An open letter from recent Pastoral Leadership graduate Andrew Meek

Dear Carey,

I write this letter from the back of our family RV on a rainy Thanksgiving evening in Western Oregon. The feast of Thanksgiving commemorates the first harvest for the pilgrims that braved the new world nearly four hundred years ago. The harvest represented God’s provision – a fresh start as they remade their lives after fleeing religious persecution in Europe. In recent years the holiday has come under heat, for good reason; the pilgrims had a chequered and often hostile relationship with indigenous peoples, not unlike the settlers in Aotearoa. Nevertheless, since 1863 Thanksgiving has been celebrated annually as an American national holiday. It stands as a constant reminder that God is a gracious and generous provider, who is faithful to his promise to remember those in need.

As I reflect on this past season of life at Carey, I too am thankful for God’s gracious guidance and generous provision. It was less than three years ago that I stuffed my entire life into my car and drove a thousand kilometres from Christchurch to Auckland. This in itself was a demonstration of God’s faithfulness to the calling I first sensed a decade earlier while sitting in economics class.

On arrival at Carey I was instantly surrounded by a warm and supportive student community, including an amazing cohort. They have been a source of companionship throughout my journey at Carey, and will remain lifelong friends as we each put down roots in the places God plants us.

I have been spoiled by the provision of lecturers and staff members willing to go above and beyond to ensure students succeed. They have embodied authentic discipleship, demonstrating the faith and character required to handle God’s word and minister within his world.

As Alicia and I were recently farewelled from Māngere Baptist Church, one wise wāhine toa reminded us of the words in Proverbs 3:5; to trust wholeheartedly in the Lord, and not lean on our own understanding. I happened to stumble upon this same verse on a burger wrapper the other day (because, you know, ’Merica). It is a verse that easily sums up the fundamental lesson I learnt during my Carey training; to look more closely and listen more intently to what Jesus is doing by his Spirit, within the people and places I find myself. He uses all circumstances to display his unfailing love, whether it be through the release of a young woman from an eating disorder, or a family in mourning after a young man tragically took his own life. He calls me to trust in his grace and not in my ability, as I follow him along the road of life in ministry.

I am taking this lesson to heart as I await the next season of life. At this point the future remains uncertain, and Alicia and I are using this time away from home to rest, recover and reconnect with family. When we return we expect to meet with churches and discern together God’s next call. Until then, we are trusting in the Lord, confident that, as Paul says in Philippians 1:6 says, “…the one who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Yours in Christ,