Excel in Prayer

Jabez prayer: “Oh that Thou wouldst bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, that Thine hand might be with me, and that Thou wouldst keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me…God granted him that which he requested” – 1 Chronicles 4:10 (KJV)

Hands clasped together praying

The Encourager

Jabez’ most important characteristic was that he was known as a man of prayer. First, he called on God to bless him. He desired God’s very best for his life because if he was to be a blessing to others he must also seek God’s blessing on his own life.

His love and devotion to God give him a vision of an enlarged coast, souls without God. He had a heart full of compassion to reach them. Is the prayer of your life, “Enlarge my coast and give me a harvest of souls?”

Jabez prayed for the touch of God’s hand to be upon his life, guiding and directing him. “Oh that Thine hand might be with me.” Is the touch of His hand upon your life?

He prayed that he would be kept from evil so that he wouldn’t be grieved. Evil in his life would not only bring sorrow to God, but also to himself.

God honoured his humble prayer life and granted him that which he requested.

“Above all he excelled in prayer”. If God were to record the most important characteristic of your life, would it be your faithfulness in prayer?

We are all called to prayer – let us excel and avail ourselves to this ministry. Jesus is alive – He hears and answers prayer!

By Margie (Margaret) Willers
This devotion was taken from issue 15 in 1982


Margie (Margaret) Willers, our co-founder, went to be with the Lord on the 7th of February 2023,
aged 75 years. She lived her life in honour of God and in obedience to His call on her life. Margie
impacted many people, through her speaking, writing, co-founding of this ministry and anyone she




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Margie Willers – From Pain to Pearls

Margie Willers wearing a bright red knitted top sitting at her dining table smiling

The Encourager

Please note that since this article was written Margie has passed away. We are deeply grateful for all she gave to this ministry and to the Kingdom of God.

Sitting with Margie in a Care Home in Mt Maunganui I am deeply moved. The co-founder of CFFD (now Elevate Christian Disability Trust) is completely bedbound, unable to sit at her computer, unable to do anything for herself. Her speech difficulties mean residential care situations are difficult, it’s an endless struggle communicating with staff, many of whom only speak English as their second language. But this is not why I am moved.

Margie tells of the birth of CFFD and her story, a story that is as intricately woven into the beginnings of the ministry as Di’s story is. From being called ‘Rubbish’ by one of her first teachers, to becoming an international speaker and writer, Margie’s life is a testimony to the transforming power of God.

Margaret means “pearl”, and Margie loves this picture of herself. Like her namesake, God has taught Margie to turn the sandy irritations of her disability into a beautiful pearl for His glory. Jennifer Rees Larcombe said it this way, “Margie is frequently being told if only she had more faith she would be healed. I can tell you from experience that it takes infinitely more faith to go on serving and loving God in a wheelchair than ever it takes to walk away from one.”

Margie was born in January 1948 in New Plymouth, after her mother endured a three-day labour. The birth itself was complicated and the lack of oxygen caused what was later diagnosed as cerebral palsy. A thorough medical examination at 10 months revealed she had athetoid cerebral palsy, the most severe degree of disability a child could have.

A black and white photo of a young Margie sitting in church

In spite of the negative predictions and slow progress, her mother never gave up on her first child… She encouraged and prayed for Margie, allowing her to explore and create, believing she had a fulfilling future ahead. Her mother gave her the most precious gifts of all, her love and her time.

It became evident that Margie faced some painfully huge hurdles. Even though the medical profession’s advice was to “put her away into an institution and forget about her,” Her mother was determined to help her learn to read, write, run and dance! She believed her daughter had a meaningful future. After joining the Crippled Children’s society her intelligence was quickly recognised and it was felt she would receive the best help by sending her to the Cerebral Palsy Unit attached to Rotorua’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital. So, when Margie was four and-a-half her parents made the painful and difficult decision to send her there for therapy and schooling. The seven years were ones of rigid discipline but they prepared Margie for her future education and gave her a determination to succeed.

In 1959 she returned home and began attending Te Puke Primary School. Despite her difficulties with writing and speech, she soon proved she was as intelligent as her classmates. However, not all teachers understood Margie and her disability made for huge adaptations in an already busy classroom.

One teacher called her ‘Rubbish’, however later introduced her to a typewriter. This proved to be a Godsend, opening doors in reading and writing which her next teacher, Brian Dixon, capitalised on. He saw Margie’s potential and focussed on achievable goals to expand her skills. This eventually led to computers, which has been such a blessing; enabling her to write emails, devotions, talks, and later her two books. A pearl has surely come from the so called ‘rubbish.’

