In Whanganui, Te Puna O Wai Ora Māori fellowship has over the summer been running a flourishing open-air church gathering in a park – with the permission and support of local iwi and marae, the City Council and Police.
Pastor Marama Dey has written to NZCN that she ‘felt prompted by the Lord to share what our church is doing in Whanganui as maybe churches in other cities can do the same’. She explains that ‘we are a Māori fellowship, run by a mixture of pākeha and Māori ministers of whom I am only one, and a congregation of many cultures’, and that ‘in Māori mission no one gets paid as we are called to serve the King and trust him for the rest. We walk by faith not wages’.
Here’s what she wrote (also slightly edited):
‘When summer came, along with the Covid restrictions, the Lord showed us to go to a large park in the city, so we are free to gather and praise him… We commenced with this and every Sunday take all our gear for our band and worship team and gazebos and lots of free food and run a service there.
All is legal and up front as we do not want to discredit our Lord and Saviour. We are abiding by all the rules and the people all sit in their own bubbles or in groups of 25 spread around the park.
We are Pentecostal so we have prayers and worship and enjoy the presence of the Lord and the Holy Spirit. God has moved powerfully in the park, and people from all over are now coming: many non-believers and many who have left their churches are coming to salvation and we are baptising people nearly every week. We have our different pastors preaching each week. The Lord is busy healing people and it is all just an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and all we are doing is praising the Lord.
The youth area has grown to over 50 children preschool to High school and it takes 10 leaders of whom we give training to each week to grow them stronger as they minister to the children. Through the week we are every day now at the church running teaching and discipleship classes to care for everyone just small groups at a time. This keeps people fed and praising the Lord.
We get people to sign in and this is organised by our pastors and prayer teams. This also gives us the names of people attending so that we can follow up through the week to get them into our house groups to attend Bible study.
We run zoom prayer meeting every day and night. Jesus is showing us that it is the harvest season now.
So bless you all. I hope this will inspire churches to look at new ways of leading people to the Lord his way and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
May the Lord bless you all in your mahi.
God is on the waka now more than ever.’