April 2015

Who are the Hicks?

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Jonathan and Tess Hicks are American Third Culture Kids, both coming from ‘mission families.’ Jon was raised in the Solomon Islands and Tess in Germany, Kazakhstan and China. Not surprisingly, they both grew up with hearts for mission. For a long time they’ve felt God calling them to the Solomon Islands, and in 2010 Jon received an invitation from the Bishop of Malaita to teach at a Bible College there. To prepare for this the family moved to New Zealand so he could pursue a PhD in Theology at Otago University which was completed in 2014. They returned to USA later that year and were accepted as SAMS USA Mission Partners in November. Because of the Hicks’ prior connection to New Zealand and our strategic placement within the Pacific, NZCMS is partnering with SAMS USA in sending the Hicks to the Solomons.

One of Tess’s primary roles will be to home school their kids – Avalyn (9), Cohen (7), Caeli (4) and Judah (3) – while Jon is teaching, though she also sees herself getting involved with leading women’s Bible studies, doing one-on-one mentoring and having an open house as she loves offering hospitality.

The Hicks are currently in the States, fundraising as they prepare to arrive in the Solomons around August.

After the Drought: Bicentennial Reflections (Issue 22)

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In the summer of 2013 New Zealand experienced its worst drought for 70 seventy years. Many parts of the country were seriously affected: Southern Northland, Auckland, Waikato, the Bay of Plenty, the central North Island, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Manawatu, Wairarapa, and parts of the north and west of the South Island. Here in the Manawatu the memories of that drought are etched in people’s memories – and there was a real fear this past summer that the region was again heading for disaster.

Massive downpours don’t break droughts. Any farmer will tell you that. Huge amounts of rain over a short period will simply run off hardened and dry land and ultimately cause flooding. That’s the case, at least, until we have multiple days of drought breaking rain. Drought breaking rain is gentle and continuous. It soaks into the soil, reaching roots and renewing life.

In the same way, in 2014 the Spirit of the living God moved across our Islands in a gentle and continuous way, soaking into our hearts and opening us, the people of God, to possibilities and opportunities. The Treaty relationship – midwifed by early CMS missionaries – is moving out of a season of drought into a season of renewal, restoration and redemption. Throughout last year I spoke at almost 30 Anglican, Baptist, Brethren and Independent church services across New Zealand on behalf of NZCMS. Time and again there was a clear sense of the Spirit of Jesus at work, inviting his people to see his hand in our history and his leading for our future.

The response to God that I witnessed was truly heartening. People consistently opened up, humbly expressing how challenged and uncomfortable the message of God’s place in our history had made them. Many acknowledged that they had never known how central the Gospel was to the Treaty. At the same time, people shared the sense that God was indeed at work in and through the Bicentenary and they wanted to get on board.

It was a privilege to see churches seriously wrestling with how to express not only multi-cultural commitments but bi-cultural ones as well. For some the first step has been to sing the National Anthem in English as well as Te Reo. For others further along on the journey, prayers and creative readings have been in English and Te Reo.

It was a joy to see local churches commit to partnering with Māori movements, initiatives and churches within their own denomination. For some the Bicentenary was a catalyst to start the conversation. For others it deepened existing long-term relationships.

 

After the drought

After a severe drought has broken there are always critical things farmers shouldn’t do and key things farmers need to do. It’s just the same for us, the people of God, who have experienced the gentle rain of the Spirit of God this past year. This is the time we need to be asking ourselves: what must we be doing and what must we avoid doing?

Now that we’ve made it to 2015, we can’t think that the 2014 Bicentenary was ‘just a phase.’ We shouldn’t think the enthusiasm, patriotism and renewed call to biculturalism many of us experienced was merely for last year. We shouldn’t think that we can go back to ‘business as usual,’ nor should we think that the commitments and lessons from last year can be taken forward by others while we sit on the side-line.

We need to keep our commitments. For those groups, churches and institutions that committed last year to establish, renew or resource bicultural relationships, this is the year for us to follow through. For those of us who made commitments in our hearts to invite neighbours for dinner, to learn Te Reo or to build bridges with Pākehā leaders, we need to step up and do it.