Margie at her typewriterBut Margie’s dream was to be healed, to get out of her wheelchair, to be free of the restrictions of her disability, and to have a useful fulfilling ministry for the Lord. So when the English faith healer, Harry Greenwood, came to town, she and her friend Kathy went to his healing meeting. Here she had an amazing introduction to the power of God to heal and save souls. She also had a vision of a beautiful young woman standing on the stage wearing a beautiful yellow dress! Every part of her body was perfect and co-ordinated. Then she realised that woman was her! She had a microphone in her hand and was preaching a powerful message to the audience before her.

..As the years went by God gave Margie an unfolding vision of what this new ministry would look like.

This encounter filled her with hope, and soon after led her to take a trip to California to hear the great healing evangelist, Kathryn Kuhlman. In March 1975, she flew to LA supported by her friend Molly, with her yellow dress ready in her luggage! Here she met up with her sister Helen. They attended two of Kathryn Kuhlman’s miracle services with great expectations – but no physical healing. She went home devastated, disappointed and feeling a failure – she must have lacked faith not to be healed. It was so painful to pick up the pieces and face the future – still in her chair.

But God. He wasn’t finished with her yet! He had new friends to encourage her and a new ministry for her to fulfil. Margie had known Di Willis for some years. Di was an Occupational Therapist who remembers watching Margie typing at a Paraplegic Conference. Di and Margie soon became best friends. After her disappointment in America, they became like sisters as Margie spent holidays in the Willis’s wheelchair accessible home in Auckland. While attending the Willis’s church she met Joy Smith, a former missionary, now on the pastoral team of that church. Joy encouraged Margie to come to a place of surrendering her life, and healing, to God. Joy saw a picture of doors being opened by Margie’s wheelchair; a revelation of the future ministry Margie would have. These friendships were part of God’s healing process, bringing beauty from the ashes, pearls from the pain.

As the years went by God gave Margie an unfolding vision of what this new ministry would look like. He would use her as she was, with her talents and wheelchair, to open doors that would otherwise be closed. God answered her cry for how to do this through Jeremiah 33:3, “Call unto me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things which you know not.” He led her to attend Faith Bible College, in Tauranga, as a student. This truly was a step of faith as Margie overcame the hurdles of adjusting to the limitations of her disability as she lived full-time on campus for 18 weeks. It was a learning curve for Margie, students and the lecturers, and by no means easy. But she was determined to prepare herself for the ministry God had called her to. It was to be a time of learning and revelation, and a further yielding to God’s purposes for her life. Here she received some clear visions bringing healing of the past non-healing and revelation for the future.

A black and white photo of a young Margie smiling at the camera as she's doing a painting holding the brush in her mouthOne prophetic word was, “The church needs your voice. There are hundreds of people who still live in institutions. They are in wheelchairs… they are angry, rejected by society.…. they will not hear eloquent preachers…… The disabled need a strong prophetic voice from their own ranks that will point them to Christ….. You understand their speech.…… You can identify with them. God has touched your life. He has called you and chosen you to call others to follow the way of the cross. He wants you to be a voice to the church for the disabled.”

It became so clear that Margie wrote, “My responsibility was to evangelise the disabled, and help the church to accommodate them, accept them, relate to them and develop their potential.” She later wrote, “It was not to be a sympathy ministry but an empathy and answer ministry.”

As Margie shared her vision with Di Willis, she discovered that God had laid a similar burden on Di’s heart. Together they prayed, shared ideas and visited people with disabilities in their homes and institutions. Eventually they planned an event in Hugh and Di’s home in Auckland for these folk – their first dinner party, just like the banquet described in Jesus’ parable in Luke 14. They went “into the highways and byways and invited the blind, lame, and maimed to come and dine.” The Willis’s lounge was packed with people –some in wheelchairs, some with white canes, others with slow speech and awkward gait; all there to hear the vision for a Christian ministry for people with disabilities.

And so Christian Fellowship for Disabled (CFFD – now Elevate) was born, a fellowship of people so long rejected and ignored not only by society but also the church. Now they were being welcomed and accepted, as Margie and Di began speaking to church groups, women’s gatherings, Bible Colleges, and included in the life of the church. She would even return to Faith Bible College as a guest lecturer! (She was nominated as their favourite in 1991!)

