August 2015

Update from Sophia, Andrew and Guy

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After one semester we feel like we have chosen well in coming to SMBC. Being here has stretched our faith, challenged and encouraged us.

Andrew is particularly enjoying the regular chapel meetings and the pastoral care from the lecturers.

Andrew’s studies have gone well. He is really pleased with his first lot of results and feels encouraged to continue working and studying hard. Greek has been the hardest class to stay on top of and has taken the most effort. The class only gets more difficult for the 2nd semester so please pray for him. Sophia is keeping very busy with her editing work for the Press Service International Young Writers’ Program. Her editing role also involves a mentoring and pastoral element as she communicates with the writers—giving them feedback on the theology and style of their writing.

Her work has included travel within Australia, and will include travel to New Zealand in September (18 September–3 October). Andrew and Guy will also join her for this trip. We will be in Wellington 18–19 September, Hawera 19–26 September, and Christchurch 26 September–3 October.

Both Andrew and Sophia have also been writing for Press Service International. Here are some links for anyone who’s interested.

So far this year Andrew has looked at how to answer the questions ‘how do I know heaven is real?’ and ‘should I share my exam marks with others?’ He has pondered what it means to annoy Jesus, considered his own predisposition for revenge, and explored the connection between Adam and Eve and getting high.

Meanwhile Sophia has written about why the Church should care about the Treaty of Waitangi, documented her experiences relocating to Australia and finding a new church family. She has also explored our society’s obsession with internet listicles and the idea that time is money. Her latest piece unpacks public shaming and mob justice in an online world.

Guy continues to be a cute little boy. He is walking around and getting into mischief. He isn’t properly talking yet but is very noisy and loves to baby talk.

We have settled into church at Petersham Baptist Church. The church is nearby and has been very welcoming to us. We hope to increase our involvement in the near future.

We have settled into our accommodation. It is treating us well and we get plenty of sun in the winter. The space is just what we need and we are very grateful to be provided with college accommodation.

A special thank you to our financial support team and prayer team. We really feel cared for by you all and are aware of God at work in our lives. Thank you so much for your love and care.

 

To hear more from the Sinclairs or for information about their support you can email them.

Space for people to cross the line

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Sam Harvey, pastor of Grace Vineyard’s Beach Campus in Christchurch, recently spoke at a Laidlaw College class on evangelism. The following is an excerpt from one of the points he made.

The questions Sam was wrestling with are questions we all need to consider. In your church services, when is there an opportunity for people to cross the line and come to faith? How can we build a culture in our churches that reflects a desire to see people come to know Jesus?

This is what Sam had to say:

Church culture: This for me is a big one when it comes to ‘How do we Proclaim the Gospel Today?’. I think this is something that needs to be restored to our church culture or encouraged in our church culture.

I felt really challenged this year as we were looking at this whole thing of evangelism. As a pastor I felt the Lord gently challenged me and said, “Sam, in your church services, when is there an opportunity for people to cross the line?” I’m passionate about helping people journey towards Christ (the first parts of the Engel Scale) and I’m all about discipling people, but when do I just give a moment for this to happen? Why don’t I? And the reason I don’t is because I’m scared about rejection, I’m scared about nothing happening, I’m scared that I’m going to look like a bit of a fool, I’m scared it’s going to be awkward. But I really felt challenged to do it.

So I decided that at the end of every service, regardless of what it’s on, I’m going to say “Hey, if you’re here today and you want to say yes to Jesus”… and then I’ll grab my little Alpha booklet which will talk about being sorry for the things I’ve done, please forgive me, I thank you for what you’ve done on the cross, please come in to my life, a little formula or whatever… and I’ll say, “If you want to pray that prayer with me, stick your hand up where you are at right now.” I’ve trained our section leaders in our church to watch for hands and go up to them after the service. And I said to our church that I’m going to ask people if they want to receive Jesus at the end of the sermon, and so you know, if you bring a friend to church, I’m going to be doing this every sermon. So I’ve been doing that over the last three or four months. And you know what? People were putting up their hands.

For me the challenge was the question: ‘when are we giving people the opportunity to cross the line – regularly, as part of our church culture?’ I got really really convicted about the fact that I wasn’t doing that in our church services. For me it was part and parcel of just going ‘I want to continue to build a culture in our church that reflects that heart to see people come to know Jesus.’ We may have all the theories in the world but in real terms, what does it look like? That’s the pastor part of me saying yeah the theory’s great, but what are we actually doing as a church?

