A Long Lasting Impact
“For every goodbye, God also provides a hello” – Donna Gable Hatch.
A Goodbye is just an open door for new beginnings in our lives. It’s not always easy saying goodbye and so often we don’t see what God is doing in those seasons of goodbyes, but we trust and believe that in all things God is working for the GOOD of those who LOVE Him.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
As we walk into this season of goodbye and transition we already see God doing new and amazing things in this ministry and in the Wakefield lives. We trust our Father in heaven would open great opportunities for the Wakefield’s for further ministry in Australia and for the children in their future education.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing.”
This is how the December 2002 Contact Magazine introduced the Wakefield family. “In 1997 Michael Wakefield came to PNG and served with CRMF for a short term mission. He returned with a special love for the Papua New Guineans and a conviction that CRMF was the mission God had chosen for their family”
After completing all the necessary requirements for Bible school and support raising, Michael and Rachael arrived in Goroka with their three younger children, Joshua, Elicia and Jessica.
After fourteen years, we the Papua New Guinean staff who have served the Lord with the Wakefields have a difficult task of saying goodbye to a family that allowed the Lord to use them to leave a lasting impact on our lives and the ministry in PNG.
The Wakefields are expressing the same sentiment as the days run out for them to leave the place they once called home and the people they worked with and called family. This is how they expressed it;
“To leave our home and our family here is not easy as the people of PNG are such open and loving people, but we are thankful that the Lord has allowed us to stay here a little longer than our planned 1 to 3 years”.
Their plan when they left Australia was to serve for a short term with the technical expertise that Michael has but somehow when CRMF board approached Michael to serve in the leadership role he said yes even though he agreed with Rachael that the answer was no! We thank the Lord for twisting Michael’s tongue to say yes.
Yes, the last fourteen years has seen a lot of change in the area of having more national staff join the team because the ministry of CRMF in all its core areas have increased. This is all because “we have stood on the shoulders of giants who have gone before us” one of Michael’s favourite statement to appreciate the leaders who have served before his era.
The Wakefields continue to express their heart of the difficulty of leaving the ministry field they helped to develop;
“And now we are preparing to say goodbye to the place that has been our home for the last 14 years. It is going to be one of the hardest things our family has ever done. This is because between our arrival and now, PNG has become our home, the people have become our family and the Lord has become the one we trust, need and depend on”.
We definitely have seen and experienced their love for PNG, its people and their faithful service in the ministry that the Lord has given them. Their lives and their zeal to serve the Lord will be a motivating factor for us to continue to serve the Lord like they did for a long lasting impact in the lives of our many fellow Papua New Guineans.
We all know that if they had a choice they would continue to serve, but it is clear to them that it’s time to return to Australia. Sending Joshua to Australia last July has shown them how hard it is for them as a family to be apart. Now that Elicia has completed year 12 they need to go back with her and help her negotiate life in Australia.
Jesus said, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. John 16:7.”
We know that the disciples of Jesus did not understand why his going away would benefit them. Now we know that it was for their benefit and the benefit for the rest of the world that the Lord Jesus did leave them so that the Holy Spirit would come.
We feel a bit similar to the disciples; we are sad to see the Wakefields go, but we know their children would also need their support in Australia especially with the new changes in their life and education. We love them and will really miss them. Our prayers will be with them as they learn to live and adjust in Australia.
This is how the Wakefields express their feelings about going back to Australia for their children and how it will benefit the ministry when they leave.
“Keeping our family together is important but the main reason for leaving PNG is to give CRMF’s national team the space to lead the mission, to bring it to a new level and new place that is attuned to the needs of the people we serve. It is time for us to step aside so they can step up. As we leave, we are thankful for our wonderful friends here in PNG, for our great co-workers and for our enduring supporters”.
We all will miss Michael as our boss because he overrode the statement that some say that your boss is “your boss first and friend second”. He was indeed boss officially, but a friend to us all whenever he had time – he had plenty of time for many of us and we will certainly value that. Their last Mt Whilem climb with a couple of our national staff describes the kind of friend our boss was!
They expressed it accurately about stepping aside so that nationals would step up; we have seen that happen so many times with so many opportunities. On this note we pause to say thank you Lord for bringing missionaries to CRMF who have the attitude to step aside so that nationals can step up. The current ministry of CRMF as “Technology for the Church” is at this stage because of missionaries like the Wakefields and the Wards who have recently left trusting the nationals to set a long lasting impact in the ministry and across our nation of Papua New Guinea.
Finally, we know in our hearts that the Lord has put a special place in their hearts for PNG and as they prepare to leave they thank the faithful supporters who have kept them for the last fourteen years and request continued prayer and support for CRMF and the Schadegg family.
It was God’s miracle to raise support for them after Bible College and prepared everything for them to arrive in Goroka fourteen years ago and now as we prepare to say goodbye we ask for the same miracle for them as they transition back to Australia.