John & Elizabeth McDonald

For fifteen years we worked as self-employed Commercial Beekeepers at Five Rivers in Northern Southland. We had several disastrous nil income years but God always brought us through.

One of the first times Elizabeth remembers calling out to God was just after we had taken up Beekeeping and her cry was please God help us to always be able to have enough income to be able to pay our mortgage. Interest rates skyrocketed about this time but we were tied into an unbelievable low interest-rate, Praise the Lord.

During our time in Five Rivers we attended the 5 Rivers Presbyterian Church and in 1989 we went to a wee Home Church pastored by an Apostolic Pastor from Invercargill which met once a month. About a year later we were water baptised, May 1990 where a very strong word was spoken over us 'for Missions'. During the next five years, the Lord spoke to us both, and about two years after we were water baptised the Lord spoke and said 'I am calling you out of the Bees', Wow Lord! 'and I want you to be prepared to work full time for me'. More Wows. 

We knew we had to go to Bible College! In 1994 we enrolled in Faith Bible College, but knew we couldn't go until we had sold the Bees. How was this going to happen, Beekeeping was 'the hardest business' to sell. We had watched others Beekeepers try without success. God is never late and eighteen months later one weekend in June John went off to a Presbyterian renewal weekend near Gore and Elizabeth went to an Aglow camp just out of Christchurch. At the end of four days away when we met up again on the Friday night we just 'knew that we knew,' something was about to happen. On the Saturday of the same weekend a neighbour rang us to say he had a fax that he was sure was for us. It read something like I am looking for some bee hives to buy, well that was the start of an incredible week. All our Beehives 780 were sold over the phone sight unseen all within a week, God is never late!!!!

Six weeks later we auctioned our home 13th July and within a week we were in class at Faith Bible College.  A few months after Graduating at the age of 51 and 53 we took our first overseas trip to find out what the real Mission Field was like. We spent two months taking Bibles into China and doing prayer walks etc also into China, then we went onto Thailand where we spent two months also doing and visiting a variety of places and things. We worked under Asian Outreach. We came home in March to Invercargill with a conviction to go back to Thailand.

We were led (another story) to go out with WEC, World Evangelisation for Christ, so we applied to do their Cross Culture Course in Auckland beginning January 1999. God is good. In August 2000 we joined the staff of Grace International School. For the next two years we both worked for the Lord in a full-time Faith Ministry, John as the only School Accountant/bookkeeper and Elizabeth as a teachers' aid. Three years after leaving New Zealand we came home on furlough. Financially during these three years we had not been fully supported, about 60%, and so had to use our own private savings to set up home and buy our car etc while in Chaing Mai. The nine months home on furlough was spent visiting and deputising friends and Churches throughout New Zealand. In August 2003 we returned to Thailand and the school with nearly 75% support.

Friends in Auckland regularly sent us The Challenge which we devoured from cover to cover usually in about one night. About January/February 2004 Elizabeth read a very interesting article about Liberty Trust and decided to write to them as she knew one day we would return to New Zealand to set up home. House prices were increasing each year while we had been away. As we had given about 50% of our home appliances etc to our children rather than put them into storage, we knew that we would need even the very basics, e.g. pots and pans and even the 37-year-old bed would need to be replaced.

Most people in their fifties have their mortgage paid off and are able to save for their retirement years. What were John and Elizabeth doing working in a full-time Ministry in Thailand [which is not really a third world country] for the Lord using personal retirement savings willingly because they knew that they knew that was where the Lord wanted them at this time.

The reply from Liberty Trust was amazing, it went something like this. They would love to be able to help us and knew there was a real need to help returnee Missionaries. We continued to correspond sent our prayer letters and newsletters.

In May the school had increased to five hundred students which meant the accountants' work had become very sophisticated and really beyond John's self-taught skills. The Lord answered the school's prayers and a fully trained Accountant/auditor was available. Feeling very sad but in obedience to God, we made our return arrangements back to New Zealand. We were in shock for a while as we packed up and sold everything. About two weeks before the end of the school year John had a minor stroke, he was checked out and he made a miraculous recovery. We arrive in Dunedin 23rd June with snow on the hills and deep down wondering what and why God had brought us home!

We had wonderful friends who had a family crib at Riverton, where we stayed. We had no phone so to send and receive emails we had to wait until a Sunday when we would travel to our wonderful Horthorndale Community Church, who without their support financially and all of their at least weekly prayers we would not have been able to have stayed as long as we did in Thailand. It was truly wonderful to know the 'family' support.

One Sunday we opened our emails and we could hardly believe our eyes an email from Liberty Trust saying they had a Board prayer meeting several hours in prayer about 'us' and they felt God saying they were to financially help us, What a mighty God we Serve. In October we were in the North Island and were able to go and meet some of these wonderful friends. Our hearts were so full of gratitude, and so continued our correspondence.

What did God want us to do and where, with such an awesome sum of money to have with no interest, how could we find employment at our age so to be able to repay the loan, should we really accept it, did God really mean this money for us, so many questions went around and around in our head.

We spent much time each day seeking God's will and no doors seem to open.

We applied for jobs in Dunedin but were not successful. One night while visiting our daughter Janine in mid-November she showed John a job advertisement for Grey Skills self-employed builder wanted. On further enquiring we were told yes there was a need in both Dunedin and Invercargill for men with home handyman type of skills.

We decided to look around Dunedin again at houses [they are very expensive] and with all the unknown prospect of an income, we thought maybe Liberty Trust's offer was not for us.

The next day Monday we drove back to Invercargill. On Tuesday we went house hunting and bought the second house we saw, now our home. 

Possession date was December 17th 2004, our 38th Wedding Anniversary.  Elizabeth returned to Invercargill on December 16th to make sure the house was clean etc. and on 17th. December to arrange to uplift the loan. John had finished the course he was able to travel down in our new work van we had bought for Grey Skills work. That Friday night we moved our new Queen sized bed into the house and spent the night there. The next morning Saturday 18th was to be a special day, shifting in the day, into our own home. It had been more than eight years since we had had a home. Friend's and family were to help us. John got out of bed about 6:00 and got dressed and went over to the wardrobe and in an urgent voice called out 'pray for me Elizabeth' as he hung onto the wardrobe shelf. That day we spent in the Emergency Department in Kew Hospital, there was no definite confirmation by the Doctors' of what had taken place but from past experience it was another mini-stroke, but we had a home to go back to. Thank you, thank you Liberty Trust.

If we hadn't had our home at this time we would have had to go back to living in our bedsit attached to the back of our son's garage and living out of suitcases, we are so grateful that we had our own home. 

We began to believe and trust God for healing. After Christmas John would still not drive and his short-term memory was vague and he was all mixed up. The 'blind spot' John had was not disappearing as it had with the last mini-stroke. 

Ark Resources assured us because of John's health we were to take each month at a time with regard to our repayments. On Sunday 20th March our church fellowship hosted Weston Carrier who has God's anointing with a healing ministry and on Monday John began to start grinning, yes God had moved the Blind Spot! Praise the Lord!

Now, six months later John’s health is still good and he is enjoying doing jobs for people. Elizabeth is enjoying caring for children part-time and having family close by. God's hand and blessing each month has enabled us to meet our loan repayments and before long we will be debt free.

God is Wonderful.

Scripture says: We are to walk by Faith, what can we say?

December 2005