Gordon & Helen Stanley (née Jackson)
1964-1965 / NZBTI Diploma
I (Gordon) was appointed as Head Prefect in 1965, while the youngest man on campus. During the year the title changed to Head Student – a misnomer if ever there was!
We had some trouble with unwelcome intruders on the isolated campus, so we set up a “Vice Squad”. This meant I and two assistant prefects would each alert other men on either side of us to spring into action to defend the premises. One night Principal Burrows’ son Gordon alerted me to trouble after midnight. I called my two colleagues, and the plan was to assemble with nine to encircle the campus. Sadly, only myself and one prefect turned up, as the others all slept on. We set off and found two men, and as I called out “Don't move, you are covered!”, one stood still while the other took off, being chased by Ian Dodge (the shortest guy on campus). Ian was successful in tackling the guy, and the men were handed over to the police. A few weeks later the lady prefects alerted us to a heavy smoker lurking around the other side during study hour. This time the system worked, and nine of us set off in search of the peeping Tom (losing study time was easier than losing sleep) and we caught him before he could release his Alsatian dog from his van. Once again the police were called, and that shut down the menace, defending both us and the Nurses’ home nearby!
The change of principal from Alan Burrows to David Stewart took place without warning, halfway through the term. We Prefects were expected to calm the fears of the students – but perhaps a heads up would have helped! We did arrange a good and humorous farewell to Bunny, but welcoming Stewie was complicated by his relaxed timekeeping. His turning up late to lectures was a problem, until after Prefect intervention he did arrive on time, only to find more than half the student body following his relaxed style. That changed in a hurry!
We also had to convince the Chief Cook not to serve meat three times a day, seven days a week as we felt this was not good preparation for service in foreign climes.
Being the pip signal initiator outside of office hours was also a task that gave me nightmares for some years, thinking I could not remember the codes!
I had come from a strong Open Brethren background, with an emphasis on textual preaching that was supported by other texts throughout the Bible. To discover the contexts in paragraphs, chapters, books and the whole was revolutionary and greatly strengthened my trust and understanding of the scriptures. My Greek was never good enough to preach exegetically, but I have been able to preach in an expository manner in many settings ever since. Thank you, BTI!
My first priority after finishing study was to build on the relationship with a fellow Prefect (I always wondered why Matron Jean Jaggers had so often placed us at the same table!). It was a surprise once I had written to Helen to find that she also had a call to Nigeria with SIM. So began our courtship, leading to a ceremony in Fairlie in June 1967.
We were accepted as SIM members in 1968 and left for Jos, Nigeria in the New Year - Helen to nurse in medical emergency (Lassa fever crises), and me to be assigned to the bookshop ministry. We moved to Lagos with our first child in 1970 as Regional Manager while the Biafran war came to an end. Back in the North, Helen taught Medical Auxiliaries, who on graduation staffed rural, church-owned clinics. My role expanded to General Manager of the chain of twenty-three bookshops, and this morphed into a media programme involving two publishing houses, two radio studios and a Bible correspondence school. By then this was owned by the church, and I was asked to direct this enlarged programme until 1981 when we left Africa. Serving with us were 415 Nigerians from 45 differing language groups. The bookshop chain grew to include 36 branches, and was known to be the second largest Christian bookshop chain in the world. On average 330 people wrote to our counselling department every month to tell of their faith in Christ. We also left with two more children.
To our great surprise, we were asked to go to Australia to lead SIM's programme there, which included East Asia (India to Japan) where interest in sending missionaries was rising quickly. This was particularly so in South Korea, where we were able to advise emerging agencies. Five years later we were asked to join the International Office in Charlotte, North Carolina as Personnel Director. We were there for 14 years, including ten as Deputy Director while Helen took over the Personnel role. We were the first non-Americans to serve, and this involved helping what has now become a very diverse group to embrace the changes needed to become that.
In 2001 we returned to New Zealand and took on the role of Director of Missions Interlink, where we guided the missions movement through significant changes needed for the new century, including meeting the expectations of the Charities Commission. We later retired from this role and a dozen other related roles to move to Northland, where we grew Calla Lilies commercially. That was a fun time, and fitted with our lifelong interest in helping things and people grow! This enterprise ended in the global down turns and we then answered the call of our two girls to come back to Australia to help them in their lives.
We’re currently grandparents to five teenagers, plus a few extras (the children of members in our small African, mainly Nigerian fellowship that meets locally). We were delighted to link up with this group of well-educated folk who love the Lord, and to serve alongside them as “Ma and Pa”. Our mission service has come full circle!
We’re grateful for everything sent through the good hand of our loving Heavenly Father. His grace has brought us through challenges, and we have been witnesses to some of the amazing changes the Lord has introduced in moving missions from “The West to the Rest” to today’s “From Anywhere to Everywhere!” Praise his Name as Lord of the Harvest.