Christine Coussell (née Verrall)
1983-1984 / 2 year College diploma (Henderson campus)
I remember worship times in chapel, in ladies' chapel, and in the small group led by Carl Raper (now Emerson) where I learned about exercising some of the gifts of the Spirit. I also recall lectures on the Old Testament by Bill Osborne, who made it live. Other memories include:
Kneeling in Stewie's office beside Dr Stewart, seeking God for guidance
David Stewart's love for China, even though he had two years there and 15 in India
Meeting with God in the orchard – Des Worrall often gave encouraging words as he passed by
China prayer group, where I learned so much in preparation for going and where the call became clear
Making lasting friendships, especially meeting Allan Coussell, though we didn't marry till eleven years later
The tremendous support received when my mother died suddenly.
The fun times – discovering Chrissy Goddard's Mini car in the Courtyard filled with balloons on her birthday
Swapping drawers between men's and women's dorms when someone got engaged
A Pooh Party in the orchard where Gordon Mackie came dressed as Piglet (apparently a distraction to drivers as he rode his motor scooter along the highway!)
Meryl Ashworth reading Pooh stories round the fire, and we ate honey sandwiches
Early morning swims with a courting couple so they could have some time together outside of the scrutiny of College
College picnics at Long Bay, The Reaper, prayer ladies and times at their homes
Evangelism Week: our first one took us to Wellington. En route I injured a very weak ankle (from an old injury) and was in some pain and unable to walk properly. Carl Raper (Emerson) and David Adamson laid hands on it and prayed. Within 24 hours it was completely healed and has never troubled me since.
College taught me how to live in community and be more tolerant of others. This was very important as I had grown up as an only child on a farm, and later God took me to the then most populous country on earth! I learnt more about the Word and how to study and share the Word of God. Mission speakers opened my eyes to other areas of the world and types of ministries. My skills as a leader were developed, both in sharing cell group leadership and as a Senior Student. My time at College taught me to trust God for my needs.
After College I spent nearly 17 years studying and teaching English in universities in China. The first five years involved language study and teaching English in the south. After a 15 year break back in NZ I returned to China, this time married to Allan Coussell, and taught in a medical university in the north. During the years back in NZ I upskilled in teaching EFL/ESOL and continued teaching, first in secondary schools and then at NMIT (Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology). I also did quite a lot of private tutoring of international students, new immigrants and refugees. We were also involved in our local church, leading and hosting a home group, mentoring, discipling, and in prayer ministries. Overseas we were both involved in the International Fellowship in our city and worked a lot with international students (there were up to sixty nationalities, and even more ethnic groups in the fellowship at any one time).
I am currently the administrator for our church and P.A. to the senior minister. I'm on the church Council, missions committee, and co-ordinate the prayer ministries in the church. I continue to minister remotely to our international family (the graduates from our days in country) who are mainly scattered throughout Africa, Asia, and Europe. After Allan's death in China in 2017 many people gave financial gifts, with which a fund was established to help students in the international fellowship in our city with unexpected needs. A committee consisting of an elder, deacon, student rep, and others involved with students on the ground has been set up. I am on that committee, and we meet monthly by Zoom to pray and allocate funds to those who meet the criteria or try to find other ways to help those in need who are outside the scope of the fund.
BCNZ was more about changing me than academic qualifications, and I needed changing! I am extremely grateful to the staff and fellow students who moulded me and rubbed off some of the rough edges (an ongoing process). I am grateful for the friendship with Allan that lasted to the end of his life – he was not only my husband but also my best friend. I'm grateful for other lasting friendships and all those who have prayed (and still do) for us over the years. I'm thankful for the knowledge I gained of the Word and the world. It was a very worthwhile and important challenge to learn to lead with those I differ with, especially theologically, as that was good training for living overseas with church leaders from a very different background.
I'm so thankful for the community life.