Firm Foundation New Zealand (FFNZ) is a Christian ministry started by Jeff and Averil Coleman in 2017. Based out of Dunedin, the mission of FFNZ is to partner with New Zealand churches and ministries in the areas of conversational evangelism, inductive Bible study, expository Bible teaching, and biblical worldview training. The goal is to see many New Zealanders progress to spiritual maturity through three stages: unbeliever to believer, believer to disciple, disciple to disciple-maker, all by the power of the Holy Spirit and to the glory of God.
I grew up in a Christian family in Salina, Kansas, and trusted in Jesus at a children’s camp when I was about eight or nine years old. My dad and mom were divorced, but they got along well, and both remarried. All through my growing up years, my brother Jamie and I lived one week with dad and one week with mom.
When I was 16 years old, mom was diagnosed with brain cancer, and she died two years later. This became a very difficult time for me. When I entered the University of Kansas at age 18, I began to deeply doubt the Christian faith. I was heavily influenced by the secular humanism and postmodernism taught by my professors, especially in the humanities departments. By graduation, I no longer considered myself a Christian. I was more interested in parties, women, alcohol, and even a bit of drugs. My life was on a downward spiral, and I wasn’t happy inside.
Then I moved to Shanghai, China, to teach English. That year in China everything changed. Through reading the Bible, observing Chinese culture, spending time with Christians, and God’s gracious intervention, my faith in Jesus was restored. On December 31, 2001, in Hong Kong, God delivered me from demonic influence and gave me a fresh start. I joined an international church in Shanghai and began to serve God with new vigor.
Upon returning to the United States, I entered law school in Denver, Colorado. I began attending Front Range Bible Church, where the Bible was taught in-depth and verse-by-verse. I had not been exposed to such excellent teaching and was immediately hooked. The pastor, Mark Perkins, became my personal mentor. I completed law school and began a one-year judicial clerkship in Colorado, but I knew my ultimate calling was to full-time Christian ministry.
Just after law school, I met Averil at a Bible study in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We dated long distance for two years and got married in 2008. Averil has been God’s wonderful gift to me. She is such a lovely person. We are blessed to be so united in our calling and ministry together.
I served full-time in the U. S. Air Force for seven years, during which time we lived in Alaska, Kansas, Virginia, and Texas. Four of our five children were born: Sophia, Noah, Abraham, and Moses. In 2014, I separated from active duty and began attending Dallas Theological Seminary in Texas. I graduated in 2016, and we followed God’s call to move to New Zealand shortly thereafter. We sensed God’s call to New Zealand based on a tragedy in Averil’s family and also because of a perceived need for a ministry focused on evangelism, inductive Bible study, in-depth Bible teaching, and biblical worldview training.
We began Firm Foundation New Zealand with the goal of raising funds in the U. S. to get our ministry started in New Zealand. I applied for a few pastor positions in New Zealand, but for various reasons none of those opportunities worked out. So we threw ourselves into evangelism and inductive Bible study in Averil’s hometown of Timaru.
We ministered in Timaru for two years (2017-18), working with Anglican, Baptist, Charismatic, Open Brethren, and Reformed churches. We were able to share the gospel with about 1,000 people, and by God’s grace, the inductive Bible study concept began to catch on. There are three inter-denominational inductive Bible studies happening in Timaru with about forty participants. We were also able to train a small group of evangelists who continue to share the gospel weekly at Timaru’s Caroline Bay.
In 2019, God called us further south to Dunedin, where there is more opportunity to impact the lives of youth, university students, young adults, and young families. We have joined Cornerstone International Bible Church and work closely with them in all aspects of our ministry. Dunedin is where we believe God has called us for the long-term. So far in 2019, we have been getting to know the church community and Dunedin culture, building key relationships, and beginning to strategize how God might want to go about transforming Dunedin through the power of the gospel.
Our Focus Areas
- We share the gospel in a friendly, conversational way at public locations in Canterbury and Otago.
- We train believers how to share the gospel through seminars and workshops.
- We assist local churches in conducting evangelism campaigns in their own communities.
Inductive Bible Study
- We lead weekly inductive Bible studies throughout the year, covering all books of the Bible.
- We conduct weekly youth Bible studies and holiday youth Bible camps in Otago and South Canterbury.
- We train inductive Bible study facilitators in Otago and South Canterbury.
Expository Bible Teaching
- We preach from the Old and New Testaments during Sunday and other services at churches throughout the South Island.
- We conduct seminars and workshops on books of the Bible and areas of theology.
- We are available to serve as guest speakers at camps, conferences, and retreats.
Biblical Worldview Training
- We run biblical worldview and apologetic talks in Timaru and Dunedin.
- We train believers how to think biblically in all areas of life through seminars and workshops.
- We aim to run a biblical worldview academy for youth in Dunedin.