Michael Fa'amoana To'o
Recently I felt the Lord encouraging me to write down some of the things the Lord has been doing with us to encourage others in the Body of Christ to step out in faith, trusting Jesus for His direction and also for His provision.
This is just one adventure in the Lord that Paul Norman and I have been blessed to have shared together in the South Island in December/January - 1993/94.
Kaihere, Hauraki Plains August 24 1993
Paul had just returned after two days in Waerenga (near Huntly) working alongside some of the elders in that district. I'd believed to stay behind on a farm in Kaihere and help a dear Christian couple during their calving season.
We got together at midday to pray about our movements, we'd been believing that when the Lord brought us back together we were to carry on over to the Coromandel in the Bay of Plenty.
While Paul had been in Waerenga, a Christian brother Phil Keelan had a picture (vision he believed was from the Lord) for us.
Although we were praying (we thought) for further guidance concerning our trip to the Coromandel, I believed that the Lord gave me a picture of a town surrounded by hills. I thought it might be the South Island city, Christchurch (I'd never actually been to the South Island so I wasn't sure). But I strongly believed the Lord showed me it was in fact Dunedin!
This took me by surprise and I prayed a bit longer asking the Lord whether or not this was from Him, or just from my own imagination. I shared this with Paul, knowing that this was the first time that I was aware of the Lord speaking to either of us about Dunedin. I was a bit fearful that I might be wrong about the whole thing.
Paul didn't say anything right away and we continued to pray waiting on the Lord. Paul then shared the picture Phil had had for us. It was of a Highland Scotsman in a kilt and with bagpipes. Paul then shared that he'd been thinking alot of a Fijian Indian brother, Ashwani (who lived in Dunedin) for some days now.
Dunedin has a strong Scottish influence having been founded by settlers from Midlothian in Scotland.
So we committed all of this in prayer to the Lord for His wisdom and understanding. In the days that followed, we prayed asking for the Lord's guidance on: 'Where do we leave from, when did He want us to leave, how long did He want us to go for etc. . . .'
We had so many questions, and even after many weeks had gone by we still had no answers. Only the confidence that God had spoken to us about going to Dunedin.
As time went by, we did travel around the Coromandel, then down through the Central North Island, where Phil Keelan joined us.
All three of us were in the Bedford J1, and continued around the East Cape together. It was a bit cramped at times but praise the Lord we were blessed to see the Lord do some amazing things along the way.
We were just north of Napier when we stopped to ask the Lord what to do once we arrived in Napier. Phil said that he'd had a vision in which the Lord showed him to be dropping us off at an airport. We believed from this the Lord was wanting us to fly to Dunedin.
A month later in Tokoroa we were praying about what we should be doing and how long to be in Tokoroa. Paul believed that the Lord wanted us to sort out our travel arrangements to Dunedin that day.
We hurried into town where Paul quickly found out about the best deal to Dunedin. Unfortunately nothing the travel agent told Paul seamed right to him in the Lord. To make matters worse we only had half an hour in which to give a definite answer before the travel agent closed.
After ten minute's of intense prayer Paul got up saying, he believed to ring the Air New Zealand 0800 number.
He asked Phil and I to continue praying that the Lord to put him in touch with the right person. Paul soon returned with a huge smile on his face, and we knew the Lord had made a break through.
We prayed for another five minutes, then we all shared what we believed the Lord was saying. I said that the Lord gave me 5,5,5. I wasn't sure what it meant.
Paul had the number 21, and Phil shared some other aspect of the trip. Paul believed that we were to leave in December and that we were to be away for five weeks. And also that we were to be leaving the South Island from Christchurch.
We all believed that the 21st was the date to be leaving the North Island. Which was also exactly five weeks from the time that we were making the bookings. This meant returning on the 25th of January.
The Air New Zealand lady had told Paul that there were seats available on her screen for $300 return each, but today was the last day for that fare. The best prices we found elsewhere for the were over a thousand dollars.
So we thanked the Lord for the cheap fare and continued asking Him for His mighty provision for the money needed to pay for the tickets today before the travel agent closed. We'd all checked our accounts an hour or so earlier and no one had and money.
Paul went back into the travel agents ten minutes before they closed, with great confidence that the Lord had answered our prayers. He booked two seats for 21/12/93 from Auckland to Dunedin.
We believed to return to Auckland not from Dunedin, but from Christchurch. However the agent, who had obtained permission to do the bookings from Air New Zealand, said that we couldn't as we had to fly out from the same airport we flew into.
Meanwhile Phil had felt strongly to check his bank account again, and I continued to pray. Phil returned and went straight into the travel agents. He later emerged with Paul and told me that the Lord had unexpectantly touched someone's heart in the last hour to put sizable amount of money into his bank account, which he believed he was to use to pay our air fares.
That evening we believed that we were to head to Hamilton, and as we were driving I had a really clear picture of an old town clock with the hands showing two o'clock. We all believed that it was of the Lord and prayed and asked the Lord to show us what it was all about.
We arrived in Hamilton believing to stay with a Maori brother Sonny.
The next morning while Paul was praying alone, the Lord Jesus spoke to him and said,
'There is a flight leaving Christchurch at 2pm on the 25th of Janurary with those cheap fares, and you are on it.'
Paul answered immediately, saying 'You'll have to tell them do it as the Airline said that we couldn't, and that we were not allowed to change the tickets.' The Lord indicated that the tickets should be read carefully. Paul only then realised that the Lord had spoken to him audibly.
The ticket had been issued for a wrong range of dates, showing us returning on Christmas day, against their own rules. It would have to be reissued anyway.
