New Zealand, in Maori «Aotearoa», the «land of the long white cloud». A beautiful island at the end of the world! A personal sabbatical had first brought us to this distant land. Although New Zealand is one of the most beautiful destinations, it has also great dark sides: There is poverty, threats of violence and crime.
We, Jürg and Rahel Maurer, are 48 and 42 years old and have 5 children. Amy (17), Silas (10), Jason (7), Jamie (3) and Naomi (1). In 1997, that is 22 years ago, we got married. I (Jürg) was a mechanic by profession; however, I had to give up my job due to a nickel allergy. For a long time, I had been dreaming to attend the TDS (Theological Diaconal Seminary), however, it was not feasible for us because of the financial constraints. And then, this nickel allergy came as a gift from God: SUVA, the Swiss insurance company, paid for the entire retraining – that is the 4 years’ study at TDS!
After 7 years of pastoring we came to Matamata, New Zealand in 2010 to do a Family DTS (Discipleship Training School). The DTS eventually turned into 4 years of missionary service with YWAM (Youth with a Mission). During this time, we once went back to Europe for 3 months to find out how and where to continue. We visited different pastoral houses and looked for pastoral work. But no doors opened. It became clear that God wanted us to stay in New Zealand! Back there we applied for long-term visas. God opened the doors via our church and soon we started evangelistic services in German for Swiss expats. We were happy that so many people attended the services. Many of them are farmers, from a Roman Catholic background and others again do not have much to do with church. It appears that the Lord Jesus gave us the opportunity to preach the Gospel to our own native people. We have been holding these services for 5 years now, each time with 20-30 people attending. Many come for the fellowship, are of the Swiss culture, and enjoy sharing and being together. Spiritually, it is hard ground, but we are sowing. Only a few have decided to give their lives to Jesus Christ. We are always thrilled when the «local» Swiss bring tourists/holiday guests or volunteers to our services. What an opportunity to reach people with the Gospel. People who would perhaps never set foot in a church in Switzerland! Furthermore, I am involved in diaconal work in our congregation. We regularly hold educational seminars while Rahel organizes worship evenings.
In 2016 we started a 10-week prayer seminar. This was followed by setting up a prayer room at the YWAM base in Matamata; a small team supports us. We now pray on Tuesday and Friday from 5 am to 5 pm, 24 hours a week. The room is nicely decorated and includes kind of prayer stations. The prayer topics include persecuted Christians, marriage and family, personal issues and concerns, Israel – and the city Matamata. These prayers have awakened a longing to see more fruit in ourselves and our surroundings. This led me to start street evangelism and prison ministry alongside prayer. Matamata is famous for «Hobbiton» (the movie set from «Lord of the Rings») and attracts about 300.000 tourists a year. They come from all over the world and pass through our small town – and are now reached with the Gospel. The Maoris are generally open to conversation and sometimes even to prayer. Many of the prison inmates are Maori. We are allowed to hold prison church services; a number of volunteers assist us. Each time, it touches me deeply when I listen to the prisoners' life stories. Often these people are so open to the message of Jesus Christ!
During these 9 long years, New Zealand became our mission field. It is also a place where we were able to experience a lot of inner healing ourselves. We managed to bring some things to life, create new opportunities and to be active in God's kingdom. But often we feel alone. We miss people with whom we «can walk the same street». We are restricted, and it all costs us a lot of strength in the long run.
Rahel has experienced so much liberation and healing in her life that she knows exactly what complete restoration means. So early on, a vision arose in our hearts: The vision of a pastoral care house. A place where prayer, healing and deliverance can take place – where God's presence flows and people in need can be helped. We have the impression that we are currently at crossroads. Thus, we pray and seek Jesus for guidance: how and where we can continue as a family and whether the vision of such pastoral care work can be put in place. We are wondering where to and how God will lead us. It is our great wish to do His will. We trust that Jesus will show us the right way.