Saturday

Jab reporting on his ministry in New Guinea

Jab reporting on his ministry in New Guinea

One of the highlights of my trip was getting to meet, hear about the ministries of, and learn to appreciate some of the graduates of the South Pacific Bible College. “Chris” is working in a church plant near the town of Invercargil, on the southern coast of the South Island of New Zealand. “Jab” is a long-term missionary in Paupau, New Guinea. “Bimlesh” works with the church in Fiji. “Alani” serves the church in Tonga. All good men, partnered with good women, advancing the kingdom in places and in ways most of us could not. It was a pleasure meeting them and hearing about their work.

Chris is working on the South Island of New Zealand

Chris is working on the South Island of New Zealand

I spoke at a plenary session in the morning (“Navigating by the Stars”), once again pursuing the Journey theme in Hebrews. The writer of Hebrews was obviously concerned that his readers were losing their way. He reminds them repeatedly in this letter of the importance of “fixing” their eyes and thoughts on Jesus, of the danger of “wandering” and “losing their way,” and the need for care and attention as they journey. He heartily recommends Scripture as a primary “compass” finding the way to the Promised Land (he quotes from Scripture 39 times in this book!). But, like all good navigators, the writer recommends a range of tools for navigating along the way: a personal relationship with Jesus that goes

Bimlesh works with the church in Fiji. Good man.

Bimlesh works with the church in Fiji. Good man.

“beyond the sacred page;” an awareness of the Spirit’s guiding presence; and an openness and submission to the church and her leaders for help and direction along the road. (Click on the “Toolbox” in the right-hand column for an outline of this talk.)

In the afternoon, I taught a class on “Leadership for the Journey.” This class focused on the themes of spiritual maturation and a theology of calling—both subjects the focus of various entries in this blogsite. (See http://timwoodroof.com/tims-writings/archives/growing-up-in-christ/ and http://timwoodroof.com/category/articles/leadership/theology-of-calling/.)

I was privileged to pray a blessing over these precious people.

I was privileged to pray a blessing over these precious people.

On Saturday evening, I talked about “Traveling Companions” and the importance of traveling in groups. The Exodus story underlies much of Hebrews (the writer brings up the Exodus repeatedly) and I was struck by how difficult yet necessary traveling in community is. Most of us wouldn’t make it if it weren’t for the help of others on the journey. However, for Moses, “others” were more burden than help. I couldn’t help reflecting on the idea that, as leaders in the church, we are responsible for getting our members to the Promised Land but shouldn’t expect that to be easy. (Again, there is an outline of this lesson under “Toolbox.”)

Hangi fire pit

Dig a pit ... light a fire ... prepare your appetite!

Dinner on Saturday night was a special occasion. We were treated to a Hangi—several kinds of meats and vegetables slow-cooked in a pit. All the various Polynesian groups have some version of this, referred to by various names (in Hawaii, it’s called a luau). But the basic idea is the same. Dig a pit. Place large stones (or, in modern times, chunks of railroad iron) inside the pit and stoke up a large, long fire. Once the stones/irons are blazing hot, take out the wood, put in the meat/veggies (wrapped in wet banana leaves), and drape the whole thing in wet burlap bags. Cover the lot with the dirt excavated from the pit and leave everything to steam-cook for the next few hours. Dig the food out, serve it up, and chow down! It was great. Steak, pork, lamb, chicken. Potatoes, sweet-potatoes, cabbage, yams. Yummie! (Photos below.)

The group enjoyed eating. They enjoyed singing. But mostly, they enjoyed being together.  Watching them talk, catch up, encourage each other, and discuss their work was really fun. I’m glad I got to be with them. It was a privilege to be in their company.

[Go to next New Zealand blog]

I knew Nan Raines back when we lived in Christchurch--late '60s!

I knew Nan Raines back when we lived in Christchurch--late '60s!

Ken Young leads worship

Ken Young leads worship

A finished Hangi--food steaming in its own juices.

A finished Hangi--food steaming in its own juices.

This couple works with the chuch in Tonga--a difficult field.

This couple works with the chuch in Tonga--a difficult field.