Ringing the Air New Zealand help desk with some trepidation, Paul said 'you have a flight leaving Christchurch on January 25th at 2 pm going to Auckland, with some of those cheap fares available', after a moment the operator said, "Yes."
Paul explained our situation, and gave her our ticket numbers, the operator said that we couldn't use these cheap tickets to do what we wanted. 'I'm sorry Mr Norman, if you fly to Dunedin, you must return from Dunedin.'
Paul was speechless, all he knew was that the Lord had spoken.
Then after what seemed like a long pause, the operator suddenly said, 'But I can tell you what you can do.'
She went on to explain in detail another way of booking the same journey for the same price, and said to return to the nearest branch of the travel agency, that had issued the tickets the day before. She added that we could get them to ring her on the 0800 number if they needed assistance in completing this different procedure.
Later on that morning Paul went to sort things out at the travel agents.
Philip and I spent most of the day witnessing to people about the Lord Jesus Christ around the streets of Hamilton. Returning to Sonny's place later on that afternoon we both felt that we hadn't quite made the break-throughs that we wanted to.
After dinner, we believed to walk back into town. Phil felt to go into a licensed cafe, I waited for him outside. After about twenty minutes, I felt tired and wanted to go back to the flat, and asked the Lord to tell Phil that it was time to go.
I really felt the Lord wanted me to pray instead that He would help Phil in sharing Jesus with whomever he was speaking to, and felt rebuked by the Lord for acting so selfishly.
Five minutes later, Phil came running down the stairs to tell me about a guy he met who was really open to the things he was sharing about Jesus. However a friend of this man had just come over and was taking the conversation away from the Lord, and was totally distracting things. Phil wanted me to come and draw this fellow off.
I was still feeling tired, I said o.k we'd pray about it. Phil thought I was wanting to pray for him, and he shot straight back upstairs. I was left feeling bad knowing that the Lord wanted me to get upstairs and help Phillip out and not be moping around outside.
After a quick prayer, I went up. He introduced me to a young kiwi guy he was talking to and his friend a German tourist. I talked with the German guy and quickly found he had a very wrong religious understanding of who Jesus was.
I started sharing with him about what the Lord had done in my life, using it to explain the gospel (the good news of Jesus). That we are to turn away from the things that God shows us are wrong and trust in the sacrifice Jesus made for us upon the cross, to pay the price for all our wrong. This sacrifice was the Gods way to cleanse us all of these wrongs.
I explained baptisim was Gods way for us to sign the deal. God would no longer remember our wrongs and judge us as those wrongs deserved with death.
He would fill us with His Holy Spirit giving us the power to over come temptation. If we did do wrong and sincerely ask for His forgiveness He would certainly give it.
God promises to raise us from the dead to live with Him forever in a place where there is no sickness, sadness or death.
I warned him that there is no other way for us to be freed from our wrongs against God. That there is a day when everyone will judged for their lives, and if their name is not found in Jesus' book of life they would be cast into a lake of everlasting fire where they would be tormented forever.
He seemed genuinely interested and listened for the next hour. Phil also had a worth while time with the kiwi guy as well. We left really thanking the Lord as we went for His help in our time with these two guys.
Some weeks later, on the night before we were due to fly out from Auckland, we were part of a gathering of Christians which ended at about 11pm. We returned to where we were staying the night believing to cut and paste together the master copy of the 1/94 Magazine which thankfully friends Nicky and Debbie had helped us with the typing. (That was the newsletter with a candle on the front cover.)
We finished cutting and pasting at about 6am! and got an hours sleep before getting ready to go to the airport.
Phil dropped us off at the airport, and after a quick hug and a prayer we said goodbye. Phil was going to get the warrant of fitness completed for the truck and then drop it off at Friends place. Greg had believed the Lord was showing him that we were going away for awhile, and that he was to look after the truck for us.
On the flight I believed to read a book called 'Eternity in their Hearts' by Don Richardson. As I read it I became increasingly aware that the Lord wanted me to read faster for a unknowen reason.
Paul struck up a conversation with the young man named Sean. Sean asked Paul what he does for a living, and so Paul told him he tells people about Jesus.
After listening to what Paul had to say, Sean asked why would anyone think that God wanted us to push these beliefs onto other races of people, . . .
when they had their own beliefs already, as he had seen in India. I now understood why the Lord had been getting me to finish the chapter I was on, as the book 'Eternity in their Hearts' soundly answered the questions Sean had just been asking.
In the book Don Richardson describes the processes by which God has prepared many people groups to receive Christ and even the missionaries themselves, through planting stories amongst each people group going back to when their very cultures had started. Stories which pointed them to Christ and how to be reunited with God.
Some of these customs and stories even predicted what the missionaries, God would send them would even look like!
I believed to give Sean this book as we landed in Christchurch. Four hours later, we caught our connecting flight to Taire Airport (Dunedin). From the air we could see that the whole countryside was going into flood.
After picking up our bags we noticed that two of our bags had been tampered with. We spent some time sorting this out with the people at thehelp desk. By the time we got outside all the public transport had gone. The shuttles had gone as well (which only cost $25 to go to Dunedin). There wasn't even a taxi left.
After prayer we believed to catch a taxi but to only spend $20 on the fare. A taxi which had been out of sight soon pulled up, Paul asked the driver what his charge was for Dunedin he replied, about $37.
Paul told the driver that he'd been told to pay no more than $20. The driver shook his head in disbelife. We stepped back not believing to accept the ride. The driver opened his boot, and came around meaning to put our packs in. Paul again asked how much, and the driver said that he was the only cab left, and that we didn't have any choice.
