1. How do you spend your time outside of Tearfund?

While my work at Tearfund keeps me fairly busy, I enjoy catching up with friends and family around New Zealand when I get the chance. My wife and I are also pretty involved in our local church, The Auckland Baptist Tabernacle, where I’m on a music team, a trust board and I deliver sermons from time to time. Outside that I like to read and walk our Huntaway, Zoe, around Cornwall Park, or on any of the fantastic Auckland beaches.

2. What’s your favourite Bible verse?

Not so much a verse perhaps, but a story I really like is where the apostle Paul - in Acts 27 - is being ship wrecked on Malta. Despite being a prisoner, Paul stands up before his fellow prisoners, the sailors and the soldiers and tells them, “…keep up your courage, for I have faith in God it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some Island”. I love this. There is Paul, having heard from God, providing courage and leadership to a stricken crew, despite knowing full well they are about to be shipwrecked. Such faith, that God will come through despite the impending hardship. Also, such awareness of the needs around him and a willingness to rise above it and minister – even from the position of a prisoner.

3. What’s something you’ve done that makes you feel really proud?

Together, with colleagues at Tearfund, we recently worked very closely with a family based trust in New Zealand to super charge our work protecting women, boys and girls in Southeast Asia from modern slavery. They, and we, are passionate about the prosecution work against traffickers that Tearfund is involved in, and we are all eager to see this funded at the size needed to turn the issue around. We will launch this initiative later in August in the Waikato among a select group of people capable of joining this work and making a real difference. Already we’ve seen hundreds of lives transformed, we now want to see thousands transformed across the region.

4. If you could witness any event from the past, present or future, what would it be and why?

On my father’s side of the family, my great-great-great-great grandmother was the daughter of a Māori chief in the Waikato, who married a Scottish flax trader and settled in Port Waikato in 1830. I’d love to meet them both, experience Aotearoa at the time, and gain some perspective on the challenges we all face today in New Zealand’s continuing journey of better bi-cultural relations and understanding in this beautiful land.

5. Who are your heroes?

While I love the work of Clapham Sect in halting the slave trade from the UK, I particularly admire a little known work of British shipping agent, Edmund Dene More, who exposed the enormous scale of abuse and slavery taking place in the Congo under the cover of the Belgian King. Edmund dug into freight records and unearthed an elaborate cover up that saw rubber and ivory coming one way, to Antwerp in Belgium, while arms and soldiers - rather than payments – were being freighted back. It just goes to show that heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and desk clerks are no exception!

6. What are you most grateful for?

I am particularly grateful for my partner in this adventure of life. My wife Himali is a GP, a writer, a gardener, a bee keeper. She travels with me from time to time and we enjoy exploring this fascinating world together when we get the opportunity.

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7. What is it about Tearfund that made you want to work here?

Tearfund’s mandate as the relief arm of the protestant evangelical church world-wide was particularly attractive to me. Christ’s church is tasked with taking care of the poor – scripture has over 2,000 references to the poor, wealth, injustice etc – and I love thinking that the church is in a much better position to practically attend to this, because of the work of Tearfund. For me, faith is as practical as it is relational or theoretical. Those elements were not divisible in Jesus’ ministry and neither should they be in ours.

8. Within Tearfund’s work, what do you care most about and why?

One shouldn’t have favourites! However I do love Tearfund’s efforts to help families elevate their incomes through agriculture. It’s slow, steady work, but it provides a proven route out of poverty and dependency. It also enables farming communities who work in cooperatives to build strong bonds, enables ministry over time into these communities and strengthens peace, security, prosperity and dignity. There is a reason so many of Jesus’ stories involve things that grow – think mustard seeds and fig trees. God really is a gardener and so should we be.

9. What’s your favourite thing about your job?

I love the connections across the church, both here in NZ and abroad. There is a rich tapestry of work that God is undertaking and I have the immense privilege of touching on so many elements of this.

