It has not been a peaceful year. We have had four funerals. Particularly, the loss of our friend, pastor David Burge, in July was devastating to the church. David’s sudden battle with leukemia was the reason Penny and I decided to come to New Zealand. Not only had he served here for many years, many of his family members (including wife Tarnya and eight children) attend here. The church bears the mark of David’s style: down to earth, humorous, and unique.
I will remember Takanini church as the place where Penny and I learned that we can still function in pastoral ministry. We had been teaching people how to pastor for thirteen years at Oro Bible College in the Philippines. But God sent us from there to here. We went through culture shock again, but it was not so bad this time, partly because New Zealand is more like the U.S.(as far as climate and culture are concerned), but mostly because we knew to expect the unexpected.
One thing I didn’t expect is the way Takanini church managed to contain so many talented and committed people who are “plugged in” to personal ministry. Several people of various ages make up a worship team that offers genuine worship in a variety of styles every Sunday morning. some members run their own missions programs, here and elsewhere. It was our honor to serve with elder Gary Schache, who manages oversight of the ministries of the church, and puts together the worship services. We were also joined by his father, Ernie, who came on as elder on the same day we joined the team. Ernie is providing exceptional leadership while still serving ACGC as a missions ministry manager.
We have also appreciated getting involved in the lives of several young couples who are in the hectic days of raising large families. The phrase “never a dull moment” comes to mind as I think about how the families of Takanini show what it means to serve Christ in a world where just meeting everybody’s needs is a challenge. Penny and I are almost past the child-rearing phase, and are learning the ropes on the grandchild-spoiling phase. We will remember with admiration the families of Takanini.
We are going to miss Takanini church. Our ministry here has enhanced our ability to serve Christ, and the friendships we have gained here have enriched our lives. God bless you, Takanini church.