Why leave?

Growing up, Bible stories and songs like “Jesus loves me” at bed time were as familiar as Happy Meals and Sesame Street.

My parents raised me to appreciate beauty in the world but also see brokenness and care deeply about injustice. I grew up knowing that while the world was broken, this was not the way things were meant to be.

In the mid-1990s, events in Australian Indigenous policy changed the course of my life. I was moved by the dark chapter in Australia’s history documented in the 1997 Bringing Them Home report.

Cover of the 1997 "Bringing Them Home" report that was instrumental in my shift of career focus to work on issues of justice for Indigenous peoples.

Cover of the 1997 “Bringing Them Home” report that was instrumental in my shift of career focus to work on issues of justice for Indigenous peoples.

I cried as I read stories of physical, sexual, and psychological abuse against Indigenous children. I was outraged that as someone who had received a good education at one of Australia’s best schools I did not know about these sad events.

This particular vision of brokenness turned my attention from my anticipated career in law to the need to work on issues of justice for Indigenous peoples. I was inspired by former Australian Governor General William Deane’s contention that “a nation should be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable members” and I applied for a Rotary scholarship to study American Indian Policy at the University of Arizona.

When I came to the United States in 2001, I assumed I would be back in Australia 10 months later. The opportunity to complete my Masters degree and then work to advance American Indian economic development opened up the path to my dream job at the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).

I have worked at NCAI for almost eight years, on the frontlines of their work to advance the governmental rights of tribal nations and to educate the general public about Native peoples. And this week is my last full week in that job.

Over the past eight years, I have had the honor of preparing tribal leaders for and attending meetings with President Obama and members of his cabinet, teaching over 250 promising young Native students in my summer class, and meeting Indigenous leaders from over 15 nations. I have seen firsthand the importance of the work we do and barely a week goes by without my being thankful for the work I’m able to do at NCAI.

All that raises an important question – why leave?

Simply – because this is the next stage of my journey. It’s an opportunity to carry on work to address injustice in the world and hold out the truth that this is not the way things should be.

In this move to Costa Rica I am excited to work for ReachGlobal, an organization whose core focus includes the priority to “Develop, Empower, Release.” It is a focus that sustains a healthy culture in the organization and is a critical perspective in working across cultures. I am excited to work with a team of missionaries already in San Jose and support their efforts to multiply transformational churches in the city and beyond.

My conviction and experience is that addressing brokenness in the world requires the multiplication of healthy churches that fight for justice and hold out gospel transformation. I am delighted to be a part of that effort.

We are excited by what this move promises for our kids!

We are excited by what this move promises for our kids!

I am also excited by what this move promises for my family. Melanie and I see unique opportunities for our gifts to be used to advance the work of the gospel in Costa Rica. We also see a huge opportunity to bless our children. They will grow up knowing more than one culture and language and seeing first hand that the gospel extends beyond the boundaries of nation, citizenship, language, and culture. (We’ve written more about that here and here.)

We also see an opportunity to bless our church family. We are the first “home-grown” long-term missionaries being sent by Ambassador Bible Church and we see the opportunity to bless them, our other supporting churches, and other churches in the United States, Australia, and elsewhere. Our prayer is that those churches will be infused with the idea that while “not every believer is called to be a missionary by occupation, every believer is called to be on God’s mission by preoccupation.” We also hope and pray many more missionaries will be raised up in those churches in the years to come.

We are deeply thankful to each and every person that has set us on this journey and we look forward to keeping you updated in the months and years to come through the blog and our email updates (if you don’t already receive our newsletter, you can sign up here).

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2 Responses to Why leave?

  1. Cathimommy says:

    Love this and look forward to serving you dinner in our home soon….enjoy a few last minute things you LOVE in the US, and we will share some things we LOVE in this country! If Melanie has any questions of stuff she absolutely needs to pack have her call our US number that rings in CR. It ends in 4507 or skype!

  2. Dave says:

    Peter – thanks for all your work here in the US and Godspeed in your new adventure! Sorry we never got a chance to work together but I’ll look forward to following your work via your blog and likely through Joanna D. As a PK myself and son of social justice pastors I can’t help but feel some kind of kinship – not sure if with your or your kids 🙂 Kind Regards from Arizona

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