Robert and Rebecca married in 2003, it was hard at first dealing with each other’s cultural differences. Robert was raised in Samoa and Rebecca in NZ. They argued a lot and before long were ready to call it quits.
One day Roberts Nephew came to stay. They remembered him as a bad boy, but he had turned his life around and they noticed a big difference. He had a peaceful presence - he had become a born again Christian. Rebecca was curious and asked many questions, wondering about what God could do in her life.
In the midst of all the tension Rebecca started looking for a solution beyond themselves. Whenever the name Jesus came up there was a tug of war going on between Robert and Rebecca - she found it hard to explain what she was feeling, and he didn’t want to hear it. Rebecca prayed and asked God for help. After a heated argument one evening Robert and Rebecca realised how desperately they needed a Saviour and decided together to invite Jesus into their lives and immediately the arguments were silenced.
At this time Rebecca’s grandma was moving into a rest home and she was a woman of faith with many Christian books. They took all her Christian books, it was God’s timing. Rebecca’s Grandma was very excited for them and had prayed that Rebecca would one day be baptised. Robert and Rebecca felt a conviction to cleanse their home of everything that was not honoring to the Lord.
Robert and Rebecca joined a local church in Blenheim where they were baptized, at this time people noted a significant change in their children.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5
Work in the building trade was in decline, Robert decided to look at training – another career to supplement his building work. Rebecca suggested studying theology, so in 2011 Robert started distance learning a Bachelor of Applied Theology. Over the three years Robert and Rebbecca studied together and grew a deep knowledge of God’s Word. Studying full time and working in the building trade during the holidays. Times were lean but the Ifopo family saw God’s provision, they never went without. An anonymous person dropped money in their mailbox fortnightly, and neighbours shared fruit and vegetables with them.
The Ifopo family have embraced Christian mission raising goats on their farm in Blenheim to make milk, yoghurt, cheese and soap for donations. They save the money and split it evenly between their four favourite missions; Rebecca gave her portion to Tear Fund, Robert supported Habitat for Humanity, Peia supported MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) and Selau chose Mercy Ships.
At the beginning of 2014 Robert completed the Bachelor of Applied Theology by distance learning. Robert and Rebecca prayed and discerned to move to Auckland in February to study at Carey Baptist College. It was hard for the Ifopo family to give up their lifestyle - it was an ideal place to raise their family - but felt peace about it and put their faith into action. Robert and Rebecca chose living for God over living for their lifestyle. All the doors opened for their move to Auckland.
Robert still has 2 years of study to complete his Masters of Applied Theology and Pastoral Leadership. He met David Auty during his studies and felt prompted to ask if he could come to Hawera in a mentoring relationship – but he never asked. Then David put Roberts name forward to come to Hawera for student placement over summer. This was confirmation for Robert.
He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure. Isaiah 33:6
2014 has been a journey of faith for the Ifopo Family.