by god's grace

Over this past weekend my (working) life has flashed before my eyes.

Barby and I arrived in Penang (Malaysia) on Saturday evening for a little holiday. The legacy of being a former British colony can be seen everywhere, like in the name of the main city - George Town. On arrival we went for a walk and within ten minutes reached the Georgetown Baptist Church ( The memories came flooding back, as this is the very name of the church we pastored (1985-1989) in faraway Invercargill (New Zealand). We took a selfie and determined to return again in the morning for the English worship service.

The English service took place in a flash new, expansive Level 3 auditorium in an adjacent building, with hundreds of people gathered. A little different from 'our' Georgetown Baptist Church on the 'south side of the tracks' with a few dozen people gathered. We were treated to a stirring theocentric, christotelic sermon on Joseph...

A few hours before we left for Georgetown Baptist Church on the Sunday morning, the news came through that Ian Brown had died overnight, having not recovered from a stroke. Now it was time for the years at Carey Baptist College (1998-2009) to come flooding back. Ian was the leader of the Baptist Churches of New Zealand and instrumental in my appointment as principal of the college. The first conversation about the job to the first day in the job took almost two years, with surprises all along the way. At one point the conversation came to a sudden halt and then everything went silent for six months. But Ian persisted through it all and after the eventual appointment he was all kindness and generosity as he insisted on ensuring that the transition be an easy one for our young family. Once in the job and realising that he had thrown me in the deep end, Ian stood by me in those early years as a supporter and as a friend. I owe a lot to Ian and our love and prayers extend to Joy and the family.

We had just finished a big week in Bangkok on the Friday afternoon. For the first time ever in our current work we had gathered key people from across Asia. 35 people from 12 countries. Incredible to see them together in the one room. It was one of the most joyous weeks ever for me. A soaring 'It is the Lord's doing - and it is marvellous in our eyes' moment. In so many ways it was a culmination of this current season in our lives (2009-2018).

Praying for each other across hostile borders

With the ministry of hospitality so legendary across Asia,
Barby and I gave each person a little towel and a wooden spoon
with 'By God's grace - Bangkok 2018' etched on it.

But as I sat in that church service, distracted a bit by this post taking shape in my mind, the only years missing were the Bible College of New Zealand years (1990-1997). What a shame. It would have been so cool to have something from each chapter. And then, within minutes - I kid you not - a slide appeared on the screen advertising a seminar, with a Dr Jeffrey Oh. What?! Surely not?! Jeffrey was a student of mine at BCNZ. It had been 25 years. All I remembered was that Jeffrey was tall. The next time everyone was standing I scanned the hundreds of people in the auditorium. I thought I saw a possibility way on the other side. I checked-in with the 'sound guy' as I wandered across after the service. It was Jeffrey alright, together with his wife, Carol.

And so, all chapters are now present and accounted for - with the flash-before-my-eyes brought to me per kind favour of God's grace.

nice chatting



Fred Brunell said…
A lovely post Paul... and I hadn't caught up with the news of Ian's passing. Yes, a man with a real pastoral heart. He was Bapt GS and a member of New Lynn Bapt congregation (who kindly let me cut my teeth in pastoral work while a Carey student). Always appreciated and somewhat astounded at the huge amount of time he freely gave to this wet behind the ears student. He enjoyed bouncing around ideas - and I enjoyed listening...
Paul Windsor said…
Yes, I remember those New Lynn days for you and Ian was so good to both of us, wasn't he? I'm really sad to miss the funeral. Blessings - Paul

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