10. What does ‘Faith in Action’ mean to you?

While faith is deeply personal, it is never only that. It is also relational, interconnected and at times quite public. ‘Faith in Action’ is the ability to take your faith and weave it into your closest relationships, your work place and your charitable activity in ways that bring God’s Kingdom to earth a little more (as Jesus prayed). It’s participation with God in renewing all things. There is no shortage of ‘things’ God would like help in renewing!

11. What change do you dream to see in the world?

I dream of a world where the church has absolute confidence in its role and truly is the salt and light it is called to be. One where it leads the list of organisations bringing ground breaking solutions to matters of injustice. The church has, many times in its history, fulfilled this role, only to shy away at other times. It’s not a judgemental church – though some things should certainly be judged – it’s a compassionate, determined, sacrificial church reaching into areas of poverty, injustice and depravation and bringing about lasting change.


Recent posts

Three ways letter writing benefits you and the child you sponsor

Three ways letter writing benefits you and the child you sponsor

Thursday, 22 April 2021 — Kyle Davidson

My life is already so busy with my work and kids that it’s hard to find the time. I need to wait until I have more to say. My letters don’t really matter anyway. I don’t know if you can relate to any of these. If you can, you’re definitely not alone. And you’re not a bad sponsor. That said, writing letters have amazing benefits, not only to your sponsored child but to you! Let’s take a look at three benefits of writing letters to your sponsored child.

 

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Sustainable agriculture transforming lives in Vanuatu

Sustainable agriculture transforming lives in Vanuatu

Monday, 12 April 2021 — Tearfund New Zealand

The key word is "sustainability". Instead of pouring money and resources into just the emergency needs, Tearfund's Farming and Enterprise partner in Vanuatu invests in a sustainable model that will hopefully outgrow the need for funding. An ambulance on the ground is unquestionably essential, but not nearly as powerful or effective as a fence on top of the cliff.

 

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What are Self Help Groups and how do they transform lives?

What are Self Help Groups and how do they transform lives?

Thursday, 08 April 2021 — Kevin Riddell

Self Help Groups are a simple, yet highly effective way to help lift women and their families out of poverty. They also provide emotional support and teach valuable life skills. They help women access a better future and have a positive impact on generations to come.


 

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Gisele

Gisele's salvation transforms her family

Wednesday, 31 March 2021 — Compassion International

Gisele's family were not Christians when she was registered into the Child Sponsorship Programme. After she gave her heart to the Lord as a young girl, her greatest prayer was that her parents would share her faith. This is a story of how God turned a trial into a testimony and answered her prayer.

*All names have been changed to protect identities


 

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God honours a little boy’s big faith

God honours a little boy’s big faith

Wednesday, 31 March 2021 — Compassion International

Although seven-year-old Elvis wasn't scheduled to receive a Bible at his Compassion centre, he insisted until the staff gave him one. Since then, Elvis, whose persistent prayers for his father's salvation were honoured by God, has become an example of great faith to others.


 

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Local staff in Burkina Faso and Thailand help sponsored children weather Covid-19 storm

Local staff in Burkina Faso and Thailand help sponsored children weather Covid-19 storm

Tuesday, 30 March 2021 — Kelly Burgess

Tearfund’s partner, Compassion, provides sponsorship programmes for vulnerable children in 25 countries. All of these countries have had very different experiences of managing life in a pandemic. It’s in this storm that our Christ-centered, child-focused model has been a safe anchor. Our programmes are facilitated by local church partners. These Christ-centred staff are dedicated to the community they know and love. They are their neighbours. It is this local connection that has been so crucial in enabling them to meet the needs of sponsored children and their families—right where they are.

 

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A Modern Slavery Act for New Zealand, could help you shop guilt-free

A Modern Slavery Act for New Zealand, could help you shop guilt-free

Wednesday, 24 March 2021 — Claire Gray

As history can attest, Modern Slavery isn’t an injustice that any of us can tackle alone. To end modern slavery, we need a collaborative movement that addresses the issue from multiple angles. This is, in part, already being accomplished through our overseas partners and our research in ethical fashion. But, to further the movement toward Modern Slavery Legislation in New Zealand, Kiwis like you can have a significant role.

 

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