“[A Song of degrees.]] I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1, 2
Previously living in one of the southernmost cities in the world (Invercargill, NZ), our minds were regularly reminded of things “above”. Nearly everything that went on in the world was above us. Although we no longer live in Invercargill, we have faced low times spiritually and emotionally this year as we continue to pursue ministry in New Zealand. There have been many turns in visa regulations that have been speed bumps. The most recent being just two weeks ago as new criteria surfaced for a visa we were pursuing. On top of that we have lost some support. These trials of discouragement have tested our faith in God’s faithfulness. At times it has been hard to enjoy the good things because of so many “bad” things clouding our hearts. But, we take heart from James that our tests of faith are producing patience.
After many conversations and research with immigration, it is confirmed we cannot get another religious workers visa like the first ones we had. We are left with two other options. 1.) Apply for a visa to stay up to 3 years and hope we can get residency before our time runs out. 2.) Apply for a visa that allows us to apply for residency almost immediately after arriving in country. We are currently pursuing option #2 to help ensure our stay is longterm.
The first step in either option was to meet the NZ immigration requirement to have a NZ based sponsor/job offer. God answered prayer and gave direction in May as Taupo Bible Church in Taupo, NZ voted to extend to us a job offer. We then worked with TBC on the precise wording of the job offer and job description needed to meet NZ requirements and prepared the initial part of the visa application. This visa has a two step process — an “Expression of Interest” (EOI) to let NZ know we are interested in becoming residents, and then the actual visa application. After evaluating our “EOI” to see if we qualify, NZ immigration has to then invite us to apply for the visa. We filled out the “EOI” and was ready to send it in June. After talking with an immigration advisor, she told us to have my academic qualifications assessed by a NZ agency before we send in the EOI. This is a standard 25 day process once we turn in more paperwork. Currently my alma mater has no registrar and cannot produce the official material the NZ agency requires.
We share these technicalities to communicate a side of missions that you may not otherwise know about and to relay we are doing all we can to get back to NZ as quickly and legally as possible. It is not fun. It is not easy. It is not quick. It is frustrating and discouraging at times. Immigrating to NZ is quite a rigid process that is always changing with no guarantees. Yet, our trust is in our good Father.
Most recently our spirits have been lifted up from looking up. We have constantly been directed to look to God through our personal devotions, messages, songs, and friends, and are seeing God stir our hearts and answer prayer. The NZ church seems as anxious as we are for us to be there. We also realize many of you are anxious for our return to the field and feel our burdens being lightened as you help carry the load with us through prayer. Thank you!
-Receiving required documents
-Visa invitation and approval
-Taupo Bible Conference (Taupo, NZ)