Gypsy minister settles down
It was truly divine intervention that brought British born minister Roy Warren to Blenheim.
The therapeutic and calming nature that he saw in New Zealand drew Roy to the country during his sabbatical in 2002, but little did he know that this trip would lead to him and his wife, Valerie, moving over permanently.
"In the UK I did a lot of work with the gypsy revival and the Gypsy and Travellers Evangelical Movement," he said.
"It is an great movement that basically started with six gypsies going to France to buy carpeting who ended up being saved and giving their lives to the Lord.
"When they returned two of them came to my church and we took them into our home group.
"The same happened with the others who went to different churches," explained Roy.
The small group quickly grew and "within three years tens of thousands of gypsies had turned to God and joined the movement.
"It's an amazing story and it was because of my experience with the gypsies that I was approached at a conference that I attended while I was in New Zealand during my sabbatical," added Roy.
Members of the New Zealand Baptist Union asked him to assist with their consultancy team, and in 2003 Roy was invited to work as a itinerant/travelling minister based in Christchurch.
"I felt a definite calling to serve the New Zealand Baptist churches on a national level," said Roy, who brought his wife and the youngest and eldest of this three children with him.
While based in Christchurch Roy travelled and preached extensively around the South Island before being offered a permanent position at the Blenheim Baptist Church, which he took up seven weeks ago. The result of his decision to spend time in New Zealand is something that Roy admits he would never have imagined.
"If you had told me 15 years ago I would be living and preaching on the top of the South Island in New Zealand I would never have believed you.
"It just shows how the Lord takes you in unexpected directions in life."
For Roy his spiritual journey began at a young age, with his mother introducing him to the Bible and God at the age of six.
"I gave my life to the Lord at 10 - I even remember the date and time - and began lay preaching when I was 15," said Roy, who qualified as a civil engineer.
He has a strong focus on missions based work in the church and has been involved with Christian missions to Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Ukraine and France, and helped start an orphanage in Turkey.
He has also studied Egyptology and wrote a book based around the biblical account of the 10 plagues of Egypt called Behind the Plagues of Egypt.
It's not all work and no play for Roy, who loves soccer and fishing, but admits that he finds little time for fishing at the moment.
"I really enjoy the science behind fishing. In the UK I did a lot of carp fishing, which used quite technical equipment and a range of different kinds of bait.
"There isn't any carp fishing here but I also love fly fishing for trout and salmon, but haven't had a chance to do any fly fishing in Blenheim yet."
- The Marlborough Express