We need to remain open to the ongoing work of the Spirit in this whole area. There is a clear sense across the country from many Church leaders that God is leading us – as his people in this nation – into a new season in our bicultural relationship.

One of the marks of Kiwis during and after a drought is our ability to get stuck in and do what needs to be done with a minimum of fuss. In 2014 God brought the gentle rain of his Spirit to renew and reinvigorate the relationship between Māori and Pākehā. Many of us experienced it, we celebrated it and we delighted in it. Now it’s time to do what we Kiwis do best: to dive in and make good on our bicentennial commitments. Regardless of whether these commitments are personal or professional, church wide or for your small group, it’s time to walk them out and make them reality.

May he who began a good work in us at Waitangi 1840 continue to water the work of our hands so that he can bring his purposes to completion. Amen.

 

For Discussion.

What commitments did you, your small group or you church make last year? Are there fresh commitments you feel God challenging you to make?

What is your next step to make those commitments a reality?

 

Originally published in Intermission (Issue 22, May 2015)

From the editor (Issue 22)

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Last year was a big one for New Zealand and for us at NZCMS. We reflected on all God has done in this nation since the Gospel was first preached on our soil 200 years. Christians across the nation were reminded of the power of the Gospel as we considered the impact it has had in our history. Now that 2014 is behind us, what have learned and what are we to do about it? This edition of Intermission seeks to answer those questions as we look back on the last year.

You’ll notice discussion questions at the end of some articles – we hope this will help you reflect as you consider the next ‘mission steps’ for you, your church and your community. Why not use these in your small group over the next month?

 

 

Exploring today’s missional issues from a variety of angles, each edition of Intermission will equip you and your group to engage with God in your community and beyond. Why not take up the challenge and start using Intermission in your group? For more information or to order copies click here.

Stop calling it ‘short-term missions’

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The following is a blog post by Craig Greenfield that seems to have gone somewhat viral within Christian circles. The original blog can be found at craiggreenfield.com

Imagine if I wrote this letter to my local dentist.

“Dear Sir, I’d like to come and be a dentist for 2 weeks. I’ve been meeting once a month with a small group of others who also want to be short term dentists, and we have our t-shirts printed and we’re ready to come.

PS. Can you drive us around, translate for us, and help take cool photos for our Facebook pages?”

I’d like to be a fly on the wall when the dentist received that letter.

We don’t have short term Social Workers, or short term Bio-Scientists.

We don’t have short term Gastro-enterologists or short term Politicians.

So why, why, why, WHY, do we have short term Missionaries in ever-increasing numbers?

Here’s the problem. We’ve created in our minds a false continuum. At one end of the continuum is “short term missions” and at the other end is something we call “long term missions”. We think of them as pretty much the same thing, but with differing lengths of service.

But they’re not the same. No, not at all. And by naming them both “mission” we’re missin’ the point.

It might help at this point to situate “long-term missions” properly. Let’s just agree right up front that there is no such thing as a part-time Christian. There is no such thing as a follower of Jesus who is not in full-time service to God. If you are a full-time banker, and a part-time Christian – you might be deluded. (So, don’t tell me you are going into “full-time Christian ministry” – I’ll be tempted to ask what you thought you were doing up to this point.)

As followers of Jesus, we are all called to a VOCATION.

That’s the term we need to embrace. It will put everything else in its proper place. Our vocation, whether in butchering, baking or candlestick-making – is the primary means we have been given to serve God.

So, some of us will have a vocation as an architect or a writer, as a parent or a nurse. And some of us will have a vocation in cross-cultural service among the poor. Humanitarian work, Bible translation, social entrepreneurship – these have all been labeled  “long term missions” – but they are just different variations on every Christian’s call to pursue a vocation that serves God and his upside-down kingdom.

When we see that each of us has a unique and important vocation, we’ll no longer single out some as more spiritual than others. We’ll support and pray for all equally. And we’ll develop a theology of work, that works!

