In 1965, Roger Dahlberg, a young man from Whanganui, travelled to Malaysia with wife Jenny and family to start his ‘apprenticeship’ in international mission. His heart was for the poor, the neglected, the forgotten, and the abused in South East Asia.
After a sabbatical for Jenny to get cancer treatment in 1977 in New Zealand, Roger made repeated visits to Asia and, in 1981, started visiting Thailand. He found young girls being tricked into slavery and prostitution, and his heart ached for these young ones. He returned to NZ and cried with his local church, Milson Christian Fellowship. A team of his mates said, “Let’s do something about it!” and New Hope Christian Ministries was born.
The first safe house in Thailand was established under house mother Lay Bee, who still oversees that home 35 years later. A child sponsorship programme was started in the Philippines and that’s when things really kicked off!
If it is God’s work, it will stand
After many years of hard slog, New Hope now operates in eleven countries across South East Asia. Roger has roamed around rubbish dumps, squatter villages and remote country areas, been robbed, threatened, held against his will and put in jail whilst fighting child traders. He has spent time sharing the love of Jesus, leading people to Christ, identifying, training and discipling quality leaders who God puts across his path. Finding, empowering and nurturing local people is at the heart of New Hope; following the example of the Lord who spent most of His ministry training disciples who would continue His work. New Hope works alongside them in their own culture as equals, encouraging, coaching and equipping them, not from a position of superiority but out of respect and dignity. There are now over 200 New Hope workers and partners, some of who have been involved for over 20 years. All are unpaid volunteers who are provided with a small monthly ‘love gift’.
People are the key
(Names changed for privacy reasons)
Workers have come to us in many ways, but mostly by personal contact. A special kind of person is needed to do the type of work we engage in. A few examples:
In 1967, in a small town in Malaysia, Roger and Jenny were planting a church. A young man, (eighteen years old) from Nepal, named Kiran was part of the youth group. He returned to Nepal a few years later and has been partnering with Roger ever since. New Hope supported him with church planting, establishing an aged-care home and with disaster relief following the 2015 earthquake. He has been a co-worker in Christ for 50 years!
Myrna and Mike were new Christians living in a tiny footpath dwelling in the Philippines when Roger met them one day. The relationship blossomed. After many years serving God together, they have become part of our team pioneering churches in Muslim-dominated areas (in the south), where terrorist activity is common.
In 1989, YWAM approached New Hope requesting help for some new Christians who had been saved from a life spent enslaved in alcohol addiction. One of these, Flor, was commissioned to minister in a dumpsite and extend the sponsorship programme among the scavengers’ children. Flor married and now has five children who are all active in God’s work. They planted a thriving church and still work – with zeal and compassion among the poorest of the poor – on that same dump.
Sally was managing a ladies club, hosting mainly foreigners, but when she was saved, she gave her talents to the Lord. A marvellous people-person, Sally has a great ability to witness to everyone, from military generals to hardened criminals. She has made a mighty impact.
Partnerships must be deep and long-lasting. Many of our younger workers are children of the original recruits.
The workers are involved in sharing the Gospel; discipleship; helping people out of poverty through income-generating projects; education of thousands of children through to tertiary level; funding treatments where families cannot afford them and much more. Multiple missions are done each year to remote areas for medical, oral health, and ophthalmology treatments, meanwhile teaching God's Word and baptising believers.
Another priority is Bible distribution and, in every area we work, we are planting churches that are pastored by local workers. New Hope often serves in Muslim-dominated areas which are off-limits to foreigners. In each country, there are different priorities and the approach is flexible, willing to adjust to local needs. The goal is always to establish a work that will grow itself and expand and not just adding but multiplying.
Children are sponsored for $17 per month (unchanged since 1985), which supports the child's whole family, plus covering their public schooling. Sponsored children attend Sunday School, Bible studies, annual holiday programmes, and week-long residential camps (for teenagers) to encourage them to follow the Lord. New Hope schools have been established in several countries for special needs children, lepers and children, and in remote or terrorist-affected places.
