Today's story is from Jeff Palmer, who with his family, is preparing to move to New Zealand to plant churches.

Today's story is from Jeff Palmer, who with is family is preparing to move to New Zealand to plant churches. Please read how, through prayer and vision, God continues to confirm their call and pray for them as they move forward.

During my first couple of days in New Zealand, I was able to spend some time catching up with a few mates (friends) in Auckland. One of those connections, Nate, is a fellow American and church planter with South Pacific Christian Fellowship, a ministry of NMSI, that has been in NZ for around 6 years. Nate was able to provide some keen insight to ministering and living in NZ from an American perspective. Nate introduced me to a Kiwi pastor, Gavin, in the same area who has been doing some grass-roots discipling in the area. This is the same approach Indra and I want to begin with in the church plant we lead next year.

Gavin was extremely kind, generous, and hospitable. We spoke for nearly an hour about ministry and the desires of our heart to reach the unchurched in NZ. Gavin seemed genuinely excited that God was sending 'help.' As our time neared an end, we closed the meeting with a prayer. Gavin prayed for our family, the transition to NZ, and the effectiveness of our upcoming ministry before passing along to me to pray. I began thanking God for Gavin and the work already being done in NZ as well as praying for Kiwis to be continually evangelized through the efforts of pastors like ourselves. In the middle of my prayer, Gavin interrupted. Since I've never been interrupted in the middle of a prayer (before saying Amen), I was intent on hearing what he had to say!

He stated that he had seen an image while I was praying. The image was of a traditional Māori ceremony called a pōwiri (the Māori are the indigenous tribal people of NZ). In this ceremony the Māori warriors meet visitors in full battle attire, ready to attack at any point. They intimidate the visitor with battle cries, aggressive behavior, threatening gestures, and weapons. Then one of the warriors lays a peace offering at the feet of the visitor - often times a fern leaf - and they stand back ready to attack. If the visitor accepts the gift, the Māori welcome the visitor in peace. If the visitor refuses the gift…. well… it was nice knowing you!

Gavin explained that he felt this unique image from NZ culture was a confirmation to me that my family was welcome in NZ and we will be accepted here. Symbolically and figuratively, it was as if the native New Zealanders had offered us a peace offering and fully welcomed us to be here. A very encouraging event for certain!

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