March 2015

Strangers for Mission’s Sake

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Did you realise that Auckland is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world? In fact, Auckland is now more diverse than even London! If that doesn’t sound crazy, consider that the national dish of England is now Tikka Massala.

I joined 500 others at the Wellington Diocese’ Hui last Saturday. I was invited to lead a workshop on integrating migrants in the community. As I was preparing, it hit me that the ‘face’ of Christchurch had changed in the last six years since moved here. We’ve people from so many diverse cultures in New Zealand today – I mean, I’m Kenyan but I’m now also a true Kiwi citizen.

How is the reality of migration shaping the way we engage in mission?

We are well aware of the rapid changes and trends that have taken place across the world in recent decades. Globalization – with its benefits and problems – is increasingly apparent: from the access of information, communication, business and trade to education and the ease of international travel whether for business or pleasure. The need for economic sustainability, natural disasters, wars and displacement from political instability has resulted in unprecedented movements of people between nations.

In reflecting on my own personal journey from Kenya to New Zealand I’ve explored the increasing important of migration as both a reality and an opportunity to see the Gospel spread to the nations. Increasingly I am encountering young adults who are open to exploring overseas experiences as they finish their studies. This is a reality which I feel we should embrace rather than fight. The nature of the ‘global village’ means that people are going anyway.

The question is, how can we go as missional people – people sent out by Christ whether we are going ‘for missions’ or just to have an OE. Are we conscious of being Christ’s witnesses wherever we go and for whatever reason we go? There need not be a choice between a ‘mission trip’ and education or business overseas – why can’t education or business be the vehicle for mission? Likewise traditional mission need not be limited to the recognizable agencies. Greater independence means that more people are likely to make their own plans and forge their own paths. Migration is happening and perhaps our mission intentions and methods need to catch up with the movements that are already around us.

Of course movements between nations are not new in Church history. One need only revisit the remarkable ventures of the Moravian church begun in the 1700’s or South American missions to Japan or Filipinos to Muslim nations.

As local churches embrace the opportunities that migration provides we may want to consider preparing people from all walks of life for international ministry. Those heading overseas could benefit from training in cross-cultural awareness and sensitivity, how to work within a new culture, how to identify a person of peace (Luke 10). Some may consider choosing to live within a local community rather than automatically opting for an ex-pat enclave. Preparing people to cope with the difficulties of unstable situations will help them last the distance.

But the traffic isn’t just one way! Increasingly part of our ‘going to the nations’ may be across the fence, in the school playground or the work tea room. Many migrants to NZ will have come from places where Christianity is not openly recognized. They don’t always connect easily with a new culture and may in fact be isolated within their own small cultural communities. There are many opportunities for us as communities of faith to receive those coming among us, welcoming, offering hospitality to the ‘stranger in our midst.’

Often there is a shortage of Kiwis willing to work alongside people in their first critical months here. Other opportunities include opening your home to international students, including them in normal family activities. Perhaps include someone from another culture in your holiday or Christmas plans when many will be keenly feeling the absence of family.

Crossing divides isn’t new to Christianity. Isn’t that precisely what Jesus did, humbling himself to come as one of us and die for us (Philippians 2:5-11)? He was the ‘stranger in the midst,’ asking to be welcomed. Reflecting on Christ’s emptying of himself, we may need to consider what emptying we need to do. What baggage holds us back and weighs us down?

Global mission is available to us all, whether jumping on a plane or crossing the street. The opportunities are there if we can maintain mission as permeating every arena of our activity and not as an occasional add-on.  Will we prepare ourselves to engage and to invest with ‘strangers,’ and to structure our churches to be places of welcome?

 

 

THE MUSE

What baggage holds you down? Is God calling you to more deliberately welcome the strangers among us? If you look around your neighbourhood, what sort of cultural and religious diversity do you see?

 

THE MOVE

Consider ‘crossing the street’ this week to meet someone from another culture or migrant to NZ.

