Pastor Giving Away Million Dollar Home to Help Build Church

The Smith family on the dock of the home they are giving away/ContributedA pastor in New Zealand is giving away his million dollar family home to help build a new church and community center for the local town.

Murray and Michelle Smith of Cambridge in New Zealand, are giving away their beautiful million dollar home overlooking Lake Karapiro in the North Island, and will donate the proceeds of their ‘Piece of New Zealand’ promotion to build a new church and community center for their town.

For NZ$25, people can be in with a chance to win the five bedroom house with lake views, incorporating two self-contained guest units. All those who enter get a series of stunning, iconic New Zealand digital photographs – all taken within a five minute drive of the Smith’s Lake Karapiro home. The home itself is only 20 minutes from ‘Hobbiton’ in Matamata, home of the hobbits in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

People can enter to win at Anyone eligible to own property in New Zealand – including foreigners – is eligible to enter the sales promotion which closes on 31 January 2010.

This inspiring story has already sparked interest from more than 94 countries, and has caught the imagination of New Zealand’s media. The Smith family has also attracted more than 3,500 fans on Facebook.

Murray Smith, pastor of Bridges Church in Cambridge, says his family decided to give away their home out of a personal conviction to live simpler lives. “Having travelled overseas to places such as Africa, South America, Asia and the Pacific Islands, we’ve seen people who live in such poverty, they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.”

“Many people don’t realize that because of the way the world’s assets are distributed, if you just own a car, it places you in the top 5% of wealth owners worldwide. And, how many of us have many more assets than just our car?”

“My wife Michelle and I made the decision to give away our biggest asset and scale down our life. We want to use our time and remaining assets to help other people here in our community.”    

“Although we don’t expect everyone who hears our story to act as radically as we have, we wonder if our actions may challenge others. It’s so easy to be enslaved to ‘stuff’ and the issue is, do we hold things, or do things hold us?” asks Murray.

Murray and Michelle say Synergy (Cambridge) Trust, which is the umbrella under which Bridges Church operates, has agreed to help with alternative accommodation for their family by way of assisting with rent for a period of time following the sales promotion. The Smiths plan to vacate their home shortly after the winner has been announced.

Proceeds from the ‘Piece of New Zealand’ sales promotion will go toward building a new church and community center for the town of Cambridge, New Zealand. The state-of-the-art building will have stage and technical facilities required to hold dramatic, musical and school productions. In addition to being the new home for Bridges Church, the building will also be the hub for community programs designed for children, youth and other sectors of the Cambridge community.

Murray and Michelle say they wanted to ensure people understood they were not giving away their home because they had money to spare. “Some skeptics may be thinking there is a catch to what we are doing, or that we must have a lot of money saved up and we can easily afford to do this.”

“We definitely haven’t made this decision because we have lots of money to spare. And, it certainly hasn’t been a decision that’s come easily. The fact is we endeavor to be very careful since I’m on a salary which is quite average by New Zealand standards and Michelle home-schools our children, whilst doing part time business administration work from home.”

“The whole point of us making this decision comes out of our awareness that you don’t need a lot of ‘stuff’ to be happy, and a desire to use our assets to make a difference for others. It’s important to our family that we get to the end of our lives on earth and know that we’ve done something significant that made other peoples’ lives better,” says Murray.

The Smith’s goal is for a minimum of 50,000 people to enter to win their home, which will allow them to cover costs of the campaign and donate the full market value of the home to build the church and community center.

The ‘Piece of New Zealand’ sales promotion closes on 31 January 2010 at 5pm. Entrants can view terms and conditions, and follow the Smith family’s progress on Twitter and Facebook through the website


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