It is traditional for Maori to locate themselves according to their tribal lineage, environmental context, and family connections. For Maori readers, here is my pepeha…
Ko Tuhirangi tōku maunga
Ko Onoke tōku moana
Ko Ruamahanga tōku awa
Ko Takitimu tōku waka
Ko Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa tōku iwi
(Ko Ngati Porou, Kai Tahu nga iwi)
Ko Ngati Rākaiwhakairi tōku hapū
Ko Kohunui tōku marae
Ko Aperahama Kuhukuhu Tui Matenga rāua ko Mere Noke Whaare oku tupuna
Ko Kaki Tui Matenga raua ko Morehu Rera Manihera Pouhiki oku kaumatua
ko Taare May Matenga te koro
ko Barrie James Tui Matenga tōku mātua.
Ko Jay Matenga tōku ingoa
Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tatou katoa
My early years were spent growing up in state housing in the impoverished welfare-dependent urban suburb of Cannon’s Creek, Porirua East, New Zealand. When I was about 7 years old, my mother and step-father moved our small family to cheaper rental housing in the small rural town of Martinborough (Waihenga), South Wairarapa, New Zealand. It was there that I put down roots. 40 years later I was to discover that my Maori ancestors’ bones lay there too. This was my turangawaewae, my standing place, the earth to which I belonged. At the age of 16 I accepted Jesus as Lord of my life and was baptised in my tribal river, a significance that resonates strongly with me now in the second half of my life.
I am the husband of Pauline, who I met at Bible College in 1987 and married in 1990. We have no children, and we have a conviction from the Lord that this has freed us to pursue our missions calling in special ways (similar to 1 Cor 7:32-35).
We both left the banking/clerical workforce in 1991 to pursue God’s call on our lives and invest ourselves into missions service, initially with WEC International. In 2000, I was appointed the new leader of Pioneers New Zealand’s newly formed Mobilisation Base, and I remained in that role until 2015. My leadership position in Pioneers saw me responsible for every aspect of mission sending and supporting alongside a small but dedicated staff team. My leadership responsibilities also extended to helping with Pioneers’ international development as part of their international leadership team and international council.
From 2007 I have been an Associate of the World Evangelical Alliance Mission Commission, although my connection with the commission began a decade earlier in 1997 when I first met former Executive Director Dr Bill Taylor while I was studying for my MA at All Nations Christian College in the UK. In 2011 I was appointed to lead the Mobilisation Network with the WEA MC and tasked with completing a major global research project concerned with mobilisation. That project culminated “Mission in Motion: Speaking Frankly of Mobilization“, co-written by me and published by William Carey Library. In 2017 I was appointed to facilitate the WEA MC’s Publications Program and I enjoy a close relationship with William Carey Publishing in that role.
In 2015, I moved on from Pioneers to take up the Executive Officer role at Missions Interlink, the national association of mission-passionate people and organisations in Aotearoa New Zealand. Missions Interlink is the equivalent of Missio Nexus (USA), Global Connections (UK), and Missions Interlink (Aus). My primary responsibility in Missions Interlink is to foster greater collaboration in mission from and within Aotearoa New Zealand and promote a deeper sense of being a community “on mission”, within our subscribed membership in particular, but also among the people of God (aka the Church) in Aotearoa New Zealand in general.
In 2018 I was appointed to a four-year term with the International Council of Interserve. That is an ‘extra-curricula’ activity alongside my WEA MC and personal commitments. Missions Interlink remains my ‘day job’.
In spite of an anti-educational stance within my family of origin, my innate curiosity motivated a desire to better understand spiritual realities and this led me into Christian studies. It was the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course that was a catalyst for directing my interests toward the rather unconventional context of evangelical Christian missions and missions sending/support in particular.
I never attended a mainstream university but have earned a DipCS from Faith Bible College (NZ), a Bmin from Worldview College of Intercultural Studies (Tasmania), a DipMiss from Australian College of Theology, an MA in mission studies from All Nations Christian College (UK), and a Doctorate of Intercultural Studies from Fuller School of Intercultural Studies.
I have many interests and passions. Writing is chief among them. I am also a poet/songwriter, singer, guitarist, and worship leader – nothing gives me greater joy than leading God’s people in sung worship, especially in multi-cultural environments. For me, singing is a deeply therapeutic and spiritual experience. I accredit that and my singing voice to my indigenous heritage. I enjoy carving and usually have a project in process. My artistic leanings extend to the digital sphere where I draw on years of desktop publishing experience to enhance my online and professional life.
My over-riding life-calling or passion is to help people extend God’s influence in the world. Ultimately, that is why I do all that I do. I seek first God’s kingdom and trust that the Holy Three will provide for all our needs.
Ma te Atua e manaaki koe
(May God provide you with every good thing)
See you on the other side. 👊🏼
with Señor Samuel Escobar (2016)