Otara, is well known across N.Z. as the cesspit of Auckland. Gangs and violence, drugs and alcohol abuse, destroyed families ... all these and more characterised this area ... a little of which was presented for the world to see in the movie “Once were Warriors”!
However, in recent years much work has been undertaken to address these issues.
We can clearly see this ongoing effort in the streets. It is nearly impossible to find a place where a law enforcement office of some type is not visible. You can nearly always see a police car if you are on the street. Or the main shopping precinct, there are numerous Ambassadors – uniformed council employees whose role is keep law and order, ensure security, rebuke the naughty – even sending truant kids back to school.
They are like patrolling elders!
Another modern characteristic of modern Otara, perhaps also as a reaction to its past, is the prevalence of religion. As the area has been “cleaned up”, it now appears to be blanketed by “religion”, with Churches on nearly every corner, but is a community that still reels under hopelessness, and helplessness. While most people we have met declare they are Christians, they are clearly still living worldly lives.
The “opposer of truth” doesn’t want this to change, so he made it difficult to find a meeting place for AHKM’s second Church plant, with all suitable venues we found being heavily booked out by “religious” groups on Sundays.
As usual, what the devil means for ill, God makes for good ... He led us to a seminar facility, which is part of the Otara Leisure Centre, a popular gathering place. It is available for us to hire, every Saturday evening, just when large numbers of people attend sporting and leisure activities at the Leisure Centre.
While we don’t have kitchen space, and the toilets are not quite as close as we would like, we do have carpet and air conditioning, and a good sized space for ministering the Word.
Equipment purchased for AHKC Otara has been even better quality, and way less expensive – than what had been planned and budgeted - it has been a huge answer to prayer. ALL GLORY to GOD!
There is a huge market (which draws large crowds of people from all walks of life), across the road, held every Saturday throughout the year – rain, hail or sunshine. It finishes up a few hours before our service, so we take the opportunity to evangelise in the market crowd.
A testimony of the fruit of true Biblical discipleship, is the fact that all three of us who’ve been raised up for this Ministry have been faithfully discipled for a year or more.
Tom & Barb were released from Noble Park (MCC Australia), under Apostle Dorian, having been discipled since 2007, and are continuing discipleship with AHKM under Rev Ryan and Rev Jac Paul.
Charity, has been discipled for a year at AHKC Manurewa, under Pastors Tim and Linda, and is continuing in her discipleship at AHKC Otara, under Missionaries Tom and Barb.
We praise God for opening the doors for us to Evangelize the Otara area; Already after a couple of weeks on the streets, we are seeing a change, in the area – after the initial hardness and indifference. On our first Saturday morning Gospel Force Evangelism time, Satan was trying to put his best foot forward – it has only served to harden our resolve to go out more! We are finding more openness to the Gospel each week
While we have our Saturday evening services, God has given us a nearby audience of over 100 people playing Bingo (a local Church group!), in a room situated in the Leisure Centre just across the courtyard from us! Our prayers are that they will be saved by hearing the uncompromising preaching of the Word of God and that God will bring them in to right relationship with Him, and that they be Biblically Discipled.
GOD has given us an excellent location, in that we have had plenty of passers-by come to the doorway to check and see what’s going on – this has included a young man coming in to a service; a young woman entering the room and listening to the message, declaring she ‘needed to hear that’; we’ve also had a group of teenagers carrying their skate boards come in during praise and worship time.
This week, as three Otara disciples were out witnessing, two of them met a group of teenagers; one of the teens had a very noticeable limp; he was prayed for by the disciples, and immediately noticed an improvement – he was prayed for a second time; he declared his leg was better – he walked away totally healed – no pain and no limping at all. Praise Jesus
Those same disciples were approached by a young lady who had seen them earlier in Maccas and was impressed by the witness of one of the disciples praying for the other disciple; The young lady’s zeal was stirred by what she saw, and the subsequent prayers prayed over her. Later on, one of those disciples was approached by a local Ambassador (see above for explanation), who declared himself to be a Christian, and was struck by the bold witness of the two disciples.
Praise Jesus, our stepping out in the truth of God’s Word which says “the righteous are as bold as lions” Proverbs 28:1; it actually becomes a magnet for Christians who don’t know that truth; it helps to embolden them.
Thank you to all who been faithfully praying for AHKC Otara, Missionary Barb Hockley