and Diversity: The Lamb of God
By Roger Foley
The Lamb of God, not surprisingly when considering its geographical spread and isolation, has a different structure than any other community in the Sword of the Spirit. We are a “national community”, being one people, multi-locational, with one financial account. The community is established in 14 towns and cities, and this requires a particular structure to effectively serve people with leadership and pastoral care. Our 14 locations are encompassed in five geographical regions. Each region is supervised by a coordinator, and he in turn is a member of the overall governing body, the National Council of Coordinators. Larger regions have two members on the National Council, giving a total at this time of eight, including myself as senior coordinator. There is a parallel structure for our Women's Councils, and a separate National Service Team to coordinate our Kairos Pacific Youth Ministries throughout the land and into the Pacific. At local branch level, within the five regions, our centers are served by teams of elders supported by the local women's council. Additionally we are both ecumenical in composition and extremely ethnically diverse. We currently number about 375 to 400 adults and I guess about 200 to 250 children, located in 14 centers throughout the land. Some of our members live 2000 kilometers from each other, yet are in full membership with each other.
A call from the
Since then we have continued to grow and establish new groupings, and have seen some remarkable works of the Lord, in particular in Auckland, our largest city. I can recall how difficult it was to “keep hands on the plough” but instinctively knowing that it was important we have a branch in this major city. And just 15 to 20 people joined that grouping over a ten-year period. The advantage of the National Community in having “one financial account” was important in that pastoral trips, training, and development were never hindered by how little financial resource was actually available from this small Auckland group. Praise God, he had a plan, we just needed be faithful to "our call". Now Auckland is a strong work of the Lord numbering over 350 people, and ethnically diverse with Samoans, Indians, Filipinos, Malaysians, Europeans, Zimbabweans, folk from Singapore and many, many more lands.
To conclude, three
Two. Our innovative fundraising. A community of our structure and multiple locations needs funds to advance its work in addition to the normal community giving from individual members. We do a variety of fundraising, but our most successful has been to establish a confectionary manufacturing/wholesale business in the Christchurch Branch some 16 years ago – the production of lamington cakes boxed in dozens. We have produced over 90,000 dozen-boxes, all pre-sold, over the years. We have developed a sophisticated operation which, at top production, needs just 26 adult volunteers. Profits have allowed the purchase of a former Baptist Church complex, plus an adjoining house. The Lamb of God Centre is now debt free, and ongoing profits established substantial reserve investments for longer-term National Community development. Recently we have assigned lamington profits to three particular needs: one third is given away to needy families, one third pays registration fees for all of our children for family camps and retreats, and the final third is set aside to subsidize our youth mission teams into Fiji each year.
And finally our membership in the Sword of the Spirit. Our gaining full membership was a long and costly journey, due in part to our geographical isolation. But the journey was worth the cost and sacrifice. We are grateful to Steve Clark for his contribution and assistance. Back in our exploratory days in the late 80s through mid-90s I would visit Ann Arbor [Michigan, USA] year after year and we would sit and talk. But it was more than that. A friendship and trust was being established. We both wanted Lamb of God to be part of the Sword of the Spirit; it just took a while! Now, as the “underbelly”, we are committed with all the member communities in the Call and Mission of the Sword of the Spirit. But again, geography plays a part – our work in assisting and strengthening other communities stretches from a mere four hour flight then four hours by land travel to Suva, Fiji, to a thirteen hour flight into Northern Malaysia.
If you live in Aotearoa New Zealand – everywhere is a long way!
Come visit the Land of the Long White Cloud, and stay a while.
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