We grabbed our bags and again stepped away, the cabby drove away in disgust almost disappearing into the thick sheets of rain which were now coming down steadily.
Thoughts of hitch hiking were not very appealing with the heavy rainfall, and the flooding we'd seen while landing. Suddenly the taxi swung around and the driver told us to get into the cab, and that he would take us for $20. He said he was on his way home anyway.
He left the meter running to show us how much it would have cost us. We'd not even got a third of the way when he turned it off at about $12. He swore a fair bit as he drove. We found he had some faith and talked to him about Jesus, He soon stopped swearing and turned out to be a really nice guy.
We got dropped off at the Octagon in the center of town. We checked out a few of the backpacker places in town. Being only four days away from Christmas, all the cheap places in town were full up. We believed to go to a hotel called the Leviathan.
The manager told us that all they had left were rooms $75 and up. We went out and asked the Lord if this really was the place to stay we both felt it was. Going back in we asked the manager if he had anything else that was cheaper. The manager said he'd have another look, but wasn't very hopeful of finding anything. He was suprised to find that they did have a room and could not understand how they'd overlooked it until now, he said it was normally the first room to go because it was one of their cheapest rooms? He gave it to us for $50 a night saying we were really lucky (blessed I thought). We believed to stay 3 nights, it turned out the room was booked out after that.
For the next couple of days we rested, and made use of the time to photocopy and fold the Magazine getting it ready for mailing.
Leaving the hotel on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, we sat across from the Octagon (the main square of Dunedin) and prayed for some time waiting on the Lord for our next move. We believed to ring Ashwani, so Paul crossed the road to use the pay phone there. Ashwani sister answered and said he wasn't home and would not be back for a while as he and wife Karen were in the Octagon setting up for an Christian outreach that night. As she was telling him this, Paul looked up to see Ashwani drive past him in their car.
I saw Paul run out of the phone box to the other end of the park. I ran over to see where Paul had gone, and surprised when a car pulled up next to me and Paul was driving it. Ashwani had given him his car so we could collect our gear from the Hotel and take our gear back to his place.
Ashwani and Karen had invited us to stay with them while we were in Dunedin. Christmas day Ashwani took Paul and I on a grand tour of Dunedin. We were supposed to go to Karen's parents' place for Christmas Dinner, but during the day I developed an acute toothache (a wisdom tooth). After a couple of hours I gave up being brave and asked for an aspirin. Both Paul and Ashwani realised I didn't really need an aspirin but more the services of a dentist.
Half an hour later I was sitting in the emergency dentist's chair, waiting to have my tooth pulled out. I asked the Lord for extra time so that the anesthetic could take effect and totally numb my gums. (I've had some very bad experiences with dentists extracting teeth before it had time to work.)
The dentist asked what I did so I told him I was a full time worker for the Lord Jesus. I shared testimonies of what I'd seen the Lord do and in the process he got to hear a lot of the gospel message. Every now and then between stories, he would tap or poke my tooth and ask if it hurt. He was really engrossed in what I was sharing, when suddenly noticed how much time had slipped by. After few tugs a my tooth he realised that anesthetic had started to wear off. so he gave me another jab and immeadately pulled my tooth out before I could tell him it had not taken affect (Ouch!).
Over the next two days, we finally got all the Magazines folded addressed and mailed off. Most importantly, the Lord opened the door to share with Ashwani's Hindu mother who had joined them from Fiji for Christmas.
It was at this time that I became aware that my smoking was an addiction. I made a half harted attemp, one without any real resolve to give it up. I just enjoyed smoking too much and decided to try and progressively cut back. It didn't work.
It would be sixteen months later (after a period of self imposed, misery) of trying ultimately to lead my own life, that I realised I would rather live without my smokes than live without God. The Lord helped me to stop smoking, and gave me the strength to keep from smoking till this day.
The Lord showed me that the issue wasn't the smoking as such, it was more the matter of sovereignty. That He as Lord had personally told me to stop smoking and I did not obey. It is better to obey than to sacrifice.
The smoking covered over other issues like fear of what it was like not to smoke and also pride, as it was the only thing left in my life which I thought I had any control over. Everything else was in the process of coming under the Lord's direction and guidance. This one thing I had held onto as my own, and that was where the issue of Sovereignty had come in.
Ashwani believed to drop us off at the edge of town. He kindly took us quite some distance over the hills.
We had strongly believed to hitch hike this next leg of our journey, which was to take us all the way up to Wellington, and then back down the South Island before we were to head back to Auckland via Christchurch, but I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.
Before we left Dunedin we believed the Lord was telling us to 'go see Doug', so we headed North, to see a old friend of Pauls named Doug who lived in Christchurch.
The Lord blessed us with two quick rides which got us to Wakatewaiiti. Once there no matter how much we prayed for a ride, no one picked us up. We became uncertain of our steps and we really asked the Lord whether we had gotten it wrong and had been meant to leave Dunedin at all?
All the Lord kept giving us was that we were to just keep on trusting Him, that He had things under control.
After a few hours of waiting, a middle aged woman picked us up. During our conversation she unexpectedly apologized for being late, saying she had been held up at home. We were surprised by this sudden confession but realised it was kind of an answer from the Lord.
Paul found out from her that she came from a near by town that an old Christian friend of his had come from in the 80's (Paul had lost contact with him for some years since). He asked her if she was familiar with his friend surname. She said yes, and no more. So Paul asked whether she knew his friend named Doug.
"Yes" she said "he's my son and I'm on my way to see him in Palmerston (South Island). Would you like me to take you to see him?"
