Hawkes Bay & South Auckland, New Zealand
This year Pacific Islands Bible College classes were taught in Auckland by my dad, Richard Harp. I made my way down to Napier, New Zealand, in beautiful Hawkes Bay, and taught classes to the small group of Christians who worship at the Hawkes Bay church of Christ. There were five people in my nine day class on three New Testament books of Philemon, James and Jude. The classes went well with good attendance. I was able to teach classes and preach to the congregation there on one of the Sundays where seven were present.
After the close of the classes, I was able to make my way to Tauranga to spend a few days with our family who lives there. I had not seen some of them for a couple of years, so it was a good reunion. We also had our daughter, Rebecca and granddaughter Emma to fly in and meet us in NZ. Brooke and William were also in the country for the time, so it was a nice family reunion of sorts. We spent about five days together, and during that time we were able to go and spend Sunday with the Papamoa church of Christ nearby. William taught the Bible Class that morning. I led the singing and did the preaching. Nine members worship there regularly. The Harp presence nearly doubled the attendance. In the afternoon Jenny and I were able to spend valuable time with old friends and co-workers, John and Dee Redmayne. John is the local preacher for the group.
The church in New Zealand struggles like many small and outlying churches. However, they are some of the most wonderful people in the world. The people there are genuinely starved for the gospel, and for the encouragement that trips like this are able to provide. Thanks so much to our leadership here who has a vision for world missions.
Our trip to New Zealand accomplished a lot. Scott encouraged several struggling congregations. His dad taught successful classes in Auckland. William Mc Curry taught a Bible class that encouraged and uplifted a small congregation in Papamoa.
And my family who are not Christians received my book, so even though they have resisted studying with Scott or I they have access to the gospel.
There is an incredible feeling when you look out at an audience and see faces from your past; my cousin, my children, the lady who's husband baptized me, my childhood friend of forty years and people we had worshiped with over twenty years ago. This was a special reunion and Ladies Day.
There I stood with a blackened sprained foot and an arm in a sling but you know I hardly felt those things. I felt a sense of gratefulness and peace.
We imagined ourselves to be on the mount Tabgha overlooking Galilee and I encouraged the ladies to be poor in spirit, to mourn their sins and to be meek. We had a break and then we learned more from Jesus' sermon on the mount, in two more lessons.
It was such a God filled day. It was an honor to launch Sister's at Sea, the book I wrote about great ships of the Bible. These ships are Partnership, Membership, Hardship, to name a few. And they didn't even have to pay shipping because that was provided. I felt peace because the beautiful Christians there now have a tool to help them evangelize. It is sobering to think that in my home country there are only about as many Christians as Buford has!
Thank you to the elders at Buford who have made the Pacific Island Bible College accessible to New Zealand. They need it so much.
Kia Ora - again!
Waking up at 10 to 6 in the morning provides wonderful options in a beautiful country. Until yesterday, I have been waking up to beautifully clear skies and temperatures in the upper 40s. Getting out for a nice walk has been a good option. The marine parade that is about a mile in length provides a great way to get a glimpse at the rising sun. And just that was the outcome of my walk day before yesterday.
Fast forward to Saturday! Jenny is convalescing from her earlier in the week. She made the extra effort to get to Auckland for the Ladies Day sessions she taught. Over seventy ladies from area congregations were in attendance for the day’s festivities. A text during the sessions from Rebecca, our daughter, seemed to sound as if she was doing her things marvelously. She will have to send an update on the day when she gets some time. But I’m very proud of her for mushing forward through pain to do what needed to be done.
Sunday was a wonderful day here. I taught their class in the morning and preached the lesson at the worship period. My sermon was twice as long as usual because it was translated into Samoans present. The Hawkes Bay Church of Christ is small, and a struggling work. Seven members attend regularly. They desire greatly to get some help in the way of workers to come and guide them in a good way. They are meeting in a community hall in Napier, but are wanting to branch out to nearby Hastings. They desire that we bring a campaign back next year. So, we will have to discuss the possibilities.
PIBC classes are going well. We finished the book of James yesterday in an extended session. We will finish Jude on Tuesday evening, and have a final exam on Wednesday.
More to come!
Kia Ora! (Maori for Hello!)
