NZCMS Personnel Manager Passes on the Baton

Dec 16, 2022 | News

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By Mike Robb, NZCMS Personnel Manager

A story from Papua New Guinea

Late November, my wife Ruth and I were speeding along a river in a dinghy in a remote part of the lowlands in the Gulf Province of Papua New Guinea. We had been paying a pastoral visit to our NZCMS Mission Partners, Scott and Nikki Wheeler and had left them for a couple of hours to preach at a local village church service downstream.

As we returned to Kapuna Hospital where the Wheelers live, I reflected on how I had first driven our own wee dinghy down this exact stretch of water in 1981 when Ruth and I were serving our first term at Kapuna Hospital. At that moment, I saw another dinghy and outboard approaching us in the opposite direction. As it came closer, I could see that it was being driven by Scott Wheeler, accompanied by Nikki and their three children. It was too much of a coincidence that we would be travelling towards each other simultaneously, and I quickly became aware that this moment had been orchestrated by God.

As we called to each other in surprise and waved, this deep combination of sadness, joy and peace washed over me as I realised what this meant. Sadness that Ruth and I are in our mid 60’s and could probably not cope with living long-term in swampy lowlands environments anymore. Joy that God has enabled us to meet, recruit, prepare and send a younger family to Kapuna to continue the ministries there. Peace from the Hebrew word ‘Shalom’, which can be translated as ‘when everything is functioning as God intended’.

Just as I had served in cross-cultural missions in Kapuna and driven down this same river over forty years ago, another young couple was doing similar work and driving down the exact same river! As we passed each other, in a very real sense, I was able to ‘pass on the baton’ of cross-cultural missions service in Papua New Guinea lowlands to the next generation.

Training 100s to reach 1000s

About thirty years ago, Ruth and I had a pastor pray over us as we prepared to return to Papua New Guinea. The pastor said that he saw a picture of those little ‘Hundreds & Thousands’ sprinkles and believed that God was calling us to “Train 100s to win 1000s”. Not only that, but the pastor suggested we buy a canvas picture frame and glue a whole pile of ‘Hundreds & Thousands’ sprinkles to it and write the phrase at the top. Which we have done!

In pretty much all decisions we have made in the last thirty-plus years, we have tried to prayerfully make in the context of this phrase and calling upon our lives. Any significant changes or shifts have been prayerfully prefaced and discussed in the context of “How is this moving towards or actively contributing to training 100s to win 1,000s?” This has been hugely valuable and helped us prioritise many things.

A Time to Resign

This brings me to the present time and my announcement that I am formally resigning from my role at NZCMS and permanent full-time work as a whole! Who knows when we are saying or writing our final words? Not many, if any. But I do know that I am writing my final official words as a Personnel Manager for NZCMS. This has been my life, my calling and my passion for the last six very full years. It has been a mixture of excitement, sadness, hope, desperation and sometimes even tedium! Ruth will continue in her role as Personnel Manager for NZCMS going forwards, and my prayers and love go with her in this continued work.

As I mentioned earlier, Ruth and I have been involved in overseas missions, pastoring churches and teaching in bible colleges since 1980. Most of it has been amazing, and some has been tough. Working for NZCMS has been such a blessing. I have had the joy of speaking, teaching and praying for missions and finding, recruiting, training, sending and visiting a wonderful bunch of missionaries overseas!

I’m also excited to follow the appointment of NZCMS’ Māori Evangelists. I believe this has a huge, exciting future and that tangata whenua will lead us all into the next great revival that will sweep across our land and beyond!

I’m excited to see the new generation of missionaries coming through! There is energy, creativity and desire for a Godly community that is refreshing, challenging and exciting! I pray that, as an older missionary and pastor, I will be involved, even if that means continuing to cheer them all on as they explore how God wants to use them in the great commission.

Ka tonoa te katoa. Everyone sent.

Blessings and aroha nui.
Mike Robb

Mike was recently gifted with a Tokotoko by one of our Māori Evangelists couples, Howard and Gladys Karaka, during their visit to NZCMS in December. The Tokotoko recognises the authority within the holder to speak and the mana that they hold in their community. 

1 Comment

    Your calling continues Mike.
    May you continue to be blessed to be a blessing as you move on from your official CMS role.

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