Kerikeri is the largest town in Northland, New Zealand. It’s around three hours’ drive north of Auckland. Offering beautiful gardens, gourmet markets and a colourful history, it’s a popular tourist destination. But until recently, there were no Adventist congregations worshipping there.
“We’re not officially a church, we’re a church plant,” says Kerikeri pastor William Arama. “We’ve been here for three years . . . and it has been hard.” During that time only one other family was regularly worshipping with the pastor and his wife Freda each Sabbath. Efforts to reach the community seemed fruitless. Nothing seemed to be working.
We have to reach people where they are, in their homes, and in a way they find attractive.
But in the past few months, things have changed.
In May, Colin Horsfall was watching a Hope Channel New Zealand program. It was hosted by a man at a gym who was talking about the importance of spiritual health.
Mr Horsfall noticed that the gym was in Kerikeri—the very location where he and his wife Robyn would soon be moving. He emailed Hope Channel NZ, explaining that he was moving to Kerikeri and was looking for a church to attend. He also wondered if there was any way to contact the man at the gym. The man happened to be Pastor Arama.
Pastor Arama told Mr Horsfall where the church met and invited him to visit.
“He was the first one there—he was keen,” says Pastor Arama. “I thought he was an Adventist but he and his wife were Anglicans.”
However, Mr and Mrs Horsfall began faithfully attending church every Sabbath and prayer meetings on Wednesdays.
“They say that this is their church now,” Pastor Arama says. “And this is all because of Hope Channel.”
Dr Brad Kemp, president of the New Zealand Pacific Union Conference (NZPUC) and Hope Channel NZ manager, says he’s encouraged by these stories.
“Hope Channel NZ was an initiative of the NZPUC to help finish the work of the gospel in New Zealand,” he says. “How else can we get into every home? We have to reach people where they are, in their homes, and in a way they find attractive.”
Since the April launch of Hope Channel NZ on free-to-air television, the channel has been broadcasting advertisements offering free correspondence courses on topics such as biblical prophecy, health and relationships. More than 220 people have already called to request a free course.
“Plans are underway to produce Hope Church and children’s programs as well as practical programs on health, lifestyle and other topics,” says assistant manager Pastor Paul Hopson.
“The donations from last quarter’s Sabbath School offering will go a long way to help turn these production ideas into reality.”