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Aussie officers around the world - New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa Territory

Aussie officers around the world - New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa Territory

Aussie officers around the world - New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa Territory

Majors Chris and Earle Ivers are serving as leaders of the New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa Territory Southern Division.

By Chris and Earle Ivers

Others continues to profile the work of some of the Australian officers and personnel serving around the world. This month, we take a look at the New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa Territory, where Majors Chris and Earle Ivers are serving as leaders of the Southern Division.

 

Having been impacted by numerous short-term mission connections in a number of territories around the world over the years of our officership, our interest in the internationalism of The Salvation Army is well developed. As a result, the possibility of receiving an appointment to another territory was something that we had always been open to.

Prior to our appointment to the New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa Territory (NZFTS Territory), we had always been captivated by the diversity of expression, the exploration of cultural nuances and the contextual challenges experienced by the Army in the places we had engaged with. Interestingly, and despite the relative similarities between Australia and New Zealand, it is pleasing to note that there have been many opportunities to further our interest and experience in each of these areas.

The bi-cultural journey is significant both within the nation of New Zealand as well as the NZFTS Territory, and it has been a steep learning curve for us as we seek to understand, then embrace this, within our leadership. For example, sports fans around the world are familiar with the sight of the Maori haka that precedes international fixtures, yet so few of us understand the rich meaning and deep heritage that accompanies not only this expression of culture but many others as well.

Within worship expressions and in public gatherings, culturally appropriate inclusions (in ceremony, song and prayer) are frequently made with positive impact. As evidenced at the 2019 Territorial Congress, the cultural diversity of the NZFTS Territory is enhanced by the nations represented within it. With the cultural flair of Fiji, Tonga and Samoa added to the mix, there is a vibrancy perhaps unequalled anywhere in the world, and it is a delight to witness unity within that diversity. However, it is not only cultural diversity that attracts us.

Despite their relatively small population, New Zealanders are a capable people with a resilient spirit who will not easily concede defeat. Of course, as Australians we know something of the competitive spirit seen in the numerous sporting conquests with teams predominantly wearing black.

Teams whose supporters take delight in ensuring those wearing green and gold know that they mean business and will not be taken lightly. It is not too much of an exaggeration to suggest that there are comparisons in daily life, even within the expression of Salvation Army ministry. Not in some negative sense, but more to highlight the fact that there is an innate sense of confidence expressed in the willingness to challenge the status quo and yet not easily yield from deeply held perspectives.

Living in Christchurch, we are regularly confronted with the legacy of the 2011 earthquakes that sadly claimed 185 lives and caused widespread damage to property, especially in the heart of the city, but also in many residential areas. The legacy reaches beyond the physical impacts to something deeper.

As the events of the mosque shootings unfolded in March 2019, it was not only the senseless loss of life that brought distress. For many, the sound of sirens blaring all over the city and the sight of helicopters in the skies above caused many to relieve the memory of traumas gone by. Trauma that seems to remain not too far below the surface of external emotion.

There among the people, The Salvation Army was found! Nothing profound or extravagant, but rather a simple presence with the desire to bring comfort anda listening ear as people processed all that was happening around them. Standing near the location of the mosque where the first attack occurred, at the airport as grieving families arrived and then at the place where the sea of floral tributes was being laid, a recurring theme became evident to us. No matter where in the world we are, in times of distress or disaster there is a unique ministry that is afforded The Salvation Army and it is something that we should never take for granted. A ministry welcomed regardless of colour or creed and received with appreciation.

On a personal level, we are so very blessed to lead a division located in one of the most beautiful locations in the world. The stunning scenery of the South Island of New Zealand refreshes and inspires us as we travel to the various corps across the division. The sheer wonder of God’s creative expression is before us and we can do nothing less than to stand in awe. It is a constant reminder of his glory.

We count it a privilege to be in New Zealand in these days. There is no denying that, above all, we miss the proximity of our family and friends. Thankfully, technology does much to lessen that distance ‘across the ditch' and for this we are grateful.

We continue to grow, to learn and to experience all that God has in store for us and for the ministry of The Salvation Army in this part of the world. Our prayer is that God will find us faithful and that he will use us for his purposes to bring Kingdom difference.

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