A Home of Our Own
After 47 years of meeting as a church in all sorts of rooms, halls and vacant shops, Wanaka New Life Church has finally established a church home in Wanaka. In recent years, as the church has grown, it had become harder to find a reliable place to gather for worship and hold Sunday School at the same time. There were many ideas on how to solve this problem and much prayer was put into seeking God’s wisdom on where we should establish. The Church Trust already owned the Manse in Beech Street as an asset. With the need for a place to hold services and meetings clearly greater than the need for a manse, the decision was made to sell the house but only when God revealed the right property.
In May 2013 while viewing another property for possible rent as a temporary church space a very interesting thing happened. All of the Trustees present at that first viewing were of the same opinion, very quickly, that this was the best building we had seen and it was in the best possible location for us as a church; it felt right. The question was asked ‘Is it for sale?’ It wasn’t actually on the market but the agent suggested the owner might consider selling.
The agent got back to us with a ‘yes’ it was for sale and a price. Prior to a special trust meeting all Trustees were told the price and asked to pray about a counter offer that we would consider and make. Amazingly everyone came to that meeting adamant we should pay the asking price in full, subject only to our conditions. The contract was signed and returned. Little did we know, that had we not accepted that price and signed, the owner had someone prepared to lease and we would have lost the opportunity completely. This is amazing when we looked at how this perfectly fulfilled previous prophecy. The building was at 50 Reece Cres and was the former Mediterranean ‘Market’. In June 2013 we purchased this building in the heart of the commercial/retail area of town.
When the date came to pay for the building we had not yet sold the manse. Again, with only three days to go, we knew that the building owner would not be granting us an extension; however everyone involved felt sure this was the place God had provided for us. Then from completely left field, someone kindly offered to pay for bridging finance so we could close the deal and secure the building. With the building now secure and a contract to sell the Manse, this meant we could begin planning the refit. This would be a major task to bring a tin shed up to current fire and insulation standards.
Having presented an estimate of the costs to the church of around $250,000 we took up our first ever building miracle offering on the 2nd of March 2014 with only three weeks notice for the people. Just prior to the offering we received an anonymous offer promising to match our giving, dollar for dollar up to $100,000 which was lifted a short time later to $150,000! Everyone gave what they felt was right for them, cash, cheques and pledges, which were all honoured to the dollar. Once the offering was counted and added to our $30,000 building account we had raised over $152,000 – amazingly matching the dollar for dollar amount which meant we now had $300,000 towards the whole project. From our perspective $100,000 was a stretch of faith, let alone $150,000! This was such an encouragement for the people! God had said He would provision what He purposed to do and He did!
The chillers were removed and sold along with two large roller doors in the building. Gib linings were stripped out, a non-compliant interior mezzanine was removed, skylights in the roof were replaced with long-run iron and external doors and windows all had to go. In the planning stages it became obvious that council requirements for a place of public meeting carried high standards for insulation, fire safety and rating. Our project was going to cost a lot more than anticipated.
Added to the increased cost there were many delays along the way that could not have been foreseen; obtaining resource consent, then building consent, specialist reports from a fire engineer and structural engineer and resolving existing firewall issues with council. This took over 12 months of negotiation and expense and when one was resolved another seemed to emerge. Time was moving on and some of us wondered if we were ever going to be in our new building! However, these various hurdles were always taken to prayer and in time God opened a way to enable us to move forward, often through a timely contact or advice.
Finally building consent was approved and in early 2016 the building project began. Plans had been drawn, it was decided to add a new addition to house the kitchen and toilet areas which gave more space for the auditorium. It was also decided to split the project into two with this addition being built by Nevan Gibb’s contract builder, Daryl Jolly. One of the church members, Dave Rosie who was also a builder, was appointed Project Manager and began to oversee the rest of the refit. Dave, recently returned from working in Australia, was between projects. This was very much a God appointment as Dave had the right disposition to manage the project and include as many of the church volunteers as possible at various stages. Some new skills were learned through Dave’s ability to encourage and teach.
As is often the case with renovations, costs continued to climb. In August that same year, having reviewed our budget, Wayne went back to the people with the final costs to complete the project. $151,000 was the amount needed. Another offering was taken, $47,500 coming in on the day and within one week due to a generous anonymous donation we had the $151,000! Once again, another wonderful example of God’s provision through his people. We were so humbled, blessed and thankful.
With John and Julie Mellor’s healing ministry locked in for the end of November 2016 it was full steam ahead to get us into the building. Everyone pitched in with whatever skills they had from building to cleaning to bringing food for the workers. We are very thankful to our brothers; John Masters who took responsibility for the electrical installation and Peter Cartlidge for all his data cabling and AV work. We needed gib-stoppers quickly and they were on long waiting lists, but God had it all planned out. We were recommended a company and when they were contacted, they had just that morning had work delayed for one week. God had provided again! We were also very blessed to have people who weren’t part of our church being extremely generous with their time. Wayne’s nephew Craig Dudfield, who is a master painter and lives in Invercargill, has given over twenty days free labour to see the project completed to a professional standard. There have been others also who have willingly worked in a volunteer capacity including Christian brothers from overseas who were with us for varying periods of time; Ryan Anderson (USA), Jason Hay (Australia), Elmer Doerksen (Canada) and YWAM youth also. To name all the people that have helped on the project would be a huge task and so please don’t be offended if your name isn’t included. God knows your input and we are confident you will be blessed as you have been a blessing.
What an amazing feeling of gratitude we all had as we held our first meeting on Friday the 25th of November 2016, just in time for John Mellor’s meetings. To see all the hard work pay off with a lovely new home of our own was truly overwhelming. God is good and Stage 1 was done!
Stage 2 building
We were now on the home run with Stage 2, the mezzanine floor to go in over the foyer/café area. Upstairs, this would house an office for the Pastor, an administration office and a multipurpose meeting room that could seat around twenty people. This has all been recently completed and the upstairs meeting room is named the ‘Wiltshire Room’ to honour our first Pastors and founders Tony and Kay Wiltshire.
There are so many testimonies of Gods provision all along this journey, too many to write in this article. How does a small town church raise over a million dollars, the amount that it has taken us to get here? The answer is twofold. Firstly, we have been able to build on the foundation laid by Tony and Kay Wiltshire’s initial vision and the faithful stewardship of those who maintained the Beech St property throughout the years. Secondly, by those who from generous hearts, have been prompted to give and see Wanaka New Life Church established in the ‘Market Place’ of Wanaka. Only $50,000 of this amount was from Trust grants and the rest y Gods people. We now have a building valued at over $1.5 million dollars and not a dollar of debt. What can we say? We serve an awesome God!
To conclude, the church is not the building it is the people.
While our focus has been to complete the building project, our eyes look forward to continuing to build the ‘actual’ church. To be part of building the Kingdom of God here on earth is a privilege and this wonderful provision of a church home is but a tool to help us along the way. Praise be to God, to His Son Jesus Christ our Saviour and to the Holy Spirit who daily leads and guides us along the way.