If God guides, He provides
Praise God for the many wonderful, generous co-workers who have supported this work financially and prayerfully over the years – without a tax rebate! Roger receives financial requests daily from very deserving projects. It weighs heavily on him to seek the Lord as to how these funds ought to be distributed.
A small group of dedicated volunteers have always cared for the New Zealand end. New Hope ‘head office’ is in the corner of my (carpeted!) garage in Palmerston North. A special mention goes to Alan Little who was the administrator for over 20 years prior.
The work in each country is independent of the others and requires a different structure to meet government regulations. In the Philippines, for example, there are fifteen godly, gifted, enthusiastic individuals on the Board who are charged with making decisions about many different matters concerning New Hope’s work. If anyone of these is unavailable (including Roger), the work will go on as God wills.
For the least of these…
A recent New Hope newsletter highlighted 24 young adults in gowns and hats, who have recently graduated in many different subjects. These ‘kids’ were rescued from rubbish dumps and severe poverty. What a different track their lives could have been on if it was not for the work of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit – and this thought brought me to tears. These 24 are just a few of the thousands who, through hard work and very little resources, have become employed and can financially support their families.
What is even more exciting is that they are believers in Jesus Christ, and are actively serving Him in many different ways including pastoring churches, music ministries, the Bible Society, outreach teams, and children’s work:
“I am Marilou, born 1993 at Smokey Mountain, a huge dumpsite area in Manila where the trash fires never go out. My father was a scavenger, searching for things to sell from the garbage. We were six children struggling every day for food. The life was so tough and rough. New Hope took me in and since then, I am always excited to attend school. I make sure that my grades are strong enough to continue. I always include my New Hope sponsor in my prayers. I am happy and grateful for a sponsor in my life to support me in my studies and in spiritual growth too. I have to take entrance exam at the universities and God blessed me and I passed and enrolled to College of Education. Still, New Hope support me. Year 2013, I earned my Bachelor’s Degree. On the same year, I passed the examination for Teachers. Today, I am a teacher at High school. Now I am studying for my Master’s Degree in Education at National Teacher College and I am expected to graduate next year. God is so great, and He answered my prayers. It is a big chance to uplift my family from poverty. We offer all the praises and worship to God who is able and will continue to honour Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. I am forever thankful to my New Hope Family for trusting me and giving me a chance to experience Jesus' greatness.”
“I am Jerald, born 1994. My Father died when I was five and my mother abandoned us five siblings and because of that our grandmother accepted us. My grandmother sell cheap flower on the streets so we can eat. We helped her as street kids. My eldest sister was fifteen years old and she decided to work in a club as a dancer - it is illegal but we are very hungry. She helped us for our food and she help me start school. I assist other students with their assignments and they share some food. I noticed that there was a Bible study in our neighbour’s house. My friend invited me to join and I met a New Hope worker and they took me to be one of the sponsored kids May 7, 2005. They gave me enrolment fees, uniforms and school supplies. There was still much hardship, struggles and sacrifices in my life with my siblings but I had strong desire to finish my studies even up to college. I continued to pursue my studies with the financial assistance from New Hope. I thank the Lord God so much that I have graduated in University April 2016. I am now working as an architect in a big company here in Manila and excitedly serving in a New Hope church. Thank you New Hope, thank you Bro. Roger for being a channel of blessings to us who are poor. To God, all the glory.”
HE IS EXTRAORDINARY…we are not!
“God uses flawed, frail human beings to do his work, because they are the only type of humans available”. Andrew White (My Journey So Far)
Throughout New Hope’s existence, we have seen how God can mightily use a flawed but willing individual. Much has been accomplished, with much prayer. I would like to end by simply encouraging you to pray, pray, pray for those serving internationally in your prayer times.
‘Better, far better, to do less work, if need be, in order that we may pray more; because work done by the rushing torrent of human energy will not save a single soul, whereas work done in vital and unbroken contact with the living God will tell for all eternity.’ Thomas Walker – Curate and Evangelist to India (1897).
What else on this planet is more important?
To God be the glory for all He has done through New Hope Christian Ministries.
PHILIPPA WILLIAMSON | ADMINISTRATOR – NEW HOPE NZ