Writing her autobiography, “Awaiting the Healer”, was another step of faith for Margie. The aim of writing was not to receive accolades but to share with the church at large some of the realities of living with a disability. With her trusty Woody Woodpecker wand, she laboriously began tapping out page after page. It took her three years of painstaking effort, but in 1992 Margie received recognition from NZ Christian Booksellers’ Association and won the Silver Award for that year.

Publishing her book was only the beginning of a demanding schedule with speaking and promotion of sales for the next 18 months. Her life’s story was an outreach which lifted the bar for CFFD and the Christian Ministries for Disabled Trust (now Elevate Christian Disability Trust). Margie’s season as a CMWDT trustee ended in 1990 because of her busy schedule, but as her audiences and readership grew, they gained insight and understanding of the scope of the work amongst disabled folk. People became extremely big hearted and financially supported the growing ministry throughout NZ.

Camps soon became a vital part of the organisation – both on a national level and in the regions. The National Camp at Labour Weekend at Totara Springs, Matamata, became a permanent fixture from 1983. Young and old, no matter the disability or denomination, all who attend have been impacted by these gatherings and Margie has been the speaker many times.

While living in Auckland, Margie had an opportunity to teach Bible-in-Schools. Cherry Lewis, a friend of the ministry, invited her to teach her class at the Carlson School for Cerebral Palsy in Mt Roskill. Cherry wrote to Margie, “You are leaving such an incredibly amazing legacy. Your life as a Christian woman of God is an outstanding example to us all. You once wrote about an outreach project giving you a joy-filled and faith-filled sense of purpose and fulfilment. She said Margie thrived having a project. One project has been painting: from pictures to Christmas cards to pottery and her beautifully decorated stones with a message.

A black and white photo of a young Di and Margie sitting side by side on a stage

Margie and Di speaking in 1980

Margie’s second book “Undaunted Faith,” was published in October 2004 and dedicated at her home church, Beatty Avenue Bible Chapel. This book contains 48 inspirational meditations, anecdotes and short stories especially for the clergy and those in Christian ministry. Margie shares from the godly wisdom she has gained on her own journey with disability.

She lived in the family home until 2018 with carers coming in each day to support her. For the last three of those years, her dear sister Helen was her live-in companion. The demands for Margie to be constantly on the ministry circuit plus attending camps proved to be draining, and slowly this took a toll upon her body, meaning she could no longer appear on the public platform. However, Margie continued to use her trusty Woody Woodpecker to type up her regular devotions and articles for this magazine, blessing many with her ‘pearls’ of encouragement.

Margie continues to be a shining ‘pearl’ as she witnesses to staff and visitors alike at the Care Home. Margie wanted to leave you with this encouragement from. Ecc 3:1 For everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven. Through all the seasons in her life Margie has sought to bring glory to God, as she has allowed him to flow through her. In re-reading Margie’s book, and in interviewing her, I’ve been so moved and reduced to tears at times. Her story truly brings glory to God as she submitted her life to Him in the midst of her trials. May you be inspired by her story and allow God to turn your Pains into Pearls.

By Heather Vincent 
Heather lives in Tauranga with her husband, Brian. They have both been involved in Elevate since attending National Camp in 1985. Her book, It’s All Right Mum!, was published by Daystar in 2004.


Margie (Margaret) Willers, our co-founder, went to be with the Lord on the 7th of February 2023,
aged 75 years. She lived her life in honour of God and in obedience to His call on her life. Margie
impacted many people, through her speaking, writing, co-founding of this ministry and anyone she




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Technology opens up new world for Marci

The Encourager

Musician and busker Marci Rota loves looking up song lyrics online and using YouTube to make her own playlists.

Marci out in the city with a friend

But rewind a year, and Marci didn’t even have a mobile phone.

A friend asked her how they could keep in touch, which started the ball rolling on her technology journey.

She began working with Blind Foundation Adaptive Communications/Adaptive Technology Services Trainer Bavani Suresh.

“Bavani suggested that I start off with a basic smartphone, and that’s how it started,” says Marci.

From text messages and calls, her interest expanded into surfing the internet.

“One of the reasons I started doing it is because I’m a busking musician and I like to look up songs and their lyrics so I can listen to them and learn them from YouTube.”

Marci also uses the screen-reading programme Talkback and sends emails and texts, makes calls, listens to the radio and makes playlists online of her favourite music.

“Marci is an amazing student,” says Bavani.

“She picks up tips and techniques so quickly. She has now become a true techie.”