 

THE MUSE

You may not be a pastor, but how does Sam’s perspective challenge you? Has your church fostered a culture where it’s natural to invite people to commit to following Jesus? If not, what would it take to change that?

 

THE MOVE

If you’re a church or youth group leader, this week ask yourself and your team what you can do to create space to help people ‘cross the line.’ If you’re not, talk to your church friends about how you can contribute to developing this sort of culture.

#NZCMS is all about exploring what it means to be God’s missional people in today’s world. Sign up for the emailer by filling in your email at the top of the page or join the discussion at the #NZCMS Facebook Group (and turn on ‘all notifications’ to stay in the loop!) 

Reaching out by inviting them in (Issue 23 bonus material)

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By Felicia Erickson

Middleton Grange International College in Christchurch has been serving the international student community since 2000. From the beginning homestays have been part of our strategy and we’ve placed thousands of students in primarily Christian homes. Our school moto is “In Thy Light shall we see Light” from Psalm 36:9, and with this as our focus we’ve been able to equip our students with the truth of the Gospel and shine light into the world.

As a Christian organisation, part of our God given mission has been to find ways to include international students in the school, most of them coming from non-Christian backgrounds. But can the hosting of students – the welcoming of students into homes and families – also be seen as missional? Rather than answering from the school’s perspective, I thought it’d be interesting to hear from one of our host families. Below is an interview with one of our host mums.

 

Why did you consider hosting for a Christian school?

I’ve been hosting international students since 2009. A friend asked me to host for Middleton Grange since she knew I had hosted other students for different English language study providers before. Now that I have hosted for Middleton Grange I will certainly continue to be available for their students in the future.

As a Christian, I want to be free to share my faith, and hosting for a Christian school means students are constantly interacting with other Christians. This means there is continuity between their experiences at school and home – there’s a missional overlap between their formal life at school and their informal life as a temporary member of our family.

How is welcoming home-stays into your family life a missional opportunity?

While they’re with us we include students as members of the family, providing support as they adjust to life in a new country and are away from their families. This hospitality is one way we outwork our faith.

We openly share our faith through our day-to-day relationship with them and include them in the ways our faith is outworked at home. We also include them in our faith-based activities, including church and youth group as well as a Christian outreach to the homeless and less advantaged at Latimer Square on Friday evenings. At home, I make an effort a few evenings a week to play cards one-one-one with my students so we have an opportunity for conversation. This has often turned to faith-based discussions that have emerged through conversation about their daily activities and issues they are working through back home with friends and family.

What sort of fruit have you seen?

Through the time together closeness develops and I think my faith shines through as I show them love and genuinely come to love them. We’ve been encouraged by comments from students about how loved and welcomed they felt, many saying they now feel part of our family. We also celebrate when students say that their faith has become much stronger during their time with us. The students we’ve hosted who happen to go to church only go for Christmas and Easter. Many have commented how different our church, Grace Vineyard, is and how much more fun it is. They say they look forward to church and youth group and now realise it is not only for ‘old people.’

We’ve also discovered that hosting students encourages us in our faith. It has provided opportunities for us to see the fruit of living out our faith. So it’s not just for the benefit of the students!

 

Why not consider hosting international students as part of your family’s mission? What could be more missional than welcoming someone into your life, allowing them to see your faith in action. This is one very simple, very concrete way you can welcome the ‘stranger among us.’

For more information about Middleton Grange’s International College feel free to contact call 03 341-4054 or email a.wright@middleton.school.nz

 

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 community? For more information or to order copies click here.

Tessa and the Radio

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“I don’t have a job” “Why?” “Because I drunk so much when I was younger I never got an education!”

Recently four ex heavy drinkers from Tessa’s group, Wakonye Kenwa, shared their stories on Mega FM, the most popular radio station in Northern Uganda. It was the first of a three part series to garner support for Wakonye Kenya’s latest endeavour, and massive dream: a law which would ban the cheapest, strongest and most popular form of alcohol. Small plastic packets of Alcohol, called ‘sachets’

Tessa’s work is going really well. After taking upon the mammoth task of embarking on creating a new law, her group has moved forward at a rate of knots. The group has a real sense of community and purpose which is driving them forward. Meetings are very social and the group is starting to believe they can do great things. They’ve already got thousands of signatures on a petition to ban the packets (aiming for 5000, I think they’ll reach 10000), a Ugandan NGO has agreed to fund all the group’s transport and phone calls, and the local government has agreed to draft the law and put it in front of the council for voting. Everything is moving remarkably smoothly at the moment. The inevitable challenges from the industry and business will come when the law looks like it might actually happen.

