For as long as she can remember, St Barnabas’ new Children & Families Pastor Barbara Neville was called to ministry.
“I knew God wanted me to be a pastor at aged 3. My parents were missionaries in a village outside Jakarta and around age 11, I was teaching children in Sunday School and helping run holiday clubs. I took up puppetry and ventriloquism to help with children’s programmes my family were involved in throughout Java,” Barbara says.
Born in the US, Barbara considers herself a “proud kiwi”, having followed her parents here, aged 19, after they immigrated to New Zealand. She attended Bible College in Indonesia and then studied Biblical Studies and Ministry with Children at a Bible College in Texas and NZ.
“I planned to go back to Asia and work with children as a missionary when I met Richard. Instead, I finished my Master’s degree and married Richard. We have five children (born in three different countries.).”
They spent a few years in Canada with Richard’s first position lecturing at a Bible College and where Barbara taught the Children’s ministry courses.
“Teaching these courses coupled with raising our children increased my interest in the wholistic approach to the spiritual development of children,” Barbara says.
“I began to realise that no ministry to children can be complete without an equal ministry to their parents. Children’s ministry ideally includes ministry to the whole family.”
Barbara’s faith underpins everything she does.
“Understanding what Christ has done for me means I want everything I do to please him. It also means I want everyone who knows me to understand what Christ has done for them!
“As the mother of five children and the grandmother of five—soon to be six, I understand the joys and the sorrows of raising children. I understand the intense desire to see our children follow the Saviour,” she says.
In her new role as Children & Families Pastor at St Barnabas, Barbara hopes to be able to engage children fully with the Gospel of Christ and watch them grow in the faith.
“I pray that families can continue to develop meaningful relationships with each other and encourage each other in mentoring their children in the faith.
“I pray that we can find ways of reaching other families with the Gospel and I want to help find more creative ways to help our children connect with the larger church family and church services.
“I look forward to journeying together with the children of St Barnabas and their parents as we seek to grow together in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Barbara says.
Barbara and her family will be officially welcomed into the St Barnabas family during the Lifestreams/Ngā Puna Waiora service this Sunday at 10.30am.
By Tania Wright