Her new skills are especially helpful for the holiday season, as she is able to look up and learn Christmas songs to perform while busking in Manurewa a suburb in South Auckland.

Marci has been busking for about 10 years, playing the guitar and singing. She learned to play the piano as a student at Homai College, recently finishing piano grades six, seven and eight. For many years she enjoyed performing at the Manurewa Baptist Church.

Marci and a friend, sitting and talking at the harbour.She mostly performs easy-listening songs and seasonal music while she’s busking, but loves listening to a wide variety of musical genres.

“There’s so much now that I’ve got the internet and YouTube. My favourite genres are R’n’B, funk, jazz and classic rock, also a bit of punk, blues, reggae and soul, and I’m starting to get into a little bit of country music.”

When she has the time, Marci also likes to sing karaoke.

Marci acknowledges other musicians with low vision for influencing her music journey. “I’d like to give a big thanks to Allan Witana, Catherine Stevenson, Mark Laurent and Josie Kurie. They have been a huge support.”

Marci encourages blind people or those with low vision to share their music with their local community.

By Bavani Suresh


This article was originally published by Blind Low Vision NZ in their publication Outlook, Autumn 2017, and is used with their permission.




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Volunteer Spotlight: Heather Major

The Encourager

I have been involved with CFFD Waikato since the lovely late Edith Morris and her husband Noel hosted a hui* at their house in February 2012 with Di and Hugh about CFFD Waikato being resurrected. The group had been in recess for 10 years as I recall and Athaline Morris (no relation) was the previous leader who had to stop due to her health. Andrea Buchanan and Monique Briggs were the first team to pray and lead, then I joined them later. My late husband Glenn was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 1997. When Princess Diana died, Glenn was recovering from neurosurgery. The world was grieving but our little world had been rocked off its hinges.

When our daughter Rachel was born in 2002, Glenn had two days left of radiotherapy. A year later it became apparent he had some radiation necrosis, which for him meant things like speech, mobility and fatigue were affected. It was a new aspect of our journey.

My mum had heard of Elevate (or CMWDT as it was then) but I wasn’t sure I could handle the idea of my husband being disabled and having a brain tumour. I heard a quote on the radio today and wonder if I was subconsciously thinking at the time that “the certainty of misery (cancer) was preferable to the misery of uncertainty (not knowing what the disabilities would be and how they would progress)”. That fear didn’t last long and going to camp was a huge education for me. Life is for living. Let’s get on with it!

Heather Major and her daughter Rachel

When Rachel was only a toddler, we went to our first Elevate National Camp. Di Willis (co-founder of Elevate) replied to my enquiry about camp, “Oh some people have had to pull out and they were in the lodge, so clearly you are meant to come.” Rachel’s now almost 21, so it seems a long time ago since that first camp. It was memorable because we were getting our heads around the idea of living with disabilities whereas before that we had been living with cancer. Glenn went to his eternal home in December 2011.

I have been leading CFFD Waikato since 2013. Annette Viviani joined me in 2020 to be my co-leader as my other jobs, minister at All Saints Community Church in Hamilton and part-time chaplain at Waikato Hospital, also keep my weeks full.

CFFD Waikato meets every second Friday at 11.45am. Lunch, fellowship and laughter, celebrating birthdays, discussions, praying for each other, singing and Bible study are all part of what we do. We also like to have visitors come and talk to us.

We focus on what we can do, with each member of the group doing something to participate, and with Jesus at the centre of it all.”

Marc Van de Laar, Cathy Harbour and I take turns to lead the Friday meetings. Marc plays guitar and often our friend Tom Kelly plays keys and Rentia DeVries does solos for us quite often.

Highlights for CFFD Waikato over the past few years have been when we hosted Canon Andrew White (Vicar of Baghdad), and when we went to Mt Maunganui on a bus and used the beach mats so we could go onto the beach.

I continue leading CFFD Waikato today, with Annette Viviani, because we are whānau. I can’t imagine our group not being part of my life! We journey life together, with Jesus as our guide. We don’t get hung up on what we can’t do (e.g. I don’t have much time with two jobs). We focus on what we can do, with each member of the group doing something to participate, and with Jesus at the centre of it all.

*Māori term that means meeting

By Heather Major


Get involved!

How can you be involved with Elevate?

There are many ways that you can become involved
with Elevate Christian Disability Trust.

Prayer – Pray for the ministry, the people, the provision, the opportunities!

Promotion – Let others know about us! Give The Encourager magazine to someone who needs it today. Like and share our different Facebook pages and posts. Read our blog articles and share them with your church, friends and whānau.

