Over the last week or so I have been teasing people that change is looming for me on the horizon, and its been fun. However it is quite significant as well; it is exciting; but it is a major change for me at my age.
In 2012 my world was turned upside down as many of you know. In 2013, following a six month sabbatical and amazing support from my then Governance Board and my Senior Management team, I founded an organisation called Stand Against Slavery (SAS). It has been an amazing adventure as SAS has established itself as an important voice in the fight for a slave free world, and in particular in Aotearoa New Zealand. With the new changes below, SAS will continue to achieve great things, and you will continue to see me popping up all over the place as I attempt to convince, along with many freedom fighting colleagues, that we have a serious issue here in New Zealand that needs solving.
What many of you will not be aware of is over the last twelve months SAS has been struggling financially. In April last year I dropped down to part time, and in December I stopped drawing a salary altogether. Having said that we have some great supporters and I am most grateful for everyone who has contributed to SAS and its work. SAS has, to be honest, been a very difficult proposition for donors to get their heads around, even though the output in New Zealand has been pretty impressive for a start up organisation. Consequently, I chose to stop receiving a salary so that all monies we received helped ensure that we could keep the information flowing out on our website and social media platforms, and covering my travel and administrative tasks. This has been important because it has enabled me to continue to work with industry and government, as well as advocating along side others in the Non Government Organisation (NGO) world.
The cost on the family has been a hefty burden to bare, but as people of faith, we have trusted that God had his hand in everything, even though we were struggling to see it for ourselves. Over my summer holidays I made a very specific decision to continue SAS but also look for paid employment. Over the last couple of months I have also decided to increase my scope in respect to the injustices of the world. The enslaved will always be very close to my heart and I will continue that fight for justice, but I will also be increasing the scope of fighting for other wider justice issues. This will have a focus around a new movement that I am developing around a concept called The Justice Club (TJC) where a small team of volunteers from around the world are collaborating together to write our first book aimed at intermediate/middle school aged children around issues of social justice. For more on the current project jump across to thejusticeclub.com.
In terms of paid employment I have accepted a business development role in the construction industry. For more than twenty years I have followed with interest my brothers career in the swimming pool construction industry. Justin Mihaere has built a very strong reputation in that industry as a person who builds high quality swimming pools. He joined Morgan Pools nearly nine years ago, a company who has a reputation as being one of the best pool construction companies in the country. Carlos Morgan, the founder and owner of the company of more than forty years, is similar to Justin in demanding quality and outstanding customer experience and they have an extremely dedicated and professional team that makes Morgan Pools a special company, building quality high-end unique outdoor environments. My role will be varied with a mix of working IN the business as well as assisting Carlos and Justin in working ON the business. They believe Morgan Pools is ready to go to the next level and I feel privileged to be joining them and helping them achieve their dreams so that they can continue to realise the dreams of their clients.
I will initially be working four days a week which enables me to have time to pursue SAS and TJC. I was touched when Carlos introduced me to the Morgan Pools crew a few days ago saying that SAS is my first passion, but also that I clearly had a passion and enthusiasm to succeed as he and Justin did.
For the last sixteen years I have been out of the commercial/business/corporate world loving the opportunity to be in ministry, be it as a Church consultant; interim pastoral leader; co-pastor of a local church; General Director of a mission organisation; or pioneering SAS, but I must confess to being super excited about returning to the business world.
Over the years when I’ve been asked ‘what I do’ in an airplane or meeting or conference or wherever, I’ve had to consciously think through a number of things to keep a dialogue going, hoping it wouldn’t quickly shut down because it sounds a bit religious, or because of security issues when travelling through countries that might get the wrong idea about why I am in that country. I was on a plane recently returning from Wellington and was sitting among a group of High School students who were at our national museum, Te Papa, delivering some lectures about their school activities and life back 100 years ago during World War 1. It was a fascinating conversation, but inevitably the question was, so what do you do? With a deep breath I described what I do, hoping to do it in away that made sense yet didn’t switch them off or worse, depress them. I can’t wait for the next time I’m in that situation and when asked about what I do I’ll answer, “I’m in construction”. Nice and simple! And when asked in what field I’ll turn into this walking billboard about Morgan Pools.
So from Monday 15th May, and over the next few months, I will be pretty focused on learning as much as possible about the new industry I am working in, but be rest assured that this is NOT the end of SAS, but rather a new season, for however long or short it is.
For those who follow a few other things I do, I will continue to writing in the Manukau Courier a regular column on anything and everything; I am still on the Social & Economic Justice Commission of the Baptist World Alliance; I’m still on the Board of Freeset International Limited; and continue to be involved in various groups and committees within my capacity of SAS.
P.S. I had fun producing this little video… if you haven’t seen it, feel free to have a squizz.