In this column, we discover more about our Baptist whānau, meeting someone in our team of 40,000 each post. This week we are getting to know Rachel Murray, Regional Leader of the Otago & Southland Baptist Association.

What is something you think everyone should experience at least once in their life? 

See something of your own country if possible. Get out of your own town/city/region – go to another island. Get off the main roads, and check out where that gravel road goes. 

If you could be a pro at any one thing, what would it be? 

Travel – just to get out there and see and experience different things. 

What is a random interest that has completely nothing to do with your study or work? 

Genealogy. I did my DNA test some years ago (with some scepticism, but it does actually work!), and the resulting connections have been fascinating. There’s something quite special and important about identifying links and understanding your whakapapa. Learning the stories of your family history and the experiences and situations that shaped ancestors and, thus, current generations. 

What is the oddest fact you know?

Gorse seeds can lie dormant for decades and often require trauma (like fire) to germinate (Is that odd? Dunno but it is a fact!). Also, if you pluck very young soft gorse seedlings from the wild and replant/repot where you want them, you can recreate wild conditions to do whatever experiments you need to in order to learn better how to kill them! I know - I did it for seven years!

What is the most boring thing you’ve ever done?

Checking thousands of Prayer & Self Denial receptacles for live insects before they were released to churches because they had not been fumigated on arrival as planned. Yes, we did find live foreign spiders and bugs. No, I didn’t do it all alone – we commandeered student help – but still! 

What is your favourite way of connecting with God?

Out amongst nature – particularly where there is water. Mind you, urban people-watching can also generate some interesting dialogue with God!

Can you describe a significant moment when you experienced God’s love?

Twenty-four years ago, in South India (I was there on a nine-month short-term mission experience). All water supply to my home had dried up for weeks, animal carcasses had been discovered in my water tank, and other options were limited. At the same time, spiritual oppression was very real with the students I was working with under attack. Whilst the challenges of each situation did not resolve themselves quickly, I had a deep sense of God’s presence and love. I knew without a doubt that he had it all under control, which enabled me to release the stress of it all. And incredibly, I never got sick from the water issues! 

What is your favourite thing about the neighbourhood where you live?

The people – friendly, supportive, down-to-earth, no-nonsense kind of folk – Christians and non-Christians alike (even a number of Baptists around me!). The view across Dunedin Harbour isn’t bad either! But I have to move. Praying the next location is as good. 

What do you love most about being Baptist?

The legacy of faith that we have. The fact that we are a connected body of churches that can and should draw on the support of each other. Our collegiality. The experience and wisdom to learn from those that have gone before. As a child in a Baptist church, I recall being in awe of some of our mission workers and pastors that I heard speak. Years later, those same people became colleagues and friends. 

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