A Letter From New Zealand

Rev. R. Van Overloop 

100 Sparks Rd. 

Christchurch 2 

New Zealand 

Young People of the 

Protestant Reformed Churches, 

c/o The Standard Bearer 

Dear Young People, 

Greetings to you in the Name of Jesus Christ Who is the King of His people and the Head of His Church. 

Since our last letter to you, two months have quickly passed. By the time you receive this letter you will be nearing the end of the school year. Your thoughts will be turning to summer work, warmer weather, and to the coming Young People's Convention. On this side of the equator the leaves are turning color and falling from the trees. Also the temperatures are growing increasingly cooler. 

Our work here in the Christchurch Orthodox Presbyterian congregation seems to be progressing well. The meetings of which we wrote in our last letter are continuing and prove beneficial to all involved. Besides those meetings, there are more activities which receive our attention. 

Although our efforts remain centered in Christchurch, we are now doing some work in Wellington. Wellington, which is the capital of New Zealand, is on the lowest tip of the North Island and is about 40 flying minutes northeast of Christchurch. I am flying up to Wellington every other week to conduct a Bible doctrine study class. This work is being done in the hopes that it will serve as a means to gather others who are interested in a truly Biblical teaching. There are three or four families who serve as the base for this work. It is also hoped that in time the numbers of the group will be large enough to organize a congregation which can be a part of the Orthodox Presbyterian Churches.

Every Monday evening I am meeting with four or five young people. None of these young people is a member of the Orthodox Presbyterian denomination. Rather a couple are members of the Presbyterian Churches of New Zealand, one is from a Baptist congregation, and one is a member of the Anglican churches. In these meetings we are considering the basic tenets of the Reformed faith. The reception of this instruction has been very good. 

Also, I have been asked to teach a one-hour-per-week course at Middleton Grange School. Middleton Grange is a private Christian school which my two older children attend. This ten week course which I am to teach will be on Doctrines of the Bible. This course has been offered as an elective to students who are in their last year at Middleton (the equivalent to high school seniors). There will be approximately thirty students in this class. Because the student body of Middleton is from a varied church background, this experience should prove very interesting. 

One thing has forcibly struck me time and again since I have been in New Zealand. That is the fact that the churches of New Zealand have almost entirely neglected their young people, giving them stones for bread. Very few, if any, receive sound Biblical and doctrinal teaching. 

This lack of covenantal instruction is not so much a reflection of Presbyterianism as such, for many of the older people who had been brought up in the Presbyterian churches can remember instruction in the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Nor is the lack of covenantal instruction the attitude of the Orthodox Presbyterian Churches in particular. Rather the cause of this lack of covenantal instruction in most of the congregations in New Zealand is great apostasy from the truth and the false notion that an evangelistic program will meet the need for instruction. And, as you know, this is not unique to New Zealand. This terrible sin is world-wide. Evangelistic programs have taken the place of sound catechetical instruction. The youth programs which do exist are more social than educational. The children of these mainline denominations are very little brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. 

It is the principles of the primacy of the home, of instruction of the youth, and of the centrality of the church which the Orthodox Presbyterian Churches are dedicated to restoring. The present generation of New Zealanders is without the benefits of sound covenant instruction in the home and church. In addition, they have not had the blessed privilege of solidly Reformed preaching. 

This has made me aware of how blessed you are to receive catechetical instruction thirty weeks a year for eleven or more years. I hope you realize how important and vital this instruction is. Its tremendous importance has been impressed upon me by witnessing the lack of it. 

For you the catechism season has ended for another year. But you can resolve to work harder in the catechism classes when they resume in the fall. During summer vacation do not take a vacation from continued study of God's Word. Strive to be more faithful in your own personal devotions. A well trained youth will not forget his training when he is old. 

In His service, 

R. Van Overloop 

(Editor's Note: Did you see that return address at the beginning of this letter? Young and old, how about dropping the Van Overloops a line? I know they welcome letters. And: by all means, send it airmail; surface mail takes a couple months. HCH)