Now, that we understand how “long term missions” has been unhelpfully singled out as different from anyone else’s vocation, we can better understand why “short term missions” is such a misleading term – and find a better place for it in our journey to serving God.

Truly, these short term missions trips are generally not “mission” – they are not part of a vocation to serve cross-culturally among the poor because a vocation does not take place in 2 weeks or 2 years.

But when correctly framed, they can be important and even life-changing seasons of engagement with the poor.

Here are 3 suggestions for renaming short term missions trips:

1. Vision (or Exposure) Trips – a focussed intentional time where we ask God to open our hearts to the plight of the poor.  What the eye has not seen the heart cannot grieve over. So, it’s natural that when people find themselves face to face with poverty for the first time, something significant happens. The rest of our lives are irrevocably shaped by what we have witnessed. We gain Vision.

2. Learning Exchanges – a time when our theology and understanding of the world is rocked to the core and deconstructed. When we travel as learners, eager to have our minds expanded and preconceptions challenged, we will not be disappointed. This category includes those who travel as part of their vocation – as a builder, surgeon or dentist for example – but are open to learning from and passing on expertise to others in another country.

3. Discernment Retreats – where we discern our vocation more deeply on the margins. To pursue a vocation in any field without the perspective of the world’s poor – where God’s heart and good news is centered, is folly. How can we be a banker for God, if we don’t know how the financial services industry affects the poor? How can we be an architect or planner for God, if we don’t know how the design of cities affects the homeless? How can we be a teacher, if we don’t bring the reality of the world’s poorest to our students?

These trips could potentially spark a new vocation – or even be a partial outworking of our current vocation (eg.  who serves overseas from time to time).

In short, there is no such thing as a 2 week vocation. And there is no such thing as “short term missions”.

Let’s get our labels right, and hopefully our practice and understanding will follow.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on short term missions in the comments. What would YOU call it?

 

THE MUSE

Do you agree or disagree with Craig? How does this post challenge your perspectives? What do you think short-term trips should be called?

THE MOVE

If you agree with the post, how about you change the language you use when we talk about ‘short-term mission trips’?

Miriam’s Journal

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Day 1. I finally arrived in Mango and it has been a long journey. Months of planning and working and saving, a Bible Collage paper, a million emails back and forth to Togo and NZCMS, learning to ride a motorcycle and a few rugby games – you have been caught up on what I have been up to for the last year.

A quick flight to Auckland then the not so quick flights to Hong Kong, Bangkok, Addis Ababa and finally Lomé left me all ready for the eleven and a half hour bus ride up to Mango. I was mentally prepared for it to take up to 18 hours so the shortened time and the air conditioning came as a pleasant surprise.

Day 2. A quick tour of the hospital to see where I will be working for the next two years. The most exciting part for me was to finally see the Pharmacy that I had designed while on a 36 hour whirlwind trip to Mango one and a half years ago. I am impressed how much it looks like the diagram I drew and could not wait for the shelves to be full of medicine. The rest of the Hospital looks pretty amazing too! We have a 40 bed hospital with separate Men’s and Women’s wards, a Maternity ward, NICU, Operating Rooms, Radiology, Laboratory, Sterilising Unit and a Clinic which sees about 100 patients a day.

Next was a quick tour of Mango to see the local market where I will be buying my rice, tomatoes and cucumbers. I have since learnt that it is worth paying extra for the bagged rice in one of the boutiques as this means you don’t need to pick out the rocks yourself and saves on potential dentist bills. Also you can not always buy Mangos in Mango!

Day 28. I had just got back from prayer meeting and was excitedly going through a box of donated kitchen supplies – it is amazing what becomes exciting when there is no Briscoes down the road! – when I received a Pharmacy call out. A little surprising as the Hospital was not open for another 18 days… I quickly pull my long skirt on over my shorts and borrowed a flash light to put in the basket of my bicycle so I can see as I cycle back to the Hospital. I entered the Pharmacy, picked up my jandal to squash a spider (I never know which spiders are dangerous so my current theory is to kill them all!), retrieved the meds then cycled off through the night to deliver Morphine to the poor nurse with kidney stones.

