As we look back and celebrate 125 years, it’s not just about the people who crossed formidable barriers to bring Christ to people without him around the world. It is also about those at home who prayed and gave financial support.
Deep in Southland lies rolling pasture that belongs to Waidale Trust, a farming enterprise existing for 50 years to support missionaries – including many in SIM. Theirs is an extraordinary story.
With God nothing is impossible. But when a Kiwi family responds to God’s unmistakable call for missionary service overseas and is ready to go, yet they do not have enough financial support, it is indeed a test of faith. In the summer of 1966 Andrew and Margaret Dunn found themselves in this position. Their application to the Presbyterian Overseas Mission Committee to go to Papua New Guinea had been accepted, but there were insufficient funds available for their support. In December that year, during the annual Keswick convention held at Pounawea in South Otago, they were invited to speak on missions’ day.
Two Southland farmers heard their story and after the meeting began to chat about ways they might be able help. Harry White and Clarence Gardyne decided to meet with Andrew and Margaret to discuss their ideas. They were confident they could find a few friends who would be keen to join a scheme to graze and fatten a few head of stock for the purpose of supporting the Dunns. Andrew describes their conversation as ‘one of those electric moments’.
When Harry and Clarence took the idea home to their respective church leaders, at Knapdale-Waikaka and Riversdale-Waikaia, the response was positive – in August 1967, Waidale Missionary Trust was officially established and by November $4000 had been raised for the Dunn family to head overseas.
Faith and vision continued to expand as other farmers supported the cause and more missionaries began to seek support. God’s provision and blessing has allowed the Trust to grow more than anyone could have imagined. Today the assets include two farms, and donations to mission throughout fifty years have totalled more than $5 million.
At the trust’s 50th jubilee celebrations last year many of the missionaries who have been supported over the years attended, including Andrew Dunn. Guest speakers included Maree (SIM in Asia) Martin Campbell (Principal of Eastwest College) and Rob Reynolds (SIM New Zealand director).
Rob referred to the sense of partnership and community fostered over many years between Waidale and SIM. Last year, 17 of 47 SIM New Zealand mission partners were receiving support from Waidale. He commented: “It is so much more than financial support: it is an investment in people through prayer and sharing news. There is no sense of ‘us’ and ‘them’ but rather both are equally valued, working together for the same goal.”
Three generations of one family: Norman and Amy McIntosh, their daughter Averil and Alan Bennett, and granddaughter Kristina and John Tipper have all been supported by the Trust. Averil reflects:
“From the very beginning, Waidale’s commitment went beyond a financial one. The members became prayer companions…While our parents were in Southeast Asia, they sent farm produce up to us four young McIntoshs at university. Their love then extended to our children while we were in Thailand: they arranged for summer jobs and board. One even baked and decorated asurprise twenty-first birthday cake!”
Kristina and John comment:
“Waidale support has made a significant difference to our ministry in the Middle East, both financially and prayerfully. Waidale financial support comes to us annually in a lump sum. Because we have to pay our rent annually, the provision of that money is always timely and it is wonderful to know we don’t have to worry where the rent money is coming from.
“When we come home, meeting people who have prayed into specific situations of need is also a great blessing.”
A book telling the Trust’s story will be published later in the year. Highlights include cameo snapshots of some of its key people and many of the missionaries who have been supported. The book is expected to be available by July, 2018.
If you are interested in purchasing a copy please contact Diane Cook, 9 Romney Place, GORE 9710. Email: email@example.com, Phone: 03-208-4437; mobile: 0276989635.