Ihaka Namana seized the opportunity to turn lockdown into a time of praying for his classmates and he has since seen evidence that God is working amongst his school community.
In March 2020, when New Zealand was put into level 4 lockdown, I was saturated with free time. My mum and I realised that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to connect with God and become greater followers of Jesus. A few days after lockdown started, we both decided to pray three times a day, for 21 days. We each had a focus and mine was on my classmates. For 21 days, three times a day, I prayed for the salvation of my Year 12 classmates—for me to become closer to them and for us to be able to be real, honest and vulnerable with each other.
On 27 April, God gave me a word. He told me that he would help me lead my people out of slavery, like Moses did, and, at the time, I had no idea what that meant. I just tried not to focus on it, I continued to connect with God and figured he would sort it out.
By mid-May, it was safe for us to return to school and, as part of my preparation, I decided to do something to celebrate being with my classmates again. I baked some chocolate chip cookies, put three cookies into separate bags and named them for each of my classmates. I also gave some to my teachers and, a week later, I did the same thing with Afghan biscuits.
In June, it was every student’s least favourite time of year—speeches! As I was going through the speech topics, one topic really stood out: ‘Let Me Tell You About a True Leader’. The name ‘Jesus’ wouldn’t leave my mind. I fought it and fought it, until finally I admitted defeat and in God’s boldness and grace, I delivered a speech about his son Jesus to my class. God also prompted me to purchase ‘Priceless’ necklaces (based on Proverbs 3:15) for every senior girl at my school. After praying about it, my mum and I decided to go ahead with it, and in August we raised $450 through donations from our Salvation Army corps family (Thames Corps) to pay for the necklaces. Hopefully they will arrive soon, and more people at my school will be touched by God’s love.
In September, I invited one of my classmates to the new Coromandel Life Recovery Church (CLRC) group that my mum was about to start … and she said yes! On the second night of church, on 11 September, my classmate gave her heart to Jesus and is now a regular at the CLRC. Finally, I knew what God had meant—he literally wanted me to lead my people into the promised land. By praying God would make me authentic, truthful, honest and real, I have seen God save one of my friends and I believe there are so many more to come, because I know that this is the time of the harvest!
Over these last few months, I have discovered that I have purpose where I am, right now. I have learned to step forward even when I am doubting myself, and I know that God is calling me to be a leader to a bunch of kids who are looking for truth.