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

The Kiwi man pioneering a life changing post war dairy project

The Kiwi man pioneering a life changing post war dairy project

Saturday, 28 March 2020 — Grace Stanton

After the Sri Lankan war many farming families lost everything. Including their main source of income, rice. Traditionally, locals had only milked their cows for personal use, but Tearfund helped add to their traditional dairy farming knowledge and linked them to a supply chain where they could sell it. Many farmers that were in debt or below the poverty line now have a regular monthly income!

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5 Top Tips for talking to your little kids about Covid-19

5 Top Tips for talking to your little kids about Covid-19

Wednesday, 25 March 2020 — Tearfund New Zealand

Talking to our kids about Covid-19 is an important and delicate thing most Kiwi parents are doing this week. As we all head into lockdown from midnight tonight, our team has scoured the best advice globally and distilled it into the Top 5 tips below for kids under 13. 

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Living with a Pandemic

Living with a Pandemic

Wednesday, 25 March 2020 — Sean du Toit

Help is what we need right now. In times like this, it is easy to focus so much on the problem that we get overwhelmed with the size and complexity of it. We tend to forget that our God is more than able to help and guide us through these troubling times. The psalmist was facing great difficulty, but he knew where help would ultimately be found. Of course we should listen to the government and health officials and take note of best practices to ensure the safety of all. But ultimately, we need to lean on the God who is faithful and able to provide a help that goes beyond what the government and health agencies can do.  

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#4 Do you consent to be content?

#4 Do you consent to be content?

Monday, 16 March 2020 — Sean du Toit

Last week was tough as we looked at the idea of greed and how that can be destructive in people’s lives. This week we focus on the virtue of contentment.
 

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More Than Just Milk

More Than Just Milk

Wednesday, 11 March 2020 — Grace Stanton

Meet the Waikato dairy farmer that didn’t always want to be a dairy farmer but ended up helping change thousands of lives in northern Sri Lanka through dairy farming.
 

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#3 Take Care!

#3 Take Care!

Monday, 09 March 2020 — Sean du Toit

Having looked at the virtue of gratitude last week, today we look at the vice of greed. It is difficult to have a positive discussion of a vice. So imagine this is leg day at the gym. You know it is going to be tough, but if you do the work, it will pay off and be beneficial later on.
 

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#2 An Attitude of Gratitude

#2 An Attitude of Gratitude

Monday, 02 March 2020 — Sean du Toit

Last week we looked at the creation story and how that can shape us. Now, we begin our reflections on virtue with gratitude, a powerful virtue that shapes our experience of life.

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