Rory Tonkin – New Zealand

My name is Rory Tonkin and I come from New Zealand. It is an amazing country with boundless freedom, however sometimes freedom may come at a price. Ignorance and arrogance sometimes seems rife and any talk of Christianity is often laughed at or ridiculed. However their are many Christians and the church community is still strong nonetheless, it just feels more hidden than other countries. Their are plenty of opportunities for ministry in New Zealand with great numbers of spiritually broken people and many youth growing up into gangs.

Growing up in a small town called Motueka I went to a Catholic School where I learnt about Jesus and grew in my beliefs, but always struggled with certain hypocrisy and teachers who I felt were very unjust. I knew about religion back then but never knew about nor had a relationship with Christ. For years I held onto my beliefs but never delved deeper until I met my now Wife who is a Christian and encouraged me to come to church with her. I refused at first but eventually relented. At first I didn’t feel comfortable there and felt many people would be judging me due to the way I looked with many tattoos. I did grow to love her church and continue to go there to this day. The time I fully gave myself to the lord was when I was invited to an Easter camp. The whole experience was amazing and the speakers blew me away leading me to rethink everything I’d ever believed. One of the main speakers there was also surprisingly a man who had been a great father figure to me growing up and had taught me many great things.

My ministry dream is to begin to work with Prisoners, either in juvenile detention centres or full adult prisons. I also want to work with troubled youth on the path to becoming gang members, I feel like I most identify with being a Pastor of a Church but would never forget my main focus which is to work with the forgotten members of society.

The key experience in my life which prompted me to pursue ministry would be spending time in Africa (Namibia and South Africa) with YWAM. Just feeling a newfound purpose for my life and not following my old ways just living trying to accumulate material things and constantly searching for pleasures for myself. Learning there is so much more to life than this. The understanding that what is often portrayed to the World as the “good life” everyone strives for and chases often will lead to heart break, despair and depression, You may accomplish so much but without God in your life, you may never know peace.

The unique challenges in my area are really just the feelings towards Christianity and the negative stigma often driven by the media. It can be hard as a Christian trying to break through barriers where people have been taught for a long time not to believe and feel that if they do start to they will be ridiculed by there closest peers.

My local church has been very supportive in my ministry calling, encouraging and praying for my wife and I while we were involved in mission work in Africa. Due to the distance of it to where me and my wife live we don’t have take part in a great deal of the extra curricular activities that are happening but are making a great effort lately to be involved where we can.

A scholarship at CLI is extremely important to my ministry dream as it gives me a chance to complete Ministry training in New Zealand, learn more than I could imagine and allow me to follow my calling of one day becoming a Pastor. If anyone could pray for me and my current ministry dream of working with Prisoners just for more opportunities and for open hearts. Also prayers for open hearts for my family, friends and all others I come across during the rest of my life.