By the time I was born, the people on the English side of my family had been in New Zealand for generations. I asked my Grandmother, who had been educated at a private school, where her ancestors came from. “Oh, they had a big house in England” she replied. I learned later on in life that her ancestors were servants from Ham House in Surrey. Something got lost in translation!
The seven servants of Ham arrived in NZ on May 18 1841 after five months in cramped conditions below decks on a ship called the William Bentinck. Ann Howell, my Great-Great-Great Grandmother sat on the beach at the ends of the earth and cried, probably for a lot of reasons. No longer would they be servants.
They did not know the New Zealand Company’s policies were designed to reproduce and export England’s capitalist class structure. (I’m not saying capitalism is wrong – just the exploitative kind).
Ann could not read or write. They had signed their marriage certificate with an X. The schooling that the servants of Ham, and their children, received before emigrating was intended to impress upon them the importance of “knowing their place” in the British rural hierarchy.
Fortunately God got to New Zealand first. The Christian Missionaries in New Zealand had encouraged a rapid uptake of literacy amongst Maori during the 1830’s, a decade before formal colonisation. Early in 1842, the editor of Wellington’s Gazette contrasted Maori literate activities with that of recent labouring immigrants: “They read with ease, and with far more rapidity than the poorer classes who have been taught at English charity schools.”
The British social class structure was challenged in the new environment where education was made available to everyone. I grew up in a free country because of the foundation that Christianity had laid.
Sadly all the work done by previous generations over the last 200 years has been undermined by neo-liberal economic policies begun in NZ in the 1980’s and 1990’s, designed to benefit the top 10%. It has affected our standard of living. We now have a widening gap between rich and poor – because of our government’s foolishness. Thieves in high places break in and steal. As I write this, our arrogant government is subjecting us to the Trans Pacific Partnership – without telling New Zealanders what the details are.
"What can we do when the foundations are being destroyed?" Psalm 11:3
In these uncertain times, what should we do? Jesus said ; “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6
While I am sad at seeing my country wrecked, I have been investing in a different Kingdom. Investing in the Kingdom of God will be different for everyone. For us, we were instructed by the Lord to go back to college, gain a Diploma of Business and enter self employment. Since then we’ve been able to support ourselves and help various Kingdom initiatives with the company we’ve set up. It hasn’t been easy but it has been worth it. If you read my story that chapter is here: https://kingdom777.wordpress.com/2014/07/17/chapter-78-the-seed/
One of our customers we have helped has set up a rice company in Papua New Guinea. Another customer I help is an editor for a Christian Newspaper. These are just some of the initiatives the Lord has bought our way. And of course we have the example of the earlier work the Missionaries did in evangelising and educating the Maori. God is at work and He invites us to join Him in that work.
The Master’s House
There is a bigger house than the one my ancestors came from. What is “the house?” I’ll start with what it is not. The house is not the big mega-church with it’s rock star pastors who love to quote the scriptures about “bringing your tithes into the house”. Run from them, they will only exploit you.
“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will make merchandise of you with feigned words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.” 2 Peter 2
The house the Lord speaks of is His Kingdom. In His absence He has left us, His servants, in charge.
“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak.” Luke 12
The master will return. The signs of His coming are near. Jesus is a servant leader. For the servants He finds waiting for Him – He will dress himself to serve, have us sit at a table and He will come and wait on us. Imagine that. Actually, I can’t. That’s out of this world.