As most of you probably know by now, Jim and I will be stepping down at the end of this year, after 18 years of directing the Fiji Deaf Ministry. We are excited to introduce the couple chosen by the Harland Trust Board to replace us! They are Russell and Sue Neate, from Christchurch, New Zealand.
The Board, at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) last April, unanimously
voted Russell in as the new Fiji Deaf Ministry Director. Actually, the Board was just affirming what Russell and Sue have already been doing. They both have been actively involved in the ministry since 2014, working tirelessly on a variety of committees and ministry projects, all while keeping up with a growing family and work at home in NZ. The Neates have two grown children, a son and a daughter, both living in Christchurch. They have five grandchildren (three boys and two girls), ranging in age from eight months to twelve years.
Russell and Sue’s home church is Bryndwr Chapel, where they first met Vivienne Harland, ministry founder, about thirty six years ago. Vivienne attended Bryndwr Chapel with her husband Geoff and their two daughters, Ruth and Pauline. It was
at that time that Russell and Sue got to know Vivienne and her family, and interest in the Fiji Deaf Ministry began to develop.
Russell and Sue have been involved at Bryndwr Chapel over many years, teaching Sunday School and leading other kids programs, as well as a young adults group.
Russell and Sue first visited Vivienne Harland in Fiji twelve years ago, to see the deaf ministry first hand. They have since visited twelve times, and Fiji has become their second home. Vivienne passed away in 2009. Russell was then appointed to The Harland Trust Board in 2014, where he has enjoyed reconnecting with Vivienne’s daughter Ruth, also a Board member.
Russell’s career of almost forty years was spent in New Zealand, working for the same power utility company in IT and related systems. He will be retiring at the end of this year. Sue has a background in office administration and accounts.
Words that come to mind when describing both Russell and Sue are humility and hard work. They are faithful and caring Christians, seeking to honor God in all that they do. They are already well known, well loved, and well respected in Fiji. Russell is an excellent Bible teacher, and often preaches at Suva St. Chapel on his visits to Fiji. He and Sue also lead devotions in the hostels while here.
Russell and his committee have worked diligently over the past couple of years, putting detailed plans together for the building of a new hostel. Russell met with each staff member to obtain his/her input for consideration in the final plans.
Russell and Sue also recently organized a mission trip for a large number of volunteers from their chapel, to visit Fiji this past July. The trip was a huge success, with much accomplished, and new relationships formed!
Russell is a ‘fix it’ man, and on every trip to Fiji can be seen with tools in hand, making needed repairs. Sue always brings along a variety of craft ideas and games for the children, plus some new recipes for the hostel staff to try out. Both Sue and Russell are currently taking sign language classes, in order to communicate effectively with the deaf. Please pray for them, as they take over the leadership of the Fiji Deaf Ministry in 2019. We are so grateful for their willingness to serve, and thank God for leading them to Fiji!
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