 

For more from Nick and Tessa in Uganda, visit UgandaPanda.com

Pacific 2 Nations breakfast highlights

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NZCMS was privileged to help host a Pacific 2 Nations vision breakfast on August 8. It was a fantastic morning, where Pasifika church leaders gathered to be challenged about their role in global mission. Pacific 2 Nations is a movement of Pacific people, rising up and launching into the nations, proclaiming the Gospel, demonstrating God’s love and power. And NZCMS is excited about the opportunity to be able to get behind this growing movement.

Our office intern, Alicia, is putting together a few highlight videos from the breakfast that capture what was said. In this short clip, Steve Maina shares about why Pacific people are well set up for cross-cultural mission.

If you’re in the Auckland region, we encourage you to support P2N by attending their free annual conference on 11 – 12 September at the Vodafone Events Centre. More info can be found by clicking here.

A little old church with a big punch

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An update from the ‘Golden Oldies’ in Fiji. 

St Lawrence Church is the oldest Anglican Church on this island and is over 150-years old – and it looks like it! But this small church wants to spread God’s love into a town where over 50% of its community lives below the poverty line.

Situated in the heart on the main street it is a ‘light of hope’ for the locals that comprise a large number of Hindi faith. A woman’s ministry to new young mothers at the local maternity hospital is one example. Ladies visit weekly and deliver clothing and blankets to the new Mum’s at this bustling hospital that has an average of 3 births/day -on average! The Golden Oldies went and met the nurses and the new Mums with two Mums with one-hour old babies.

This followed to a visit next door where Archer nurse Adele and Junior Golden Oldie Andrea have been working in a 24/7  Health Centre where they attend to 500 patients/day. The medical equipment from Archer residents donations and fundraising was gratefully received and is highly valued. This equipment will increase the number of patients they can see daily and it was heart warming to see how much difference it will make in this community

For more updates from the ‘Golden Oldies’ click here.

 

Is fixing the Church the answer?

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The following is reblogged from ReKnew.com.

God has leveraged everything on the Church loving like Jesus loved, as outlined in our previous posts in this series. “By this the world will know you are my disciples,” Jesus said, “by your love” (Jn 13:35). By God’s own design, Christ-like love is supposed to be the proof that Jesus is real. In John 17 Jesus prayed that the community of his disciples would embody the perfect love of the Trinity so that the world would know he’d been sent by the Father (Jn 17:23). Think of the implications of this phrase, “so that.” Above all, we are to be known for the way we manifest the perfect love of the Trinity. We are to be known for our scandalous willingness to love the unlovable, even our enemies—even Islamic terrorists. Our lives are to be so unique that they raise the question in the minds of unbelievers that only accepting the reality of Jesus Christ can answer: namely, why do you love me and sacrifice for me the way you do?

But let us be completely honest. Is the Church consistently putting on display this Jesus-looking, Calvary-quality love? Which is to ask: Is the Church advancing the Kingdom of God? Ask yourself: Are many non-believers walking around wondering why we Christians sacrifice so much in service to them?

Consider that Jesus’ love attracted the vilest of sinners—the tax collectors and prostitutes—just as they were. Are the tax collectors and prostitutes of our day beating down our doors to hang out with us? Do they find that they experience a kind of love and non-judgmental acceptance when they hang out with us that they can’t experience anywhere else?

We don’t have anything close to the reputation Jesus had. If anything, we have the opposite reputation. Ask any random sampling of non-Christians what first comes to mind when you mention “evangelical “ or “born again” Christians. Does anyone for a moment think their first response would be “scandalous, sacrificial love”?

The one thing that matters, the deal breaker, the all-or-nothing of Kingdom life, the thing that God has leveraged everything on, is desperately missing in the Church. No heresy could possibly be worse! (Yet, oddly, never have the heresy hunters in the past or present gone after this heresy!)

What can we do about this catastrophic heresy? How can we infuse Calvary-like love into the Church? How can we transform the Church from a meaningless religious institution into the Kingdom of God?

I’ve come to believe that this is actually the wrong question to ask. The right question—and really the only question any of us need to answer—is this one: Am I myself willing to live in love as Christ loved me and gave his life for me?

This question is much more difficult than the question about how to fix the Church. I’d much rather worry about why the Church at large isn’t more loving. I’d much rather immerse myself in complex theological issues about the Kingdom. I’d much rather talk about the Kingdom than be confronted with the personal task of actually doing it.