Cyclone Pam

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Please be in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Vanuatu. The small Pacific nation is being prepared for possible evacuations ahead of the arrival of a powerful cyclone that has recently been upgraded to category five. The cyclone is slowly making it’s way towards Vanuatu, it’s winds reading 215km an hour. When the storm passes near the capital of Port Villa tonight winds may reach up to 280km per hour.

Vanuatu’s government has issued cyclone warnings for Torba, Sanma, Penama, Malampa, Shefa and Tafea provinces. It warned that torrential rainfall and flooding, including flash flooding were likely over low-lying areas, river banks and near coastal areas. There is also a risk of landslides.

Cyclone Pam is also set to hit parts the North Island of New Zealand. MetService has said that the system is forecast to pass to the east of the East Cape on Monday. They added that “there is still a large degree of uncertainty in the exact path of the cyclone and although the centre may not pass over New Zealand, severe weather is likely to affect parts of the country – especially the northeast of the North Island.”

 

(Image from UNICEF showing the impact of the cyclone in the nation of Kiribati.)

Commotion in Cambodia

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One Monday morning I met a Vietnamese lady when doing the rounds with activities for the children. She seemed rather agitated, so I decided to try finding out why. With the help of one of the Curtin interns who was Vietnamese, I discovered the cause of her agitation – her husband had died the night before in the village a long way away and she needed to be seen by a doctor in order to be discharged to arrange and attend his funeral. I spoke to the right people to facilitate this, then returned to her bedside to hold her hand and try to show some comfort. She was discharged later that morning, and, before she left, she asked the Vietnamese student to find me to say how much she appreciated the concern I had shown for her – which was such a simple thing for me to do.

And then there was the elderly, bald lady in C ward who had no caregiver present when I was passing. I noticed she wanted a drink but couldn’t move enough to reach the cup. Of course, I helped her and she beamed a toothless smile at me.

Outside the hospital, in our daily lives, we often have opportunities to be a blessing to others less fortunate than ourselves. One Friday morning while I was on the balcony of our house (pictured above) doing my usual daily Bible reading, I heard a commotion below and realised that the rubbish truck was doing the rounds. As I watched, I was surprised to see that one of the workers on the truck was a woman and that her two children were accompanying her on the rounds. What a life for these poor children, who looked so bedraggled in their torn, dirty clothes with no shoes. I determined immediately to do something to help them and, next time they appeared, took some food to them which was devoured eagerly – obviously they had not had anything to eat so far that day. A mere drop in the bucket in terms of their need, but at least I did what I could.

And they all, hospital patients and others, without exception, said “arkoon tom tom” – thank you very much. I had the words of Jesus from Matthew 25:40 resonating in my brain for quite some time. “When you do it for the least of these my brothers and sisters, you do it for me.”

Although the needs here can sometimes feel overwhelming, as virtually all the hospital patients have a sad story, the grateful thanks I receive for the small encouragements I am able to bring them make my role worthwhile and very rewarding.

What a privilege it is to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this dark and needy place where many are overcome by helplessness and hopelessness.  My prayer is that God will continue to give me a heart of compassion and resolve to make a small difference in the lives of the poor and needy in the best way I can.

 

For more from Anne and Anthony McCormick, visit anneandanthony.wordpress.com

Rain, Drought and Dudus

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There’s only four months to go until Iri is back from Kondoa.

While we were Skyping recently he complained that the rain was so, so heavy that he could hardly hear me. Unfortunately that rain was isolated and too late as most of the crops have already died before reaching maturity. Iri says that the drought conditions are serious which means a poor harvest ahead and hungry people in the coming months. The maize which the Bible School had purchased earlier and held in store have been attacked by ‘dudus’ (insects) during the holidays, so in an effort to save it from total destruction by these bugs, the sacks were taken quickly to the grinding machine once the problem was discovered. Sadly less than half of the maize was able to be rescued. Please pray for the food situation in the Kondoa region.

