Both Andy Piggott and Matt Lansdowne had a genuine born again supernatural experience at around the same time in two different countries. Matt, upon invitation, experienced Jesus rushing into his car one night in Auckland, New Zealand. The undeniable presence of God's glory flooded into his vehicle and from that moment everything changed. Andy experienced God's presence as he walked in off the streets of Brisbane, Australia, into a small Pentecostal church – sensing a supernatural presence, during that first service a prophet revealed the story of his life, past, present and future. All doubt was cast out as Andy embraced the presence and reality of the Living God. From that point on, due to the impact of the presence and supernatural demonstration of God, bringing them to the place of surrendering to Christ, both Andy and Matt began the quest, seeking keys to the display of the power of God to break hearts open to Christ.
Meanwhile back in Auckland...
Back in Auckland and attending Albany City Church together, Matt and Andy began to pray together for revival three mornings a week. The mindset was that if you prayed and fasted hard and long enough, the "bowls would tip", and God would "rend the Heavens and come down". They were praying for an external revival, an outward "outpouring" of God over people.
Little did they know that God often has different thoughts and His ways are often a little higher than ours. They didn't realize He was answering their prayers but in a way that their minds had not repented enough or been renewed enough to grasp.
Seeds of change
About a year and a half into the morning revival prayer meetings something began to change. Matt and Andy would begin to share what the Holy Spirit was teaching them in the day or two before that morning's prayer meeting. It was very often from the same passage of scripture and very often the Holy Spirit would give Matt a revelation as a piece of the jigsaw puzzle from a passage, and Andy, another complimentary revelation from the same passage that would slot together with Matt's revelation like two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. This would continue for a year and a half. Towards the end of that three year period they were "revelating" and both reeling and standing with excitement for almost the entire "prayer" meeting at the revelation the Holy Spirit was giving to them.
The excitement and dilemma
It was so exciting – the problem was two-fold. Firstly, although their hearts were burning with life at the revelation and how remarkable it was coming, seemingly as if they were in their own school of ministry with Holy Spirit their main teacher, however, it wasn't fervent, passionate prayer anymore for the revival they so badly wanted to see. Secondly, they thought they were the only ones with a language and grid for what Holy Spirit was teaching them – about the Kingdom of God in the here and now, our being seated in the Heavenlies in Christ, about bringing Heaven to Earth, about Christ's reliance on Holy Spirit and how the Kingdom is only in the Holy Spirit.... and on and on to do with the Kingdom of God manifesting in power on earth. When they looked around they did not hear or see anyone else proclaiming this message or even on the same wavelength.
Anyone who moved in the demonstrative power of God was a hero to them. So, when Heidi Baker was the guest minister for a conference in Auckland, New Zealand they went ready to receive impartation and keys for miracles from her. The other main speaker was Bill Johnson, whom they'd never heard of before but decided to listen to as well as a by-product of going to the conference with Heidi.
The dream is real...
That first night that Bill spoke, Andy's wife Diana was sitting between Matt and Andy. Time and time again throughout Bill's first message Andy would lean over Diana to speak with Matt or Matt to Andy and exclaim, "Oh my goodness, that was the revelation we received 2 weeks ago"…. "that was what Holy Spirit taught us 4 weeks ago"…. "Wow, remember we were just revelating on that last week…." Just about the whole message was a piecing together of some of the revelation Holy Spirit had shared in the days and weeks leading up to the conference, even including the natural, non-biblical examples used to explain the scriptural meanings! Bill also mentioned some stories of the students at the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry and their exploits of supernatural power for the miraculous.
Well that was it. It wasn't long until the Holy Spirit had spoken into the desire in both the two young men… "Go to Redding, go to Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry".
Andy and Diana, Matt and Renee set about the mission of getting to Redding, California. In 2008 they arrived and in a 2 bedroom apartment, they'd share and do life together – as well as have many God and angelic encounters.
Absorbed into the revival culture of Bethel Church and the School of Ministry were some of the greatest days of their lives because what was going on in the secret place, alone with God – was fully congruent to what was happening around them in the corporate revival culture of Bethel. Miracles, healings, prophecy and supernatural Kingdom demonstration were occurring on a weekly, even daily basis through their lives as they stepped out in trust, taking God at His word and relying on the Holy Spirit being ever present.
A vision for New Zealand
The Holy Spirit began to birth a dream for a Bethel Church in New Zealand. Indeed, these were the greatest days, but the Holy Spirit would assure that the days were only going to get greater. You never want to look back on your life and think, "back then, those days were the greatest days"… no, you want to be living always in the greatest days because His Kingdom and our revelation of who God is should be ever increasing.
The dream for a church and culture like Bethel was shared with some of the key leaders at Bethel in California during the second year. The plan was put in place. The sending was accomplished – the time had come and Whangarei in Northland was the destination.
New Zealand's heritage
The identity of our nation was significantly fashioned from Northland. As a fledgling nation, in the times when the British Colonialists and the Maori Tangata Whenua (people of the land) first were introduced it became obvious to both parties that their destinies - which had from time past been totally separate, were now about to intermesh. The leadership of this crossing of paths of two totally different cultures and a new day of walking together as a nation was forged in Northland. Government was set up. Treaties were signed. Trade commenced. Cultures mixed. Peace and war was birthed. Missionaries first pioneered and established the gospel – all in Northland. It was the seat of influence and power which began the new definition of what it was to be a New Zealander. Our identity as this nation as we know it finds it's foundations in Northland.
Together, with a mandate of releasing people into their true identities to re-identify a nation again as a glorious Christian land filled with the love and power of God, we can see a dream come true.
Bethel Church New Zealand was planted in May 2011. It is the manifestation of a dream to see a nation fulfill her holy call and rise up and be counted as a spiritual giant among the nations and fulfill that ancient prophesy of being New Zealand - "Great South Land of the Holy Spirit".