August 2014

Being still

Posted on

A couple years back I managed to catch up with an older friend of mine. We were riding on a bus filled with teens through a forest in the middle of Norway when he casually said (in his delightful southern American accent), “Jon, I’ve figured out the key to missions.”

The key to missions, eh Ken? You’re figured it all out?

He went on. “We all know Psalm 46 – be still and know that I am God – but have you ever read it in context?”

I’m sure I had… but I guess I’d not been paying much attention.

“The very next verse says ‘I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ What’s the key to mission? It’s being still and knowing that he is God.”

In my mind, that seems almost too simple. How are we to see this whole mission thing fulfilled where God’s name is exalted across the whole earth? By being still before God, knowing his presence, making hanging out with him part of our daily lives. But doesn’t that make perfect sense? It’s not people who are great at doing a bunch of stuff for God who will change the world, but people who really know God.

The problem is I’m not all that great at being still! It takes real discipline to sit and quiet myself before God – and to be honest, half the time I’m just waiting until I think I’ve sat long enough so I can get active again. The further I go in God, the more I realise I need him… and the more I discover I don’t desire him as much as I wish I did – if I really wanted to know God more and live in his presence, wouldn’t setting time aside be natural, easy, normal?

Here lies the tension – it’s in that stillness that I really get to know this God who is in the business of transforming the world. If I don’t learn to enjoy that stillness and really focus my heart of him, how can I expect to see his name exalted in all the earth?! I can’t share a God that I don’t really know.

 

THE MUSE

Do you relate? What keeps you from really getting to know God intimately? What can we do about it? Share your thoughts below.

THE MOVE

Set aside a decent chunk of time this week to really focus on God – half an hour or an hour one morning or something like that. Put aside any agenda of what that time should look like to find out what being still before God can be like.

Flying out

Posted on

I fly out on the 3rd September to set up my life in a new city, Gijon, Spain! The last 2 months I have spent time with friends as well as four churches around the South Island of New Zealand who are partnering with me. I have visited home groups, youth groups, homes, Sunday schools, church services, other groups and staff meetings. This time has made me realise even more that gospel work is a partnership and that God, in his goodness, has provided many people to partner with me from New Zealand and around the world. I praise God for people like you and that we have such a good and sovereign God!

If you are in Christchurch you are very welcome to join in my commissioning during the main morning church service at St Stephens Church, Shirley. There will be time for lunch together afterwards at the Palms Mall food court.

When: Sunday 31st, 10.30am at St Stephens Church Where:Shirley Intermediate School Hall, corner North Parade and Shirley Road, Christchurch

Alternatively, I will be at the Coffee Culture Cafe, Rotherham Street, Riccarton, 3.30- 5pm this Sunday if you want to pop in for a farewell coffee.

Hashtag

Posted on

#NZCMS is a hub for missional engagement. It’s a conversation you’re invited to join, a place for your voice to be heard. It’s all about getting you into the ongoing dialogue of what it means to be God’s missional people in the 21st century.

It’s not just about information.

It isn’t about promoting a particular mission agency.

It’s not us telling you what to do.

 

It’s about asking questions, sharing thoughts and engaging others on this missional journey we call life. In a nut shell, #NZCMS is an online missional community.

To get the conversation started each Friday you’ll find a short blog looking through the eyes of mission at the sort of stuff we face day-to-day. These will come from our NZCMS team, guest bloggers, missionaries – and even from some of you (if you’re game!). There’ll be challenges to get you active here and now, plus questions to get you thinking.

And since the point’s to get you interacting with others like yourself, we’re hoping you’ll add your voice into the conversation! Either share your thoughts in the comments below each blog or join the convo at the #NZCMS FaceBook group – and feel free to ask questions about whatever you’re pondering.

 

How to get involved:

Sign up for the #NZCMS emailer – fill in your email at the top of the page.

OR join the #NZCMS FaceBook group

African kids see themselves for the first time

Featured Video Play Icon
Posted on

This is a group of Standard One kids outside the Primary School classrooms of Bishop Stanway Primary School. It’s only about 500 m (less than half a mile) north of Msalato Bible College where I worked. I would visit the school regularly to teach Standard Seven songs for their graduation (in English), to teach the youngest children Songs in English, to play outside games that Kiwi preschoolers love and to research Standard Two children for my American friend to know how best to begin a Penpal type arrangement.

