New Zealand- Beginnings12:20 AM
" Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
New Zealand: wild, vibrant, rugged, and immensely spiritual, these untamed shores challenge and inspire in a way few other lands can hold claim to. Forests filled with towering pines and massive fern trees meet the turquoise pacific in a breathtaking spectacle. Green rolling hills spotted with little white sheep and happily mooing dairy cows harken back to the old country. Old meets new. "Civilized" meets wildness. Such is the landscape of New Zealand and such are the people she births. From the moment I stepped off the plane, this country and its people have not ceased to surprise me. They mimic their surroundings, carrying that same gentle relaxation of an island breeze intermingled with a ferocity of heart and wildness of spirit that are perfectly mirrored in the rugged, volcanic landscape. Evidence of fault lines everywhere, show that New Zealand was not a country created without pain and its people even more so.
The indigenous New Zealanders, the Maoris, are said to have originated in the Middle East. Traveling through Asia, they are said to have come down to Thailand and then to have sailed across the Pacific ending up in Hawaii, which is where most of their folklore begins. They spent some time there but eventually set sail once more, finally ending up in "Aotearoa," their name for New Zealand. Here their history takes a decidedly darker turn as they take over the island from an even older people group, and turn to cannibalism to finalize their victory.
These native Kiwis first heard about Jesus long before a white man ever stepped onto these distant shores, but rather were first evanglized by fellow Polynesians. The first Bibles arrived a short 200 years ago (an anniversary being celebrated this year). The current Kiwis are a haphazard mixture of indigenous Maori and European.
Though they are a fearsome people, there is a strange amount of apathy in this place. What can be perceived as "chill" often translates into an inherent and dangerous passivity. And yet, in the midst of all this, a group of fiery kiwis have a dream about a nation, rising up to her calling and coming at last into her own. In the few short weeks I've been here, I've heard more talk of revival, visions, and dreams than any other place I've ever visited. From Loren Cunningham, the founder of YWAM to regular ol' Joe Christian, the talk of revival is in the air. For "soon and very soon our King is coming."
Two weeks ago, our YWAM base put on a "School of the Circuit Rider." It was a conference that met in Auckland to teach Kiwis and us foreigners about how to take the gospel out of our comfy Christian circles and back onto the streets where it belongs. Honestly, street evangelism has never been my forte, but as a new "Ywamer," I figured I had to give it a go.
Our first day out, we went in pairs to tell people about Jesus. For some time, the Lord had been putting on my heart a new way to tell people about Him. Deciding to try out this new way of evangelism on some helpless stranger, I went with my evangelism partner into a coffee shop. Working behind the counter, was a beautiful Indian woman, her arms completely covered by the loveliest bracelets you ever saw. After making some general small talk with her, I asked her about the bracelets and she told me about her recent wedding and the Indian tradition of wearing the wedding bracelets for a year. As she made my coffee, I prayed in my heart for God to tell me something about her which could reach her and show her His heart. I kept hearing the word "hopeless."
"She's hopeless, Rachel," He said.
Arguing with God that surely a beautiful new bride with her life ahead of her couldn't be feeling that, I asked for another word from Him. Nothing came. Screwing up my courage, I looked her in the eye and said,
"This may sound weird to you, but God sent me into this coffee shop to tell you something. He wants you to know that He loves you. He's fighting for you and He's never going to stop fighting for you."
Her eyes began to fill up with tears, something I never dreamed would happen.
"Do you believe in God?" I quickly asked.
"I'm Hindu, so I pray to whoever," she quickly replied.
"Well, this message is from Jesus. He loves you and He is never going to stop fighting for you."
She asked me about being able to hear from God, and I told her I could and that He wanted to speak to her too. She told me that she'd been trying to go to church for months, and that her friends had never taken her, but that this Sunday she was for sure going to go. As I left the shop, telling her I'd keep praying for her, she kept repeating over and over:
"He's fighting for me. He's fighting for me."
Oh my friends, please pray for that sweet woman, that God would send someone else to tell her more about Him.
It certainly is a place of surprises and I feel so incredibly blessed to be able to be here, to learn from these wild, passionate people. Yesterday as I looked out across the rolling hills at one of the most spectacular sunsets I've ever seen, it hit me how huge our God is. This magnificent being who paints the colors of the evening sky to mirror the very thoughts of His artistic heart, knows my name and smiles with fondness when He sees me and you. And so I repeat to you what He told to say to that lovely Indian woman. - He loves you. He's fighting for you and He's never going to stop fighting for you.
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