Meet the New Zealand Team
Russell Thorp - Executive Director
Russell was born in Papua New Guinea (PNG) of missionary parents. He and Pearl married in 1982. After training at Laidlaw College, earning a Master of Theology degree, they went back to PNG and served on the faculty of Christian Leaders Training College (CLTC). Prior to taking up his former role, as Mission Director, Global Connections in Mission (GC3), he was Dean of Undergraduate Studies at Carey Baptist College, Auckland, and prior to that, a senior lecturer at Pathways Bible and Mission College. Russell and Pearl live in Auckland. They are parents of four adult children.
Tony Plews - Associate Director, Special Projects
Prior to joining LeaDev-Langham, Tony taught at Laidlaw College (Auckland), having been a passionate and energetic evangelist since coming to know Christ as a young man in 1970. From January 1996 until March 2020, Tony was Executive Director, before passing the baton of strategic executive leadership to Russell Thorp. Tony continues for a time as Associate Director, Special Projects. Tony is a passionate preacher of the authority and relevance of the Scriptures, and earnest advocate for the imperative and urgency of global mission, whenever the opportunity presents. Tony, and his loyal and longsuffering wife of 40 years, Judy, live in an extended family community, on 6 hectares just south of Helensville, with their two married children, spouses, five young grandchildren, and 10-15 cattle [depending on the time of year]. Adding a friendly pack of large dogs is on the agenda.
John Corban - Finance Manager
Born in Tanzania, John is passionate about seeing the Church strengthened and mature; his family has a long history with mission work around the world. As well as providing part-time finance management to LeaDev-Langham, he is the Global Finance Officer for Langham Partnership International which sees him travelling to meetings with our networks several times a year. Prior to being our resident ‘Bean Counter’ (and so much more), he was an Accountant in the corporate sector for many years. Away from work, John plays guitar and sings, runs to keep healthy, coaches his son’s cricket team and drives his kids all around Auckland to support their busy lives.
Sheryl Savill - Administration Manager
Born and raised in Auckland, in her early-married years Sheryl did the big OE: living in London, travelling around Europe, and attending Tauernhof, Capernwray Bible School in Austria. This experience was very influential in her life, eventually leading her into ministry with Focus on the Family NZ and Manna Christian Stores, in key administrative and project management roles. At LeaDev-Langham she is our ‘hub of efficiency’ with her finger on the pulse of (pretty much) everything as well as her computer keyboard. A vibrant people-person, Sheryl is drawn to help others develop and strengthen their relationship with God. She also enjoys adventures with her husband and their two daughters, a well-brewed cup of tea and walks on the beach.
Jamie Higginbotham - Projects Coordinator
Jamie works across Finance, Administration and Marketing, providing part-time support to key projects and enabling efficiency. Identifying with many of the emerging young leaders we support, Jamie is passionate about preaching and theology. Originally from Manchester, he and his wife Dani came to New Zealand in 2008 to follow the call of God on their lives. He studied at Faith Bible College (Tauranga), where he also worked as an intern, and then later at Laidlaw College (Auckland). Jamie and Dani have since planted The Ground Vineyard Church in North-West Auckland. Jamie has four young children and loves spending time with his family, studying the Bible and following his beloved football team, Manchester United.
Board of Trustees
Denis Browne - Chair
Denis has been a trustee since 2005. A Chemical Engineer by training, he spent 23 years in the corporate sector working for a Swedish multinational in a number of countries, including in the Majority World. He now runs his own company selling heat exchanger products to building services and industry, and lives in Auckland.
“There is no more strategic ministry I can think of that so effectively leverages resources in the western church to help build God’s kingdom in the developing world.”
Milne is a South Island dairy farmer. A believer since the age of 25, he is active in his local church, a Gideon, and the Director of several business and not for profit boards. He’s a father of four, and a grandfather of four.
Janet has worked as a career specialist for more than 14 years, currently through her own company. She provides a wide range of career coaching and work transition services to both individuals and organisations. She has a particular interest in the career development of leaders, resilience, mentoring, and decision-making processes, along with effective governance. Janet has been involved with a variety of not for profit organisations over the years and is currently the chair of the New Zealand Christian Network. She is married to Deane and they have two adult children. She enjoys living in the wonderful Paremoremo community, and her interests include walking, reading, church, and spending time with friends and family.
Grant is a Partner in Parry Field Lawyers in Christchurch. He is a lay preacher and Vestry member at St Christopher’s Anglican Church. Grant is also involved in a number of other not for profit organisations, and brings this experience to the LeaDev-Langham board. He is married to Robyn and they have three sons.
Liz grew up in Malaysia and Singapore, before moving to New Zealand as a teenager. Liz is a banking & finance partner at Dentons Kensington Swan in Auckland. She is a vestry member at St Aidan’s Anglican Church, and has been involved in a number of other not for profit boards. Liz is married to Brian and they have two children. A life-long Christian, Liz is excited to see young people grow spiritually, as she continues to develop in her own faith journey.
A primary school teacher by qualification, Steve spent the last 22 years at the Unitec Institute of Technology, bringing bridging education and support to Pacific students, helping them succeed. Currently the Senior Pastor at Word of Life Church in West Auckland, Steve is also passionate about seeing young people grow spiritually. His involvement in youth ministry over 25 years has given him insights into motivating and coaching young people to become leaders in their own spheres of influence. Steve is married to Judy and they have three sons. Steve has a passion for all kinds of sport but loves American Football most of all. He has graduate and post-graduate qualifications in education, leadership and theology, but is always on a learning journey of some kind.
Paul is Professor of New Testament Studies in the Department of Theology and Religion, University of Otago, Dunedin, and a Fellow of the Royal Society Te Apārangi. He has co-written commentaries on 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus in the Asia Bible Commentary Series, published by the Asia Theological Association. He supervises LeaDev-Langham PhD candidates, including Anna Sui Hluan (MEGST, Myanmar) and George Mombi (CLTC, Papua New Guinea). Paul has had a decades long association with TSCF in New Zealand, and he and his wife worship at Leith Valley Presbyterian Church, Dunedin.
Malcolm is an ordained Anglican minister currently studying towards a PhD at Otago University on the early missionaries to New Zealand and the conversion of Maori to Christianity. He has ministered in four parishes within the Christchurch Diocese before moving to Dunedin in 2012.