We taught Foundations to the new disciples. This took a few months but is essential in ensuring that the “one faith” (Eph 4:5) is what unifies us (Eph 4:13). These disciples had a background in religion so it was fascinating to watch them see truth overcome ritual and tradition.
We farewelled Rev’s Ry and Jac and their family in early August. It was awesome to enjoy their fellowship and leadership for the half year since the church began, but we were of one heart to see them off to plant the new church in Gisborne.
The whole church gets out every week, right into the heart of Otara, during the Otara Flea Market operation. The title sounds cute but it is a big deal, attracting folk every week from all over NZ (and often the world), and has been doing so for years. Those who are experienced in street evangelism will know some of the issues we therefore have. Add to that, the local population are largely steeped in religion.
But the meeting place we use is superb for the Gospel. An outdoor mall right beside the market gives a resting place where people sit, or pass through taking a break from the market hub-bub. At the moment we have favour from the local businesses and we can openly preach, and speak with groups and individuals all through this mall.
Like the other AHKM churches we use a high visibility vest to identify our team when we are out evangelising. One newly vested disciple recently experienced contrasting feedback. At one point, as he approached a group of three persons, they fled! But then, at another point, while he was open-air preaching, a passerby threw some money to him!
Thus far, the main opposition has been spiritual lethargy. Many of the folk here are blanketed in the false security of being ‘a Christian’. Occasionally there is more vehemence, often from a Mormon – of whom there are many here.
In obedience to Jesus’ instructions we take opportunities to heal folk. It is interesting that right from the beginning we have had people approaching us for prayer for healing. This past week we received a wave from a fellow who has, reluctantly, been prayed for by several of the disciples. He has been unable to walk without aid, using a walker or crutches as needed. In the past he has usually not wanted our attention, but this past week he deliberately waved and indicated how he was now walking, unassisted!
Over these months some of the disciples have had reductions in their work hours. During that time one disciple testified to God’s provision and of one occasion of earning more after going out street preaching and doing some voluntary work. Praise God, work hours have increased again now and there is some sign of that remaining. We have several instances of favour in the work place, particularly of employment being continued for disciples while others are being dismissed.
The venue we meet in for church services is part of a leisure centre. The other facilities still operate – including a swimming pool just the other side of a window from our room. While we put up a curtain to block that distraction, we nearly always leave our front door open, and thus often attract passersby – usually youth. Over the year, many have dropped in, unplanned, and heard the gospel. Some have returned. Disciples often take the opportunity to step outside and chat with those in the vicinity.
Thank you all for your prayers and interest in the work here at Otara. Bless you in your work in advancing His kingdom.
Missionaries Tom and Barb Hockley.