Bringing Hope to Hard Places

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Welcome to St Albans, where we seek to support one another in our living for Jesus and engaging in his mission in our world.  What a wonderful occasion last Sunday when we baptised seven adults after such powerful testimonies.  Today we continue our cross-cultural mission theme with our mission partner of 19 years, Paul Somerville, and a former church member, Stephanie Herron, who did a Vet Science degree at Massey in the mid-1980s.

Steph Herron is the daughter of a Presbyterian minister and started full-time overseas mission work in the Philippines in 1991.  In 1994 she did a nursing course for missionaries at the Africa School of Missions in South Africa and went to Mozambique in 1995 on a Tear Fund project.  In 1997 she helped set up the Bible Training Centre in Mozambique and has been there ever since!  She is associated with World Outreach and seconded to the Bible School.

The Bible School is interdenominational and trains church workers - children and youth workers and pastors.  Their main goal is to see the students’ lives transformed through developing their relationship with God; and to see them totally freed from the kingdom of darkness.  The hope is that as they return to their homes and churches, they can bring a similar transformation there.

Steph supports the students in their daily lives in practical ways, with health care, with wise counsel and by her example.  She also does some teaching, including African Church History, helps prepare visual aids for staff and translates some resources from English to Portuguese for the Mozambican staff.

Paul Somerville is married to Carlie and they have three children.  God gave this Kiwi family a passion for Asia after a visit there, so their family moved to Thailand for 13 years!  In 1990 they established their first discipleship home in Thailand.  They set up these homes for teenagers who know very little about the Christian message and use local Christian leadership, rather than Westerners, to care for, train and develop the young people.  They hope to see these young people go back to their own people to work as professionals and share their faith within their societies, acting as change-agents.

Their mission, EmpowerAsia, endeavours to go to difficult places and live amongst ethnic groups who have been historically resistant to the Gospel.  They have established homes in Thailand, Cambodia, Burma (Myanmar), Kolkata (India) and Nepal.

Paul and Carlie now live in Kingston, Central Otago, from where Paul makes regular trips to Asia throughout the year.... and the occasional one to the North Island!

The Next Presbytery Central Gathering will be held at St Albans on Saturday August 30th, featuring Singer/Song-writer Rev Malcolm Gordon and Past Moderator Rev Peter Cheyne, plus workshops on Children’s Ministry, Working with Vulnerable NZ Children, Evangelising by telling stories, Becoming a Strength-focussed Church, Ministering to the Poor, Why are teens crazy... and how to help them? and Transformation 101.  See last Friday’s email Update, our Noticeboard, or contact Steve.