You could have knocked us both over with a feather when we realised what the Lord had done. That morning the Lord had given me the name Doug with the instruction that we were to be heading north. I'd assumed it was our Christian friend Doug in Christchurch, but the Lord had arranged it so that there was no way we could get it wrong.
Doug was certainly surprised to say the least when we turned up. Doug had been believing to go to places like Africa or India to do mission work. He'd been been training in the use of different types of metal and water work systems. He really wanted to be able to help set up irrigation or water schemes for the poor to show Gods love.
This was also his last night in Palmerston before going to Dunedin to live. His mother had come to stay, so she could help him shift in the morning.
Later on we made enquiries for him with different Mission organisations in Auckland and Wellington, but nothing was going a that time. Doug, believed he would just have to trust God to guide and lead him into what he wants for his life.
We booked a room that night in the same complex where Doug was staying, and the next day believed to catch the train to Christchurch. The Lord really blessed us by having the guard offer to reduce our standard fare by $17 each.
We arrived at the Square just as the Picton Shuttle (a small mini bus) was getting ready to leave. But I believed that we were to stay on in Christchurch.
Nothing seemed to come together as we looked for other transport to Picton. So we sat down and prayed just outside the Pavlova (backpackers) Hotel. We were not sure what we were waiting for, then I saw guy I recognized, but couldn't remember who he was, or where I had seen him before.
He turned to me and, said in a German accent,
"ah, yes, the Jesus man!"
Then it clicked, this was the same guy I had witnessed to in Hamilton with Phil. He told me then he was returning to Germany within the week. So it was amazing to see him after all this time. He told me it was a last minute decision to stay a few more months in NZ, so he could 'do' the South Island before returning to Europe. We talked breifly before some friends dragged him off to the local bar.
After this we felt the Lord encouraged us to catch a late night shuttle to Piction and a early morning ferry to Wellington.
We stayed in the Wellington area for a couple of weeks, and made all sorts of different contacts. Working mostly with Christian families with all sorts of practical and spiritual needs. We cleared gorse, helped with budgeting, Christain counseling, and encouraged groups and individuals in the Lord.
While praying for direction concerning our return to the South Island, the Lord often placed Johnny Vaughn a man from Takaka in the South Island on Paul's heart.
I was blessed to get about five days with my family. When we left Wellington my family was not the only thing I left behind, secretly I wanted to stay, but I knew the solemn promises I had made to God. So out of a sense of obligation I continued across the Cook Strait.
The Lord continued to work me through on this area for about a year, until I was able to totally release my family and commit each of them into His hands.
I had to learn to trust God from my heart to look after my family, in the same way as I have to trust Him to look after me each day.
After spending two days in Picton, we hitchhiked to Nelson. We prayed and asked the Lord which route to take. Before we'd finished praying, we were picked up. The driver was going to Blenheim, and asked us whether we wanted to be dropped off at a turn off, Springs Creek, before Blenheim.
We didn't have long to decide and I thought Springs Creek seemed the closer and more direct route, that it would the more sensible place to hitch from. After a short walk we waited for a ride, and after four hours, I had a bad feeling that something was seriously wrong. Unlike the situation where we hitched out of Wakatewaiiti, and the Lord encouraged us that He had things under control, we didn't have that same assurance. Feeling pressured to get to Nelson I'd failed to really seek the Lord on how to get there. When we talked about it we were probibly meant to have caught the bus.
I examined my heart knowing that I hadn't really enquired of the Lord. I had simply chosen what seemed best, this was a hard way to learn a lesson, but after seven hours of waiting on the road for a ride which never came, it was not a lesson I would soon forget. It was certainly better to learn here in New Zealand to not lean to my own understanding, than some where overseas where there could be greater difficulties, or cost me my own life or worse, affect someone else's.
What seems right or best to us should never be the the standard that we use to messure what the Lord wants us to do. We can not assume how He wanted us to do it yesterday will be the same way today. We need to humble ourselves every time, to find out how He wants things to be done, thats what the Lordship of Christ means.
Once we'd realised this and talked to the Lord about it, asking him to forgive me for mucking it up. A short time later we saw a tour bus and flagged down, the driver was happy to give a ride to Nelson for a small fee. We arranged to stay in a local backpackers hostel which was quite a long walk from where we were dropped. All we wanted to do was to get a room and sleep it had been a very long day.
We asked the Lord if we could get a private room to ourselves. The attendant said all the share twin rooms were unfortunatly all taken, then he realised that the main dormitory was also full. He put us into the spare dormitory which was empty, and we had it all to ourselves. He told us to sleep in a as long as we needed!
Before going to sleep that night, the Lord showed Paul that when we got up, we were to go straight into town for breakfast, and not get sidetracked.
We got up and headed into town for breakfast. We found a nice coffee lounge and after breakfast we had a prayer. Paul believed the Lord wanted us to go straight down to the bus station and catch the next bus out of town.
We got down to the terminal, and to our surprise the terminal was closed and all the timetables said that there were no buses running today being a Saturday. We noticed a sitting near by with a backpack, Paul asked if he knew of any bus services. He said that he was waiting to catch a tourist bus over to the west.
The tourist bus arrived a few minutes later, praise the Lord we had come when the Lord had urged Paul or we would have missed it. The driver agreed to take us to the Richmond intersection where the Southern and Western highways meet. We were able to talk about Jesus to one of the guys on the bus.
We were dropped off at the intersection, we prayed asking the Lord what to do, were we to go West to Takaka to see Johnny Vaughn who we'd been praying for or to continue South.
