Adventure Graham

Snippets of Graham family adventures in faithfulness

Month: February 2017

Meet Rob

By Elizabeth

 

Meet the Fringer family.

Teamwork makes the dream work. It’s so cliché and so true. Over the past year, we’ve been a part of developing education for pastors in New Zealand. If you haven’t already, you can read more about it here. The simple truth is, that we couldn’t make it happen on our own. We definitely sense that God has brought together a great team for just such a time as this. One of the people that we’ve gotten to work closely with is Rob Fringer, the principal of Nazarene Theological College in Brisbane, Australia.

When we met Rob for the first time less than a year ago, we had no idea if he’d be on board, if he’d want to work with us, or if he’d think we were totally crazy and blow us off. Thankfully, we came to the table for the very first time with a common vision and a big piece of the puzzle in each of our hands.

Now, a year later, Rob has just spent eight days teaching an Intro to Old Testament intensive to one master’s student, six bachelor’s students, five certificate level students, and two auditing participants. Over the course of the class, we got numerous text messages like, “This is so great! We need more time with him!” and “This is opening up a whole new world for me. Thanks for making this possible.” Now, the real grind for the students begins as they work on their post-work while maintaining full time jobs and pastoral responsibilities. We have the utmost confidence that they will rise to the occasion.

While we were with Rob, I asked him a few questions to help us get to know what motivates the person who has been charged to lead NTC and is helping to provide feet to a dream God has given us.

The Fringer Family from left to right: Vanessa, Sierra, Brenden, and Rob.

Elizabeth: You’re a lecturer and principal at Nazarene Theological College (NTC) in Brisbane, Australia. How did you get there?

Rob: NTC needed a lecturer in biblical studies. I was working on my PhD in Manchester while living and pastoring in New Hampshire at the time. When they called Manchester looking for recommendations, Kent Brower gave them my name. Through that process and a lot of prayer, we accepted the call and moved to Australia. We will have been here 4 years in June.

 

Tell us a little about NTC.

NTC was started sometime around 1953 in Sydney. It moved to Brisbane in the 70s. We have about 50 students with our on-campus and extension programs across the Asia Pacific Region. The demographic varies widely. We have lots of islanders, some Aussies, a couple of Brazilians, and some Americans, plus Fijian and Papua New Guinean students at our extension sites in those countries.

NTC is accredited through the Sydney College of Divinity (SCD) and internationally recognized. We offer two bachelor’s degrees, three master’s degrees, and through our SCD partnership, we offer a PhD and a Doctor of Ministry.

 

What other ministry experience do you have?

I was involved in youth ministry for 10 years, followed by an associate pastor of discipleship and outreach for 6 ½ years. I have taught as an adjunct for four different schools. I also served for one year as a Nazarene In Volunteer Service (NIVS) in Swaziland teaching at what is now Southern Africa Nazarene University.

 

How did you go from being a lecturer at NTC to being the principal?

God has a sense of humor. I thought I might become an academic dean at some point. That seemed to suit my skillset. Then, the current principal stepped down after being there for 17 years. The position was open. They asked me twice to apply. I said no the first time. Later, they gathered more resumes and asked a second time if I would let my name run. Long story short, my wife and I prayed about and decided to let my name move forward. Then, big surprise, the Board of Trusties voted unanimously to offer me the job and we accepted the position.

 

Speaking of your wife… You have a family—a wife and two kids. How are they adjusting to life in AU?

Vanessa is my wife. She handles the college finances and serves as the bookkeeper. Sierra is nine. Brenden is six. They love life in Australia. They love their friends, the wild animals they see, the freedom of running all over campus (where they live). They miss the snow.

 

What does your family like to do for fun?

We like to go on family holidays to the beach. We like to go to the Sunshine Coast. We like to go to the Australian Zoo. There are lots of beaches closer to our house that we like too. We also like to go to parks.

 

How often to do you see your family in the States?

We go home about once every two years.

 

What is your vision for NTC moving forward?

Truly, to see it grow. My vision is for NTC is to continue to train many more pastors and lay leaders, and through that training see the church grow, not only numerically but also in maturity.

I also have a vision that we would be a help and a resource for the church in this region (Asia Pacific Regional Church of the Nazarene).

 

We’ve gotten to know you through our work developing the NTC-Auckland extension program. Why are you excited about NTC-AKL?

I think it has so much potential. There are a couple of things I am really excited about.

  1. I am excited because it is strengthening relationships between Australia and New Zealand. On this field, it is strengthening relationships, and that’s really important.
  2. I think it’s exciting because it has been a real need for New Zealand, and now we’re getting to meet that need. I think NTC-AKL has the potential to be bigger in terms of enrollment than the main campus in Brisbane.

 

What about this program is innovative? What makes it work?

I think the things that make this program work are the contextual aspect of this program, as well as the leadership and the mentor concept that has been developed for this program.

 

How can other people be a part of what God is doing through NTC?

It would be great to sponsor a student. We have several students who have financial need. You can do that by clicking here.

People with master’s degrees in theology or ministry can serve as mentors to our undergraduate and graduate students. You can live anywhere in the world and become a mentor. People can volunteer their time if they are qualified to be a lecturer. People can pray for us and for our students.

Principal Rob Fringer teaching Intro to Old Testament in New Zealand.

