Stella asked a valid question. Have I ever told the story of what brought me to Australia? And I did a quick fossick around the site and couldn’t find that I had… so here we go. And here’s a fair warning… there is ‘faith based’ content herein…
Contrary to popular opinion Australia isn’t usually the first place a Kiwi wants to emigrate to (yes, I realise this is contradicted by the overwhelming number of Kiwis here). It’s the neighbour’s place, it’s over the back fence, it’s… well, it’s not the cultural hub of Europe…. it’s not the bright lights of America… it’s… you know, a bit ordinary (now, now, settle down Aussies, I’m just saying how it felt across the Tasman back in the 90s, it could be completely different these days! (but probably isn’t)).
So, having returned from the bright lights of America (1998-89) and the cultural hub of Europe (1989-91) back to NZ (gorgeously smashing backwater) I spent some time refining my career (read switching from childcare in various forms, to customer service), and in the course of this career change I had the opportunity to move to Northland (Whangarei) late in 1995. It was here that the chain of events kicked in that brought me here…
Here’s how it played out…
I had spent quite a bit of time, while I was in Whangarei, involved with the music team of the church I was attending. It’s a pattern, I sing, I end up on the music team. It’s by and large, the place where I most often get to exercise my voice, it makes me feel good to be serving and to tell the truth, I feel the pleasure of God when I sing, like it’s one of the things I was made to do.
I hadn’t ever really had the impression that I was that good, I still think I’m probably better in a choir than as a soloist, though I’m more likely to perform alone these days than I ever would have before I came to Australia. In any case, it’s in the midst of this environment of encouragement, and music and eventual leadership on that team that the seeds of the possibility that perhaps the course of my life might include more ministry than just singing in church on Sunday, started to germinate.
So, as a great many of the New Zealand christian community does, I attended ‘Parachute’ in February of 1998, a big music festival, headlined by international acts, and attended by mostly christians, but also other people who just want to rock out in a predominantly safe environment. As is usually the case, in 1998 there were international headliners and a whole lot of local talent as well. Jars of Clay was one of the international guests… they were underwhelming, if I remember correctly, Margaret Becker was another.
She rocked it.
If you’ve ever been to Parachute when it was housed at Totara Springs, you’ll remember that the main stage was nestled in an awesome natural amphitheatre, and it was while I listed to Margaret play my heart, standing at the top of that amphitheatre, looking down on this epic crowd, that I offered this little tiny prayer, that really is the biggest prayer you can pray. I simply said,
“OK, Whatever YOU want, wherever, YOU want, I’ll do it. Let my life be YOURS.”
I write that down now, and if I’m completely honest, I wonder what on earth I was thinking. Who am I to place my life in the hands of a deity the larger part of the world doesn’t even believe exists let alone accept that he loves me and wants what’s best for me and will direct me to a bigger, better life. But, it’s 14 years down the track, I’m older, wiser and realistically probably a lot less naive. Which isn’t to say I would change anything. There’s just been a really big body of water underneath the bridge of that decision.
It’s called the Tasman Sea.