Now that we have narrowed down the country, New Zealand, the next most obvious question is, “Why Wellington?” And if you have ever experienced the weather or if you have a particular aversion to politicians or hipsters, you might be wondering why anyone would want to go there at all.
Well, sure the weather ain’t no Sydney but it isn’t too bad… except maybe the wind. For us it is all about expectations. If we expect it to be horrible all the time then we can only be delighted on the five days a year that it isn’t. And although I don’t know any pollies personally, some of my best friends are hipsters, so they are not all bad.
But really, why Wellington? Why not Whanganui, Whangarei or Whakapapa*?
There are a few reasons why we are heading to Wellington.
The first is the need. In Wellington (and the surrounding area) 400,000 Kiwis who need to hear the saving news about Jesus. More can and needs to be done and we’d love to put in where and how we can.
In Sydney, we are spoilt for choice. Many of us will happily drive 15 minutes (sometimes much longer) past a dozen or more great churches in order to go to our church of choice. In Wellington you just don’t have that luxury. So much so, even churches in Wellington are calling out for more people to come and join them in their mission by starting more churches.
The second reason is the strategy. If we were going to plonk ourselves in a place where we could tell lots of Kiwis about Jesus and for that to have an impact that went far and wide, we are convinced that Wellington is the place to go. Wellington is the capital (in more ways than one) of New Zealand. It is the home of the government, the home of the arts (film, music, theatre, dance), and it is home to many multi-national business and two universities.
It is like Melbourne (weather and culture) meets Canberra (politics) with the harbour of Sydney. I know Aussies really dislike their capital city, but from my experience most Kiwis have a soft spot for Wellington. Many were born there, lived there, studied there, worked there, or have the option to go there in the future. In Wellington we have the chance of tapping into the influence of the city and trying to reshape it with the gospel and then seeing that flow out to the rest of New Zealand. I did my thesis on Tim Keller’s priority to the city and agree with him that cities of influence are strategic place for mission (just don’t say it is biblical or theological imperative). Read it here if you need help sleeping.
The third reason is the relationships. During our time at Moore College God blessed us with a really significant friendship with a Kiwi couple that has continued to grow over time. These friends moved to Wellington to take regular jobs after their year at college which meant that we started having frequent holidays to visit them. We are really thankful that we (and our kids) will have some good friends in town right from the beginning.
The last reason is that Wellington is a cool little city. There is much to say about this that we will save for a later post but it is a fun and funky place to be. It is a city with a soul, with character and some great coffee.
* A note for my Aussie friends: ‘wh’ in Māori is often pronounced as a ‘f’ like in ‘father’. Now go back and read those place names again and I bet that you can’t help but giggle.