These kids were under a tree waiting for the other classes to finish at 2.30pm. I took a photo of them and they were so excited, then with my movie camera I shot them (without them knowing).

Egypt Appeal Update

Posted on

Last year a special appeal was issued by Bishop Mouneer from Egypt. Here is a small update about the appeal and what it has accomplished.

Background to the Situation

The last few years have been traumatic for Egyptians. We have witnessed bloodshed on our streets, vandalism and the deliberate destruction of churches and government buildings in lawless acts of revenge. In 2013, one of our Anglican churches was attacked, and other ministries received threats. We praise God that our churches and congregations are safe, but we grieve for the loss of life and for the churches which were burnt in August 2013. Unemployment is at a record high, there is a lack of security on the streets, the economy is in decline, and poverty is crushing for many people in Egypt. Refugees too are suffering, those from Syria and from other African countries, such as Sudan.

Testimonies

The funds that were donated in response to the appeal have been used to help many families and individuals in difficult situations. Below are testimonies of three people who were helped by this support.

Rehab: I am 37 years ago. I got married many years ago, but my husband became psychologically unstable and started to beat me up. I took my two daughters and moved to my mother’s house. I started to clean houses to make a living and to put my children through school. My daughters have now graduated from university and one daughter recently got married. According to the culture in Egypt, the bride’s family must provide the furniture for the house. I did not have enough money to do this, and I shared my problem with the staff at the Boulaq Community Development Centre. The centre helped me a lot and financially supported me to buy furniture for my daughter. This was a big blessing for me and for my daughter.

Nahed: I moved from Upper Egypt to Ras El Soda, a very poor area near Alexandria. I heard about the Ras el Soda Community Centre and started to attend some lectures about raising children and health education. I also sent my children to the nursery at the centre. I had no toilet in my house, which was so difficult for my children. I desperately needed a toilet and so I went to the centre with my problem. They agreed to pay for the labour and I paid for the materials. This was a great help for my family.

Om Farouk is a 75 year old woman. She broke her leg badly, and the church helped her to pay for the surgery. The church visited her regularly to give her Holy Communion in her home and provide her with food supplies.

 

For more details click here.

An Unexpected Birth

Posted on

I walked armed with huge sketched maps of the area marking all the water sources in the area, a Google maps aerial view for good measure, and blank paper for an action plan. As I walked, the rain started to pitter. Then flow more steadily, accompanied by doom-like thunder rolls. I kept walking, but silently wrote off the meeting. People just don’t move in the rain here. I unlocked the door, and waited, expecting nobody.

Miracles happen – look at the image above!

Members of our church had spent several months asking questions in the community: What issues do you care about? What needs change? The most pressing answer was water. Over a thousand people rely on one water source that becomes contaminated in the rainy season from groundwater flows, and dries up and flows slow in the ‘summer’ season. We invited community members we met along the way who were interested in action to come to this meeting, including local leaders. They came. There was a good buzz. I proposed we become a ‘community water committee’ to tackle the issue. The consensus was no. We need to be an organization! We need to elect a full executive committee, a chairperson, a vice, a secretary, a treasurer! We need a constitution!

In a groundswell of the positive energy triggered by new beginnings and a new gathering of people unexpectedly unhindered by rain and thunder, we rolled with it. I swallowed my skepticism about the restrictive bureaucracy involved in constitutions and executive committees and declared, “yes, and when we have new clean water sources, we can move on to tackle the next issue!” We will not be an NGO, we won’t have salaries, we don’t’ do handouts, or ‘income generating activities,’ but we will grow our collective power to create or demand solutions to local problems.

And that’s how Wakonye Kenwa Lacor was unexpectedly born. (Rough translation: “we help you amongst us.”)

 

For more from Nick and Tessa in Uganda visit ugandapanda.com

Cathedral Happenings

Posted on

We are now 3 weeks into our 5 week placement at the Anglican Cathedral in Suva. It’s been a real mix of experiences and paces. Our typical day goes something like this: 8 30am devotion with staff. …

Yep, that’s about all that we can be sure of!

