June 4, 2009

Rest: Necessary for Effective Ministry

By Craig Vernall

Greetings everyone. It's long overdue for me to make a contribution. Please forgive me for my lack of participation. Maybe as you'll read on you'll understand my tardiness.

The BWA Annual Gathering last year in Prague was another exciting and valuable time for all of us. The opportunity to reconnect was a privilege that I find so rewarding. What some of you aren't aware of is that in the period of time leading up to the Prague conference I'd been hospitalized with some problems that were essentially related to being too busy – stress related really.

Upon my return, the leadership in the church where I pastor encouraged me to take some long term leave. So with my wife Michaela and our 14 year old son, I travelled to stay at Lake Wanaka in the South Island of New Zealand. Our two older daughters were both living overseas last year. The instructions we were given by our leadership team was to have nothing to do with any level of contact or responsibility that we'd been involved with. This was very difficult. Yet this was put in place to give us rest and allow us the opportunity to be restored. In the beginning we were concerned that we'd be needed but God in his grace allowed others to fill in the gaps and we were very happy with the results.

For me it was a time to unwind and allow the smoke to clear in my life and get my health restored. The area around Lake Wanaka is very beautiful and mountainous and I enjoyed spending many hours a day walking the hills and enjoying Gods creation. The church gave us nearly four months away and then were willing to embrace us upon our return and celebrate that we were back able to lead with new energy. It has been wonderful to experience this grace and to know that many hundreds of people were praying for us. During the time away we had many precious times with the Lord and with each other. Our girls returned from overseas to have Christmas with us. Our eldest daughter announced that she is getting married in October. I felt very old when a very nice young Christian man asked me if he could marry our daughter. We will be blessed to have Karl (from Australia) in our family after October this year.

Since our return we have been resuming our normal work yet being careful not to take on too much. I am once again involved in our union’s leadership as the Chairman of our Assembly Council. This year we're restructuring the leadership and direction of the New Zealand Baptist Union. This is a work I really enjoy and find myself in a good place to make a valuable contribution.

I am looking forward to meeting with everyone again and hearing the stories of God’s grace upon your lives and how he wishes to use us to bring Christ to this hurting world. I trust that you are each doing well and can see the fruitfulness of God upon your lives.

Last year the New Zealand Baptists enjoyed having Teddy and Diddy Oprenov speaking at our pastors’ annual retreat in May. In November, Rachel Tan was the key note speaker at our Annual Assembly. What a blessing it has been to have such wonderful friends ministering in our nation. These are the stories that we have to share with each other as the fruit of our times together. We are very blessed to have each other.

**Craig Vernall is a Baptist pastor in New Zealand and was recognized by the BWA as an emerging leader in 2007.

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