While dropping off the meds I had a conversation with the Chief Medical Officer about how the machine that gets water ready for making the IV solutions (we make them from “scratch” around here) needs a part that is coming from the USA. He asks me to order some IV fluids from Lomé. I cycle back off into the night with my IV fluids order scrawled across a scrap of cardboard, knowing that this is exactly where I am supposed to be and that tomorrow will bring more exciting adventures and challenges.

Day 30. Elizabeth, a Paediatrician from Texas, and I moved into our brand new cottage. It wasn’t until four weeks later that I got my bed and I still haven’t unpacked my suitcase yet but it is starting to feel like home.

Day 42. The Grand Opening! I was woken up at 6:30am by Hotel California blaring out of the sound system over the other side of the hospital compound. Four hours later, with the same song on repeat, I was well and truly ready for the President of Togo to arrive in the hope that this may cause the sound man to choose a new song! There was a lot of excitement and all the Hospital workers were dressed in the blue Hospital of Hope fabric, while many of the people from Mango were dressed in a green version in celebration of the day. It was fun to see some of the local dances preformed for the opening ceremony and while the speeches seemed long (it is always difficult to concentrate in a different language) I was rewarded for my attention by hearing ‘Nouvelle Zealande’ mentioned once.

Once the excitement of the cutting of the ribbon and the feast of roast beef and rice was over it was time to head back to work for the afternoon before collapsing into bed at 6pm and sleeping solidly until the next morning. Apparently opening a hospital is exhausting work!

You can watch clips from our opening day by clicking here.

Day 46. Monday March 2 saw our first patients arriving at the Hospital gates long before I woke up. By the time I got to work at 7am there was a well-controlled line of patients stretching out of the Hospital entry and down the dirt road that leads back towards Mango. We had a tent set up just inside the Hospital walls where the Doctors, Nurse Practioner, Midwives and Surgeons were screening people to decide if they were going to be our first patients or if they were not urgent and could come back later in the week. It was a slow start in the morning for the Pharmacy as it took a while for the patients to get through the system but we made up for it in the afternoon and we ended up having crowds of people waiting at the Pharmacy until 8pm.

Thank you for your continued support and prayers during this start-up phase.

Who are they? Who are we?

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My big concern and the challenge we all face as missional agents of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is relevancy. Who is it that we’re yearning to connect to the One that we have discovered transforms and enhances our own lives exponentially in every respect?

We have a tendency to brand the environment we live in as ‘secular,’ ‘humanistic’ and ‘materialistic’ or a combination of all three. Well, welcome to the 21st century my friend. It’s a lot more complex than that, and yet it’s a lot simpler too.

Fifteen years ago a group of us in YWAM decided to focus our Discipleship Training Schools to themed schools, based on what we termed new urban tribes. We began to run Snowboarder DTSs, Backpacker DTSs, Surfer DTSs, and so on. They were an immediate success in terms of recruitment and (hopefully) effect. But that was last century.

Flux Trends, a South African research company, in an attempt to profile developing cluster groups within SA, has recently come up with 12 clusters or what they call “New Urban Tribes of South Africa.” What struck me about their results is that most of those ‘tribes’ are also found in New Zealand. So, although society is becoming more complex with a plethora of people groups that cluster around anything you can think of, those groups are increasingly pan-global (Did I just make up a word?). Have a look at just three of the 12 that Flux Trends identified. (The whole list can be found here.)

The Bieber Brats

Who are they?
 The Bieber Brats are the sussed, spoilt 9 to 12-year-old children – the true digital natives of our time. They live in the information age of instant gratification and media bombardment.

Why are they important?
 The Bieber Brats are South Africa’s first truly cosmopolitan generation. Also known as the ‘born frees,’ they have the first real level playing field. Mature beyond their years, they have quickly grown into mini-adults because they have travelled and have access to global and grown-up ideas at their fingertips.

The most surprising findings?
 The Bieber Brats have never known life without the internet and cellphones. As a result, they may become victims or perpetrators of cyber bullying. According to i-SAFE Foundation statistics, 10% to 20% of teenagers have experienced some form of cyber bullying.

