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 1996 as Executive Director Tony has brought strategic direction, strong relationship building, and creative fundraising ideas to LeaDev-Langham. He also travels to Partner Schools to encourage, advise and give support; and around New Zealand preaching in supporting churches and updating our donor partners on work progress. During 2017/18 Tony refocuses his energy on much-needed strategic fundraising projects, handing the bulk of the programme work to Allan Harkness, and the strategic leadership of the organisation to a new incoming Executive Director. When not in an airplane, Tony is grounded on terra-firma, walking several times per week, focusing on his family, and forever keen for a protein 'fix'.
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.
Allan Harkness - International Programmes & Partnerships Manager
Seconded from OMF, Allan has been involved in theological education in South East Asia since 1988. From 2004-2015 he was the founding Dean of Asia Graduate School of Theology (Alliance). In recent years he has been a mentor/trainer for a Bible college faculty; enriching, equipping, and helping with curriculum development for more effectively building a responsive Church in Asia. Now settled in New Zealand, Allan and his wife Marven continue to enjoy building on their rich and diverse cross-cultural experience. They have two sons in their early 30s and four grandchildren, all across the ditch (alas). Allan enjoys jogging and mountain biking.
Our programmes also have several volunteer Kiwi Programme Consultants working itinerantly in Asia-Pacific.
Jamie Higginbotham - Projects CoordinatorJamie 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 feels called to pastor a church and 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). Along with Dani, he was a Young Adults Pastor at a West Auckland church, and then moved to become an Associate Pastor (including responsibility for admin systems and efficiency) until the end of 2017. Jamie has three young children and loves spending time with his family, studying the Bible and following his beloved football team, Manchester United.
Board of Trustees
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.
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."
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.
Jessica PalmerJessica is a Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Law at Otago University, where she teaches and researches in contract, equity and commercial law. A graduate of Auckland and Cambridge Universities, she is a contributing author of two leading texts in New Zealand on equity and civil remedies. She had been involved in governance of not-for-profit organisations for several years, and co-leads the TSCF Law Students’ Christian Fellowship on campus at Otago. Jessica is married to Nick and they have four children.
Paul SpainPaul is married with one son. His company Gorilla Technology has spent nearly 20-years helping organisations leverage technology in order to achieve better results. He is regularly featured in the media and as a public speaker discussing business trends, technology and digital media. Paul is also a podcaster heard most often on NZ Tech Podcast and NZ Business Podcast – both of which he hosts.
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.