15 years – depending on your point of view it can seem an epic length of time or a small blip on the radar of your life. To me it is both. Only when I take the time to reflect on the past do I fully appreciate the journey that has led me to this point. The length of that journey hit home in full force when (my wife) Pauline and I were preparing to relocate the Pioneers NZ office in July. Each phase of our involvement in Pioneers jumped out at us as we were going through old files and other material: this handbook from a 2001 leadership meeting, those photos of that missionary family whose children are now adults, the promotional literature sporting old logos, 15 years worth of prayer news and magazines, that crazy display material we used at Parachute music festivals…
In July 2000 the Board of Pioneers was courageous enough to appoint this fresh-faced 32 year old with no long-term field experience to lead the newly-formed-in-New Zealand mission. I came into the role with a background in mission mobilisation and mission administration and ideals informed by my Master’s research in mission studies, which determined that a new type of mission organisation structure was required to accommodate the (then) new generation of mission workers – GenX. I presented to the Board a vision to mobilise 100 Kiwis into field service with Pioneers. I believed Pioneers’ flat structure and core values of team, flexibility, innovation, grace and participatory servant leadership were powerfully attractive values (I still do). Being a graduate of the Perspectives On The World Christian Movement course, and influenced by the the AD2000 & Beyond mobilization movement, Pioneers’ commitment to helping local churches plant churches among the remaining unreached people of the world strongly resonated with me. My wife Pauline shared the same passion and our participation in the mission was a hand-in-glove match.
At last count I have had the privilege of helping 115 Kiwis into some form of field service through Pioneers NZ. Not single handedly of course. I have worked alongside a phenomenal staff team. Some have served with me for years, others came and went as their call developed different directions.
The well known Maori proverb asks what is the most important thing in life, to which the response comes, “he tangata, he tangata, he tangata” (it is people, it is people, it is people). This rings true for my experience in Pioneers. What will I miss most about my involvement? It is the people. As a relational leader I have been content to give people the space to make their own wise choices and grow in their life and ministry. It is my greatest joy to see how that trust has produced much fruit.
I will take with me many treasurers from my Pioneers experience, chief among them are a passion for God and His glory among the nations, as well as a set of Biblical values that will guide my future as a leader in mission from, in and to Aotearoa, New Zealand.
He hōnore, he korōria ki te Atua (honour and glory be to God)
Nga mihi nui,
Jay Matenga Wood