Another prayer point is for permanent staff at the Bible School. Not many teachers want to live and work three and a half hours north of the capital, Dodoma, in an area where few share our beliefs. Iri is making do with three teachers who come from the Diocese of Central Tanganyika for a week at a time and teach block courses, returning the next month to pick up where they left off. Not the ideal learning situation but it was through the support of the new Bishop of DCT, Dr Dickson Chilongani, that this assistance was made possible. His predecessor, Bishop Mdimi, was most supportive of the Diocese of Kondoa so it is indeed a blessing to think that this support will continue.

The School reopened mid- February and new students were welcomed although they had come without fees or food. That they felt called to come and study and go out to serve the Lord is blessing enough. Some come with a shirt and a pair of trousers, shoes but no socks, a bucket and if possible, a Bible.

Mission Myth Busting

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The following is an excerpt by David Hall from the latest edition of Missions Interlink Bulletin. The full version can be found here.

A few days ago I shared with mission leaders in Christchurch about the need for them to be Mission Myth Busters. But the challenge is just as important for you. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about missions today. It’s our job – it’s your job – to challenge the myths, exposing them for what they are: lies from the enemy.

There are so many myths, where to start? Let’s start with the idea some people have that ‘the day of missions is over.’ When we look back and think of the interest in missions in some circles ‘back in the day,’ we can indeed see a decline. For example, much time and effort by so many in the New Zealand missions community went into a large event called “Destination World – The Call,” yet only a few hundred came. And most of those were “the choir,” already involved to various degrees in missions. So it’s understandable why some would conclude “the day of missions is over.”

But what most didn’t notice is what God was up to behind the scenes. Today there are Kiwis serving the Lord overseas in some hard places as a result of The Call. And God indeed sparked a flame that is spreading missions in and from New Zealand. I helped arrange for a couple Pacific Islanders and a Maori to come as presenters to The Call. When they came and looked around, they said to themselves, “Where are our people? They should be here.” That led to a group of Pacific Island Christian leaders meeting, eating, and praying about what their role in missions was, is and ought to be. And that led to forming strong partnerships with both Pacific Island pastors and the NZ missions community via Missions Interlink, what we now call: Pacific2Nations.

Within a year we rented the largest facility in South Auckland. About 1500 PI’s came and over 400 responded to the call to missions. Over 150 PI’s went through the Kairos missions training. And a dozen or more short-term teams went to various ‘closed’ countries in Asia as well as Brazil and other nations.

Yes, mission personnel changes over time. And mission methods and foci have to be continually re-evaluated and adapted to be effective in different situations around the world. That’s happening, and the result is rapid growth of Christianity, especially in Asia, Africa and other hard places around the world.

As long as there are unreached peoples we’ll need missions. And New Zealand will likely always play a significant role in missions. You know the stats: There are more non-Christians in less-reached countries and nations, than ever before – between 2 & 3 billion are isolated from the Gospel. Poverty, conflict, injustice and other crises represent both challenge & opportunity to proclaim God’s kingdom.

I’ll say it again, as long as there are unreached – and people hurting, hungry, abused – the world will need missions! If you hear people say “the day of missions is over,” help bust the myth!

What Good is the Good News?

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Last Christmas, Christians around New Zealand celebrated the 200 year anniversary of the Gospel coming to the land of the long white cloud, by the Rev Samuel Marsden at Oihi Bay. It’s an exciting story, and it reminds me of the bravado, pioneering spirit and faith our Anglican heritage has pulsing through it’s veins. So a few months back I decided to ask a bunch of the Anglican young adults I work with three questions about the Gospel, as a sort of 200 year spiritual check up.

Question 1: What would you say the Good News is?

Question 2: How are you Good News to other people?

Question 3: Have you experienced the Good News as being Good News in your own life?

The first question was met with the most confidence of the three, containing a series of mumbles involving words like “Jesus”, “God”, “Love”, “Community” and “Biscuits.” Not great – but not terrible either, depending on the brand of biscuits of course.

