March 2015

Wasting time waiting for God’s voice

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The following is reposted from ChristianPost.com.

The Church wastes too much time waiting for a word from God, says New York Times bestselling author and popular pastor Francis Chan. Christians should instead be more active in translating the knowledge they have into action rather than languishing in fear and indecision.

The  You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity writer lamented, “We’ve created a church culture in America where we assume we do nothing until we hear a voice from Heaven. And so if I go to church on Sunday, the pastor’s going to preach a sermon [and] we pretty much assume we’re not going to do anything radical in response to it unless he gives a really great sermon and gives us steps right afterwards, or this or that or really, really, think that we hear a voice from the Lord.”

As a result many Christ followers live selfishly while listening to Bible teachings every Sunday, said the Crazy Love author.

He writes that these Christians remind him of “the fattest people on earth” who have consumed so much food that they can no longer walk. “They are fed more and more knowledge every week. They attend church services, join small group Bible Studies, read Christian books, listen to podcasts and are convinced they still need more knowledge.”

Chan explained that continually listening to the Word without applying it has made Christians’ ears dull to God’s call.

“That’s the first thing I was taught in seminary before we even started classes: the president of the seminary said, ‘look be careful because once you can hear the word of God and do nothing in response then the next time you hear it, it’ll get easier, and the next time and pretty soon it becomes a habit and a pattern of you’re able to hear the Word of God without a practical response,'” said Chan.

“That’s a very dangerous place to be and yet, man, that’s happening. Every church across this nation, we’ve fallen into that pattern.”

The solution, Chan stated, is to act. “Why not assume action? Why do you hear a verse and assume I shouldn’t do something in response to that unless the Lord is stopping you?”

Chan acknowledges in You and Me Together that some Christians “are paralyzed by a fear of failure.” Others, he shared, are afraid that living out God’s word means depriving themselves from happiness.

“Scripture says that [God’s] commands led to life and I think everyone’s so afraid to obey His commands because they’re scared that if we obey this, this is going to make us miserable and there’s no reward it in it,” said Chan.

Christians, he said, need to tap into their faith.

“That’s what faith is, you know. Without it, it is impossible to please God and anyone who comes to Him has to believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

Chan summed, “True faith is when we believe He’s going to reward us whether it be in life now or the life to come. We know there’s a reward coming and God wants us to have that kind of faith.”

You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity can be ordered online. The Chans are donating all of the net proceeds from the books to various ministries providing for orphan children and exploited women around the world.You and Me Forever is also available online as a free PDF.

Reposted from ChristianPost.com

 

THE MUSE

Are our ears really dull to God’s word? Have you been tempted to wait for that ‘next word from God’ when you really knew what he wanted you to do?

THE MOVE

As you read your Bible this week, ask yourself: “What must I do in response to what I’ve read.” Then go do it.

 

Join the discussion at the #NZCMS Facebook Group.

11.11am for Haerenga

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You’re probably well aware that our Haerenga Mission Internship isn’t running this year. Initially we were quite disappointed when we reluctantly made the decision to postpone it until 2016, but we’re come to recognize God’s hand at work. He has given us an incredible window of opportunity to review, tweak and re-launch our Internship – something we simply wouldn’t have had time to do had the internship been running this year. So praise God that he really does determine our paths as we trust in him (Proverbs 3:5).

Thus far the review has been a long and prayerful process as we’ve laid Haerenga before the Lord and asked him to lead us and place us where he wants us to be. There have been many conversations, questions, prayers, tears, wonderings and imaginings happening over the past weeks as we consider how to best serve the Church in growing up missional disciples for God’s Kingdom purposes. As we got deeper into the process of reviewing – interviews, surveys, many discussions – it felt as if we were in the midst of a deep fog, not quite sure where we should be going. But, thankfully, that fog is lifting. We are beginning to sense where God is leading us with our Haerenga Internship.

This is where you come in. Over the past few years we have had 11 young people journey with NZCMS as Haerenga interns. Will you join us this week, every day at 11:11am, praying for the future of the Haerenga Mission Internship, for the young people of New Zealand, and for strategies for engaging and equipping young Kiwis for mission?

Meet Ropeta

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“The true greatness of any church in not how many it seats but how many it sends!” — Unknown

Talofa lava and warm Pacific greetings. My name is Ropeta Mene-Tulia. I am 38 years old, married with three beautiful children and I hail from the ‘ruby mad’ nation of Samoa. I’m in my final year of study at Vision College completing a Diploma in Ministry (Internship). As part of my study I have gained the opportunity to serve at NZCMS as an intern.

As a New Zealand born Samoan growing up in Aotearoa, the thought of being a missionary was very foreign. In fact, the thought still remains quite foreign. Yet, the Gospel is for all people and for all cultures – and Pacific people are part of that story.

