THE RE-EVOLUTION OF THE
NEW LIFE DENOMINATION OF NZ
THE DEVOLUTION TO RE-SUSITATION OF THE NEW LIFE CHURCHES OF N.
Z. FROM SOMEONE WHO WAS AROUND IN THE VERY BEGINNING AND WHY HE
NEVER STAYED ON
In 1967 we pioneered a Church on the North Shore of Auckland that
for the convenience of advertising and banking etc we called ‘New
life Fellowship’. I had fellowshipped since 1957 with the eventual
founders of the movement (that took our name) during all that time
I resisted the efforts of some to ape the American model, but alas
my words fell on deaf ears as it slid into the Denomination that it
eventually became known as.
Interestingly enough even as I
was writing this article in 2008 the movement was haemorrhaging
quite badly. Their flagship in Christchurch mutinied to follow the
drum-beat of another. They call it restructuring in business circles.
I’ve been around long enough to know that nothing lasts, not
even Wall Street. Permanence is not a feature of religious kingdoms
or their builders. As natural institutions are failing on a daily
basis worldwide so assuredly will all religious institutions follow
suit. It’s like the game of chess where the Kings in their
Castles with their Queens, and Knights and Bishops seek to out manoeuvre,
and capture the pawns of their opponents (brothers?) in an effort
to forge ahead of the opposition and win the game.
BUY THE TRUTH AND SELL IT NOT
“For all those that want something better than what’s
on offer don’t give up, He’s alive.”
As we turn back the clock, many of us can recall days of visitation
when the Holy Spirit moved among us in great power. It was a time
when you couldn’t stop us from gathering to pray, to fellowship,
and study the word. We were aglow with the Spirit and overflowing
with love for the Saviour and each another. Sadly what we experienced
then seems like a dream now. The memory of those times has never
left those who were there to taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Its true there can be no going back, but the desire to recapture
the fervency of spirit and to experience once more the power of
His Holy presence still burns in many hearts. True hearts will never
settle for less than what they have known.
Many wandering saints have feelings akin to what the exiles in
Babylon felt as they reflected on happier days when God was in their
midst. “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, oh how
we wept, when we remembered Zion”. Psalm
The curse of sophistication and covetousness, with able assistance
from these professionals who occupy the pulpits, have choked the
life of the Holy Spirit out of most saints to the point that many
quit going to church because it had degenerated into a distasteful
duty, where they went through the motions for the sake of their
wives and children. Many others were driven away by force and cruelty.
But I have some good news; there is a rustling in the tops of the
The burden I felt relating to the subject matter of this issue
still weighs heavily on my heart. I don’t want to alienate
people, but then I don’t want to compromise in order to avoid
criticism. Truly the fear of man is a snare; so in order to find
some answers I began to ask myself some soul-searching questions,
- Have we been called to defend the Master’s intentions?
- Do we have to make excuses for the truth because somebody will
As I prayerfully considered this issue my course became clear.
I would speak the truth in love, and leave the consequences to Him.
God is love, and to love (v) is God in action. The opposite to love
is inertia, all talk and nothing else.
I’m writing this because I love God, I love His Son, I love
the truth of His word, and I love His Body. And because I love I
hate. I hate what God hates, and God certainly hates some things.
I hate the spirit that has divided the body of Christ and hindered
the free flow of fellowship among His saints. I look forward to
that day when His body will come together at His feet and acknowledge
His Sovereign Lordship over them in everything. It’s with
a sense of personal loss that I look back and remember how precious
His will once was that is now of no consequence to these entrepreneurs
I watched Paul De Jong do a promotional for an event this April;
it was pure self help hype and spin. Who needs to listen to Jesus
Christ when you can listen to Paul extol his exploits and show you
the way to success? Jesus said in Mt 11:29 Take my yoke upon you,
and learn me; for I am meek and lowly in
heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Events such as these are offensive to Christ sensitive souls. Php
3:18 For many walk, of whom I told you often, and now tell
you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross
of Christ: And again “if any will come after Me let him take
up his cross and follow
Me”. It’s not easy to put on paper exactly
what one feels when the realization sinks in that Kingdom life once
revered has been disregarded and cast aside.
As a former Catholic my conversion to the Protestant expression
of faith was dramatic to say the least. I am grateful that Catholicism
gave me a healthy respect for God that many of my non-Catholic friends
When I reflect on my childhood it evokes happy memories. My father
died while I was still a boy but my mother was a wonderful woman
of great character and strength and more than made up for our sad
loss.She counted no sacrifice too great to ensure that her six children
had all she could provide by way of a good Catholic education, and
a home where we could bring our friends knowing that they would
always find a warm welcome.