Upon the second question, things started getting a little more tense. Someone told me they “tried to let people cut in front of them during bad traffic,” while another said he “did his best not to swear too much or steal the pencils from his work like the other employees do.” Now, I’m not sure this was quite the radical lifestyle Jesus had in mind. But hey, it was something.

But it was the answer to the third question, or lack of one, that really caught me off guard. With almost every person I spoke to there was a deafening, awkward silence. After about 30 seconds one person looked me straight in the eye and asked, “Ahhh, what do you mean?”

What’s the problem?

A lot of question asking and hand ringing has gone on over the past wee while about why Millennials and young people seem so hesitant when it comes to mission. Could these three questions give us a clue to one of the problems lurking beneath the surface?

It’s pretty clear that for most young Christians, being Good News to our neighbours isn’t really something most of them get passionate about. Most of them have no idea what being Good News to our neighbours might look like. Yet loving our neighbour is fundamental to what Jesus taught us to be in the world. And I think the Millennial (my) generation has a deep desire to seek justice in the world. But many of them (us) have lost any deep conviction rooted in the Good News of Jesus when it comes to the choices we make in the world. And yet for past generations it was this conviction –  that the Good News of Jesus was literally Good News for everyone – that saw CMS and thousands of other Christian organisations start.

So before we start talking about being Good News to the world, I wonder if we need to take a step back –  to our Christian community. And it’s also pretty clear that we also struggle to be Good News to those who come from outside to us into our community. Sometimes we even struggle to be Good News to each other! But being in community together is also fundamental to what Jesus taught us to be in the world. We’re not just lots of individuals, but a people of God who together would be the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.

I think the Millenial (my) generation also has this deep desire to be community together – but many of us have lost any deep conviction rooted in the Good News of Jesus when it comes to our belief that the Church and it’s people can be a place of radical Good News.

And yet for past generations it was this conviction – that the Good News of Jesus is literally so good – that saw hundreds of church communities planted all over Christchurch.  Money has being poured into youth groups and kids ministries and food banks, because that’s what the Good News did to people. It made them do crazy things together.

So before we start talking about being Good News to each other in our Christian community, I wonder if we need to take one more step back – to our own hearts.

The heart of the matter.

And over the past few months, as I’ve asked these three questions of people, I’ve come to the conclusion that before we can really understand what it means to be Good News to our neighbours outwards to the world – or even to be good news in community inwards with each other – each of us has to know the Good News for ourselves, in our hearts. We have to have experienced the Good News as being good for ourselves. Because if we don’t know what the Good News is, and if we haven’t experienced it, how can we be it to other people? How can we share something we don’t have ourselves?

A lot of the way we’ve approached getting young people into mission has been all about the head, and so a lot of young people think the key to experiencing the Good News is in their heads. That if they only had just one more sermon, or one more bible study, one more chunk of information – then they would have enough to go in the world with confidence and conviction. But I have seen way to many young people stuck waiting for that mythically missing last piece of information. And it never seems to come.

Are we intentionally offering young people opportunities to experience God, to experience his Good News as being just that: Good? Or have we spent all our time focusing on Orthodoxy (right thinking) and Orthopraxy (right actions) while ignoring Orthopathos (right passions)? I know I have.

You know, it’s very hard to share the Good News with the world if we haven’t experienced Jesus as being Good News in our own lives. And I’m certain the thing that motivated Samuel Marsden wasn’t his passion for biscuits, but the fact that he’d experienced the Good News as being just that for himself. Personally. 200 years is a great milestone to celebrate, but it’s also an opportune time to remember that the Good News of Jesus isn’t caught off monuments or buildings. For the Gospel to thrive for another 200 years, it must thrive in each of us.

So today take a moment to ask yourself this question: How have I experienced the Good News as being Good News in my life? I pray your answer involves more than biscuits.