My prayer is that through the work I am undertaking at NZCMS, and in partnership with the Pacific Christian community, the Lord will awaken the next generation of mission workers from Aotearoa – including many from Pacific communities. My passion is to see Pacific Christian communities in New Zealand invest in equipping and mobilising disciples of Jesus into all nations.

I am honoured and look forward to growing and learning during my time here at NZCMS.

Ia faamanuia atu le Atua (God Bless)

Fa’afetai tele lava (Thank you)

 

(Ropeta is to the right in the above picture.)

A Kenyan at Waitangi

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What’s this guy doing here? Why is an African hanging around at Waitangi? No one asked me the question but I’m sure many were pondering it.

Over the last three years I’ve gone to Waitangi on Waitangi day and I reckon it’s one of the most amazing trips I make each year. But why do I keep going? Waitangi Day is always special for me because it is here that the relational foundation for our nation was laid. We are still on a journey of understanding what that means, but this is where it all began 175 years ago.

As an emigrant to New Zealand, I believe understanding place and history are vital in connecting to the soul of a nation. It’s not just about heritage but it’s about identity.

You may wonder how Waitangi could be important to a Kenyan, to an ‘outsider’? Isn’t your sense of identity connected to your roots in Kenya? Yes I have roots in Kenya, but I’ve been planting roots here too. Over the last six years my family has been trying to understand what it means to plant our roots deep into Aotearoa soil. It has meant to visit the beautiful places in this country, building friendships with Kiwis and seeking to integrate into New Zealand society. It has meant finding a church to belong to and getting involved. I haven’t picked up the Kiwi accent yet, but my daughters have.

And this is how it’s supposed to be. As I read the Scriptures, I see God calling his people to be pilgrims, people who are on a journey. And even when God’s people had been forcibly removed from their motherland, God still told them to see the peace and prosperity of the city to which he called them into exile (Jeremiah 29:7). Part of what it means to be God’s missional people is to be prepared to sink our feet into the soil of the place God has called us to.

Over the last few years, I felt that there was something incomplete with this journey of discovering and integrating into New Zealand. It was like a tree with lovely branches and fruit but without roots. So I began a journey of planting my feet into the roots of New Zealand. Here’s three key lessons I’ve learned along my journey.

1. It’s about People

Governor Hobson’s speech to the tribal chiefs in which he said “He iwi tahi tatou” (“We are all one people)” mirrors the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:11-22. Paul speaks of Christ, “who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility”. Paul knew what it was to work among two divided peoples, Jews and Gentiles, but also to see a ‘new people’ brought into being. Can we pray for a posture of unity as we explore our unique identity as kiwis?

Waitangi is special to me because it is through what happened there that this country was established. It means people like me are able to come and live here. Because of the Treaty, we have been welcomed to come and call this country our own. Without the Treaty I would not be here, I would not be welcome in this country. So I see God involved in the Treaty of Waitangi and it’s great that Waitangi day begins with a prayer meeting at dawn attended by politicians, local leaders (and anyone who is able to get there at 4.30am!). Which other country in the world begins their ‘independence day’ celebration with a prayer meeting?!

My involvement as a representative of  NZCMS at Waitangi is in some small way a ‘coming home.’ Members of CMS were among the British missionaries who contributed to the original Treaty process in 1840. I also see the key role the missionaries, especially Henry Williams, played as trusted friends of Maori in the treaty formulation and promotion of it among Maori. While some scholars have painted some of the early missionaries as colonist puppets aligned with land confiscation, a careful reading of history must recognize that these missionaries, although not angels, came to New Zealand for the Maori people, offering support, education and translation work.  This work was often carried on by Maori evangelists working among their own people.

I have many Pakeha friends after being in New Zealand for six years, but until two years ago I didn’t have many Maori friends. So I enrolled at Te Wananga o Aorearoa to study Te Reo Maori in order to communicate with Maori folk as I build friendships. I now have a number of Maori friends and I value their friendship deeply. This has been my bi-cultural  journey connecting to Tangata Whenua.

2. It’s about Place

As I studied Te Reo, I learnt that it was not just about language. Like many African cultures, the class was a community. We prayed for each other, played games and enjoyed kai together – and somewhere in the learned some Te Reo. But the most significant discovery for me was the importance of place among Maori. Its interesting that when you introduce yourself, you talk about where you comes from before you even say your name! So I decided I wanted to visit as many places of significant for Maori as I could. I’ve since been to Onuku Marae in Akoroa, there the Treaty was signed in South Island. I’ve been to Rangiatea Church in Otaki built by Te Raupaha who had been greatly impacted by the Christian message. I’ve been to many other places of significance in North Island.

But Waitangi beats them all! Why?

