Saturday, August 19, 2006
Life and Death
The All Blacks today won the Tri-Nations Championship having beaten Australia for the third time and South Africa once. They call it football here and take take it pretty seriously. In fact the Waikato ground has a sign outside proclaiming unashamedly "This is where we worship". Bill Shankly famously said that football was not a matter of life and death - it was much more important than that. One of the Hakas starts "It is death it is death, it is life it is life" which Shankly would probably have understood.
We supported the All Blacks live for the first time at the Stadium with the UK team who came down from Palmerston North to experience the atmosphere. We were all given mini banners which said "Try" on one side and "Ka Mate" (death) on the other. They were sponsored by Telecom which is kind of appropriate given that whenever you access the Telecom customer helpline/switchboard/maze you start off wishing they would try and end up wanting them to die.
It has been a fairly succesful sporting term. Luke's hockey team, which I am coaching, has had the most succesful season in the schools history. This is not particularly due to either of us but has been good fun. Jamie has been playing soccer and miniball, Craig has started gymnastics and all three are still cross country running. We had a couple of boys from Christchurch staying for a couple of nights who were up with their school on a sporting exchange. We have both enjoyed being more involved at the school in different ways and getting to know some of the teachers and kids.
The UK team made a big impact in Palmerston North. Ben Carswell who led the team was a real star and the Kiwis really took to him and to Mary, Joy, "Little" Ben and John. Teams coming are a great encouragement and over the last two years have contributed significantly to student leaders and staff on campus through training, example, teaching and friendship. It has been great to hear of a number of new students of different nationalities who are exploring faith and finding life as a result of their visit.
It was good spending a bit of time with Ben, his sister Emma worked with me a few years back and his Dad, Roger is a great enthusiast and friend in the gospel. I think collectively the Carswell clan take the time to encourage me as much as anybody. I got a letter from Roger this morning and it reminded me how much I miss George and Nigel.
Many students have also said how conference has given them fresh confidence to share their faith with their friends since they got back to campus. As one said this week "I went thinking it would just be another conference but it has literally changed my life".
We had all the student leaders from Wellington VCF and OCF round for dinner and a bit of interaction the other day. I spoke fairly simply on what they could expect in the years ahead. I enjoy this kind of interactive teaching in an informal setting and it was great having 20 guests in the house, Ailsa did know how many were coming when she agreed to it and to her credit did not flinch when the number was revealed.
We are looking at developing a professional network for the pacific, encouraging integrity and faith in law, medicine, education, public life and business. We have an opportunity to buy part of the building TSCF and SU currently occupy which would become a resource centre for cultural engagement, digital communications and professional resources. We do not intend to run an appeal for this which will cost around £100,000 ($180,000 USD). Do pray that we would identify one or two individuals who would have a vision to resource this through gifts or loans. We think we can do something quite creative at not too much cost and get good value as we press ahead on the graduate network building.
We are not encouraged all the time, we have been through some tough days and difficult weeks. We do believe that what we are doing is a matter of life and death. Our banners said ka mate but the more common greeting in Maori is kia ora it is usually translated, hello or thank you but ora is a word rich in meaning. Ora is life, health, wellbeing, happiness. It suggests the Hebrew word Shalom, but it comprehends not only peace, but also life, salvation and wholeness. We are grateful for all who partner, pray and stand with us as we seek to hold out the word of life. Don't be put off by the signs we hold at the stadium - we are in the life business and are in it for life.