It wasn't long before we both knew that the Lord wanted us to continue South and not West to Takaka. It seemed strange that the Lord was placing Johnny on Pauls heart for so long (over a month) and then to be directed away from the area he and his family lived? We left it in the Lord's hands to work out His purpose in it all.
From the intersection we believed to walk South.
It started raining and Thoughts of home, a warm bed and what I had left behind were greatly troubling my heart. It was only the feelings of duty to the Lord that was keeping me here in the first place. I felt cold, wet and alone in my own self pity.
As we walked towards Brightwater we walk past a motel called the Bridge. As it was now solidly raining we asked the Lord whether we should carry on or stop there for the night.
However in my heart I was so uncertain feeling hesitant after what happened before Nelson, all I wanted to do was just carry on walking aimlessly in the rain.
Paul said he had a crazy price of $5 for accomadation. As we looked back to the hotel we saw that there was an very old painted over sign showing $5 per room. We knew that it wasn't the price, but a encouragement all the same from the Lord to stay. I was glad Paul had felt so strongly to go, because inwardly, I was afraid of making the same kind of mistake as I'd made before Nelson.
We were given room number 5 for the night, we were going to walk down to the small town across the bridge, when our hostess asked us where we were going and we told her to look for some fish and chips in town. She said we need not bother we could have it there, they would make it for $5!
At about 7 pm we were joined by another guest who'd just booked in. He was a genetic scientist, who was due back in Christchurch the next day to fly back to England. He had finished work that morning in Christchurch and really felt to go for one more look around before leaving New Zealand. He drove all the way to Nelson and had grown to tired to drive all the way back to Christchurch. He decided to stop here the night and head back early the next morning.
We got to meet him in the living room (common area) Paul talked to him about Creation, and the scientific evidence against evolution. He was really fascinated and wanted to know more. He was a Anglican who had some faith in the Lord Jesus, but had problems with creation and believed in evolution instead.
Paul shared how he had found University studies impossible to pursue after finding many inconsistencies over evolution. He told him about how in his search for the Truth, he'd found that the truth had pointed him to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul told him about the Creation Science foundation run by a group of scientist from all different feilds who share the solid conviction that what is found in the first book of the Bible "Genesis" is the truely the way things were created. That evolution is a theory and that would never become a Law as God created all things through His Son Jesus Christ.
We talked until about 2am! and then he sat remained for awhile after we left. Privately Paul and I spent time praying for him that God would continue to open his eyes to the truth, and open his heart to His Salvation. When we had finished praying, I realised how selfishly I had been acting in the last couple of days. Looking inwardly instead of looking to the Lord for His strength to overcome my own selfish feelings and meet the needs of others. I asked the Lord to forgive me for my selfishness and loosing sight of Gods goals of saving souls.
The next day we believed to go to Murchison. So we headed out early in the morning. The first few rides we got didn't take us far, but were helpful. We got a ride to the Kohatu pub from a guy and his teenage daughter. We had a good share with them about the Jesus.
We had lunch there, we tried hitching from there for a while and after a prayer we believed to start walking. It was a lovely day and we prayed as we walked.
We went past a free Christian camp site (Quineys Bush - Motupiko) and the houses of countless Christian friends of Paul's. We stopped opposite the last house before the Hope Saddle a small community called Korere.
I looked at my watch and realised that we had walked been walking for almost 3 hours non-stop in the hot summer sun with full packs on. Murchison was still an hour or more's driving away.
We dropped our packs wondering what to do next. We had only seen four cars drive past us the whole time we'd been walking. As we sat there Paul said that he knew the man who lived across the road from us, but neither of us felt anything from the Lord for calling in to see him. We had less than an hour's light left and prayed asking the Lord what to do. Did the Lord want us to see any of Paul's friends, or to continue to Murchison. We'd even considered just beding down in one of the many hay barns that we had seen along the way.
The last thing we prayed was, Lord if You want us to go to Murchison, please encourage us. About five or so minutes later we heard a car winding up through the Hope Saddle. The sound of the motor grew louder until we saw the car in the far distance. As it got closer, we noticed that the car started to slow down and draw across the road towards us.
I thought that the driver coming towards us owned the property we were standing outside and was going to tell us to move away from his farm gate.
He slowed down, pulling right over to our side of the road, and wound down his window. As he spoke I imagined that he was going to tell us to get lost. What he actually said was,
"You guys will be hungry by now, I got these in Murchison." He handed over some take away food, wound up his window, and continued on his way at high speed towards Nelson. It all happened so quickly, we were lost for words and only managed a weak thank you before he sped off.
Stunned we looked at each other, and then into the bags, to find two fish cakes, two small pies, two chicken pieces, and a full bag of chips which were still warm.
We were just so greatful, giving our thanks to the Lord for His kindness. The food tasted so good, we hadn't relised how hungry we were and had not even considered what we were to do for dinner that night.
We prayed thanking the Lord for His provision and foolishly asked if He still wanted us to carry on. We felt silly for asking, as we realised this was all a direct answer from the Lord to our prayer for encouragement to continue on to Murchison.
It was now growing dark, and there was just enough light to make us out on the side of the road. Suddenly there was a stream of about 5 cars go by, the last one stopped to pick us up. Two young men and their Pitbull terrior were on their way to Westport.
The dog decided it was going to sleep on me and every now and again it would turn its head and randomly chomp at the air, probibly dreaming of chasing rabbits. Some how I managed to keep it from connecting with me, though I was fearful it might have.
