December 2015

Open home

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We’ve talked a lot about discipleship here lately, and rightly so. It’s a pretty important topic, especially since many young adults feel like they’ve never really experienced intentional, sincere discipleship. Plus Jesus seemed to think it was pretty important – it was his answer for all the problems of the world! (Matthew 28:19-20)

But here’s the thing. If you’re like me, you don’t feel you have things sorted out enough to offer much. We’ll all be familiar with the thoughts: “I’m not spiritual enough. “”I’m not deep enough.” “I don’t know enough.” “I just not disciple-making material.”

A month ago I was telling God how I don’t feel deep enough to have much to give (…whatever that actually means). Yes, I’ve grown in my faith over the years, and yes, I’m willing to say that I have something to offer. Yet, I guess buried somewhere in my heart is the belief that only spiritual elites can really make a true and lasting difference. I may have something to offer, but with a world (and church) with so much need, we need the heros of the faith to be discipling people – like Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, the Apostle Paul, [insert the faith-heros you look up to]. They’re the ones ‘qualified’ to be forming disciples.

Sometimes wisdom is knowing when to close your mouth. So I did. And I started to listen. And God spoke.

What I felt him saying was beautifully simple:

It’s not about ‘being more,’ about ‘having more to offer,’ but about opening your home and opening your lives. It’s not about having a whole lot to offer, but about offering what you do have. Start with what you have, and more will be given. Depth always comes AS you pour out, not as you wait until your ready to be poured out. 

I may not be all I want to be. I may have a long way to go in my journey with God (which is a never-ending journey anyway!). I may have much to learn, much to see, much to live out and experience. But I am able to open a door!

It’s easy to complicate discipleship, but I think one of the keys of the whole thing is to just make space to be with people. And sometimes that’s as simple as opening your door.

 

As we’re heading towards Christmas ask yourself this: What can you do to make your life more open to others, creating space for others to learn and grow?

Communications update and CMS Kids

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Thank you all for a fantastic year of supporting NZCMS. And thank you for your patience as we’ve made changes to parts of our communications. This has enabled us to engage a wider range of people and churches. We’re starting to see growing momentum across the Society, with increasing numbers engaging with our content and getting more serious about local and global mission. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about! So thank you again for the part you’ve played.

We’ve also been exploring ways to become more ‘family-friendly,’ wanting to engage the youngest members of the NZCMS clan. We’re putting together a little gift for families with children to help young ones learn something about God’s world and our mission. If you have kids between 4 and 14, please email office@nzcms.org.nz and let us know (along with their name/s, year of birth and gender) so we can send you something early in the new year.

 

Christmas blessings!

Back to Kapuna

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In 2014 I worked with Mary and these year 4 and 5 students at Kapuna Life School. Mary has been selected for teacher training in 2016 and I was asked if I would like to return and teach again.

Where is this school? Nestled in the dense jungle of the Wame River in the Gulf Province of Papua New Guinea (PNG), Kapuna was established in the 1950’s to provide health services. Partnering with Gulf Christian Services, it’s a faith-based ministry that encompasses medical care, training, leadership and community development, serving over 15000 people. Since then three generations of the Calvert family from NZ have served there long and short term. Grandma Calvert has been there over 60 years and continues to inspire many in her passion for God and all that happens at Kapuna. Out of this grew the Kapuna Life School, a place of cultural vibrancy.

Was it an easy decision for me to return? Initially my heart stirred and I was keen but then the prospect of leaving family, those I am involved with in my work places here and knowing in PNG to expect the unexpected I began to doubt and feel reluctant. With the challenge from my son, “You are being too controlling,” flowing through my mind I sought God for confirmation. Friends were praying and a picture from one helped, along with a devotion from Whispers of Hope by Beth Moore based on Genesis 22:1-19 about Abraham offering his only son Isaac. At the end of this devotion she had written a poem suggesting we allow God to speak to our heart. The first two verses were my confirmation.

Trust Me with Your Isaac

By Beth Moore

For every Abraham who dares to kiss the foreign field where glory for a moment grasped is for a lifetime tilled…

The voice of God speaks not but once but ’till the traveller hears “Abraham! Abraham! Bring your Isaac here!”