Practical – Come and volunteer at the Drop-in centre, regional branches, national or regional camps or at the national support office in Onehunga.

Provision – by donation, automatic payment, sponsorship, bequest, or through goods and services.

Contact us at info@elevate.org.nz to find out more
or to register your skills/abilities so we can link you
in to our next suitable project or event. Also, get in
contact to find out where we have regional branches
around New Zealand.


To make a donation to Elevate Christian Disability Trust using a
Credit Card please visit elevate.org.nz/support-us/
or Internet Banking.

Our bank account details are:
Elevate Christian Disability Trust
Account: 01-0142-0029706-00 (ANZ).
Please include your name and the word “DONATION” as a reference.

A collage of 6 photos of people at different events within Elevate. There are people smiling in a group photo with Di at the centre, there are different people talking and connecting, playing games, speaking on stage and cooking at a BBQ and there's a laughing young boy with his hands in the air riding a zip line. The following words are in the bottom right hand corner: "We would love to hear from you! Have you been encouraged or impacted by one of our articles? Do you know someone whose story would encourage others? Email us at encourager@elevate.org.nz Phone us on 09 636 4763"




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An Experience I Will Never Forget

The EncouragerIn July this year, I went on a ministry trip to Fiji, which had a profound effect on me. Pastor James and Viv Anson from FaithPointe Church in Auckland led this amazing mission alongside Atawhai Morgan and myself. During our stay, we were hosted by Pastors Samu & Radini Susana who set up FaithPointe South Pacific in Nadi a number of years ago.

Pastors Samu & Radini Susana sitting within the village

Pastors Samu & Radini Susana

We travelled to Vatulele Island, where there was a Sevens rugby tournament in which our planted church had a team playing. There were no shops or resorts on the island, so we were billeted in the village community. No mobile coverage or WIFI was available to us while we were there, and so we had a truly unique “village experience”. There were only five foreigners on the island, ourselves and a lady from Australia who was helping to sponsor a village team from the mainland. It was an interesting experience, to say the least. They had a generator for the village that started at 6 pm and shut down at 1 am.

During our stay, we ministered to people at night, visited different village huts with our team, played worship songs, prayed and sought healing for many. During this time, I met Viti Dranica, a 65 year old, born again Christian lady, who shared her story with us. She had been unable to walk for five years due to knee issues. Living with her was a 13-year-old named Saimoni, who she had looked after since her sister died giving birth to him. My first impression was that I could see “the joy of the Lord” all over her. She was “shining” with God’s glory.

She had a powerful passion for all things about God. We had many conversations over the days I spent on Vatulele and often prayed together.

…My first impression was that I could see “the joy of the Lord” all over her”

Blair Woolley & Viti Dranica

Blair Woolley & Viti Dranica

We visited her house one evening with the ministry team, and many tears were shed as we worshipped and prayed together. Viti had a profound impact on me. The way she prayed and the joy she possessed was truly amazing. Pastor Samu told me she was a prayer warrior and an encourager to people who are lay preachers in the Village Church. She was actively involved in sharing the gospel and had a real passion for praying for people within the village community.

Viti had minimal furniture in her hut as she could not use it. She moved around the house crawling or sliding on the floor, which genuinely humbled me. She was unable to leave her hut due to her mobility issues. While on the island there were a number of large formal get togethers, and each time as I made my way to them I saw her dressed up and sitting in her doorway so she could take part in the activities and worship from afar. It broke my heart.

Tapa cloth made by Viti with a turtle design

Tapa cloth made by Viti

Pastor’s Samu & Radini Susana (from Vatulele originally) set her up to make tapa. Bark cloth, or tapa, is not a woven material but is made from bark that has been softened through soaking and beating. The inner bark is taken from several types of trees or shrubs, often mulberry and fig, and designs are applied with paints and vegetable dyes of light brown, red, and black. Viti has a floor bench and the tools she needs to beat the pulp into cloth within the confines of her home. This allows her access to work at her own pace.

The tapa is regularly collected and put on a ferry back to the mainland, where Pastors Samu & Radini Susana pick it up and bring it back to Nadi. It is sold online and makes its way to all over the world. This allows Viti (along with others on the island) to provide for herself and her sister’s orphaned son who she has looked after since he was born.

I hope to return to Fiji one day for further mission work. I would love to reconnect with Viti.

She was a genuinely inspiring soul; utilising her talents to make a living for herself and her nephew. In addition, she reached out to others to make a real difference for the glory of God. What a great example she is setting.

