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My Journey to here

Written by

Pastor Michael Brown

About author

Pastor Michael is recognised as a Pastor on our FiveFold Team.  
As such he helps to prepare and encourage the church to do God’s work as we all grow in unity and maturity as disciples of Christ. 

My Journey to Here

Pastor Michael Brown

I have always been fascinated by the power of story. 

I am incredibly grateful to have grown up in a Christian home, but at the time I didn't think I had much of a story. Today, I joke about being set free from drinking (milk-drinking races with my mates after school), and smoking (tea tree wrapped up in toilet paper). My story is that I have been incredibly privileged to have had such a wonderful start in life. I had parents who loved me and nurtured me, and am a third-generation Christian who has never experienced life without knowing the love of God. One of my earliest memories is of my grandmother teaching me The Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13), and of having a cross that glowed on the wall behind my bed with the words of the Apostles Creed.

At an early age, seeds were sown into me that grew into a desire to walk alongside others on their journey, to listen to their stories and to help them to see where God is in their story. I believe passionately that every person is created in the image of God, with intrinsic worth and dignity that demands respect. I want to help people discover that they are valued, loved, and seen by God - even when they feel that no one else sees them or cares about them.

For my wife Gillian and I, there have been many twists and turns on the journey to here, and as best as we could, we have tried to say "yes" to the opportunities Jesus presented to us.  We've found the best way to learn is to make mistakes, because God is more concerned about our heart attitude than our successes. 

When Gillian and I met we had both been through broken engagements, so at that time I thought women caused too much pain, took too much time and cost too much money. (A good recipe to remain single!) However, Gillian’s response was to pray, and not too much longer we were married.

At that time, I managed the family orchard before it sold so that my parents could retire. Being an Orchardist wasn’t my Plan A, rather a response to my Dad having his third heart attack, and I thought it would be for 6 months but it turned out to be for 6 years! When the Orchard eventually did sell, I was sold with it for a year to help the new owner.  Gillian and I then went to Bible College for three years hoping to use our medical and horticultural skills overseas. We had no regular income, and were renting out our house when mortgage rates climbed to 18%. We learnt that God could provide for us when we could not provide for ourselves.

Gillian and I thought we were preparing to head for China or Chile, but the leader of our movement asked us to go Paraparaumu on the Kapiti Coast to teach at the Te Nikau Bible Training Centre and to look after the local church there. So we went, arriving in a new town, eight months pregnant, unable to sell our home in Levin, yet eager to start our new jobs. It was there that we met Sheridyn & Jan Rodgers who were students at the time and are now the senior leaders at Activate Church. We loved being on the journey with them and other students that we met during our time there.

In the late 90s, I was doing a prayer walk around Glover Park in Wellington as part of the Breakthrough Conferences, and I felt God was saying "you will be here in 12 months". I swiftly replied “get behind me Satan!”. You see, I was a country boy at heart, and could never see myself living in a city. I shared what had happened with Gillian and she said, "you have got to be joking!" Our two children Jonathan and Katherine were not keen on the idea either. 

However, over the next 6 months God changed our hearts and we fell in love with the city of Wellington - because people are in cities and God loves people.  We shared with our national movement (ACTS Churches NZ) that we believed God wanted us to plant a church in Wellington, but they felt it 'did not resonate' with them at the time. So we continued to journey with the people God had given us to care for. Our local eldership didn’t want us to go, but when our national movement agreed we could replant a church in Wellington they released us to follow where we believed God was leading us. 

In Wellington there was a building to look after but no income, we decided Gillian would go back to work full time and I would become the primary caregiver. This was an incredible privilege and something that not many Dad’s had the opportunity to do at that time. However, my expectations were totally unrealistic about how you could meet the needs of a young family and plant a church, so it was a steep learning curve that added to our story.

We were in Wellington for 10 years before being asked to move to Christchurch to pastor a church there. It wasn’t good timing for us as a family; our daughter was not in a good place so we didn’t know if she would come, our son was living at home to save money while at university, and my Mum’s health was failing.  So we did as we have done many times before, and wrote a list of all the reasons why we couldn’t shift to Christchurch. Over the next 6 months God ticked off all our objections one by one. 

In February 2010, we arrived in Christchurch and in September 2010 we experienced the first earthquake. We had spent 10 years expecting a big earthquake at any time in Wellington, and it came to Christchurch. The second earthquake came in February 2011.  Our response was - God must have us here for such a time as this... Somehow God will use what we have learnt over the years to help pastor these people through the grief, loss and the uncertainty of a natural disaster.

After nine and a half years in Christchurch we felt stirred to move to Hamilton to help Pastors Sheridyn & Jan outwork the vision that God has given the church here. The timing was amazing as Pastor Ray had just taken up the appointment as the acting CEO of Activate Training Centre, and there was need for a couple with pastoral skills. God was incredibly faithful in enabling us to purchase a small block of land, which had been a dream of mine over the last 30 years. Gillian and I were not ready to retire, we were too young! We felt God calling us to focus on leaving a legacy that championed the next generation. 

This is the journey God has walked with me to here. My personal vision is to create an environment where others can succeed. Having led churches for over 30 years in this season, I am here to support Pastor Sheridyn & Pastor Jan to see a new generation of leaders emerge to take the church into the next season. I love being on the journey with people to help them become all that God has created them to be – to take steps of faith, be courageous and big-hearted, to discover that mistakes are seldom fatal, and to allow God to redeem our mistakes as stepping-stones of success for God’s Kingdom.

A passage of scripture I love that expresses the ministry of Pastoral Care is from Isaiah 61:

Good News for the Oppressed

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me,

for the LORD has anointed me

to bring good news to the poor.

He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted

and to proclaim that captives will be released

and prisoners will be freed.

2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn

that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.

I pray that through the church you will know the heart of Jesus - the greatest Pastor with the greatest care - and in turn share that care with others.

Many blessings, Pastor Michael.

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