Rev. Miersma is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of New Zealand.
(Correction: This is probably as good a place as any to call the attention of our readers to a correction received from “down under” relative to an article in the October 15 issue of this magazine. Professor Hoeksema, in his article entitled “Some Impressions from ‘Down Under,'” noted that, when we in the U.S. change to “slow time,” and they in Tasmania change to ‘fast time,” there will be a “12-hour difference” between us and them. In a telephone call to the seminary recently, Professor Hoeksema admitted to having been mistaken about that. If you’ve ever tried to calculate time differences between places on different sides of the International Dateline, you’ll know what we mean when we say it can become confusing. It seems to us that, before the change from slow to fast time (or vice versa), the difference between Michigan time and Tasmania time was 14 hours, and that after the change it has become 16 hours, Professor Hoeksema, at any rate, suggested that we try to make the correction—perhaps in order to avoid receiving calls made unwittingly in the dead of the Tasmanian night. We hope that this will help. And now, we turn to Rev. R. Miersma, a “near” neighbor of the Hoeksema’s down-under.)
Greetings from down-under to all our fellow-saints wherever the pages of The Standard Bearer bring these greetings! It is a blessed privilege to be able to come to you this way, for in doing so we are drawn closer together in the love of Christ unto the strengthening of our walk together as pilgrims and strangers. In this newsletter various items of interest will be given that will help you to know us in our congregational life.
After waiting nine months to receive permission to enter New Zealand, my family and I arrived in Wellington on January 15 after a thirty-eight hour journey, and were greeted by the members of the congregation, who could hardly contain themselves in the joy of receiving their own pastor. We were brought to Wainuiomata, where two of our families live, a city about 12 miles northeast of Wellington, where we now live at 21 Main Road. After attending Victoria University for one term our son Eric has returned to Holland, MI where he is presently attending Hope College.
Installation of the undersigned as the congregation’s first pastor took place on the fourteenth of February with Rev. J.A. Heys officiating. We had the welcome privilege of having a number of visitors present that day, both from the community and from several sister churches in the U.S. (Hudsonville PRC, Grandville PRC, Lynden PRC, and a week later South Holland PRC). As congregation we heartily welcome all visitors. We remind all those in the northern hemisphere that while you are experiencing winter weather it is summer here in New Zealand, which is in the southern hemisphere. As this article is being written in September we are being greeted with spring. For those who can only come during your summer months (winter here) be comforted to know that our winter temperatures average in the 50’s.
As congregation we number seven families. Five families meet twice a Sunday in a small rented church, St. Michael’s Lutheran Church, in nearby Naenae. The two other families live too far away to worship with us regularly, one a hundred miles north near Palmerston North, the other on the south island near Christchurch. It is our prayer that some day the Lord will open the way for them to live near the church. During the week two Bible Studies and two catechism classes are conducted. Each Monday evening my wife and I travel forty miles north along the shoreline of the Tasman Sea to the Otaki area to conduct both Bible Study and catechism in the home of the Inskeeps from our church. Catechism is first taught to their daughter and also to three other children not of our church. After catechism, Bible Study is held, presently in the book of Matthew, with the Inskeeps and other interested families in the area. On Wednesday evening the Essentials of Reformed Doctrine are taught to two young men of the congregation. On Thursday evening Bible Study is held with the four families who live nearest the church. We meet in each other’s homes by turns, the head of the home also serving as Bible leader for that time. Presently we are studying Hosea.
In our efforts for church extension we maintain a complete supply of all the RFPA publications and advertise them, have established an extensive Tape Library, and send out The Standard Bearer to over twenty subscribers. Recently the undersigned gave three lectures on the theme of The Coming of Christ. These three lectures were also given in Palmerston North. In August we were privileged to hear Prof. H. Hanko lecture to us on Marriage: A Divine Institution. Prof. Hanko and his wife stopped here on the way to the Synod of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Australia in Australia which is our nearest neighbor, twelve hundred miles across the Tasman Sea. Prof. Hoeksema will be laboring for one year in one of the churches of this denomination. In addition to his lecture, which was well received, Prof. Hanko also preached for us twice on the Lord’s Day. A voice so familiar from years of listening to tape recorded sermons was now heard from him in person.
In seeking closer relationships with other churches of like faith we are working out ways to be able to send delegates to the USA and Australia. Visits from fellow-saints also help to establish the bond that we have in Jesus Christ our Lord. This year one of our young men, Brendan Kane, was able to attend the Young People’s Convention in Holland, Michigan, and he enjoyed himself very much. Next year, the Lord willing, another of our young men, Theo de Klerk, plans to attend.
It is our prayer that this bit of news concerning us will help to acquaint you with us. We are very grateful to our covenant God for His goodness to us as shown by the generous support given to us by the Protestant Reformed Churches in America so that we have the blessed opportunity of having the lively preaching of the Word each Lords Day from our own pastor. We covet your prayers as we continue as a small congregation in the strength of our Lord, awaiting the day when we can be gathered together with all the saints as an innumerable host in heavenly glory.