By Blair Woolley


Blair Woolley has been volunteering for Elevate for 10 years and is an Auckland CFFD committee member. He would like to acknowledge his daughter Nadine Rogers, who took time out from her busy job as a journalist, to write this article together.




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God Calls Us to Work Together

The Encourager

In Nehemiah we see that God always keeps his promises. Nehemiah prayed trusting that God wanted the walls rebuilt.

Nehemiah chapter three onwards tells us that the people worked next to each other. Cooperating and working as a team. Some couldn’t do the building as they weren’t physically able. I know I would have problems building the wall! Everyone was able to do their part. Some were able to contribute money or equipment. I guess the women would have been feeding the workers, so their energy levels were maintained.

This phrase comes up all the time. “Next to”. Were they all best friends? Probably not, but they were happy to be next to each other because the job was more important than how they felt about each other. We don’t always get on well with the people we’re working with, but our common goal is more important.

If you’d asked a builder on the north side of the wall what he was doing it would be the same answer as the builder on the south side. “We are building the wall of Jerusalem so God’s people can come and worship safely and His purpose can be carried out.”

So, how did the wall get built? They did it by working together. Different people had different jobs to do. The priests or leaders could have been working with the builders. And the goldsmiths and the gate keepers could have been like security guards keeping an eye on everything. They needed each other to get the job done.

Different hands holding 4 pieces of a puzzle

Good things happen when we work together. We get more work done. For instance, one person painting the drop-in centre would take so much longer than 12 people. Different skills are used and we learn new things. Someone may know how to paint the edges or show me how to put masking tape around the windows.

It’s more fun to work together. We can laugh, sing, chat and meet new friends. Finally, when the job is done, we can enjoy each other’s company around a meal and praise God together for a job well done.

So, the young, the middle-aged and older people can use what they have for God. 1 Corinthians 12:12 tells us that “just as a body though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body. So, it is with Christ” (NIV). Verse 18 says “But in fact, God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.”

The body of Christ is a group of people working together but we are all different with unique skills and gifts. That doesn’t make you less or more important than someone else, just different.

Just as each person had a part to play in building the wall, we have a part to play in building God’s Kingdom here on earth.

Use your gifts and skills for God. And be ready to tell people about Jesus and what he’s done for you. We are a team serving the Lord together. What part can you play in serving God? Let us all pray and ask God to show us what we can do to build His kingdom, for God calls us to work together.

By Jan Bridgeman




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Stronger Together

Two hands clasped together with the words 'Strong Together' and 'Nehemiah 3'

Keynote speaker of National Camp Online 2022, Reverend Timothy Lee spoke about Nehemiah and people rebuilding the city walls and gates of Jerusalem. This is an edited summary of his presentation.

The Encourager

God’s people had spent time in captivity with the Babylonians. It was about 100 years before they were allowed to return to Judah, their homeland. The temple had been rebuilt, but Jerusalem was unsafe without a city wall around it.

How could God’s people be a strong nation again? How could they reclaim their city and re-establish their spiritual roots? They needed someone close to God’s heart who could lead them well. Enter Nehemiah.

We are stronger together because of our concern for one another

Nehemiah was working in government for the King of Persia. A visitor told him, “The survivors who escaped captivity are in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates have been destroyed by fire.”

When Nehemiah heard this, he mourned for days. He prayed and fasted for God’s people. His heart was stirred out of empathy for them.

We can show the same empathy by thinking of each other before we meet again in camp next year. Maybe there are some people we can pray for especially. We can send a text, an email, or a card to others we normally meet at camp. By helping one person you may not change the world, but you will change the world for them.

We are stronger together because of the different gifts God gives us

God gives gifts to us out of His grace toward us. He likes it that we are all different. It’s like pieces of a puzzle—they are not all the same but are all needed to form this wonderful picture.

There were approximately 42 groups and individuals working hard, side by side, to rebuild the city walls and gates. They included priests, tradesmen, tribes people, temple servants, goldsmiths and even perfumers! All these people were important.

Lots of people are needed to make camp happen: planners, kitchen servers, small group prayers, cabin buddies, leaders, teachers and sound system people. And all of us are needed to sing and share stories, and to laugh and cry together.

We are all skilled differently in life. Our differences reflect something of God’s creativity. We are all important and we are made stronger together.

We are stronger together when facing the challenges of life

Opposition grew as Nehemiah continued to rebuild the wall and city gates. There were lots of enemies and they were just over the other side of the wall. Consequently, as the people worked away, they could hear their enemies accusing them.

