For many years, Chuck and Nancy Missler had a vision to establish their ministry base in New Zealand. After many visits to the Emerald Islands of the South Pacific, they finally found what they were looking for. Chuck explained, “Within five minutes of walking onto the grounds of The River Lodge we just knew this was the place that God had for us.” The River Lodge was purchased in 2010 and the Misslers moved from Idaho to their new home on the grounds of the lodge.
Although the lodge came as an already operating corporate retreat business, Nancy Missler expressed her vision that it become “The L’abri of the South Pacific.” L’abri is an organization established at the end of World War II by Francis and Edith Schaeffer in Switzerland as a place of rest, study and exploring the Christian faith. With the vast amounts of Bible study resources already developed by the Misslers, this seemed to be the perfect venue to fulfil that vision.
In 2013, the Residential Study Programme (RSP) was launched at The River Lodge in Reporoa, on the North Island of New Zealand. The lodge offers a comfortable dining/lounge area, conference facilities, high definition video and audio recording and streaming facilities, site-wide ultra-fast wifi, 18 large bedrooms with private en suite, and beautiful 40-plus acre grounds all situated alongside the majestic Waikato River. Its location became the inspiration for Nancy to liken it as “the perfect Psalm 23 environment.” “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
Utilizing the Koinonia Institute’s online classes, the resident students not only had access to the existing guided courses available through the institute but pioneered the use of KI Self-Paced courses. This flexibility allowed the resident students to move through the material at their own pace which generally meant that they could complete the course material more quickly.
Chuck Missler will often end his public presentations by asking, “Have you discovered your calling?” only to then then ask, “What are you doing about it?” The basic objective of this programme is the “equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” by providing a residential environment for rest, repose and refreshment through Bible study and fellowship with other like-minded Christians. The goals are to:
- Establish a solid Biblical basis upon which the participant can build both personal and ministry skills,
- Provide an intimate Christian communal-style living and learning environment so that each participant forms a functioning part of the daily experience of living and learning together with other Christians, and
- Offer personal mentoring by the experienced staff at The River Lodge.
Each KI study program is individually tailored to the specific needs of each participant. All KI RSP offerings are generally based on a 5-day study week with weekends free to enjoy the beauty and excitement of New Zealand. The additional benefits provided to each of the students are:
- All KI course material is available free of charge for all enrolled courses taken during the student participation in the RSP, and;
- All RSP students are able to purchase KI study materials from The River Lodge Bookstore at a 30% discount.
The Accelerator Adventure
In 2014 the Accelerator Weekend Programs were added. These offered the participants the ability to complete a 12-session KI course in just one weekend. All participants are placed in a guided classroom environment that is comprised of lectures from the online KI course material, open discussions, and testing. It becomes a fast-paced and encouraging shared experience that has produced amazing results.
Residential students who are working toward their Silver or Gold Medallion have the added advantage that all of their coursework can be taken as self-paced classes including the Issachar Track requirements.
The Residential Study Group
Starting in July 2015, special study groups are being offered to students who are in residence at the River Lodge. These will take advantage of three well-established innovations:
- The participative learning experience of the Case Method of instruction (popularized by most current graduate, law, medical, and scientific institutions);
- The intensive nature of the mutual in-residence challenges of a diverse group of deeply committed students;
- The need for alternative paths to accelerate or by-pass unintended obstacles confronting the fulfillment of Medallion requirements for both Silver and Gold programs.
These will be featured in subsequent publications of the Handbook and the Course Catalog as pre-emptive alternatives as the I-Series of 650–699 for Silver and I–900–950 for Gold. There are currently special awards involved for those who attain their Medallion qualifications prior to September 30, 2015.