The 'tradie' who turned to the Lord

Reverends Don and Lynda Moses. Photo: Tracy Hardy.

The one-time electrician is now in the service of a one-time carpenter.

“Yeah,” says Don Moses, a ‘sparky’ in a previous life and now the newly installed Reverend at the Omokoroa Community Church.

He can laugh about it: Don the electrician and Jesus the ‘chippy’.

“Yes, we are all tradesmen in this together,” he laughs.

And the name Moses – surely this is some marketing ploy to help fill the pews, to lift the profile? “I always say it’s simple proof that God has got a sense of humour.”

The flippancy doesn’t end there because there’s also a spiritual tag team at play here. Yes, they got two for one when they employed the Reverend Don Moses. His wife Linda is a newly ordained priest.

“We work in partnership,” he explains. “I occupy the office, I got the job, but Linda is very much part of what takes place in the community.”

It seems having a ticketed 2IC in his ministry is very handy indeed.

A “blessing” now and certainly a “blessing” many years ago when the electrician who grew up on a South Canterbury farm decided “there was something more I was meant to do.”

He was an electrician with faith and a lay-role in the church. But he “felt a calling specifically to go and get some theological training”. He gave up a comfortable income, pliers and wire strippers for privation and a Bible.

“When I went to Bible College we had to fund our own way through.” They went from a pay packet to zip overnight, and most of what they ate was savings. There was the small, complicating matter of a newly born third child too.

“It didn’t make any sense at all in that context. Don’t worry, we did ask ourselves that question, but we kept coming back to the absolute certainty that God was calling us to do this. This was meant to be.”

So yes – “Linda was definitely on side”. And no – “it could not have been achieved if she wasn’t.”

But what about the major issues facing the new custodians of the Omokoroa Community Church, like the relevance of the church?

“I can think of people here who have said to me recently, ‘I am re-examining my life and I want church and the faith to be part of it.’”

And, he observes, given the world we live in people are asking the bigger questions.

“A lot of shootings such as the Oregon college massacre are targeted at Christians – are you a Christian, stand up, bang!” Don Moses says this is not the first time it’s happened, that Christians have been targeted specifically.

“So there’s something going on here. If Christianity wasn’t relevant, people wouldn’t not be targeting Christians.”

Another consideration for the Reverend is congregation sizes and ages. “When I applied for the job they said 80-85 people each Sunday. Well, now it’s 90 to 100.”

There are a lot of maturity in the pews, but that represents the demographics of the community. However he is starting to see younger families and they might have to add another class to church’s pre-school music and movement group.

This is a travelled man of the cloth. The Tapawera-Motupiko Parish in the Nelson Diocese, Greymouth, Kaikoura, Priest Assistant at the Holy Trinity in Tauranga and Blenheim.

Greymouth provided the most “gut-wrenching” episode of his career. He ministered to families and friends who lost loved ones in the Cave Creek tragedy.

“Unfortunate in one way, a privilege in another. You are helping people in their darkest moment. They really need someone and you and the church can be there for them. That is very special.”

Meanwhile Don has “lost his wife” somewhere in their big new house in Omokoroa. We are trying to organise a photoshoot. He can’t figure things. He would ask Linda, but he has lost his wife again.

Therein lie the benefits of an understanding and capable 2IC, even in faith. If you can find her.

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