When they had to turn the music tape over, which they had been playing full blast, Paul got in a really good oppertunity to witness to the guys. Praise the Lord they didn't play their stereo for the rest of the trip, Phew!
I prayed throughout the whole trip, that the Lord would help these guys understand what paul was sharing about Jesus love and why He died for them. And The other reason was I would arrive physically intact at Murchison. I patted and stroked their dog the whole way, hoping I could keep it content with just chompping at the air.
Our Murchison ride offered to take us all the way to Westport, but we told them that Murchison was far enough thanks.
They dropped us off outside the pub which was just closing. The pub was able to arrange for us to have what turned out to be the last available cabin at the motor camp (due to a last minute cancellation).
The friary was closing and the cook had accidentally put on extra chips for an order, and they asked if we would like them, we were grateful to be able to buy them as we were still hungry.
At the camp before going to sleep, we thanked the Lord for His wonderful help and asked if He wanted us to get to Westport to please arrange it. We were thankful for the cabin the Lord had given us that night, as there was a very heavy frost settling outside as we went to sleep.
The next morning while walking back to the cabin from brushing my teeth, a young lady popped her head out of a van, and asked if I needed a ride to Westport. I was so surprised that all I could say was "Umm. . I'll just talk to my mate. . .", and disappeared around the corner.
Telling Paul, he just stared at me and said, "Say Yes!"
As we traveled with this lady and her boyfriend we found out that they were Israeli university students on holiday. We shared with them about the Messiah and what the Books of the Old Testament said about Him. The ladys boyfriend seemed interested, she was not keen on what we were talking about.
They wanted to look at various touristy things, so it was a most enjoyable ride. We got to Westport around midday.
Most of the day was spent looking around and doing things like checking bank accounts, buying sunscreen lotions and having lunch. Later that afternoon we asked the Lord if He wanted us to stay in Westport for the night or to carry on. Then Paul remembered that he had believed that morning that the Lord was saying to carry on that day to Greymouth, so we walked to the edge of town to hitch. We met a starving hitchhiker there, and were able to share some extra food we had with him. As we waited, Paul suggested that it would be nice for me to see Punakaiki (Pancake Rocks) on the way to Greymouth.
I thought that it was a nice idea, but that we would not have enough time to fit it in, hitchhiking as we were, and it was getting late in the day.
We commited it to the Lord about seeing the Pancake Rocks. Praise the Lord the other hitchhiker got a ride (he had a most interesting hitching technique, he would lie on his back in the long grass, with his arm in the air with his thumb out) and not long after he was picked up we got a ride to.
The couple who picked us up were both involved with agriculture, he was Samoan and she a Kiwi girl.
They both had faith and we tried to encourage them to both really press into seeking the Lord. They apologized that they were not going far, they were just going for a joy ride to the Pancake Rocks!
Along the way we noticed quite a few people hitchhiking in both directions, it was strange because it was so late in the day, with only a couple more hours of light left.
The Pancake Rocks were an amazing site to behold, just the share beauty of what the Lord had created. It looked as if each individual rock had been placed carefully one on top of the other, by someone performing a balancing act.
After looking around for a while, we found ourselves asking the Lord again for directions, were we to stay in the backpackers down the hill or to carry on through to Greymouth. We both believed to carry on to Greymouth.
We went to the DOC centre to use the phone, using the information number, we found out all the backpacker in the area were full and the only place we'd find accomadation would be in Greymouth, they also told us there were no more buses that night. Then we realised why there were so many hitchhikers on the road on the way through.
We started to hitching, we prayed we'd get a ride, knowing only the Lord could do it for us, as there were so many hitch hikers out as well. A car sort of pulled up near us. But the driver was shaking her head vigourously indicating that she wasn't going to pick us up, we thought.
The car came closer, and the passenger opened her door, and told us to get in. We got in a bit puzzled.
We told the young ladies who picked us up we were Christian workers going to Greymouth. Relieved, the passenger told us the night before a hitch hiker had stolen her car. She'd convinced her friend to pick us up in case we were tempted to steal someone car, hence the mixed message we had from her.
Arriving in Greymouth, the passenger recommended a hostel which we should stay in called the Ark. This had stood out to us earlier. We rang them and they said that they'd had a "no show", and that as it was 10pm they were treating it as a cancellation. Otherwise they were fully booked up.
They gave us a nice big room all to ourselves and we settled down to sleep just after 11pm.
The next day was raining, we had a look around Greymouth. We had been asked by Christian friends in the Waikato to stay with one of their Christain children if we made it to Hokatika. We did believe to stay with Graeme and Christine in Hokitika and rang them, it turned out Christine was in Greymouth.
Christine had just started back at work that day after a long break, and had just asked the Lord for an excuse to take the afternoon off - when we rang!
Graeme was already having the next day off, so we were able to get to know them. We were all mutually encouraged with the time we shared together in the Lord.
Graeme offered us a work-ride through Frans Joseph Glacier which is South of Hokitika, But after a prayer with Graeme, it became clear that the Lord wanted us to go East to Christchurch directly, via Arthurs Pass in the Southern Alps.
The next morning the Lord directed us to be on the road by ten o'clock, which gave us ten or so minutes to get ready and leave. On the road we were picked up by the second car to pass us. Literally twenty seconds after ten! (Phew!). The driver had been in prison, and had read the Bible. We got to have a good talk with him before he dropped us of at Kumara Junction. We encouraged him to keep reading his bible and believing what was in there.
Our next ride was a fellow who was racing to Christchurch for an examination at the Polytechnic.
