‘That Lot’ in Fairlie

Let me tell you an incredible story!

Fairlie is a small farming village in the center of New Zealand’s South Island. For the last two years I had heard about some believers whom God led to give up the religious structure they had become part of to live as the body of Christ together in this region of the world. It was 1986 and some of its leaders felt like God was asking them to give up the structures that constrained their life together, which included not only the institution but also the building where they met. After weeks of praying together and considering this leading, the people unanimously agreed that this is what God was saying to them.

They agreed to lay it all down and let God lead them. The building they used was quite old and after donating all the furnishings that were worth anything to the denomination’s district they were leaving, the offered the building to the fire brigade to burn as a training exercise. (I told you this was an incredible story!)

The neighbors objected, however, to torching the large structure so close to their homes, so in the end they had to dismantle it. They took some of the remaining furnishings, like the offering bags, out to the country and burnt them. Then one day some of the brothers descended on the building with chain saws. As they walked in that day to the main meeting room they asked where they should begin. They all looked at each other and in the same moment said,, “The pulpit!” With relish the sawed it in half, kept going across the stage and eventually dismantled the entire building and hauled it away to the trash heap.

Sara and I laughed and shook our heads in awe as we heard that story on Tuesday night while meeting with about two dozen or more of these people. They had not done these things frivolously or in rage at ‘the system.’ They had simply felt those things were an offense to God and he wanted them to destroy them. They never said anyone else should do the same, they simply went on and learned how to be the body of Christ without all the trappings of institutionalism.

In the nearly twenty years since they have thrived in God’s life together as his people in this community. It has not been easy, nor has it been without challenge, but many of them talked of how their relationship with God really began to grow when they removed the crutch the institution had become. Not having everything planned out for them anymore, they had to listen to God and do the things he put on their heart. Now they are people who live at peace with God, in fellowship with each other and available to unbelievers in ways they never had when they were so busy maintaining their structure. Even the children from those days have continued on with the simplicity of living in God and loving each other in the process. What joyful simplicity and what an incredible life they’ve gone on to share together!

They are also affectionately known in these parts as ‘that lot.’ The whole community knows about the congregation that dismantled its building and stopped meeting every week on a regular basis. They also know they have lived on as passionate believers. Without all the machinery to maintain, they have been more available to help care for the families and neighbors.

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” John 12:24-25

As long as we hold tightly to the things we think we must preserve, we’ll miss the incredible doors God would put before us every day as we simply live in him and follow his ways. True life is found in giving up, not in holding on, as we follow wherever God leads us.

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10 Comments
  1. eddie July 7, 2004 at 10:41 pm

    Wow

    That is the most powerful testimony I have read in my entire life. It’s laced with grace, mercy and kindness, yet a forceful delivery to tell God "we mean business".

    It’s a blessing and an encouragement, and may it be said of all of us that we are ‘those people".

    This blew me out of the water:

    "They had not done these things frivolously or in rage at ‘the system.’ They had simply felt those things were an offense to God and he wanted them to destroy them."

    Thanks for sharing your travels and blessings with us Wayne.

    Rush back!

    %)

  2. eddie July 8, 2004 at 1:41 am

    Wow

    That is the most powerful testimony I have read in my entire life. It’s laced with grace, mercy and kindness, yet a forceful delivery to tell God "we mean business".

    It’s a blessing and an encouragement, and may it be said of all of us that we are ‘those people".

    This blew me out of the water:

    "They had not done these things frivolously or in rage at ‘the system.’ They had simply felt those things were an offense to God and he wanted them to destroy them."

    Thanks for sharing your travels and blessings with us Wayne.

    Rush back!

    %)

  3. Steve July 8, 2004 at 5:33 am

    One of the most difficult things about starting on this recent leg of the journey to my Father’s love was the realization that many of those that I had previously worshipped with would probably turn away from me. I had so much disdain for the system and still do but yet I genuinely love the people in the IC that I left. I didn’t want to leave them but sensed the Father telling me that I must. It was the only way for me to be a witness for the great ability of the Father to be the source of my spiritual life and at the sametime to be a witness against ungodly tradition that bind up His people. I too believe that God wants all destroyed and torn down that man has built on his own traditions. So I can relate to "those people" and pray that I might always be one of those people where I live.

  4. Steve July 8, 2004 at 5:37 am

    Opps forgot my URL in case you want to come fellowship with me at His table.

  5. Steve July 8, 2004 at 8:33 am

    One of the most difficult things about starting on this recent leg of the journey to my Father’s love was the realization that many of those that I had previously worshipped with would probably turn away from me. I had so much disdain for the system and still do but yet I genuinely love the people in the IC that I left. I didn’t want to leave them but sensed the Father telling me that I must. It was the only way for me to be a witness for the great ability of the Father to be the source of my spiritual life and at the sametime to be a witness against ungodly tradition that bind up His people. I too believe that God wants all destroyed and torn down that man has built on his own traditions. So I can relate to "those people" and pray that I might always be one of those people where I live.

  6. Steve July 8, 2004 at 8:37 am

    Opps forgot my URL in case you want to come fellowship with me at His table.

  7. Deb July 12, 2004 at 7:04 am

    "True life is found in giving up, not in holding on, as we follow wherever God leads us." I LOVE that line. That’s a wonderful perspective!!

  8. Deb July 12, 2004 at 10:04 am

    "True life is found in giving up, not in holding on, as we follow wherever God leads us." I LOVE that line. That’s a wonderful perspective!!

  9. David Bruce September 12, 2005 at 12:51 am

    dear wayne….we spoke years ago…i am a friend of dennis morris and i live in australia…..just recently the lord spoke to me about fairlie new zealand although quite frankly He has not spoken to me about nz b4…so i am doing a search on this fairlie place to hopefully get some contacts of christians in that area…thanks and gb

  10. David Bruce September 12, 2005 at 3:51 am

    dear wayne….we spoke years ago…i am a friend of dennis morris and i live in australia…..just recently the lord spoke to me about fairlie new zealand although quite frankly He has not spoken to me about nz b4…so i am doing a search on this fairlie place to hopefully get some contacts of christians in that area…thanks and gb

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