| A change of role for the Webbs|
Ten years is a long time! In that period our boys have gone from pre-teens to adults, we gained a daughter-in-law, gray hair and wrinkles appeared, we have ministered in New Zealand and around the world. Could we have imagined all of this when we arrived back in September 2006? Not at all. And now that our time in the SIM NZ office is nearly done we can only imagine what our future might look like.
We’ve been blessed to work with some pretty amazing people over these past years. It has been a privilege to be a part of sending hundreds of mission partners from all over New Zealand. Our office team is a wonderful mix of nationalities that loves to work and have fun together. “Scone Tuesday” will be forever etched in our minds. We have cemented New Zealand’s place in the wider SIM world, having an impact on both policy & decision making and innovative thinking. Kiwis are loved worldwide and we cannot help but be proud when directors from other countries beg us to send them more kiwis. It’s now time for us to spread our wings and fly off to the next adventure that God is calling us to.
Colombia has been known for guerrilla warfare, drug lords, and coffee, but things are changing (except the coffee :-). Recently the Government and guerrilla armies signed a peace agreement that ends decades of fighting and insecurity. The church has grown and it is now asking how it, too, can send missionaries into the world.
During our visit there in April, Nigel and I were presented with many, many opportunities to support the local church — excitement and enthusiasm were palpable as they expressed their calling to missions. They need someone who can link them to mission fields around the world, who can help them prepare their people to thrive, and who can support the local church in their responsibilities to send out their people. We heard their call and we responded.
SIM has never worked in Colombia before. Prior to April we had never visited, but it felt like home. We could speak the language, shop, and get around with relative ease. People were extremely friendly and welcoming. At no time did we feel unsafe or threatened. In fact, if we are honest, we felt safer in Colombia than we ever had in Ecuador!
Alongside mobilising and sending Colombian missionaries, theological educators are keen to have Nigel join their teaching staff, and Richelle’s expertise in member care will be put to great use for member care and leadership development across the region. We certainly won’t lack for ministry opportunities.
We leave Aotearoa in August 2017. We need to say goodbye to the ministries that we have been involved in for 10 years and some pretty special people. Between December 2016 and August 2017 we will be preparing for our departure and future ministries, applying for teaching positions for Nigel, getting visas and raising faithful financial and prayer supporters. As this is a new field there are many unknowns; things like housing, transport, living costs, travel costs, etc. are up to us to work out.
Please join us in praying for wisdom and clarity as we finalise an ever increasing number of factors. Pray too for our families and in particular our children as we look to be separated by the oceans for long periods. This will not be easy and our hearts break at the thought of it. We are grateful for their support and encouragement.
We leave SIM NZ in great hands and are excited to see where Rob Reynolds takes the team. His enthusiasm for the mission of God is contagious and we can’t wait to visit, especially on a Tuesday!
─ Richelle Webb