(Updated April 2009)
I am Ernie Schache (pronounced ‘shack’) and I am a “Kiwi” from Auckland, New Zealand: the most beautiful city in the most beautiful country that God created!!
For six and a half years from August 2002 to February 2009, I was a member of the American Advent Mission team in Chennai, India, resident at the Mission’s compound at Guindy. For most of that period I was Treasurer for the Indian Field Council, and in October 2007 I was appointed to the additional position of Indian Field Team Leader. In February 2009, following decisions made by the Indian Field Council and the World Outreach Department of the Advent Christian General Conference which resulted in the development of a Long Term Strategic Plan for the Indian Field, I returned to New Zealand to live. I have retained responsibility for the Indian field and visit India on a regular basis to encourage and advise the national leadership of the Mission and the two Advent Christian Conferences which minister in India. At the time of my return to New Zealand I was appointed to the additional position of Ministry Manager, and subsequently as Asia Team Leader of the World Outreach Department for the Advent Christian ministries in India, Thailand, Malaysia and Myanmar and have the privilege of working with the national workers in those countries and of visiting them as I travel to and from India.
My wife of 39 years, Helen, died from a very rare bone cancer in 2001, after 5 years of fighting the disease. During those 5 years she had a long period of remission, and in spite of the fact that she had had major surgery to her mouth and jaw, we had planned to serve the Lord in India together. We had sold our home and our business about mid 2000, in readiness to come, when the cancer recurred, and she died in October 2001.
I have here in New Zealand my three married children: a girl and two boys, their spouses and 12 lovely grandchildren – 7 boys and 5 girls.
God has richly blessed me in that all of my children and their spouses are actively serving the Lord in various churches and other Christian ministries and my grandchildren are being raised in fine Christian homes. Probably the hardest part of serving the Lord in India was the way I missed these dear ones after leaving them in August 2002. Fortunately I was able to have a short furlough with them each year. It is a joy to again be a “resident member” of my family now that New Zealand is the base for my activities.
My late wife´s father was a long-time Pastor in the Churches of Christ Life and Advent Association, which was the equivalent then in New Zealand of the Advent Christian Conference of New Zealand. To cut a long and lovely story short, when my family moved to live across the street from where she lived in the church manse, Helen, as a teenage girl, invited me, as a teenage boy, to attend the Bible Class and Youth group at their church. The Lord, by the power of His Holy Spirit, used the friendship evangelism of her and the other members of that Bible Class to encourage me over a period of time to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour. I was baptised in July 1959 and six years after her first invitation to me to attend the Bible Class I married the Pastor´s daughter! My father in law´s preaching and teaching had something to do with my conversion too, of course, but it was mainly the love and friendship and example shown to me by those of my own age which led me to want to follow the Lord as they were obviously doing.
I am not a trained Pastor: I have been a businessman all my working life. Most of my working career was spent in management and administration of a large, national, publicly listed manufacturing, sales and marketing company, and my last position with that company was that of National Operations Manager, responsible for the operation of 13 sales offices and distribution points throughout the country. My wife and I then owned and operated our own screen-printing business for about 12 years prior to her death. Until I went to India my service for the Lord had been done on a part time, lay basis, both in the local churches that we attended over the years and in the Churches of Christ (L&A) Association and later The Conditional Immortality Association and even later the Advent Christian Conference of New Zealand. I was Chairman of Advent Christian Missions New Zealand Trust Board for a number of years prior to coming to India.
During the late 1980s and the 1990s, my wife and I were involved with the organization and sending by the small group of Advent Christians in New Zealand of 6 Work Teams to Oro Bible College in the Philippines and 2 to the College of Evangelism in India. I was privileged to be the leader or a member of many of those Work Teams, and it was those experiences which I believe were the beginning of our special interest in missionary service. As our children left home and our responsibilities caring for aged parents were completed, we sought the Lord´s leading to spend a few years serving Him where-ever He wanted us to work. Our joint plans were interrupted by Helen´s illness and death, but in the Lord´s will a series of happenings opened the way for me to go to India in August 2002.
I am quite sure that I was where the Lord wanted me to be during that six and a half year period in India, just as I am sure that I am now where he wants me to be, and I am trusting Him to use the talents and abilities He has given me to firstly bring glory to his Name and secondly to be able to help the wonderful Asian Advent Christians in the development of their Christian ministries. God willing, I am prepared to serve Him for whatever “working” years I have left in life.
Because of the political and religious situation in Tamil Nadu, South India, my missionary colleagues and I were not able to be involved in active, public Christian activities and ministries, but we were there as supporters, advisors and encouragers to the two Advent Christian organizations that earlier missionaries set up and nurtured over many years. They are the Advent Christian Conference of India and the Fellowship of Blessed Hope churches which between them have about 90 churches and more than 30,000 believers. In Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar there are very faithful and committed groups of Advent Christians with the burden to share the blessings of the Christian faith with their fellow countrymen, and they too work under significant pressure and difficulties of political, religious and cultural nature. It is my privilege to be involved with them also as a supporter, encourager and advisor and to represent the ACGC and its membership in that role. There are many practical and cultural difficulties in those countries which still have to be worked through, but in spite of those the Gospel is being faithfully preached and shared, and men and women and young people are coming to know and trust Christ as Lord and Saviour.
Please pray for our brothers and sisters in the Lord in India, Myanmar, Malaysia and Thailand: life is hard and harsh for most of them, but they serve the Lord faithfully and zealously under difficult conditions. Frankly, their faith and their zeal often put me to shame. They are lovely, Godly, generous people in the main, and it is a joy and a privilege to work with them for the Lord.