Aziza Family Update 7/03/2017
It's been several months now since our last family update and I apologize for how long it's taken to get one sent out. I have been simply waiting on the Lord's timing and just watching for the right opportunity to connect with everyone again. As many of you know, it's been over a year since we moved to New Zealand. And of course, much has happened over the course of our time here.
To be entirely honest, living in New Zealand has been a challenging experience. Don't get me wrong. We love the culture, and the people here are some of the friendliest and most generous you will find anywhere in the world. However, immigrating here has been a very difficult ordeal. But we have had some good times here as well and greatly cherish all of the friendships that we've made as a result of living in this beautiful land.
Lately, we've been staying with a formerly German Baptist family who moved to NZ from the States seven years ago with a very similar vision as ours. They have been a tremendous source of encouragement, help, and support to our family and we are blessed to call them our friends.
A Bit of History To give some of you a bit of history, in February of '16, we came here with the hope of getting a work visa and being able to remain in the country long term. But after testing several job opportunities, none were willing to provide a formal job offer in order for us to obtain a work visa. My plan B was then to try establishing my own business so as to apply for an investors visa. So I pursued an extension on our holiday visas and was able to secure one for an additional 6 months. However, during the six months we were still unable to get a strong enough business contingency for immigration and so that plan failed. Well, the only option left us, at that point, was to get on our knees and pray to the Lord for guidance and help in taking our next step forward. The Lord answered our prayer and we were connected with a Christian family in Temuka who were contract dairy farmers and willing to offer us a formal job offer with the intent of securing a work visa for our family. This option, however, also failed on account of the fact they were unable to prove they had pursued native farm help unsuccessfully. Businesses here are only able to secure foreign labor if they are unable to hire NZ resident workers as their first resort and can prove it to immigration.
So through a series of circumstances, we ended up connecting with a local Open Brethren assembly and the pastor there was willing to sponsor Malvina (my wife) for a religious worker visa. Molly was a certified/credentialed Sunday school teacher at her former Church for over 5 years. We felt this was a huge answer to prayer, simply because a religious worker visa would provide us with a two year stay in the country and the option of permanent residency after two years. It would also give me (her marriage partner) an open work visa for living and working anywhere in New Zealand. This was far better than a standard one year work visa. We felt tremendous joy to have discovered a very tangible opportunity for receiving our permanent residency in this country.
But little did we anticipate the rigorous process immigration would put us through in order to grant us this type of visa. We later learned they don't hand out religious worker visas very easily as they aren't too thrilled to take in anymore "missionaries". So the first snag came when they asked us to produce police background reports from our respective countries of origin. The FBI clearance reports that we had submitted initially were not good enough. Since I'm a dual citizen of both Israel and the US, they also wanted one from my birthplace of Israel even though I left the country when I was only 9. Similarly, my wife was required to provide one from her birth country of Latvia. Since we had not submitted these with our original applications they declined our visas and told us to reapply. Getting our applications and paperwork in order the second time around was a real headache. But we sought the Lord about it and were assured that it was His will for us to try a second time. Also, family members encouraged us not to give up and offered us financial assistance for the application fees.
But after applying a second time we have received word that our applications have been denied again. This time it's because immigration is not satisfied that the pastor at the Open Brethren Church sponsoring Molly has a ''genuine and ongoing need'' for a Sunday school teacher. The Church, however, is not willing to give up on having Molly as their Sunday school teacher and has now contacted a member of Parliament (MP) and the Timaru School district principle to pressure immigration into granting our family visas.
Also, just today, I was interviewed for a manager position at one of the biggest poultry hatcheries in New Zealand. They like my background and experience in the poultry industry and are willing to give me a formal job offer for a work visa. This is the first such opportunity that the Lord has blessed us with since moving to New Zealand.
Friends, please keep this opportunity in your prayers. This job would also be the answer to our earnest prayer to be completely debt free. We have been praying to God for this opportunity since my business collapsed in '15 and have only been able to make small headway with our massive debts. But God is big and we continue to trust in Him.
Outreach Opportunities Since coming to New Zealand we have been able to conduct ministry outreach on so many levels. The Lord allowed us to meet former members of Gloriavale (an ultra restrictive Christian community in the South Island), and have been connecting with their members, inside and outside their community. More and more of the community members are leaving and becoming aware of what it means to know Christ beyond all of the extra-biblical rules and oppressive control. Moreover, we have been greatly involved with the Open Brethren in Timaru. And most recently, the Lord has put it on the heart of a local Anglican minister to have me preach at his Church every second Wednesday of the month.
For years now, I've been burdened for my people the Jews and have kept them in my prayers faithfully since coming to faith in '07. I have asked the Lord to grant me opportunities to witness to them and bring them to faith. Having arrived in New Zealand, the Lord has finally answered my prayer. New Zealand is one of the most popular travel destinations with young Israelis and many of the families that have hosted us so far have also been on the HIT (hosting Israeli travelers) program. This has afforded me the opportunity to share my testimony with fellow Israelis in Hebrew and to witness to them about Yeshua (Jesus). At one point there was over 6 Israelis that came to visit and some of them stayed to see what Christians do during their religious meetings. Praise the Lord!!! It is amazing how open these secular Jews are to the Gospel only because they are interested in having an immersive cultural experience in this country. If we had tried to share with them the Gospel in their own homeland they would have rejected it and shown intense hostility. But because of their vulnerable circumstances they are open and willing to hear about Jesus. So it is my hope that if we stay here we can join the HIT program and distribute Hebrew New Testaments among these Jewish travelers.
We would appreciate your prayers on our behalf in respect to the immigration process. For greater endurance during this trying season of our life. And for the opportunities and anointing to continue to make a difference in this foreign land.
Well, that is all for now Beloved, until next time.....
In Christ alone,
John Aziza family