We are all skilled differently in life. Our differences reflect something of God’s creativity

The enemies’ words became discouraging. Nehemiah encouraged people by praying for them. He said, “Hear us, O God, for we are despised. Lord, turn their insults back on their heads.” Nehemiah 4:4 (NIV). He helped to shift the people’s focus.

God thwarted the enemies’ plans. His people rebuilt the wall and the city gates in 52 days! It was an impossible task, but it was made possible with God and with all the people working together.

We are all vulnerable to attack in life. People’s words hurt us. Worry robs us of life. Tragedy and sickness grieve us. We become depressed and lonely. We need people to pray for us and stand with us, side by side, to give us courage to carry on in life.

We are stronger together when we fight together using the tools God provides

Life is like a spiritual battle, but God provides us with tools and armour: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shoes for the preparation of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. Prayer unites us. The Spirit helps us, guides, leads and equips us. Side by side, we can change the world with the message of God’s love. Will you join me in building God’s Kingdom, together? We are strong in His sight.

Reverend Timothy Lee



You can watch Rev Lee’s full presentation at:







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Reflections on Prayer

This is a written summary of a workshop about prayer by Di Willis. The workshop was part of Elevate National Camp Online 2022.

The EncouragerDi says she is not an intercessor, nor an expert on the subject of prayer. Nevertheless, she loves talking to God and hearing His voice. There are so many different ways of praying. For example in churches Christians can use written prayers, set prayers, memorized prayers, or they can just let God lead them.

The Bible has many examples of prayers which we can use as a basis for our own. There are so many ways in which to speak with God, including Spirit-inspired ones as we speak in tongues.

Di has a little teddy bear that appears to be in a praying position. These are called Prayer Bears, and they encourage people to seek divine guidance from the Lord as they pray. The Prayer Bears also remind people that they don’t need to pray out loud because they can pray quietly in the Spirit.

When God speaks to Di she hears a still small voice, and the following scriptures encourage her:

1 Kings 19:12:
     “And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.”

Matthew 7:7:
      “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you”

Di loves to model Jesus and uses Him as an example. Jesus would be walking along the road and when He would see someone who was, say blind, He would stop and pray.

Di’s story:Di Willis

As a child, Di grew up in the days of World War II, and she was given a teddy bear named Timmy. When she came to New Zealand she became a Christian and then got married, she brought Timmy with her. Di heard of a family that had no teddies or dolls, and the Lord spoke to her and said, “Give your teddy bear to this family.” As much as Di loved Timmy, she freely gifted her childhood friend.

Di was also given many beautiful china dolls from a friend’s mother who had passed away, and once again, the Lord spoke to her and instructed her to gift them to people whom He had handpicked to receive them.

Whom do we pray for?

  • Pray for friends
  • Pray for family
  • Pray for neighbours
  • Pray for anyone that needs prayer
  • Pray for salvation for others
  • Pray for people’s needs (healing and comfort)
  • Pray for the sick people who are having operations

God spoke to Di and said situations can be like a jigsaw puzzle, and so we need to take life one day at a time. Di is a SPONTANEOUS prayer.

S – Pray for someone who is sick.
P – Provision.
O – Operation. If someone is going through an operation pray for them.
N – Need. Someone is in need.
T – Thanking God. This is so important.
A – Expect prayers to be Answered. And thank Him for Answers.
N – When praying for someone name the person.
E – Exams. Ask God to give knowledge and focus to people sitting exams.
O – Pray Over your current situation.
U – Pray for Your own needs.
S – Pray for your Studies including God’s Word.

Be confident that God will show us what to pray for, and then remember to end in the Name of Jesus because we are not asking God in our own strength, we are praying in HIS strength. Amen!


Two hands clasped together with the words 'Strong Together' and 'Nehemiah 3'


You can watch Di Willis’ full workshop at: elevatecdtcamp.org.nz/camp-messages/






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Volunteer Spotlight

Dave Palmer

Dave PalmerOver 12 years ago Dave Palmer became the chairperson of Christchurch CFFD. Six years prior, in 2004, his friend Bruce Catherall, chairperson at the time, invited him to CFFD Christchurch camp at Woodend. Dave was going to be there for only two hours but stayed for five.

“I enjoyed what I saw!” Dave said about that afternoon at camp.

