Three months ago we made the leap across the Pacific in answer to God’s call to take Lifelines to New Zealand. Now that we are about to leap back, many of you are probably wondering, “Was the mission accomplished?”
Our whole team, and our Kiwi comrades, would give an emphatic “Yes.” We have taken spiritual territory and have laid Lifelines tracks in Kiwi soil. From Cru’s Chief of Staff over the Americas and Oceania to the hesitant first year student, we have done our best to love well and build relationships here in New Zealand.
In the gaps between conferences—five of them in three months—we hosted dozens of trips and learning activities outdoors and in. In response, both staff members and students have begun using experiential learning in ministry, revitalizing their Bible studies and personal discipleship, and offering new tools to make a deeper spiritual impact in believers and non-believers. Our staff team in Dunedin, and the student leaders as well, have adopted Lifelines’ Grace and Truth methods and we have passed on the Biblical culture of walking in the light and living authentically as the Body of Christ. As Cam, our Dunedin co-worker put it, “I don’t know how I have done five years of ministry without knowing this stuff!”
God has also blessed our ranks with Austin, a Vermonter and recent graduate, who volunteered with us for two weeks in Dunedin. We are pleased to report that he has decided to intern with Lifelines back in the States this fall and just weeks ago he was accepted. Lizzie, our Student Life teammate, is creating a video about our impact on the team in New Zealand so that we can share the vision and recruit others to join the effort across the Pacific.
We were pleased to spend some valuable time at the feet of Mark Rutter, Leadership Development Director for North America and Oceania, who taught the class we took in Wellington during the Tandem Staff Conference. His advice on our branding and next steps for Lifelines was insightful, and his passion for ongoing spiritual growth matches our own. We invited him to be the keynote speaker at our Lifelines Base Camp this summer in Colorado, and to our delight, he has agreed.
God’s plan for us to be here was certainly for our own growth as well. As a Lifelines team, God has taught us to walk more humbly, to follow different leadership, to be more watchful and discerning, to adapt to a new culture, and to adapt our own ministry style to the needs and ways of New Zealand. We have a collection of new ideas to employ in our own ministry back home, and a bigger view of God’s grandeur. Our kids have learned to lean into God during loneliness and discomfort, and to love and accept other cultures rather than competing and comparing. Like us, they have begun to adopt Kiwi ways and delight in this beautiful land and its people.
I would like to think that we are all coming back changed for the better, wiser, and more faith-filled. I hope the lessons here will stick in our hearts and guide our steps in the future. One future step is to stay in touch with the staff friends we have met here, and to continue developing the staff in Dunedin through distance coaching. It is our hope that within a year some of them will come here for further training and we will send a second short-term Lifelines team back to New Zealand. We also continue to pray for Brodie, a Student Life intern, and other Kiwis like him, to carry the torch for Lifelines in New Zealand in the future.
The mission was accomplished, yet it has only just begun. God has swung open the door for international partnership and we have begun the generational process of passing on the Lifelines DNA in New Zealand. We are eager to see the concepts that we have birthed here in the past three months grow and, by God’s grace, one day, become a Lifelines Kiwi ministry.