Paul asked if I wanted to stop and look around at Arthur's Pass, the way he asked indicated that I should pray. I did, and believed not to stop, Paul also felt to carry on to Christchurch. Further down the road we looked back at Arthur's Pass, and all we could see were thick dark rain clouds building up around the Pass, Praise the Lord we weren't there!
50 kms out of Christchurch I started to share with the driver about Jesus. I believed to tell him about how I came to the Lord, and how God turned my life around from the miserable, self seeking state that it was in, to be able to offer others hope in a God that truely loved and cared for them.
I talked most of the way to Christchurch, after a short silence, he told us about his sister who was with Youth with a Mission a Christian mission organisation, and how she was always sharing stories like these with him.
He dropped us off near where his exam was in town, and we made our way to the main square where we sat and prayed. We believed to go to the Information Center and ask if we could leave our packs with them until we knew what we were up to. They agreed and we left to find somewhere to pray, we went around the back of the Centre and along the river, and sat down. The Lord must have clearly shown Paul where to sit, because he'd raced off ahead of me to a particular seat, passing by a number of others.
It was difficult for Paul as he knew so many people who would gladly receive us, and I didn't know anyone. We wanted to be where the Lord had prepared everything for us by His Spirit. So we specifically asked the Lord to make everything very very clear to us.
About a minute after we'd prayed this, Paul jumped up and ran back the way we had come, towards the Information Centre. He ran up to a business man who was pushing a pram, and then starts hugging him. When I finally came back to my senses I realised that Paul must known him.
Paul introduced me to Peter, a Christian brother who had been part of the Christian Community in Wellington that Paul had lived in some years ago. Peter and Paul had traveled for the Lord in the South Island in 1984.
Peter said that he had just taken his wife Andrea to the doctors. He'd believed to park the car a few street away, and walk back via the river with the children to the doctors surgery, and now realised why.
He said they had just moved into a new house with a sleepout out the back and asked if we would like to stay with them.
Being men of great faith(?) - we spent an hour asking the Lord if he wanted us to stay with them, we rang peter and arranged for him to pick us up.
It turned out that over the next week, everyone who we believed to see were within walking distance of where Peter lived.
One of the people we visited, was a brother who had written to us when we had been praying about going to the South Island, Gary Melcombe. We tried to contact him but got his flatmate, he told us Gary was staying with his Dad for a few days and gave us the address, we looked it up and found Garys Dad lived a block away from where we were staying!
Seeing Gary was so important due to the timing of things which were about to happen in his life.
Some years before, Gary had gone in faith to London England, to work with street kids. Even though God was doing wonderful things with him A religious leader from a church convinced him that he needed to get some practical skills to be truely useful to God. Gary became quite confused with the counsel he'd been given.
Perhaps to resolve this confusion, Gary came under this fine sounding counsel from this so called leader, and returned to New Zealand, and under this advice took up a trade apprenticeship.
Up until Gary left England, Gary had clearly seen the Lord's hand moving. Now after his return to New Zealand he lost everything that God had been doing in his life. Worse, nothing ever worked for him. He found that his prayers were often answered in exactly the opposite way to which he prayed.
If he asked for protection while driving, he'd have an accident beyond his control that day.
It got so bad that he stopped praying altogether. He knew now he had walked right out of the God's will by leaving England.
It had taken him over ten years to realise that falsely submitting to a person who he had seen as leader in Christ and in the church than the God, had brought him into direct disobedience to the Lord. [So much for the false covering doctrine-EDITOR]
We had a time of prayer with Gary and his brother Jamie (who had just returned from Malaysia where he had become a believer), . . .
Paul had a vision of a large boat, red and black in colour, and what looked like massive cranes, and a word which came with the vision. "The boat is in dry dock getting refitted and I want you to join the crew".
Paul asked a couple of times if anyone knew what this meant. No one answered, but I noticed that Jamie looked at his brother as if he knew something.
A few minutes after praying, Gary left the room, and on returning he had a magazine with a letter. Gary read an extract from the letter he was carrying, which a friend had sent him. The letter said that every time the writer thought of Gary they kept thinking of this particular Christian Aid organisation.
The magazine had a picture of a mercy ship run by a Christian aid organisation, which had large cranes on it, and was painted red and black in colour. However Gary was still uncertain as to whether or not the Lord was speaking to him!
We organised to come back the next day if Gary wanted to see this thing through. Gary did want to check things out and Paul rang the phone number given in the magazine for the ship. They said one of their ships was currently being refitted in dry dock, and they were taking on crew.
There was no doubt in any of our minds that the Lord wanted Gary on that ship. We were also able to spend some time sharing and encouraging Gary's brother Jamie, in his new life with Jesus.
Jamie went on to Sydney where he enroled in a Christian training programme, and then got a Job in 2003 on the Australian Shopping Network as one of it tv presenters.
Gary is happily with the same organisation serving the Lord in the deepest darkest Roatan in Caribbean! A very beautiful Island just off Hondurus where they have some of the best diving in the world and was famous for pirates. Gary spends his time as part of the team that goes into areas (mainly in the Carbibean but reach worldwide) providing aid, setting up medical centres, emergency housing and the like and more importantly reaching others for for Jesus, he Loves it!
The day we flew out of Christchurch we were excited with antisapation as to why it was so important for us to be flying out of Christchurch at 2pm, Gary believed to drop us off at the airport. On the plane, Paul sat next to a man who was making his way to Hamilton via Auckland. He was going up to sit a new pilots rating for a plane he wanted to fly in Papua New Guinea.
Paul told him what he did and the man said he was angry at God, telling Paul about a Christian lady who he had cared for very much and how she had died of cancer after a long illness. He was unable to understand how God could have let her pass away in such a manner.
