four families

During a recent 'tour of service' with Langham Preaching in Vanuatu I was impacted by families - four families, to be precise.

from england and germany to new zealand
The Shudall family. I like to think of them as missionaries to New Zealand where Andy works as Head of Training for TSCF (the IFES-affiliate) - but is also involved as a trainer with Langham Preaching in Vanuatu. Whether it is the warmth and directness in the parents or the intriguing diversity among the children, I enjoy coming back for more with this family. Parenting is tough today. Rarely have I seen the full love combining with the clear boundaries, so integral to good parenting, as I saw demonstrated by Andy and Ines this past week.

from australia and the usa to vanuatu
The Gibb family. Steve, Jane, (Matt? - at uni), Tiffany, Jennifer, Emily, Ethan, Rose. Despite all the flack which missionaries attract in the public world from the media and in university departments, in this job I encounter, again and again, such fine missionary families doing superb work. The Gibbs have only been in Vanuatu less than three years. Steve is already preaching in Bislama, giving himself to pastoring a church as well as strengthening the student work at the local university ... and is pretty much the polar opposite of the stereotype. When he preached from 1 Peter 5 (which I was preparing to do, but I am so glad I passed it on), it brought tears to the eyes. He visited all four corners (for those of you who are former students of mine!), exegeting both text and context so well. The church in Vanuatu is blessed to have such a model in their midst...

from korea and new zealand to vanuatu
The Won family. Chun Hee, Nan Joo, Justin, Christopher. One day during the seminar Chun Hee just walked on into morning tea unannounced. My memory bank went into overdrive. His name was on the tip of the tongue but I didn't have the confidence to speak it out! He and Nan Joo had been students of mine at BCNZ/Laidlaw almost 15 years ago. We ended up spending a whole day together. Chun Hee is dedicated to 'bush mission', spending almost half his time in the dispersed villages of Santo - building water tanks and kindergartens and churches, not to mention baptizing people and training leaders and starting businesses. 80% of Vanuatu's GDP is controlled by 500 Chinese businessmen and the 2000 white people who control the tourist industry. Virtually nothing trickles down to 'ni-vans' (indigenous people). It is shameful. The Won family are determined to break this monopoly and build God's church as they do so. It was inspiring...

from everywhere to everywhere
The family of God. Aussies, Kiwis, Americans, goes on and on and on. Experiencing this so regularly is one of the great privileges of my life (this time next week I am in Cambodia!). To hear God's word read and preached in another language ... to sing songs together like "I am your brother; you are my sister" with Ni-vans ... to hear them burst out in song with "never failed me yet, Jesus has never failed me yet" (when the foreigner might conclude that he has failed them. But if anyone has failed them, it is not God, but members of God's global family) ... to have one of those intercession times where everyone prays at the same time in a grand chorus pounding at the gates of heaven ... and to enter it all with my own son from my own family, Joseph (who entered fully into the training), was so special for me.

nice chatting


PS - Joseph did have time for some fun as well. Check out this photo as he jumps into a pool (I jumped as well, but ended up with a big bruise on my but-bone):


Robyn Mellar-Smith said…
This is lovely, Paul. Thanks :-)
Myk Habets said…
Great to see where Chun Hee is now! Awesome.
Mark Maffey said…
Like Myk good to see a photo of Chun Hee and family, demonstrates the power of incarnational living. When I see how many graduates from my years at BCNZ are serving in this way, whether it it be Turkey, India,Thailand,Vanuatu, Albania, Japan, Africa,and other spots in the World I give God praise for their lives, for their commitment, for their hunger to reach the lost.

May each of them have a sense of how much God is working in and through their lives, and sense his encouragement today.

Like you Paul, may they continue to press on toward the goal

Philippians 3 vs. 12-14 – Pressing On Toward The Goal

Not that I have already attained or am already perfected, but I press on
That I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has laid hold for me
I know that I have much to learn, I need to sit at the feet of God’s Son
To comprehend what it is he has laid hold for me, to understand and see
I need to seek the Lord with all I am, and in life make him number one
For he is who I seek, I am not perfect, far from it, I can’t like him sinless be
Yet with his helper the Spirit I can seek to do his will, to in him press on
Looking to Christ seeking his face, holding in to all he has planned for me

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended, but one thing I do
Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forward
There is so much more I need to understand, at times life’s a zoo
It becomes so busy, that I lose sight of God time with him goes overboard
I am far from perfect, yet God loves me unconditionally even when I feel blue
He calls me to be one with him, to seek his face, and to move forward
Forgetting those things which are behind, seeking healing, pushing thru
For he knows his plans for me, his voice saying Christian soldier onward!

To those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal
Of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus
I desire to march forward in time with him, with all my soul
For I have the hope that one day in heaven I’ll be with Jesus
Until that day I desire to serve and grow in him whatever the role
Nothing the world can offer compares to being one with Jesus

Mark Maffey, January 2006©
Paul said…
ChunHee and NanJoo return to Auckland for a short home leave early in 2011. Their home church is a Korean Presbyterian one in Glenfield?

I hope friends from their BCNZ/Laidlaw days get in touch with them and listen to their story ... it really is inspiring. It would be good to see them speak at a Laidlaw event of some kind.

They have faced some difficult issues in the recent past and further big decisions loom. They need your prayers.

If you'd like to write to them I am happy to send their email to anyone who emails me, rather than posting it here.


Popular Posts