I was 25 years old when I came to the Lord in an evangelistic
service in Sydney Australia. I left New Zealand and went to Australia
on a working holiday. I was certainly not looking for a religious
experience or anything that resembled one, however as is often the
case with many a rebel, God in His love and mercy changed all that
and rescued me. A young lady friend who attended the service with
me accepted Christ that same night and shortly afterwards became
my wife. A few months later we left for New Zealand. Over the next
ten years we were engrossed in a visitation of God that became the
envy of many countries around the world. Right from the time we
settled in New Zealand God led us to a small group of believers
who became like family to us.
During those years we enjoyed precious fellowship with the Lord
and His people, and were privileged to sit at the feet of some dedicated
and anointed men who taught us the truth as they knew it without
compromise. Our teachers had been greatly impacted by a visitation
that had broken out in Canada in 1948 called “Latter Rain”;
it was rejected by most at that time; but was embraced later during
the Charismatic visitation. We were not main stream but that didn’t
bother us as we embraced the anointed teaching of the Word and took
up the challenge to take what we were learning to our nation.
A brother in our midst Evangelist Rob Wheeler began to travel around
the country holding tent crusades during the summer months which
God blessed wonderfully. In the course of time I was given an opportunity
to become part of the evangelistic team. Later another brother and
I conducted several tent crusades in country towns. It was a tremendous
privilege, and an exciting experience to feel we were on the cutting
edge of a move of God. People who attended the crusades began to
flock to Tauranga to attend Bible school. This was conducted during
the winter months while the crusades were in recess. Whole families
came to look for accommodation and employment in order to sit under
the ministry of the word ministered by Godly men who were moving
in “present truth.” Many graduates went out to pioneer
and as a result new fellowships began to spring up around the country.
Opposition from Pentecostal churches was unrelenting, but God’s
blessing was undeniable. Some families went to different parts of
Asia as missionaries. As God moved we could hear the sound of a
rustling in the tops of the Mulberry trees. We were living in visitation,
(and never fully appreciated it). The teaching of restoration truths
such as the laying on of hands, worship, the sacrifice of praise,
prophecy, gifts, the bride, the Tabernacle of David, the Feasts
of Israel, is just to mention a few. A strong emphasis was placed
on the autonomy of the local church. The latter was propagated energetically.
Each fellowship was distinctly autonomous. All linked “to”
Christ; but only linked to one another “through” Christ.
There was no organizational structure because we were all committed
to the posture of self-rule and guarded it jealously. Eventually
that would all change. (It seems some men can’t keep the hands
off the Ark).
The bond that drew the saints together was a network of relationships.
Each assembly enjoyed body ministry and although a primary feeder
whose gift made room for him was usually present ministry was open
to all. The primary feeder was often absent strengthening new gatherings.
We never had a sola “Pastor” noun. In time that would
When we came together in these early day’s every brother’s
contribution was important, and no one person owned the floor 1
Cor 14:26; Acts 15:22. If someone had something to share
they felt God had given them, they were free to bring it. There
was no order of service, no agenda set up beforehand by clergyman
who felt he had been appointed by God to speak for all. We did not
feel the need to import outside voices to tell us what we should
be doing, but we never excluded those God sent our way either.
We prayed together, wept together, strengthened one another, and
opened our hearts and the door of our fellowship to each other.
Nobody was under any pressure to conform to tenets of a central
committee. Each local fellowship was free to follow the dictates
of their hearts. Our form of government wasn’t perfect, but
neither was it dictatorial.
This state of affairs worked well for a number of years. Then certain
brethren came among us to spy out our liberty and began to suggest
that we would be better served by a central committee to oversee
the fellowships and co-ordinate gatherings on a national level;
and assist in setting up a co-operative missionary effort. Rob Wheeler
became the strongest advocate of this form of Govt. I most definitely
IT WAS NOT JUST BECAUSE OF DOCTRINAL CONVICTION THAT EX-PASTORS
CAME INTO OUR MIDST BUT BECAUSE OF PERSONAL CONFLICT IN FORMER CHURCHES;
OR FOR THE FRESH OPPORTUNITIES THE REVIVAL PRESENTED THEM WITH,
I am not suggesting that they were suspect, but I am saying it
was not always because of any heart conviction regards truths we
had embraced during the visitation. Some were simply opportunists;
because in hindsight it became very clear that this was the case.
Many in fact were bringing into our midst the very things that years
earlier we had forsaken. Their sentiments began to be echoed by
other brethren in our midst who should have known better.