The only question I need to answer, and the only question you need to answer, is not one you or I can settle in our heads. It can only be answered with our hearts on a moment-by-moment basis. It is this: Are we willing to love as Christ loved, right here and right now? Are we willing to die to ourselves and bleed for this person, and now for that person? We answer the question of whether we are Kingdom participants not once and for all, but with how we treat each and every person we meet, with every choice we make, with every breath, heartbeat and brain wave that is our life. The Kingdom question is always concrete and existential, never abstract or theoretical.

I’ve discovered that living in this commitment has freed me from my life-long proclivity to be cynical about the Church. As I remain fully devoted to the single task of receiving and replicating Christ’s love in the present moment—toward this person, and now toward that person—I simply don’t have mental or emotional space to worry about or even notice who else isn’t replicating Christ’s love. Fixing them, or fixing the Church, or fixing the world, is not my job.

Thanks to ReKnew for letting us share this. Re-blogged from here.

 

THE MUSE

What do you think comes to mind for the average Kiwi when they’re hear the term (‘born again’) Christian? Why?

 

THE MOVE

What will you do to show calvary-like love to someone this weekend?

#NZCMS is all about exploring what it means to be God’s missional people in today’s world. Sign up for the emailer by filling in your email at the top of the page or join the discussion at the #NZCMS Facebook Group (and turn on ‘all notifications’ to stay in the loop!) 

Making God relevant for Kiwis

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The Christchurch Press recently wrote a story about Ron Hay’s book Finding the Forgotten God. Below is a short excerpt from the news story by Philip Matthews.

Of all the people you should never lie to, an Anglican minister would be high up the list. But is this lying, really? Or is it just not quite telling the truth?

The Anglican minister is Ron Hay and he has been phoned by The Press at his home at Castle Hill, North Canterbury, because he has won a Mind Body Spirit Literary award, worth $10,000. Only he doesn’t know that yet.

Or maybe he does know and he’s playing along too, even when he cheerfully says things like: “You never know what your chances are in a situation like this”.

Officially, at the time of phoning, he is just one of five contenders for the award, handed out annually by the Ashton Wylie Charitable Trust for books on spiritual matters. An equivalent prize goes to unpublished manuscripts.

The media has the good news under embargo, provided we can keep the secret. And the secret is that Hay won at an award ceremony in Auckland last night,   all going to plan.

Some readers may already know him: Hay was the vicar at Sumner-Redcliffs for 15 years before he took early retirement in 2009, in order to write. His first book, Finding the Forgotten God, is the result.

To read more of the Press article click here. For more about Finding  the Forgotten God click here. And a big congratulations goes to Ron for winning the award!

Pacific 2 Nations: Ropeta’s Reflections

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It’s been almost two weeks since NZCMS and St Paul’s Trinity Pacific Presbyterian Church hosted the Pacific2Nations Pastor & Leaders breakfast in Christchurch.

Pastor Lui Ponifasio and the P2N team travelled from Auckland to share the P2N vision with Pastors & Leaders from Christchurch’s Pacific community. It’s been an amazing experience as throughout this process God has weaved together at the right time people, organisations and churches to make this happen.

A highlight of the breakfast was seeing pastors and leaders come from different denominations and ethnic groups – including Samoans, Fijians, Papua New Guineans, plus a couple of token Europeans and a Kenyan (Steve). Steve reminded us that Pacific people were born to be missionaries: we can sleep anywhere, we can eat anything and we can blend right in because we’re neither too black nor too white.

Hearing the vision of P2N was refreshing. It was a reminder to the Pacific faith community about the legacy of our forefathers who spread the Gospel throughout the Pacific. Theirs was a passion that stirred their hearts so much that they conquered language, cultural and financial barriers to undertake the task that was set for them by God.

The challenge that’s been put out to the Pastors and Leaders by Lui is simple: will you and your church be the Goer’s, the Sender’s or the Disobedient ones? Breakfast literally means “breaking the fast,” the fast of the night, as it’s the first meal after sleeping. Some pacific churches are already engaged in local and global missions, praises to God, but the majority are still sleeping. God is slowly awakening them out of a deep sleep and helping his people ‘break the fast,’ directing them towards the ‘morning meal’ of mission involvement locally and globally. I’m excited about the follow-up from this breakfast as key leaders in Christchurch work with NZCMS and P2N on the where-to-next questions.

On September 11 & 12 the second P2N conference will be happening in Auckland and NZCMS will be there too. We’re expecting over 2000 people and some are coming from all over the world to attend. The theme this year is “Awakening The Warriors.” Will you pray for this up-and-coming event, that God will awaken many to what he is up to and how they can partner with him, and that by his power he will release the next generation of workers into the nations. For more info about the (free!) conference click here.