The Faith-Based Youth

Who are they? 
Otherwise known as ‘the believers,’ this tribe is part of a growing number that has turned to faith to find fulfilment. As a result, faith-based young people have turned away from traditional, hierarchical religious institutions in favour of emergent ‘missional churches,’ which are more interested in making a lasting difference through missionary actions.

Why are they so important?
 Because this tribe prefers to live out their faith through missionary work programmes rather than preaching, they have a deep commitment to social justice and are known to engage in discussion to make sense of global issues – such as South Africa’s wealth gap and the ethics of consumerism – from a moral and/or Biblical worldview.

The most surprising findings?
 They find the crass commercialisation of their faith offensive and are particularly disparaging of the commercial “Jesus culture”. They are aspiring “philanthropic entrepreneurs” with a desire to create strong Christian business and networking opportunities.

The Techno-Hippies

Who are they?
 Techno-Hippies are tech-savvy geeks with hipster tastes and hippie ideas about saving the planet by going green and being sustainably self-sufficient. While passionate about changing the world on an abstract level, unlike the Faith-Based Youth, they prefer passive activism and have been given the nickname ‘slacktivists’ (slacker + activist).

Why are they so important? 
Techno-Hippies have a real desire to change the world. They are constantly looking for a fashionable cause they can get behind and ‘wear’ like a badge or brand identity, which poses the question: can one create real social change without hitting the street and protesting? The answer, based on the success of the Kony 2012 viral video, is a resounding yes.

The most surprising findings?
 Their pursuit of internet entrepreneurship and the dream of living the self-sufficient lifestyle of the modern ‘new rich’: people who are considered wealthy not because of their possessions or bank balances, but because they have freedom of time and location.

 

Globalisation helps us ‘missionaries’ reach the world for Jesus. Chances are the ‘new tribes’ that we now belong to are international in scope, giving us relevancy not only in our tribal cluster in New Zealand but also in those regions of the world where Jesus is least known. Granted, many of the unreached ethnic groups are still hidden behind 19th century technology and transportation, but they are rapidly emerging into the 21st century and therefore within reach of any one of us.

After 30 years working with Youth With A Mission I’m delighted to now be working with ‘boomer bikers.’ I look like them, I talk like them, I have the same tastes as they do because I AM one of them! This makes it so much easier to do mission among them, not just here in Marlborough, but, hopefully in the future, in the uttermost parts of the earth.

 

THE MUSE

What ‘tribes’ do you belong to? Think about it – you belong to several ‘New Tribal Clusters’ that go beyond your ethnicity and socio-economic status. Think about your work, your hobbies, your sport, your interests, your skills, your passions.

THE MOVE

Although the ‘selfie’ culture, the growing trend of independence, is on the rise among millennials, consider breaking out and joining a group, a club, a fraternity, a society, a union, a circle of like-minded, non-religious people for the sake of the Gospel?

 

Chris Donaldson is an Anglican Vicar serving in the Marlborough Sounds (www.soundsanglican.co.nz).  For 30 years he worked with YWAM in Venezuela, Turkey and Oxford, New Zealand. The ‘tribe’ which gives him most joy and most opportunities to share the love of Christ is as Welfare Officer for the Marlborough chapter of the Ulysses motorcycle club.

Our Story is still available

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Last year we released a new NZCMS Book, Our Story: Aotearoa – the Story of Mission in New Zealand Through the Lens of the New Zealand Church Missionary Society. If you’ve not already ordered your copy, now is the time. The book takes us on a journey through history, from the founding of CMS in England through to mission from New Zealand in the 21st century. Each chapter will help you discover how God’s story and our national narrative have been woven together.

The chapters of the book, each penned by a different author, seek to uncover the redemptive aspects of the stories of the missionaries first sent to New Zealand, to remember the grace provided to the missionaries sent from our land and to envision the future with God.

