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Posts Tagged ‘South Pacific Bible College’

I spoke yesterday in chapel to about fifteen students at South Pacific Bible College in Tauranga, New Zealand.  These are students from all over the world who have committed at least two years of their lives to studying Bible and ministry from great teachers. Some even stay for a third year of practicum—not an academic year, but a year of guided practice in using the knowledge and skills they have received in the previous two years of classes.  I love that!

Sherrylee and I arrived in New Zealand after a not atypical day with international travel. At 8am, we left our hotel in Kuching, Malaysia, in order to arrive at the airport two hours before departure—only to find out that our flight had been cancelled—which is why you always arrive two hours early for international flights!

A very nice woman took our passports and information, disappeared into an office and came back in about twenty minutes with new tickets that required us to fly first to Kuala Limpur, then to Singapore, arriving about two hours before our long, overnight flight to Sydney. So no real damage to our plans, just an additional stop and more time in the air.

We boarded our flight from KL to Singapore right on time—then sat on the tarmac in a very hot airplane for over an hour because two passengers who had checked bags did not show—so their luggage had to be found and removed from the plane. I’m ok with good safety precautions, but it was going to really push us to make our connection in Singapore.

With less than an hour now after landing in Singapore, we had to clear immigration and customs, pick up our suitcases, change terminals, check-in at the British Airways counter to get board passes, check our luggage, clear passport control again to leave Singapore, and go through security.

But we made it, boarding our 747 for Sydney at 8pm, twelve hours after leaving our hotel in Kuching and with time even to get ready for our 7-hour overnight flight—you know, pick out movies to watch, get our books out, and hope for a little sleep.

The plane backed out of the gate—stopped—waited 10 minutes—then pulled back into the gate!   A cargo hold was overheating, so they were going to try to cool it down, but if they couldn’t, then . . . . Oh boy, here we go again! But after 45 minutes they got it cooled down, so we took off just about 90 minutes late. . . .

Which meant we missed our connection in Sydney, Australia! Now airlines are pretty good about booking you onto the next flight when you miss your connection, but because of the way we had booked our tickets, our names were not on the roster of those making connections, so we had again a short wait while they worked out our connection—all of this happening at 6am in the morning in Sydney—before coffee!

Finally around 11:30am, we boarded our Qantas Airways flight to Auckland, New Zealand, and arrived only about four hours later than originally scheduled—not a bad result for international travel any more.

Steve Raine, principal (president) of South Pacific Bible College and a very good friend, met us in Auckland and drove us two hours through the beautiful green countryside of New Zealand’s north island to Tauranga, which is our last stop on this Asian mission trip. Steve and his wife Gill have been guests in our home often, so we are thrilled to be able to spend some time in their home and get to know their work for God better.

After chapel at SPBC, Sherrylee and I joined the students on a special outing they were having, and what a pleasure it was. We spoke German with Lukas, who is here from Switzerland; we found common friends with Marcellus and his wife who are here from Santiago, Chile. Of course, the three or four students from Thailand all knew about RCC and Patinya, with whom LST has worked for many years. One girl from New Zealand told us her story of her parents being Christians, then leaving faith and divorcing, then at least her dad finding his way back to God. All of these students are here because they love God and want to be trained to serve Him better.  This college is a bright light in the South Pacific, but serves the kingdom of God all over the world!

The icing on the cake was to discover our friends Curt and Deborah Niccum here, who are just finishing a month of teaching at SPBC. Curt is a professor of Religion at Abilene Christian University and perhaps the best biblical language scholar in our fellowship. The students at SPBC are truly getting the best of our best!

Early Monday morning Sherrylee and I will leave New Zealand for home!! This is one of those crazy flights where we will fly 15 hours and arrive at DFW 20 minutes after departing—because of crossing the international dateline.

But getting home is always the best part of any journey! Hey, that sounds like there is a sermon in there somewhere, doesn’t it!

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