Rob has had his fair share of other adventures too. He’s the co-author of The Samaritan Project and Theology of Luck: Fate, Chaos, and Faith.

 

 

Parting Shot

Auckland Harbor

I am… With you..

By Elizabeth

Matapouri Bay, New Zealand

It was an overcast day in Hamilton… the kind that starts with rain and clears just enough to tempt you to go outside without rain gear, but then catches you off guard with sudden and short-lived downpours.

But in my mind, I was here. Matapouri, a beach 4 hours north of us. In reality , we were here a few weeks ago, as a family with friends and our puppy on an adventure to see the Mermaid Pools. But today, it was quieter. Just me and the sand and the waves and the sun… and Jesus.

I have a new year’s resolution. It may be my only serious resolution ever. My resolution is to create space for uninterrupted quiet. I marked it off on my calendar is a recurring event. Tuesday mornings at 9 a.m. Quentin is at kindy. Jaron is at the office. I am hanging out with my journal, Bible, and cup of tea at some undisclosed location.

And on this particular Tuesday, my mind, with all of its rushing thoughts and deep prayers, went here.

To a spot on the beach where the sand begins to rise from the shore, creating a berm before it gives way to pampas grass and the parking lot beyond. A place where the view is a stunning combination of land and sea. Where small, lush, green islands rise steeply out of the ocean. Where the water forms a distinct line between turquoise green and cobalt blue. Here, I sat on the berm with Jesus.

The sun warmed my arms and legs and a gentle breeze blew as I dug my toes into the fine white sand.

My breathing took on the rhythm of the tide. In and out. Slowly. Rhythmically.

And then these words mingled with the in and out rhythm of breath and flow of water.

In… I am… Out… With you

Inhale…I am… Exhale…with you…

See those islands? I called them into being from under the sea.

I am… with you…

See that line in the water? It is I who paint the cobalt and the turquoise and draw a line between the two.

I am… with you…

See those waves lapping up on the shore and slipping out again? It’s is I who beckon them in and nudge them back out again.

I am… with you…

Feel that breeze rustling your hair, whispering against your cheek? It is I who give breath to the breeze.

I am… with you…

Feel the sun’s warm rays on your arms and legs? It is I who infuse them with light and heat.

I am… with you…

I see you.

I hear you.

I am with you.

So wherever you are… whether it’s a soggy northern California or a refugee camp in Lebanon or a beach in New Zealand or just your living room couch… whether your days are feeling hard or hurried or hopeful… breath in and breath out. He is with you.

 

Parting Shot

 

 

Gearing Up + Picture It #3

By Elizabeth

Hokitika Gorge

Summer has finally arrived in New Zealand. We’ve been waiting for our turn at sunshine and 80 degree (27 degrees Celsius) temps since… June, if we’re honest. It arrived just in time for the kids to go back to school. Between yesterday and next Tuesday kids all over the country will load their Sistema lunch boxes and shiny new school supplies in their backpacks and march off to meet their new teachers. It’s like August in America, complete with the “back to routine” happy dances and fatigue.

Over the past several weeks, we’ve enjoyed the long days and short nights that are quintessentially summer. We’ve filled them with youth camp, grandparent time with Jaron’s parents, a few days on the South Island, preparation for the next Nazarene Theological College—Auckland (NTC-AKL) class, doctoral dissertation writing, work on a library for pastors, and a sizeable Graham Fam Summer Bucket List.

Most of the boxes on the bucket list have been ticked, and we’re gearing up for a new year.

Next week, our groups for Mums and Tots, Mainly Music and HappyFeet, will resume. On the 19th, we’ll kick off a year of Kids’ Clubs—fun and formation for the whole family—with gooey s’mores (a tradition that began with imported ingredients last year) and the ball will be rolling. In addition, pastors from across New Zealand will gather for their second NTC-AKL class. Read more about the incredible partnership we’ve been working on with Nazarene Theological College in Brisbane, Australia here!

This year, we’re also anticipating another SIMS Team from Southern Nazarene University, several weeks of support raising and story sharing in the US, the joys of unexpected adventures with people in our community, and the bittersweet flavor of Q starting school in October.

We are excited about what this year will hold. We’re anticipating the familiarity and comfort that comes with doing things a second time, with knowing some names, and with having a sense of the year’s rhythms. We can’t wait to see what the next stage of life and ministry will hold now that our feet are grounded and our ears and brains are more acclimated to our world where summer and the start of a new school year come at the end of January.

Sometimes pictures say it best. If we had to sum up our day-to-day life during this season in five pictures and five pictures only, they would look something like this. You can see our fall and spring picture summaries here and here.

 

Camp and Parua Bay is the stuff of little boys’ dreams. Sticks and sand and rocks and shells. Water and rope swings and late nights and bare feet and a giant slip and slide. And lots of bigger kids and grown ups to provide endless attention for the “camp mascot.”

Hiking at one of our most favorite and most often mentioned locations… Blue Springs Walkway. Hiking the entire 10 km trail was on our summer bucket list. Check.

Bapa (John) & Gigi (Jeanine) with Q on the first of their “spoil days,” as Q dubbed them…. a few days without parents where abundant spoiling transpired.

Jaron and Elizabeth at Milford Sound.

Theological library in progress for pastors and students of Nazarene Theological College – Auckland.

 

 

Parting Shot

Mirror Lake

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