He got to know people during an afternoon session and enjoyed the Israeli dance in the evening. In the short space of time he attended, Dave “was very much welcomed there and was impressed enough to think this would be a good group to be part of.”

When Dave’s involvement in the children’s ministry at his church came to an end, his next venture became volunteering for CFFD.

The Encourager“I had very little clue about disability and didn’t know much about CFFD, but I had a decent car and thought I could offer transport to meetings and activities, and maybe not much else,” he says.

Dave quickly learnt he could offer more! He became the guitarist on the worship team. Then he was asked to join the CFFD Christchurch committee. Eventually, Dave began organising and leading meetings. His reason for stepping up was “not because of ability but because I had the enthusiasm to give it a go, and I’m definitely the most extroverted.”

Dave says that through volunteering for CFFD, “I’ve learnt what I’m good at and what others are better than me at. I do my part, others do theirs, and we’re a great team. I’ve found that it’s best I relate to everyone there in the way of the Golden Rule. I want to treat everyone with the same respect and dignity that I want for myself. What that means is I talk and interact with people in a way that I would want for myself, no matter their abilities or disabilities.”

Dave has Asperger’s Syndrome, an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and he experiences what is familiar to many in the disability community.

“I know how it feels to be treated differently or a bit ‘lesser’… and I find that horrible. But I have to say it’s been a joy to have been treated with complete respect by everyone in Elevate/CFFD and I trust I’ve done the same. I suppose if there is one thing that I’ve learned it’s that ‘disability’ simply means someone may need a bit of help with tasks others can do for themselves – but only if they ask for help!”

Dave has been happy being the chairperson. He appreciates the encouragement from the committee and people of Christchurch CFFD. He listens to the advice of wise members of the committee and always strives to reach a consensus. Therefore, it is important to Dave that the committee discuss everything fully “because if one person disagreed with something, they could be the one who is right.”

He speaks highly of his committee members as being “people with brilliant and differing abilities and giftings. They are huge on encouragement and there have been no arguments or personality challenges in all my time in the chair. Probably if there is one thing I bring in leadership it’s that I don’t try to do too much. We stick pretty much to the core of why we’re there, which is prayer and worship…I’ve learnt from this group, that’s what they want.”

Dave loves volunteering for CFFD and says, “unless it’s clearly time to move on, I’m very much still here.”





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The Anchor: Jenny Hook’s poetry book

The Anchor book's front coverIf you meet someone on the streets of Auckland handing out free poetry books, it is a good chance that you have met Jenny Hook. The once long-serving volunteer at the Drop-In Centre in Onehunga (2004-2017), the CFFD Auckland Camp and National Camp has published her first book, The Anchor.

“God will do the distribution. I just had 250 copies printed, and I hand them out. Some copies even went overseas. God will lead who will receive a copy, as it is His book. My poems are a way to communicate the gospel message,” says Jenny, who currently volunteers at Pinehill Primary School and leads a Friday morning Bible study group.

The Encourager

Sometimes it does take a bit longer for received gifts to become public for everyone to see. Jenny wrote poems in the nineties, but only published them this year. She talks about her book with a smile, but the content of her poems is deep and personal. The writing started when Jenny was a 21-year-old student at Lifeway College in Snells Beach and was encouraged to use her writing skills.

“I had a difficult time before. I was bullied at school. I was lonely and withdrawn and felt sorry for myself. Poetry gave me the option to reflect on those feelings and bring it back to God. A blank page is a great way to start talking with God. I always loved writing, encouraged perhaps by my Dad who wrote little, funny poems. Being at Bible school was my first time away from home, so my poems helped me to live my life outside the comforts of home.

“My favourite poem in the book is ‘The Anchor’. That poem is about eternal life, which is a great thought for anyone in a miserable position. Jesus is my anchor. The harder life was, the more reason to hold on to Jesus. But remember, the poems were written when I was that person. I am better now. I added a new poem, ‘The Exchange’, to reflect that.”

By Onne Hiemstra


Onne Hiemstra used to be Elevate’s accounts person until he moved to Cambridge, Waikato. Onne volunteers at Waikato CFFD events and serves on the National Camp committee. He has a great sense of humour and always keen for a chat or to provide a helping hand.


A chance to win!

Do you want a free copy of The Anchor?
Send us a little story about how Elevate has impacted you, whether through one of our groups, camps or The Encourager magazine. Your story can be a few lines or a whole page; either way, you’ll go into the draw to win a copy of Jenny Hook’s poetry book! Please send your story in a Word document or in the body of your email to encourager@elevate.org.nz.




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