Who is my neighbour? – A Waiapu Perspective on the Trans Tasman Rural Conference
Attending from Waiapu were Arthur Bruce, Heather Flavell, Jim and Christine Spall, Craig Smith and Jenny Dawson – in an aeroplane flown in his ministry all round North Queensland by Garry Hardingham, who is also in the photo.
Such is the phrase which comes up in the Parable of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10, was one of a number of Biblical pictures that came to mind during the Trans Tasman Rural Conference. We were privileged to be treated to an awesome sharing of stories on the Tuesday.
Such was the amount of moving material shared. I would like to pick out maybe a few.
I was particularly struck by Glenn a Minister who shared his experiences of pastoral care during the Larry and Yasi cyclones that hit north Queensland. He received help for post traumatic stress disorder, having given out so much supporting those who lost everything.
Here in the Ruahine we are called to be Missional out in the world, not least where we perceive God to be already acting. In that vein I was saddened to hear that Glenn had received an offer of help by a lady to do his entire phone calling to check all were well while he concentrated on visiting. That wasn’t sad in itself; what was, was the threat of a person to leave his church if she continued that ministry. We also heard a number of very sacrificially shared stories on that first day, shared from the heart.
Another issue which was diplomatically dealt with was the issue of Water. An issue polarizing New Zealand at the moment concerns who owns the water. Several of the delegates at the Conference took water from the Murray River but from different points. One wants take more, which if allowed in the latest plan would affect those further down the river
On Tuesday night we heard from Stephen Robinson, who shared from his ministry experience in Disaster settings. He also brought copies of his recent book, which awakened in me a desire to restart research in this area. An area I had written on for my Dissertation whilst at theological college. Watch this space!
Wednesday and Thursday were mainly taken up with on the ground visiting of ministries and communities, many of whom had to adapt and diversify fast to what nature and the government threw at them. Wednesday we visited a dairy farm which had diversified into cheese making. But what moved all of us; me especially, was visiting James and Sari. Dairy farmers who are struggling with a lot of debt, are not allowed to form a dairy cooperative á la Fonterra. James and Sari nearly lost everything with Cyclone Larry. Despite that they both consider that they are better off than many others during those natural disasters. I never actually heard them really complain once. For me, supreme example. I intend to keep in contact with letters and prayers.
What struck me about this amazing couple is, when asked what really helped and helps them survive, the answer ringing out; COMMUNITY. With folk such as James and Sari, hope for the human race is renewed.
I was also encouraged that these folk lived out, Hebrews 10:25 (Let us not give up meeting together , as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching) in terms of doing just that not stopping to meet together. They did not stop meeting together, for them the day approaching read Larry and Yasi .They exemplified the importance of Community.
Thursday saw field trips to Skybury Coffee plantation, another diversify crop alongside, Bananas, mangos and few other crops. It is an example of a plantation started by a family who had left Zimbabwe with very little, and again had refused to give up. Picked themselves up and well we saw the fruits of their labours. Humour also played a part, in that we enjoyed a very profound visit to MAF (Mission aviation Fellowship) at Marreba. I say humour as those who know my hobby also enjoyed more than a little leg pulling. Jokes aside, pilots and engineers sacrificially work in dangerous conditions to bring medical care together with the hope of the Gospel. The day finished with a visit to Uncle’s Distillery - say no more !
Friday was taken up with administration matters, in terms of where TTRC and IRCA go from here. Constitutions and governing group were discussed and acted on, and then it was time to start the journey home.
Craig Smith, Regional Missioner (Member of the Ministry Development team) Ruahine Missional Anglicans in the Diocese of Waiapu