New Zealand lies about 17 time zones to our west. We crossed the international date line to get here, so we lost a day in transit. We left on Sunday and arrived Tuesday having only been in transit for about a day. No worries! We will make it up on our return, Lord willing!
On a disconcerting note, Jenny had an accident yesterday afternoon. Her sister’s family lives in a deep bush setting near the city of Tauranga. Their driveway goes through an area where, just to the side of it there is a drop off into some thick brush. It so happened as they were out for a walk that she lost footing, twisted her ankle and fell headlong down into the bush. With her sister’s assistance, she was able to make her way back to the driveway. Debbie drove her to the doctor’s office. After a lengthy wait (it seems to be a universal experience) the doctor told her it looked as if she had sprained her ankle and dislocated her shoulder. She was sent to the hospital emergency for assistance. At the hospital, X-rays confirmed their fears, and the shoulder was put back in place while Jenny was being sustained by laughing gas. (Those that know Jenny can only imagine what that must have done to her! LoL!) Anyway, she was release with a sling, and told to not lift or reach for anything for a week.
Now, this has happened just as she is to make her way to Auckland where she is to speak three times at a Ladies Day function. They expect above seventy women at the event on Saturday morning (Friday afternoon, home time!) So, be praying for her. She is in a lot of pain, but she is committed to getting the job done.
Meanwhile, a couple hundred miles south, I continued my class last evening. We began our study on the book of James. There were six of us in the class, but the study was successful and encouraging to all. While there I noticed a book that belonged to one of the brothers there. It was a sermon outline book by Robert Martin, our missionary to the Pacific Islands. Seeing the frayed outer cover reminded me of how important the work he has done over the years has been to the good folks in so many places in this region. It is an honor to build upon the foundations he and others have laid.
More to come!
Day two of our experience in New Zealand was truly wonderful. I got up early after a good night’s sleep and made my way to downtown Napier, about a mile and half from my b-n-b location. I had a cup of cappuccino in a local shop, picked up some bread in a hot-bread shop, and made my way over to the marine-parade, across the street. Had a very nice walk down the way looking at some of the most wonderful scenery on the earth. Shared my hot bread with some local birds, and began walked back to the place I’m staying. -Good walk!
Jenny and I went our separate ways at the airport when we came in. She is reuniting with her family for a few days, while I teach my course in Napier. Our daughter Rebecca, and little Emma made their way down from Singapore, and our daughter Brooke and her William are in country as well. It is William’s first visit to Brooke’s homeland. So they are having a nice little reunion with all of Jenny’s side of the family for a few days while I do my work.
Speaking of the work, the studies are going well here. I mentioned in my last blog that the Hawke’s Bay congregation is small. They have only seven members. Most of the members are Samoan, but fortunately the class is being taught in English. Sunday, when all are together, there will probably be some translating going on during the service. No worries! Been there, done that many times!
We just finished the fascinating book of Philemon last night. This wonderful letter contains perhaps the best little set of guidelines for helping to build and maintain relationships that has ever been written. Christians should study this book and add it to their daily plan for unity with others. Both in and out of the church, these principles shout for amicability and kindness in mending broken relationships.
Tonight we move into the very practical book of James. I have four students. All participants are soaking up the study, and it has been good for me to be able to admonish them in their own personal struggles.
Kia Ora! It is good to be connecting with all from down under! Our connections and flights went well. We were able to get some sleep on the 12 hour flight from Los Angeles to Auckland. Once there, I had another flight down to Napier where my class was to begin that evening.
I was met at the airport by brother David Vickers. He is one of the men of the Hawkes Bay church of Christ who is to be a part of the PIBC course series. Back at his house it was good to meet his wife, a dear and sweet lady we’ve not seen in over 30 years. Liz has been a long-time Christian. A few years ago, her first husband passed away. Within a couple of years she met David, also a widower, and the two were married. He was converted from Catholicism, and had taken a great lead in the church.
The first day was very long. I stayed up all day though. (Naps are a no! no! on day of arrival to avoid jet lag!) We had our first class in the evening. The study I am teaching are the three New Testament books, Philemon, James & Jude. More to come!!
Scott and Jenny Harp, along with his father Richard Harp Sr. have arrived in New Zealand to work with the Pacific Island Bible College.