It’s pretty organic, even if plans are made they’re bound to change so we just take things as they come!

So what has come? We’ve done a few devotions with the kids in the kindy attached to the church. This usually involves fending off about 20 kids each who all want to hold our hands, touch our hair, show us their monkey bar tricks and lament about the girl beside them who apparently doesn’t want to be their friend anymore! Eventually we do manage to do some sort of devotion – the kids are especially fond of the action song ‘I’m gonna clap, I’m gonna snap and praise the Lord.’ Somehow I’ve also ended up as a Sunday School teacher … more clap clapping and snap snapping!

Further happenings involve piling plates with food at a funeral, singing Fijian and Hindi worship songs, selling books at the church bazaar and being part of the daily church services. They’re slowly giving us more responsibility in these services – tomorrow I’m in charge of intercession (prayers for church, world etc.). Having not had a particularly Anglican upbringing, words like liturgy and Eucharist were foreign to me and the practice of saying words altogether seemed a wee bit robotic (no offence intended!) However, as I’ve actually listened to what is said I’ve come to appreciate how God focused it is – you basically spend the whole time praising him instead of just looking at the me (what he’s done for me, how much he loves me etc.). It’s beautiful. Something else that’s struck me is hearing God worshipped in another tongue. We had the privilege of visiting an elderly man at the hospital with one of the cathedral priests who conducted the communion in Hindustani. Even though I couldn’t make head nor tail of anything said it was so cool!

We’ve also had the chance to work up a sweat (not that that takes much in this temperature!) We had a spontaneous afternoon of house moving last week, helping a lady and her grandson shift a very impressive amount of boxes between houses. Saturdays are spent church cleaning where I’ve learnt that cleaning windows is not my ideal job – they’re never quite clean enough for my liking! I also got another chance to join the women who do hospital ministry. We prayed for a couple of wee kids and I was amazed at how thankful the mothers were, that something so simple could mean so much. One of the mums, a Hindu woman, shared about how she had seen a process of healing in her daughter after she had been prayed for a few months ago. This girl who just a few weeks ago had her eyes rolled back, tongue out with no ability to sit was now able to focus, had the beginnings of speech and she was sitting. Woah! It all seems rather busy when I share like this but there has also been spaces: time for personal devotions, walks and runs and also times of sitting, waiting and not knowing. To be honest I struggle with this a bit. I’m one for action and feel like we’re here to serve so we should be serving. It’s challenged me to do some rethinking. What is mission? Does it have to be doing? Or can we get so caught up in the action that we miss the moments of just sitting and listening? The other day I went to help at a bazaar at an old people’s home but there was an oversupply of helpers so I just ended up sitting with an old Indian woman for a few hours, listening to stories of her life. Is this a waste of time or just time invested differently? Is taking time to pray, journal and just soak in God’s presence mission? It doesn’t seem like that’s helping anyone but myself. But then again perhaps it’s the core of it all, the foundations of where effective mission comes from. When is it time to serve and when is it time to graciously receive? So many questions!

Through my enemy’s eyes – an interview with Salim Munayer

Featured Video Play Icon
Posted on

From CMS UK.

About to give up on reconciliation in Israel-Palestine? Don’t. Watch this interview with Salim Munayer of Musalaha.

Are you thirsty for a different kind of voice in the maelstrom of voices over Israel-Palestine? How can we look with clear eyes at the conflict? Is there a hopeful path to follow? Has anyone got anything to say that is not ultimately one-sided? Salim Munayer does.

Dr Salim Munayer is director of Musalaha reconciliation ministry in Israel-Palestine and a trustee of the Church Mission Society. He co-authoredThrough My Enemy’s Eyes, with Lisa Loden.

Here, he discusses the ABC of reconciliation, what might be a Christlike response to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and challenges the Church in the West about its apathy and seeming lack of desire to speak up for Christians in the Middle East.

Salim also sheds light on the competing historical narratives and theological frameworks, and the implication of the church in the conflict.