The book covers key moments in NZCMS history – reflecting on the impact of the League of Youth, mission in Pakistan and East Africa, and the birth of NZCMS in Nelson. We believe it is an invaluable resource for churches and individuals around the country who desire to understand the legacy upon which we build.

A bound copy of Our Story: Aotearoa can be yours for just $10 + $2.50 shipping.

There are two ways you can order your copy. First, you can contact Heather in the NZCMS office by emailing heather@nzcms.org.nz. Otherwise, use the NZCMS giving form: fill out your details, under “What would you like to support” select other, and in the space “Other project or Mission Partner” fill in “BOOKSTORY” plus the number of books you wish to order.

Back to Tanzania

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We’re delighted to introduce Peter and Christine Akester, who were recently accepted as NZCMS Mission Partners. The Akesters are no strangers to NZCMS, having served with us from 1979-1998 in Dodoma, Tanzania. During that time they adopted two Tanzanian girls (now in their late twenties) and returned to New Zealand when the girls were completing primary school. Since then, Peter and Chris have been living in Rangiora. Peter presently heads up a Christchurch pharmacy while Chris has been teaching music in local schools and to private pupils.

A parish mission trip to Kondoa last year rejuvenated their passion and vision, exciting them about the opportunities to serve God in the region. What’s more, Bishop Given Gaula has extended an invitation to Peter and Christine to work in this diocese. The plan is for them to depart for Tanzania early in September for two to three years. Peter will take over the role of Principal of the Kondoa Bible School from Iri Mato, focusing particularly on mentoring a local Tanzanian to eventually take charge. Christine will likely teach some Biblical subjects and English language at the Bible School as well as be involved with a women’s empowerment programme.

Back to where it began

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On March 28 we held our 122nd AGM at All Saints in Nelson where we announced our new Honorary Life Members: Fred and Bev Greig, Jim and Beverley Payne, Owen and Elizabeth Kimberley, John and Alison Croucher, Ann Burgess, and Dale and Marie Oldham. This honour is in recognition of people who have gone above and beyond in their service for the Society, often for extended periods of time. The AGM was followed by a celebratory Hui in the church hall – the same hall where NZCMS had its inaugural meeting back in 1894. Over the course of the evening Steve Maina shared the 2020 Strategic Vision, Natalie Downes spoke of the Master Weaver at work during her time as an NZCMS intern in New Zealand and Fiji, and Phil and Becky Sussex shared stories from Cambodia. Thank you All Saints for your incredible hospitality. We were overwhelmed by your welcome and your heart for mission that is still strong after 121 years.

Evangelism Course in Christchurch

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For many of us, the word “evangelism” is overloaded with negative connotations. It may bring to mind pushy tactics, manipulation, TV preachers. Yet, it’s pretty clear in Scripture that evangelism is important – after all, how can we not want to share the One who gave his life for us?

Laidlaw College in Christchurch recognizes this tension – that evangelism is important yet that it hasn’t always be modelled well. That’s why they are starting a new course in the second half of the year. It won’t be so much about training how to ‘do’ evangelism as much as digging into the theology that motivates and influences the ‘how.’ This will be an evening course, Mondays 6-9pm. This means the course can be audited by anyone who is interested in exploring this important topic. Alistair Donaldson will be facilitating the course, but much of the training will be delivered by various people with a variety of experience and backgrounds.

 

CONTENT OVERVIEW

Topic 1: Mission, evangelism and the Gospel Lesson 1: What is evangelism? Lesson 2: Mission and evangelism Lesson 3: What is the Gospel? Lesson 4: Proclaiming the Gospel today

Topic 2: The process of evangelism Lesson 5: Divine action and human response Lesson 6: A theology of conversion Lesson 7: The call to discipleship

Topic 3: The church and evangelism Lesson 8: Towards a theology of church and evangelism

Topic 4: Contextual issues in evangelism Lesson 9: Post-Christian society Lesson 10: Evangelism in a multi-faith society

Topic 5: Apologetics and values in evangelism Lesson 11: Using apologetics in evangelism Lesson 12: Values for respectful evangelism

 

If you’re interested in this course or would like more information, please email Laidlaw College.