3. It’s about Posture

Although People and Place are important considerations in finding our roots, I’ve found that a posture of learning, of being a student of culture, is vital in helping me appreciate the beauty of culture. Although there are many things I have not yet understood about Kiwi culture, I have learned to ask questions and not assume.  I believe the Treaty of Waitangi has the potential to cultivate a unique national identity if we approach it with a learning posture. I believe the spirit of the Treaty should be one we seek to live out as we model a posture of ‘peace-making’ in this complex, multi-cultural world.

Moving forwards

I also go to Waitangi day not just to look back but to celebrate the present and look to the future. I go to celebrate a rich multi-cultural event earthed in a healthy and vibrant bi-cultural relationship.  Unfortunately what we mostly see in the media is the negative side, but a lot of great things happen at Waitangi: families on the beach, cultural groups doing variety shows, a stunning array of great kiwi food including mussel burgers and just a lovely holiday atmosphere. It’s like a big camp for the whole country where thousands of kiwis of all shapes and colours gather to celebrate. I think we need to learn the art of celebrating.

But its more than just celebrating the past. The treaty of Waitangi looks to the future too. Looking out over the Marae at the Dawn Service and seeing  representatives of iwi, government, church, and New Zealanders from up and down the country strengthened my conviction that the Treaty is still a significant factor in developing a deeper bi-culturalism and a richer multiculturalism. While we must be aware of the continuing disparity between segments of the Maori population and wider New Zealand society, I do believe there’s significant progress in social and economic development among iwi.  Asking what went wrong with the process will take us only so far. Instead we are better to focus on what is going on now. If we are to avoid criticism and conflict and embrace cooperation and consensus we must learn from our history and take the best of its strengths to build into the future. I believe God is doing something unique in New Zealand and I want to be able to listen to discern where he is at work so that I can join him!

God is Ordinary

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I don’t know if you’ve ever been lucky enough to experience one of those crazy vortex machines. You know, the ones that spin round and round while you’re trapped inside. As they spin you find gravity having less and less of a hold on you until you’re climbing up walls, chilling upside down… But as the vortex starts to slow you’re aware that your time of freedom is coming to an end. If you don’t get off the wall you’ll end up crashing down on your head as the normal rules of life (and gravity) come back into play. You’re forced to become grounded again.

As I begin a new stage of my journey it’s hard not to see some comparisons. 2014, my year as a Haerenga Intern, was full of new experiences and fruitfulness in terms of growth in my self, my knowledge and my relationship with God and others. It was in no way an easy, ‘gravity-free’ ride but I could see God working through the challenges, shaping me as I was forced to rely on him.

And then there’s this year. Don’t get me wrong, I’m really enjoying my transition back into medical studies but… there is that element of heaviness, as gravity takes hold and everything slows down. As I settle back into Kiwi life, with my clothes snug in drawers not a suitcase, surrounded by people who look and speak like me, I’m rather terrified of getting too comfortable and becoming stagnant in my faith. I’m afraid of routine and apathy. Overseas in the unfamiliar, away from normal support, it’s relatively easy to see a need for dependence on God. Here … well, I could go a whole day without giving God a second thought. It’s a bit like that feeling – I’m sure you’ve all experienced it in one way or another – after a church camp or a timely sermon, when you leave pumped about God and ready to change the world. You cling onto this for a week or so before life gets in the way. What was that camp about again?

God, I don’t want a bar of this. I don’t want to sideline the things I’ve learnt for a rainy day. I want to still be hungry, to have that restlessness in my heart, a longing to be a part of your mission. But how?

I think often we’re caught in this waiting zone. Waiting to finish study and start a ‘real’ job. Waiting for more responsibility in the job we’ve got. Waiting for the next step in a relationship. Whatever we’re waiting for, perhaps that’s when life will really start. That’s where I’ll be able to do big things for God

I’m waiting for the time when I might actually have useful skills to offer, to perhaps fulfil some fantasy of clambering, khaki clad across mountains to deliver medical aid. For now I am the ‘curtain puller,’ drawing curtains around a patient’s bed to at least give a vague impression of privacy while the medical team discuss their medical problems. At best I am a smiling face in the corner, at worst a plain annoyance. It’s a rather humbling place, knowing that no one will notice if I’m not present – the cogs will keep turning, the curtains will still get drawn. It’d be very easy to treat this time as a gap filler, a wee blip before my ‘proper work’ and ‘real mission’ begins. But if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from my year out it’s that mission isn’t something you can step in and out of. Mission is always here and now. In our transitions, in our routines and norms there are always opportunities to step out. It’s just a matter of looking.

I know that our God is a God of the ordinary. Often it seems like he’s intentionally picked the most plain, unremarkable, unqualified people to partner with him in his plans. So we have every reason to expect God to be moving in our ordinary. Today I’m going to draw the curtain with purpose and flare, knowing that God has put me in this hospital at this time, for a reason.

 

THE MUSE

What aspect of your ‘ordinary’ does God want to transform?

