As you’ve read before, my wife Morgan and I recently moved to New Zealand. Consider this the full account of the miraculous work God did to get us here smoothly.
Prayer Proceeds Miracles
We dreamed of moving here for years. The more we talked about it, the more we wanted to go. Eventually, we decided we needed to do more than talk about it, so we began to pray. And we did. Every single day.
We prayed for two years. We prayed for wisdom, we prayed for provision, we prayed for doors to open, and we prayed that God would guide our hearts in the right direction.
The more we prayed, the more our hearts gravitated towards New Zealand. Doors started to open and connections came about in the most unlikely places imaginable. We made our decision and on July 3, we boarded a plane and started the 31 hour journey to our new home.
Except, we did not actually have a home. We had no jobs, no car, and no place to call our own when we arrived. We had saved quite a bit of money, but savings only last for so long when you need to buy everything and have no new source of income.
In fact, the only thing we really had was a church. This is one of those unlikely connections: My friend from Georgia, Hace, met a guy named John in St. Louis. John’s family lived in Christchurch, the city in which we planned to live. John connected us with the pastor of his family’s church, named Rusty, who happened to be from Alabama.
Rusty greatly helped us as we considered the move. He occasionally called us to check in on our progress and offered helpful advice. Having recently made the move with his entire family, Rusty had great insights.
Touching Down in Christchurch
When we finally arrived in Christchurch, Rusty and his wife Jennifer picked us up at the airport. If you ever want to make someone feel welcome, pick them up at the airport on time. Seeing Rusty as soon as we walked out brought us instant relief!
We had no idea what would happen when we arrived. Like I said, we had no car, no home, and no jobs. Within the first 3 minutes, however, problem number one was solved. One of the church’s worship leaders let us borrow the church van his family used. They have six kids they need to move around town, but they did not hesitate. This was no small sacrifice for the family, but they chose to serve, give, and show us hospitality.
Before we left America, a church family offered us 3 months free lodging in their home. A couple days before our flight, however, we found out that they were out of town for the first two weeks of our NZ arrival. With a two day warning, a separate church family offered us their home for those two weeks. Their kindness was unbelievable. They fed us incredibly well, made sure we had everything we needed, included us in family devotions, encouraged us, and guided us in our job hunt.
But they were not the only ones who showed kindness. In our first two weeks, 6 different families had us over for dinner! People honestly wanted to get to know us and make us feel welcome. They weren’t helping out of obligation or guilt; they simply gave from the desire of their heart.
Within five weeks, both my wife and I found full-time jobs. How did we hear about both of these jobs? Through people in the church of course. The second family we lived with showed us an equal kindness and hospitality as the first. Another family literally gave us a free second car so that I could get to work without trouble.
We worried about making friends in a new country, yet we have dropped right into a community that legitimately cares for us.
God Uses Ordinary People Who Show Extraordinary Kindness
In our second week, a guest preacher spoke from the book of Ruth. This book of the Bible contains no dramatic miracles or resounding prophecies. Rather, Ruth tells the story of ordinary people living in ordinary times who showed extraordinary kindness. God used Ruth’s loyalty and Boaz’s compassion to change the world. Ruth became King David’s great-grandmother, and therefore she and Boaz were in the line of Christ.
There have been no extraordinary miracles since we moved to New Zealand. God has not spoken to us through a burning bush or appeared in a cloud of smoke. And yet, God has clearly revealed Himself to us through the extraordinary kindness of His people.
Their hospitality has not been limited to impacting our lives. My wife, Morgan, recently spoke to another woman she met about how the church cared for us so well. This woman never believed in God, and her boyfriend hates religion. But she told Morgan they have plans to move to Ireland, and she fears going alone. After hearing our story, she really wants to learn more and possibly even join the church.
We love this church. By Bible Belt standards, it is quite small. There is no budget for fancy lights or a booming sound system or anything else that allegedly guarantees church growth. But, it truly understands the heart of the gospel. What’s more, the people actually live it every day. Like all churches, it is not not perfect. But they seek to put others first and serve as Christ called us to do.
The thing that strikes us the most about this whole experience is that we were complete strangers to these people. We might expect to be cared for this way by family members, but not by people living on the other side of the world!
But, then again, God’s church is family.
We will never forget this experience. God’s people can show incredible love, and when they do, the effects reach further than we can imagine. In fact, do you know what Jesus says will prove to the world that He is the Savior?
When they see the way we love each other (John 17:23)
We all want to see the amazing miracle, but more often then not, God changes the world through the extraordinary acts of love and kindness shown by his people. The good news is, you can be an integral part of that change.
Can you show hospitality to anyone in your life this week? Be prepared, you might change more than you expect!