by: Dalton Lifsey
Five years ago this month I drove to Aaron and Kristi Walsh’s new rental home in a suburb of Tauranga New Zealand to meet them for the first time. They had flown in the day before from Kansas City where they had labored for 7 years pioneering the International House of Prayer; a ministry centered around 24/7 worship and prayer led by teams of full time singers and musicians. In response to a definitive call from the Lord to establish a missions base in the same spirit here in the South Pacific, they sold their home, packed up what they wanted to keep into a container to be shipped across the ocean and courageously permanently relocated.
Prior to meeting the Walsh’s that January I (a native Floridian and transient missionary) had moved to Tauranga in October with a long term commitment in response to the same definitive call of the Lord to pioneer a missions base marked by an expression of incessant worship and prayer. Upon my arrival that October we began nightly 7pm prayer meetings and grew a fledgling community.
Those meetings continued until the end of January when I first met Aaron and Kristi. In the midday heat of a gorgeous New Zealand summer day I drove to their empty rental home where they were sitting around a plastic table on green lawn chairs (as their shipping container was still floating somewhere in the Pacific). Within the first 60 seconds of seeing their faces, talking with them and sensing the nearness of the Lord I knew that we’d walked right into a trap: the city of Tauranga was the cage and the incredible worth of Jesus was the bait. We shared dreams, visions and prophetic words that we had received and discussed the plans for that year. As we expressed our burdens for the city and for the work that the Lord had placed before us it was abundantly evident that sovereignly ordained purposes were intersecting in our midst.
A few days later we packed into David Cole’s living room (a THOP founding father, community pillar and apostolic ambassador) with all who felt the burden of day and night prayer resting on them. I looked around that living room in shock as testimonies came forth from individuals and entire families who had been sovereignly called and gathered to this city. (On a glorious side note, it was that afternoon that I met a beautiful young woman named Anna Kennedy who would later that year become Anna Lifsey; my wife).
The following week we began the first Internship and launched a work in the grace of God that to this day now pulses with life and is indelibly marked by the fingerprints of the Sovereign of History.
I’ll never forget those weeks. They were some of the most impacting, exhilarating and sober days of my life.
At the five-year-mark we here at the missions base in Tauranga have tender hearts. For us it’s a season of reflection, thanksgiving and contemplation. And it’s a season of dreaming about the future. The first five years of pioneering are closing and the next five years of building are under way.
We look back with gratitude; gratitude that Jesus can lead such poor followers so well and be so joyously pleased to call us His “own.” And we look forward with conviction; conviction that Jesus is worth day and night, unrelenting, unceasing worship and adoration; conviction that the western church is in a deep spiritual crisis; conviction that reformation and revival are absolutely necessary; conviction that prayer, fasting and corporate humility is our way forward; conviction that on the horizon are tumultuous, turbulent times unlike anything history has ever known (Mt. 24:21-22).
As the global economy dangles by a proverbial thread of broken human ingenuity, as tensions mount in the Middle East, as confusion pours forth from pulpits, pundits and politicians and as we in the church wrestle with the future implications of the plummeting statistics of church engagement among young adults in the West (to name but a few of the fault lines threatening the future stability of our civilization) it’s imperative that we discern the historically specific word of the Lord for this unique “kairos” hour.
Here in Tauranga New Zealand we’re bracing for the most glorious and the most terrifying season of human history (whether it’s 5 years or 50 years out) as we call young adults (though not only young adults) to Biblical wholeheartedness. We believe that loving the ‘whole Jesus’ with a whole heart is the standard and that anything less is intolerable. And we’re contending for the raising up of leaders who can receive and relay words of life in a season of profound confusion and crisis. The Scriptures are emphatic that the close of this age will be preceded by great shaking (negative) and great glory (positive) as both dimensions stress and strain the saints as well as the nations. These unprecedented dynamics require that we understand and plan for the future accordingly.
As the calm before the storm comes to an end in the presumably near future, we’re calling for a company of young adults from New Zealand, Australia, the islands of the South Pacific and South East Asia to give themselves unreservedly to the heavenly call of extravagant devotion to Jesus at the ends of the earth at the end of the age.
The great need of the hour is young adults who have deep roots in the knowledge of God with discernment of His leadership in these awesome days. While we in Tauranga have by no means “arrived,” we’re confident that we know the way. It’s narrow. But it will all be worth it in the end.
At the five year mark I want to personally thank all who have labored with us, encouraged us and stood by us as we began, survived and (to some degree) completed the initial pioneering phase of the Tauranga House of Prayer Missions Base. And I want to issue a call: Consider joining us in 2011 for a season or “until a resting place” for the Lord is established (Psalm 132).
5 January 2011