 

THE MOVE

Be intentional to look for God in your ordinary today and for the next week.

In You Alone I’m Free

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In a recent newsletter from Rosie’s Diocese in Egypt, Bishop Mouneer shared a poem:

I was moved by the words below, written by Rev. John Young, a Scottish pastor. He wrote them in a song inspired by the last words of one of the Egyptian Christians beheaded by ISIS in Libya last month. Before one of the young men was killed, he said, ya Rabbi Yesua, “oh, my Lord Jesus.”

They can break my body They can break my pride They can cut my head off And post it up online But when the morning breaks It’s Jesus I will see O my Lord Jesus In you alone I’m free

They’re asking me to say My faith is just a lie They tell me ‘turn away And I won’t have to die’ But how can I abandon The one who wouldn’t abandon me O my Lord Jesus In you alone I’m free

It is difficult to imagine such brutal persecution facing Christians in the twenty-first century. However, it is not surprising. Before going to the cross, Christ warned his disciples in John 16: “they will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.” This is exactly what happened in Libya.

 

Please pray for the situation throughout the Middle East, particularly in the region of Egypt/Libya.

End of Tax Year and the AGM

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If you’re considering making a donation prior to the end of this financial year, please be aware that we must physically BANK any donations by March 31 for your donation to fall into this financial year. Please post any donations to us by March 20 to ensure that your donation will be processed this tax year, and so that we can issue a tax certificate for you.

The NZCMS Annual General Meeting and Hui will be held in Nelson on March 28. This is an opportunity for our Society to gather, share and consider the future. The AGM begins at 5pm, followed by a shared meal at 6pm. We welcome all NZCMS members to attend. As always, the AGM will include a financial report from our Treasurer. If you would like to see the financial reports for 2014 prior to the meeting please either call the NZCMS office (03-377 2222 – ask for Heather) or email office@nzcms.org.nz.

You’ll want to bring a friend to the Hui at 7pm. Natalie Downes, one of our Haerenga Mission Interns last year, will share about how her journey as an intern fits into God’s big story – so invite anyone who might be interested in Haerenga 2016. Nelson natives Phil and Becky Sussex will share stories from Cambodia, inviting us to consider what mission looks like in our own contexts. And Steve Maina, our NZCMS National Director, will speak about where God is leading us as a Society by introducing the 2015-2020 Strategic Plan.

 

The AGM and Hui will be held at All Saints (30a Vanguard St, Nelson).

Deadly blast in Lahore

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Bombers have attacked two churches in Lahore, Pakistan, resulting in the loss of at least 14 lives and injury to more than 70 others. The policemen guarding the two churches and a child are among the dead. The two churches, Christ Church (Church of Pakistan) and St John’s (Catholic) are close together in the Youhanabad district of the city. The banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan splinter group Jamatul Ahrar immediately claimed responsibility for both attacks which were timed to coincide with Sunday services. Following the attack an angry mob captured two suspects from the local community and beat them to death. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has condemned the Youhanabad bomb blasts in the strongest terms and directed the provincial governments to ensure the security of the public and to provide the best medical treatment to the injured.

 

Joanna the Master

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Many thanks to those of you who have been praying for me over the last two or three years that I have been working on my M.A. studies through Otago University. I submitted my thesis in October last year and a few weeks ago was pleased to learn that it has been accepted. I just scraped into the pass with distinction category (your prayers again!) and am currently making some required corrections and improvements before it is bound. In spite of the catchy title (‘Maisin: the Grammatical Description of an Oceanic Language in Papua New Guinea’), I am not expecting it to be a best-seller, but am still glad to have been able to contribute something to the documentation of this unique and beautiful language. I would also love it if it could be a resource that will be of some use to the ongoing translation of the scriptures into the Maisin language.  I am so grateful to NZCMS for the gift of the opportunity to undertake this study.

Disaster in Vanuatu

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With Cyclone Pam now hitting New Zealand, the nation’s attention has been drawn to how it will affect our people. This is obviously important and we need to be praying for those in regions like the East Cape, but the cyclone has left an unprecedented wave of destruction behind in the nation of Vanuatu. This is a time for New Zealand to stand with our brothers and sisters in the Pacific and offer whatever support we can, whether it be prayer, finances or something else.

To get an idea of the level of the destruction please watch the video above.

The Anglican Mission Board is launching a ‘Cyclone Pam Emergency Appeal’ to assist with relief efforts in the Pacific region, particularly in Vanuatu. Although details are still sketchy, it is clear this is one of the worst disasters ever experienced in the South Pacific region. AMB will be working with churches and relief agencies to provide up to date information on their website and to help coordinate relief efforts.

Please send donations to AMB marked Cyclone Pam Emergency Appeal. Information on how to donate can be found on their website angmissions.org.nz/?sid=296