My Journey to here
Lance is an ordained pastor at Activate Church with a huge heart for pastoral care. He works as a Locum Chaplain at Te Whata Ora Waikato hospital, is a welfare officer for the Returned Servicemen’s Association (RSA), co-runs one of the Activate men’s groups and - together with his wife Sue - runs church services at Hilda Ross Retirement Village, is a member of the Activate pastoral care team, and serves on an Activate host team.
My Journey to Here
My journey to the Lord started more than 40 years ago – but I haven’t been a Christian for that long! My wife prayed for me for 20 years and said to the Lord, “He’s all yours do what you want with him.” And, that was my road to salvation.
Back then I was working as an accounts manager, which involved me driving around the North Island for quite long distances by myself. For six months prior to giving my life to the Lord, I was visited often by the Holy Spirit while I was driving. At the time, I had no idea who it was that was winning all of the arguments in my car. This person was so much more intelligent than I was. We talked about lots of interesting things and a lot of the discussion was all about the love of God and His purpose for me. I thought I was going nuts, because this was not me. I was a staunch non-believer!
In June 2003, I reluctantly agreed to attend a church camp with Sue and our children. On the Friday night, a prophet called me out of the 100 or so people there and proceeded to tell me my life story and what God had in store for me. It was very disturbing for me, and I actually challenged the two pastors that were there, that they had set me up. That Sunday at the church service, I was down the back of the hall, which was my usual place when I was made to go to church, and the pastor did an altar call. I had no idea what he was talking about but I felt a physical hand on my back pushing me out of my chair and a heard voice in my ear saying, “Lance it is your Time”. That’s when I knew who had been talking to me for the past six months in my car. I asked Sue to accompany me up the front, much to my surprise and I think hers as well. On that day, I said “YES” to Jesus, came under new management and have been that way for 20 years. It was a big shock to everyone who knew me before that day, both Christians and non-Christians alike, and I lot of them didn’t believe it. But, Jesus and I have put them right.
Whenever I look back over my life, the scripture Jeremiah 29.11 pops into my head: “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope for the future.”
Today as I reflect on the past 20 years, I go ‘wow’. God did have a plan for me but it took me 50 years to know it. I realise now that He has been looking out for me all those years. I’ve had a couple of horrendous near death experiences, which only a savior who knows the plans for me could save me from. One experience was falling about 30m out of a pine tree while collecting pine cones to sell. I bounced and went straight back up the tree! Then, the day before Sue and I got married I had a major car accident near Mangaweka in the central North Island. I was seriously injured with lots of broken bones and a decent wack on my head, which meant I had to spend the next six weeks in Wanganui Hospital. The sad side of the accident was that I was transporting my grandparents to the wedding and my grandfather did not survive the accident. My grandmother spent the next year recovering in hospital. Did Sue and I get married the next day? Yes we did. Interestingly I have no recollection of the wedding. However, I do remember the New Zealand rowing eight winning the gold medal at the 1972 Munich Olympics two weeks later. Years later, I had a couple of opportunities to preach and be the keynote speaker at the Mangaweka AOG men’s camp. Being back there allowed me to reflect and deal with past hurts.
At the time of my ‘conversion’ my wife Sue was attending South City Apostolic church, which still meets in the Glenview school hall to this day. We continued to worship there for about four years and completed a Ministry course at Vision College. We then decided to move to Eastside Church, which is now called Activate. A year after we arrived, Pastor Sheridyn and Pastor Jan turned up to lead the church.
During my time at Activate, I ran the host teams for about five years and then headed up men’s ministry for about the same time. I am currently on the pastoral care team and Sue and I are members of a host team.
In 2015, I was offered a role to sit on a hospital chaplain’s support group called ‘Friends of Hospital Chaplaincy’ as a representative of ACTS churches and that progressed into a volunteer role as a Chaplain. On 6 December 2015, I was accredited to the ministry of Activate Church as a community chaplain.
My involvement in hospital chaplaincy led to me being offered a role as a Locum Chaplain at Te Whata Ora Waikato hospital, which I accepted. It was at this time that Pastor Sheridyn and Pastor Ray encouraged me to be ordained as a pastor in the ACTS churches movement, which took place on Sunday 4 March 2018. I now chair the hospital chaplain’s support group Friends of Hospital Chaplaincy and continue to work part time as a Locum Chaplain with an amazing group of chaplains at the hospital.
Although not that well recognised, the role of chaplaincy at the hospital is an essential part of the hospital system. When you sit with someone who has just lost their newborn and are able to pray and bless that family, or you spend time with a family that has lost a loved one through a serious illness or accident, you just know that God is in the house and his blessings are abundant. I am truly amazed at how God calls you to ministry and although there are times that are incredibly tough and challenging, you just know that you’re in the right place, doing the right thing and sharing the love of Jesus.
I retired from full time employment almost three years ago. Along with still being a part-time hospital chaplain, I’m also on the executive committee of the Returned Servicemen’s Association (RSA) and have recently been appointed as one of their welfare officers. This position allows me to share the gospel with aged Veterans and support them with practical help in their advanced years. Many years ago Pastor Rex Meehan prophesied over me that I would be preaching to the elderly, and I laughed at the time. God truly does have a sense of humor. Sue and I hold a monthly church service at Hilda Ross retirement village, just across the road from the Activate Ruakura campus. It’s great to see the lineup of mobility walkers outside the chapel, and to be able to bless people in their advanced years.
I’ve been involved in an Activate Men’s group for the past 16 years, which meets every Thursday morning at 6.30am for breakfast. I’m currently facilitating this group with Tony Smith. The men’s group has been a real blessing in my life. Up to 14 guys meet every week, with a couple of guys sometimes zooming in online. We’re all brothers in Christ and we journey well together. The focus of our group is to study the scriptures and pray. There’s nothing more powerful than a group of committed Christian men praying. We’ve been truly blessed with seeing an amazing number of answered prayers, including a number of our men healed from prostate cancer, family members healed from cancer and other ailments, and healings for damaged parts of our bodies (and there tends to be a lot of those). We also pray for our families, businesses, and for wisdom, strength and balance in our lives and those of our families and friends.
If you’re not part of an Activate group, I encourage you to join one or start your own. Do not miss the fellowship of like believers. Remember Proverbs 27:17: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”