The 2010 New Zealand Experience has begun in typical "God loves photography" fashion. The leadership team arrived in Auckland a couple days early to prepare for the rest of the teams arrival. One of the challenges we faced was that our housing for the first 2 days of the trip still had not come together. Our primary contact still had not gotten back to us and our secondary housing had just fallen through! We weren't sure what to do and were beginning to beat the bushes for other options when Neil Hamilton from Beachlands Baptist Church shot me an email that they would love to host our team again.
IPS has a good and long history with Beachlands Baptist, so I was quite excited to return once again to camp on the floor of their facility. As we chatted with Neil he gave us some ideas for the next few days…
We picked up the students at around 2:45pm on Saturday. By 6pm that night, three of them were already on assignment at the Beachlands Fire Brigade Annual Awards ceremony. Through their cameras we were able to come alongside Neil to support and encourage his fellow fire brigade members and the community.
Krissy Pucek runs a game at the Light Party
This morning (Sunday), Michelle and Krissy spoke in church. They both gave powerful testimonies of standing strong in the midst of adversity and the faithfulness of God. There were many tears in the eyes of those who heard, and many people who came up to them and to me afterward thanking us for the encouragement. One woman even came back and presented Michelle with a photo book of New Zealand in appreciation for her word this morning!
One Tree Hill
This afternoon we went to one of my favorite places on earth simply to hang out and meet with God. We each had the chance to pause and think about the weeks ahead and what we're asking God to do in us and through us. Oh, and One Tree Hill offers some pretty cool photo opportunities as well…
Tonight was the Light Party. Beachlands Baptist Church hosts a fun alternative to Halloween for the local community with over 500 kids and parents in attendance. We joined in the fun by running games, taking pictures, and hosting a photo booth. The family portraits that we took at our booth will be printed and given back to the church so they can share them with the people from their community. Two years ago we did this with Hastings Baptist Church and they had 7 new families join their church!
Matt Derrit runs a game at the Light Party
In the 36 hours they have been here, these students have changed New Zealand. They have demonstrated the love of Christ to a diverse audience of Christians and the general public. They have come along side a church and furthered their ministry within their community. They have encouraged a local body of Christ by joining in their ministry wholeheartedly. They have already seen the mighty hand of God at work in them and on their behalf.