Paul believed to simply ask him, how had she felt about what was happening to her, and what were her last words?
The Pilot spoke of a friend who was full of hope and encouragement, who died contentedly, even fulfilled, knowing what lay ahead of her. She was more concerned for him and died without fear. He was very moved about what he was sharing and went silent. He then seemed to fade off into his own thoughts.
We now knew why it was so important for us to be on that flight. It is truely amazing how much God loves us and what He'll do to remove the obstacles that block our way so we can believe, and find true peace and hope in Him!
After landing we had a slight problem. We believed to go to Tokoroa, but had been without any money for some time.
We prayed and asked the Lord how He wanted us to get there, we believed to hitchhike and asked for God's help. We were still in the Auckland airport!
We try to never let finance or lack of it be a consideration in what we believe the Lord is saying to do.
We got a ride from terminal area to a motorway "on ramp". It is against law to hitch hike on the motorway, so we asked each drivers who the Lord had pick us up, to drop us at an "on ramp" as we grass hopped our way down Highway One.
We were able to share with each of the drivers about the Lord, and were blessed to be able to pray with a believer who dropped us off at Pokeno.
There we waited for over three hours. During which we asked the Lord if He wanted us to ring friends in the area who we had a long standing arrangement, if we were ever needing a place to stay they would gladly pick us up, when hitch hiking in the area.
The Lord wanted us to continue to wait. Finally a young Maori man picked us up. Telling us he'd give us a ride to Huntly, out of the blue he appologised for not being there earlier, but he had decided to watch a cricket match on tv with his friends after work.
Paul started telling story after story of the miracles he'd seen the Lord Jesus do. Of people praying in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the sick and the injured being healed.
Even how a friends broken bones were healed instantaneously in front of medical staff. Paul started telling him about a religious group who didn't believe in the gifts or the power of the Holy Spirit to do such thing. The driver told said he actually belonged to this religious group, then started saying the Devil was the one doing these things.
Paul warned the driver to consider what he was saying; was he saying that people who were being healed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, were actually being healed by the Devils power?
He kept refusing to answer when asked. So we asked him to drop us off right there and then. It was in the middle of nowhere, some miles from the nearest town. Shocked the driver asked, 'didn't we want to reason about this?'
'No, what is there to reason about', Paul replied. 'We say that it is the power of God at work to heal people, and you are telling us that it is the power of Satan. What is there to reason about?'
The guy said that he was worried that we would get to where we were going that night. Paul replied that he hoped that the man would get to where he was meant to be going, refering to eternity. He said that he would really think about what was said.
There was no point in going any further with him if he really believed you worked for the devil, to save arguments it was better to just stop. Lord willing the shock of what happened would really help him to concider what he really believed and would get him to read his bible and believe what was in there.
A few minutes later we were picked up and taken to Putararu, by a man who worked on the oil rigs. I got to share the gospel with him all the way to Putararu.
Our final ride to Tokoroa was given by a truck driver. Realising that we were going to be late, we had rung ahead and arranged to stay with a dear Christian sister Faye, and her children.
We spent the next couple of weeks in Tokoroa, Rotorua and Hamilton doing quite a range of things, before believing to pick up the truck off our mate Greg. We hitched around the long way to Kaihere eventually got to the turnoff, and walked up the long country road to where Greg and Norma live in the hills.
As we started up the road we were picked up by Greg and his sons as they were making their way home from rugby. Hugs were exchanged and coffee was brewed. Greg started sharing the news of things that happened since we had last seen each other.
Greg first covered all the spiritual goings on in the district, and then gave us the farm news. He shared how his boss had asked him to take on a new worker for the farm he was managing. He'd prayed about it, and started the man the very day that we'd arrived.
They'd found out that day that he was a Christian, and believed to help him out with some problems which he was having. Greg had to choose between this Christian man and his own natural brother who was not a Christian who normally worked when an extra hand was needed.
Greg said that the new man had come from Taheke in the South Island. Paul corrected him saying that Taheke was in Northland, and that it was Takaka which was in the South. Paul said later that as soon as Greg had started talking about this new man, he really felt the power of God.
Greg agreed, and continued saying that his name was something or rather which was completely wrong. And Paul said no, his name is Johnny Vaughn! Greg said that's right, How did you know!
I thought, how would Paul know Greg's worker's name, when Greg didn't know what it was. Given that Paul had been with me the last few months.
Paul was ecstatic and was not able to calm down for quite a while. Finally when Paul calmed himself dowm, he told Greg how we'd been standing at the Takaka turnoff outside Nelson, praying about seeing Johnny, but that the Lord had sent us on South. How we'd been praying for a month to see him. Paul had not seen Johnny for over a 10yrs.
Amazingly Johnny had got the job contact while living in London England!
The next morning I finally got to meet Johnny. Paul and Johhny spent all morning talking about what happened the last ten years since they lost touch with each other.
He shared how he'd gone through some very desperate times, with some major problems during the time the Lord had us praying the most for him.
As it had been here on that property in Kaihere that the Lord had spoken to us about the whole trip to Dunedin, it seems only fitting to finish this account of the Lord's adventures with us at this point.
In fact so much happened, so many every day miracles, that it would have taken a hundred newsletters to have given full credit to the Lord. I just pray that this account of how the Lord set up, arranged and led two people who were willing to ask and obey, will encourage you to seek God's guidance in every aspect of your life with Jesus. I am far from being perfect. I thank the Lord though that He is my righteousness, and in Him I have all things, if I trust Him. . . . And so can you!