Christine Harding currently lives in Auckland, but still calls Hamilton home, and is the NZ National Director of OMF New Zealand. In this edition of ‘Share Your Story’, Christine tells us a bit about her background, passions, what she has, is and plans to get up to in the future, the challenges she faces as a women in leadership, concerns she has and a prayer request for the women of the South Pacific.
I was privileged to have been born into a Christian family but I did make an intentional decision to be a follower of Jesus the day my great grandmother died – I was 12. She loved Jesus with all her heart and was so looking forward to being with Him – I wanted to be like her and to have a faith like that . . . it was quite simple really . . . Like most other people there have been times when I grew faster and other times were I have felt stagnant but I have always known God’s Presence with me.
From the age of 12 I have been especially challenged by the persisting inequalities in this world – most significantly in accessing the good news of the Gospel. Even today there are still millions of people in many people groups who will be born, live and die without even one opportunity to hear about the love of Jesus. I just knew that the Lord was calling me into cross-cultural ministry – that’s why I went to Bible College . . . and that’s where I met my husband whom God had called to Japan! I am still passionate that there be an intentional focus on making the disciples amongst the least reached.
After we were married, Andy and I spent 10 years in Japan – mainly church planting. It’s hard work! On returning home to NZ, I became involved in local church ministry and teaching at a Bible College – all focused on “equipping the saints for the work of ministry” and to see people equipped to join the Lord in His great mission.
In my present national role I have the privilege of seeing some of what the Lord is doing within the NZ Church and the Church in East Asia. God is at work calling people to serve amongst the unreached wherever they might be found, and He is stirring up His Body the Church to be a people on mission. There is much to be excited about!
[My journey into leadership] was unexpected! Growing up I was a quiet girl – I liked to blend into the background and couldn’t speak to any more than 4 people in a group! Over the last 20 years the Lord has put ‘open doors’ in front of me and I have felt compelled to step forward in faith – my roles have changed as I have grown and continued to equip myself by learning and gaining more experience. Seven years ago the Lord clearly called me to be the National Director of OMF NZ– an interdenominational mission agency. My questions of “who me?” didn’t stop Him – he has been faithful in giving me the grace I have needed.
I oversee the preparation and journey of candidates, I work with churches and leaders – we are all on a journey of getting better equipped to do what God calls us to do in His mission to restore all of creation.
In my present position I am well supported by my peers and staff – I think my gender is irrelevant in this context. Of course it hasn’t always been my experience. In saying that however, I do know that some opportunities to speak or input into churches are not welcomed because I am a woman. However I am far from short of things to do!!
One concern I have is that we, as disciples of Jesus, often spend much time, energy and money on less important things/issues. While we do this people are dying without access to the gospel. I know I will be called to give an account one day of how I lived my life. The challenge for the NZ and Pasifika church is to recapture the passion with which previous generations of Christians lived. Their priority was to take the gospel where it was not known. The history of mission in the Pacific is incredible – the stories of bravery and sacrifice need to be told to a new generation. We need to ‘keep the main thing the main thing.’!
Please pray for us – the women of the South Pacific as influencers. That we would influence our young and our churches to make reaching the least reached a priority. Thanks!
NZ National Director
OMF New Zealand