcasts somewhere.

Here there are more good visits to restaurants with friends. It is not all hardship and New Zealand has top quality food and wine, coffee and people.

Early May I go to Blenheim and will be speaking at Oasis Church, another church where I have spoken most years. From there I go further south, to the middle of the South Island in the city of Christchurch which recently lost its city centre in a devastating earthquake. It has been inspiring to hear how thousands of Christians have donated thousands of hours (so have non-Christians) to helping people get back upon their feet. People are stressed with all the aftershocks and two major quakes have left some people still without hot water and sanitation restored. A huge crowd has fled the area. Church Fellowships are sharing buildings and serving each other in many practical ways and many walls of division have come down as well as the physical ones.

As is usual in post-traumatic circumstances people have returned to life as normal as best they can, yet life for many will never be the same. They have lost property, loved ones, pets and life savings and seen their homes destroyed or damaged I saw a similar business as usual approach when I have visited a war zone overseas and later when I was in an area where protestors were detonating small bombs. I was astonished to see people shopping in the markets or going about their business as if nothing had happened although something very important had and could not be ignored forever. Sooner or later we must all deal with what changes our world.

We are living in exciting and great days where rapid major changes and challenges are occurring and tomorrow will be different. The future itself is changing.

My plan is to return to Noosa mid-May and speak again at Caboolture and to settle back into my townhouse in Noosa and tend my garden and feed my goldfish until the next assignments. I will be good to see my familiar friends and to sleep in my own bed and attend my local church again. Although I travel a lot I am a creature who likes regimes and traditions and regular patterns. When I go back I will have been away from home for three whole months….but it is a good rewarding life.


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