 

THE MUSE

Do you resonate with this? Why? What needs to change for you to experience God’s Good News in a way that will truly transform who you are?

THE MOVE

Perhaps the best way to respond wouldn’t be to go out and do something, but to sneak away with God this week and ask him to reveal to you just how good his Good News really is.

Anne and the Cambodian Hospital

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It’s been a while since I’ve been able to sit down and write. It’s not that there has been nothing of interest to report – if anything there has been rather too much going on. By the time of day that I am available to consider writing a blog, I am typically exhausted and much more likely to fall asleep in the chair than to venture to the laptop to write a blog entry.

Yet, while there has been such a long silence from this end, things have been gathering momentum and it is time to take stock and be encouraged that I have actually made a difference in at least some lives at World Mate Emergency Hospital in Battambang, as well as in the lives of others outside the hospital. Let me tell you about some of them.

I started in my role of Activities Coordinator on October 6 last year. My first few encounters with patients involved taking games and activities into the wards to help occupy some very bored children. This became the main activity every afternoon and I was received with enthusiasm.

One of the first adult patients in whose life I was able to make a difference was Sam In (pictured above). Like so many others here, she is a victim of a serious motorbike accident. Having seen her bright smile (despite the tragedy of having lost a leg), I approached her to see if she would like to meet up with me regularly to learn some form of handcraft. As we talked, she told me she knew how to “knit with one needle” (i.e. crochet) but would like to learn to knit with two needles. I knew I could help with that request, so, armed with some wool and knitting needles given by the Care for Cambodians group in Melbourne, I went and sat at her bedside every morning and taught her to knit. It wasn’t long before other patients and caregivers joined us and I was soon supplying quite a few ladies with wool and knitting needles so they could knit as well. Once I had taught them how to cast on and off and do some basic stitches, I found their creative brains kicked in and they were working out, without any pattern to follow or input from me, how to make hats, scarves and bags.

The day before Sam In was discharged from hospital, she shared a bit more of her story with me. I was saddened to learn that the motorcycle accident which took her leg also took the life of her 14 year old daughter. Sam In’s husband and another daughter were also in the accident but had already been discharged from hospital. I felt incredibly privileged – and humbled – to have been able to brighten the life of this special lady, whose life was changed forever on the day of the accident. When she left hospital, she took with her a large bag of wool so she could keep on knitting at home. As she left I said goodbye to her at the hospital gate. She looked a different person, beautiful and radiant, no longer dressed in hospital clothing, but in a new dress which cleverly hid her stump.

Then there was Phai, whom I discovered had no clothes to wear home when it came time for her to be discharged. This is a common scenario, as the clothing in which they arrive at the hospital is often ruined in the accident which caused them to come here. If they are from a long way away, they don’t have family members visiting to provide clothes – and often the family is too poor anyway. I was able to provide clothes for her to wear home, as the Curtin University interns left me with some clothing they didn’t want to carry back to Australia.

 

For more from Anthony and Anne, visit anneandanthony.wordpress.com

March’s Missional Movements

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Each month we produce a list of key Missional Movements from our Mission Partners around the world – their comings and goings, notable achievements, new projects. These are also found in our monthly Prayer Fuel publication.

The Haerenga Internship has been postponed to 2016. The primary reason for this is a lack of numbers. We are taking 2015 to review the internship to better its vision, content and partnerships.

Sophia Sinclair, who has faithfully served as the NZCMS Communication Officer for the past five years, concluded her time with NZCMS in December. With that said, expect to hear something from Sophia from time to time.

Anne McCormick will be receiving a visit from Mark Lander, the inventor and builder of the paper making machine she fundraised for last year. Mark will teach Anne how to use the machine which will become an integral part of her work at World Mate Emergency Hospital.

Miriam Tillman. The Hospital of Hope in Mango, North Togo, has its Grand Opening on March 2.

Féy Cotter will be returning to Albania on March 8 and Murray on March 31.

Dianne Bayley is visiting NZ until March 11.