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By Robert Rutta
New Zealand has been called one of the most
people who have broken our hearts by leaving
beautiful countries on earth. It is a land of
the church and going to the world, my thoughts
are that these are the people whom we love.
sheep, cattle, beautiful pastures, rolling hills,
and snow covered alpine mountains. People
The beauty of New Zealand has also created its
come from around the world to hunt or to
own problems. The creation is worshipped and
fish or to participate in extreme sports like
the Creator is ignored. British settlers began
bungee jumping, mountain climbing, and
settling here in the 1840s. There were initial
whitewater rafting. It is an amazing land of
confrontations with the original people of
volcanoes, boiling mud pools, and steaming
the islands, the Maori, but then missionaries
geysers. came in with an effort to reach them with the
But that is not why we have given our lives
to serve in New Zealand. When I think of
New Zealand, I think of people—people who
need the Lord—people we love.
Diana and I have served here for 29 years. My
sweetest memories are the people whom we
have led to the Lord or watched grow in Him.
We have served in church planting works
on both the North and
Even when I
Gospel. Statistics tell us that church attendance
peaked in the 1890s with around 30 percent
of the nation’s population attending church
on a regular basis. That has decreased slowly
to the point where only 3–4 percent of the
people attend church. The main religions are
Anglican and Catholic, so most of those who
do go to church still hear no Gospel message.
What this really means is that we have cities
of 20 or 30 thousand or more people with no
sound Bible-preaching church within driving
distance. The closest church to us with whom
we can fellowship is three hours away.
A number of years ago I got a call from a pastor
from the United States who was on vacation
and passing through our city. That does not
happen often, so it was a real treat. He asked if I
would like to meet for coffee. We met the next
morning and after we had talked for a few
minutes, he said, “I have been here for over
a week and I just have one question: Where
are the churches?” He had travelled about
600 miles down the west coast of the South
Island and said he went through town after
town and in most he did not see one church
of any kind. I told him, “You probably saw all
of them then.” On the previous Sunday he and
his wife were in a decent-sized city and went
out to find a church. He was told there were
only two churches in town and neither of them
was meeting that week. They only met once or
twice a month and are not the kind of churches
that would preach the Gospel anyway.
New Zealand’s great need is for more churches
to be started all across the country. Over the
years we have prayed for laborers. We rejoice
that BIMI has several new missionaries who
are joining in the work. Devin and Amy Frost
arrived earlier in 2017 and
are working in a church
about five hours north of
us, with a goal of stepping
out and starting a new
church. Jerry and Dawn
Judd have just arrived
back in the country after
being away for a few years.
They are working in a new
church plant on the North
Island. Sam and Juliana
Hutchens have completed
deputation and will be in New Zealand soon.
Praise the Lord for new workers! That is an
answer to prayer.
We now serve in the city of Dunedin, near the
bottom of the South Island. We began with
one man. In order to build a church in New
Zealand, one needs patience. The work is often
frustratingly slow. We must take the time to
build relationships and simply love people.
Some mission fields have people who respond
to the Gospel in big numbers. This is not that
type of country. People are reached one by one.
We never have someone who comes to us from
another Bible-believing church because there
are none anywhere near us. We either lead
people to the Lord or see people come from a
wide range of church backgrounds who have to
be taught sound doctrine.
Over the years our church has met in various
rental facilities. We were
able to use the rental hall
on Sundays, carrying in
all of our songbooks and
supplies week after week.
Everything else during
the week was centered
around our house. As
numbers have increased,
this became more difficult.
Our people have faithfully
given to missions while
at the same time putting
money into a building fund with hopes of
buying their own building.
When I think of
I think of people
need the Lord—
people we love.
The greatest need a missionary in New
Zealand has is for faithful prayer warriors.
New Zealanders, known as Kiwis, are a very
stubborn people. God is the only one who can
break through their hard hearts.
When we started our church on the North
Island, we had times when there were just
a handful of people but that made it all the
sweeter when we saw someone trust Christ and
follow Him in believer’s baptism. Much of our
work on the North Island involved ministries
with young people. We held Bible Clubs
several afternoons each week that gave us the
opportunity to reach them. Then we were able
to visit and get to know their parents and invite
the whole family to church.
Earlier this year we had a wonderful answer
to prayer—we were able to buy a church
building! Even better, we were able to pay
cash! The building is quite simple, but it is a
wonderful tool that we can use for the Lord.
This moves the work into a new level as it
gives us a permanent location that is known
throughout the community. We are now seeing
the answers to many years of prayers. These are
truly exciting days!
We rejoice in the new workers who are coming
into our country, but truly, there are so many
more who are needed. Please pray for those
who serve the Lord all across New Zealand, and
pray that God will call more who will join in the
work. There is so much to be done here! W
Number 3, 2017