Pass the test, my faithful one; bow to me as Lord Trust me with your Isaac -see, I am your great Reward.”

It felt like God was saying “Go!” Kiss the foreign field. I’ve told you once. Now I’ve told you twice.

 

During that afternoon of worship and prayer I felt it was the right time and to continue trusting God so that night I emailed Barbara and said yes, yes. So with God’s help, and with prayer support from church family and friends, I’m returning for the school year in 2016 to teach year 4 and 5 students.

Praise God: my visa was approved in record time and for the support from family and church.

Pray for: my medical to be processed promptly, peace as I leave family on January 17th and for internal flights into the Gulf.

March on Video

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We proudly present to you a 2015 highlight: Wakonye Kenwa’s March to End Sachet Alcohol in Gulu

You might be wondering…

What is sachet alcohol? Watch the video clip above, and Isaac from Wakonye Kenwa will explain all… Who is Wakonye Kenwa? We are a community organising group launched from our wee church in Lacor, Gulu town. We are the ones making lots of noise. Why march? Because we wanted to make Gulu Local Government publicly accountable to their promise to us to ban sachet alcohol Did it work? Yes! The District chairman publicly promised to complete the law before 2016, and the media spread the news far and wide. Our law is almost finished.

A View from the Outside (Issue 25)

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By Kate Cremisino

When my husband and I prepared to move as mission workers to New Zealand, the Lord gave us several words to help us gauge the spiritual climate of the land. We were made aware that New Zealand had moved into a post-Christian era but, putting a fire under our feet, God strongly spoke to us about renewal sweeping through the land. We arrived with passion and anticipation.

We realised we’d be facing new territory. Our American roots meant we were unacquainted with ministering in a post-Christian environment. While America is perhaps at a tipping point, it’s still the norm to run into nonbelievers who nonetheless know something about Jesus.

Many grew up attending Sunday school, Catholic Mass, the local synagogue or at least attend Christmas and Easter services. It’s easier engaging nonbelievers who have a context for understanding Jesus. We wondered what evangelism and discipleship would look like in a land that had ‘moved past’ the Gospel.

Upon arrival, we quickly noticed the chasm that existed. While there was a beautiful family of believers populating our city, many people we encountered had never even heard of the name of Jesus and had no context for understanding.

One afternoon in 2013, I was interviewing a young woman at the mall for a project. Right away she asked me to speak louder because she was deaf in one ear. My prayer radar perked up, my interviewing was put on the back-burner and I asked if I could pray for her. She said yes, and amid the ridiculing laughs from her friends sitting with her at the food court, a friend of mine joined me in quietly praying for her healing. We felt God’s peace despite the awkwardness of her friends’ laughter and found out later that she was healed that day. Yet when I tried to explain Jesus and the backstory of the Gospel, it dumbfounded me that she had no paradigm for God. To be transparent, I struggled to explain it to her because I expected her to be at least vaguely familiar with Jesus. Everything I said suddenly sounded airy fairy.

How could she not have heard about him in a nation filled with churches? And how come I was so unprepared to talk about him in a way that made sense?

Playing our part

Not long ago I had a similar situation with my hair dresser. When he casually mentioned his partner was deaf, I immediately thought back to the girl at the mall and asked if I could pray for his partner to be healed. He said yes, pausing from snipping while I said a simple prayer. He was thankful and inquisitive about my beliefs – he knew nothing about Jesus or God.

A few weeks later I checked in and learned that his partner’s hearing had improved. I was elated! He was shocked. But even though he witnessed the miracle, his eyes moved into sceptical hesitancy when I explained about Jesus. Again, I struggled to know how to share without sounding like a nutter. God was moving, cracking open the door, yet I felt unprepared as I overanalysed every word coming out of my mouth. But before I came down too hard on myself, I was encouraged when he mentioned how he was intrigued by the coincidence that he’d been recently befriended by two other clients who were also believers. I felt the weight of the world fall off my shoulders as God reminded me that it’s not all up to me. We’re each playing a part.

As time passed I continued to pray for salvation for the guy and his partner. Recently, I popped by the salon to chat. He had no clients when I walked in and the timing proved divine. He said he was just thinking about me the night before because his partner’s ears were ringing and he thought he should ask me to pray again. So we sat on the art deco couch of his salon, but this time I suddenly felt to encourage him to be the one to pray. After some convincing, he offered some genuine prayers and we talked freely about God for another 20 minutes. The words came easily this time and my hairdresser was opening up more and more. I left feeling inspired by God’s goodness. God is doing the work. I just have to be available.

