Hi everyone,

Blessed. Awesome. Beautiful. Finding myself being the minister for the Blackall Range Uniting Church, travelling the range and the valleys down to Conondale and Kenilworth and living in Maleny can only be called blessed! Divine Goodness!

And serving in the ministry – being a witness of the Good News in a gracious Australian rural society is enjoyable. This is specially so as I would describe myself as a farmer having been born and raised in rural Zimbabwe on a livestock farm. My childhood, indeed a great part of my life was spent tending to cattle and pigs and keeping an eye on the skies! Wonderful and beautiful memories. So being able to minister amongst farmers, alike kin, is a delight.

My parents, Kais and Corrie, understanding the precariousness of farming, insisted at great sacrifice that we pursue tertiary studies in neighbouring South Africa and after a 5 year stint I returned to Zimbabwe with degrees in commerce and law and followed a career as a legal practitioner, both in private and corporate Zimbabwe.

After a decade I responded to a call to work in the ministry and returned to Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape, South Africa, just under 3,000km from Harare to complete a masters in New Testament. Again, I returned to my beloved Zimbabwe in 1999 to work as an ordained minister in my hometown, Chivhu. However, like many small congregations they could not sustain a full-time minister so I also worked as a manager of CAVA, a Christian media organisation publishing and printing books, as well as producing audio and audio-visual Christian tapes and films.

The period in Zimbabwe personally became untenable, firstly after my family lost their property under the land redistribution program which commenced in 2000, and secondly when the economy imploded and inflation was hitting 600%; subsequently in 2005 I relocated to South Africa to take up again my relationship with the beautiful university town of Stellenbosch.

I am grateful however, that during 2000-2005, I was able to assist many persons, particularly farmers and farm labourers during traumatic years of turbulence, loss and great uncertainty, both as a legal counsellor, but more importantly as a minister of the Hope in Christ. I also worked as a volunteer at Samaritans (similar to Lifeline) and learnt to assist persons through crises and mental health issues. I believe the experience I gained in those tumultuous, unstable, and sometimes violent times, has enabled me to face situations of uncertainty and turbulence with confidence, having experienced first-hand that God’s faithfulness is indeed new every morning.

I am passionate about education and love teaching – anybody over adolescence! I am fortunate that for more than twenty years (1999 – 2018) I was able to lecture part-time, in New Testament, as well as in law, to diverse students in assorted faculties and colleges – from the acclaimed faculties of law and theology at Stellenbosch University to inter-denominational theological colleges in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi.

Another passion is alternative dispute resolution and restorative justice and I was fortunate to be accredited and to work as a family mediator.  Also, I was blessed and able to integrate my interests in law and theology by doing research and recently completing a doctorate degree in law in the field of mediation and restorative justice.

I am hoping that my experience, both as a mediator and my knowledge in mediation will be enable me, through the congregation, to contribute to working in partnership with other groups along the Blackall Range to resolve family disputes and help prevent domestic violence.  

My theological interests include the controversial fields of human sexuality and the institution of marriage and my experience is that courageous conversations are needed about these sensitive issues to promote tolerance and acceptance of divergent views amongst members of the congregation and community.

The Blackall Range, and Maleny where I reside is well served with community centres and organisations that work in the interests of the community and support the less privileged. It is my vision that the church can become a partner to various groups and participate in bringing about a healthier society. Personally, I hope my experience as an educator and mediator can contribute to projects that support youth education and training and facilitate the resolution of family disputes.

My life is founded upon the unconditional and constant love of God. The hope and authority of the resurrection energises and inspires me. I truly believe the Triune-God can make a difference in this world, and in some mysterious way we, the church, have been called to live in the Holy Spirit, to embody the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to participate in making a difference, wherever and whatever that may be.

I look forward to journeying with you all in this blessed and life-changing ministry.

Shalom Liena