Although it was never said in so many words the direction in which
we were being taken was abundantly clear. It took several years
to evolve, but eventually the prominent individuals succumbed. They
began to ape the American model until next thing we knew we had
Pastors, Titles, choirobes, and multi-level marketing schemes for
the purpose of fund raising to buy for Church property which were
seen to be acceptable.
In quick time the fellowships had a “sola” pastor to
lead them in the manner of all movements before them. Personally
I stoutly resisted being called “Pastor”. I was content
to be just another brother among them, and Mr or Brother Shaun to
As always happens when charismatic leaders for whatever reason
become sidetracked God draws back and a vacuum occurs. Soon administrators
began to fill the void. Administrators are not feeders, simply paper
kings. Gradually they manoeuvre themselves into indispensability
from where they can inject their sterile influence. Stagnation and
crystallization begins to take place, until like concrete these
titled individuals became a permanent fixture.
age by now had brought our once isolated country much closer to
the rest of the world bringing many preachers particularly from
America to our shores. Apart from a few exceptions their influence
was negative. The American model of strong pastoral leadership,
the division of clergy and laity, and their professional approach
to ministry encouraged men I had once looked up to in the direction
they wanted to take and make permanent. Construction of Church buildings
for greater permanence became an obsession with many. It was soon
followed by Central Government, credentials, titles, bible schools.
These all became the order of the day. It was a further step down
the pathway to apostasy. Truth was sold for expedience, or ignored
by pragmatic carnal reasoning. This certainly happened to the fellowships
that we once cherished and formally been part of.
It has been a strong conviction of mine that life should be based
on God’s word and strength, not ours. Our strength is our
greatest weakness. Combine this with imported schemes that will
ensure success and it means that God is no longer needed. It’s
so easy to organize God out of our lives. Actually He seems to get
in the way many times of the things they want done. But because
it’s in the king’s interests they simply ask Him to
bless their ways and to shelve His.
I am of the same opinion as John Newton when he said, “In
essentials I agree with them all, and in circumstantial details
I differ no more than they differ among themselves. They all confess
that they are fallible, and yet decide with an air of infallibility,
and they all in turn expect me to unite with them if I have any
regard to the authority and honour of the Lord Jesus Christ as the
Head of His Body. But the very consideration they propose restrains
me from uniting with any of them.
This writer has frequently been asked, “Do you intend to
join us?” I do not believe that I should honour the headship
and kingly office of Christ by acknowledging Him as the Head of
a party and subdivision of His people to the exclusion of the rest.
Every party uses fair words proclaiming their liberty and freedom,
but when an explanation is made it always amounts to the same thing.
They will give liberty to think as they think, and to act as they
act, which to me, who claims the same right of thinking for myself
and of acting according to the dictates of my own conscience, is
no liberty at all. I stand firm on the convictions I have on my
understanding of the word, and conclude that I will hold friendly
intercourse with them all, so far as they should providentially
come across my path. And I might add so far as they will allow me!
But that I would stand fast in the liberty in which Christ has made
me free, and bow neither to them or their creed.
If others seek to honour Christ by laying great stress on doubtful
matters then let them. But I will honour Him by
endeavouring to show His kingdom is not of this
world. Nor does it consist in pleading for conformity to tenets
and parties, but in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything with God
but a new creature, and the faith that works by love.”
How quickly we forget that the just shall live by faith. This is
the course that this writer has diligently sought to follow since
first coming to Christ. But I find it baffling and even amusing
if it were not so sad, that some who once walked this way have fallen
into the same sectarian trap, as those they once criticized and
labelled as Babylonians. And now we find ourselves having to explain
to them why we do not wish to join their sectarian groups no matter
how loudly they may boast of their broadmindedness and free spirit.
We have found everywhere we have been the ecclesiastical barrier
is as impregnable today as it has always been. That no church circle,
or company of professing Christians is prepared to really welcome
into their midst and extend the right hand of fellowship, (no matter
what his reputation and credentials) to anyone who is unprepared
to join and limit to their party and pronounce all their shibboleths.
In so far as these matters are concerned “let every man be
fully persuaded in his own mind.” But as far as this writer
is concerned he values his Christian liberty far too highly, and
considers it sufficient being joined to the Lord as a member of
His much membered glorious body. I do not see the need to join anything
more than this.
Therefore I have no intention of locking myself up in an ecclesiastical
prison to become excluded from fellowship with my brothers and sisters
scattered throughout the world. Amen.
They reinvented themselves a short time ago and now sail under a
different flag the ALT.
Lu 7:32 They are like unto children
sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying,
We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned
to you, and ye have not wept.