It reminded me that coming to faith in Jesus is often a journey. My interactions with someone may be just one step of that journey. My main responsibility is obedience. While evangelising can appear difficult in a ‘first-world nation’ where science, logic and sensuality trump spirituality and moral responsibility, I’m realising that reaching anyone – western or not – comes down to being led by the Holy Spirit and trusting him with the outcome. If I can let go of the pressure I place on myself, I know I’ll find peace in just doing my part, however eloquent or simple it may be. I also need to let go of overanalysing what I sound like. Because what I’m saying is true, I need to trust God to help my words resonate in the person’s heart. Speak the truth. The truth will set people free.

If we want to see a move of the Spirit in New Zealand, the key is obedience. See yourself as a missionary in your sphere of influence. Train your heart to hear God guiding you on his mission and be ready to speak, pray, listen or serve. There is no reason to fear. God knows who’s ready and what they need to hear. Be the vessel and leave it to God to manage the outcome. What would quickly transpire if every believer tuned in daily and stepped out in obedience? I imagine God’s Gospel would spread like wildfire, setting hearts across this nation aflame for him.

Kate, Noah and their daughter live in Christchurch where they support grass-roots missional engagement here and around the world.

For discussion

What small steps were significant in your journey to faith in Christ?

What are some of the barriers that have kept you from sharing your faith? What would God say in response to these barriers?

 

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.

More Digging

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Blue sky, white puffy clouds and brilliant golden sunshine. Green leaves of ancient baobab trees. Purples and reds of tropical flame trees and bougainvillea. Bright, multi-coloured garments of the women of Kondoa… and yet we are longing for grey?!

Yes – well – the rains came early after a year of drought. It was so exciting watching the dry old riverbed that we cross every day become swirling, surging, muddy waters, and a bit scary with overhead thunderstorms and fork lightning, especially when our house was the target. Grass springs up almost overnight, and two old tortoises, football size, found their way to nose around our garden. It was a good time to start a unit on weather in my English class – so much more variety than, “Today is sunny. Yesterday was s……. Tomorrow will be s……”

However, the rains have been in recess for over ten days now. It is hot and sticky while we look in vain for a build-up of grey/black cloud and the next outburst of those refreshing, thunderous rains. The Bible School students are itching to get home, to get out in the fields, hoe in hand, to prepare the ground for sowing. It is a critical time for them and their families, and since most of our students are young men with family responsibilities, we as a staff decided to close the Bible School early. This means that exams start tomorrow. One of my roles since we arrived has been as Registrar, and I will have a busy end-of-term keeping track of exam papers and marks. Six students only will graduate, having successfully completed their two-year course, and we will be celebrating this with a ‘sherehe,’ involving singing, dancing, prize giving and food. All six graduates will be heading back to their parishes to take up key roles in evangelism and teaching. Remaining students will continue with their two and three year courses from the beginning of February.

During the last busy days of term we’re expecting over 40 pastors to descend on us for a seminar to encourage them to trial new drought-resistant maize seeds. It looks like the students will have to give up their mattresses to accommodate them!

Recently we were invited to join in a wedding reception of two former students in a village near Chemba and this Sunday, Peter has been asked to preach at Kidoka village. A group of students join us on these expeditions. Most of this term we have been here in Kondoa, getting to grips with the challenges of the work here. We will have to drive to Dodoma, however, as soon as Bible School closes, as we need to secure our residence permits. Please pray that we will be successful in that.

Some of you have heard of the murky business of the overflowing cesspit, just at the time of a cholera outbreak in town. It was a huge project for Peter to have to sort out and very quickly. He involved all the students digging holes, deep and wide, others redirecting the offending waters using buckets, and local experts advising on the technical aspects and constructing large concrete covers for the pits. We are amazed and thankful to God that not one student got ill over those weeks.

Another project that is completed was the building of improved cooking facilities for Mama Tembo, the Bible School cook. The aim is to use much less charcoal, which is getting very expensive to buy.

Since I started writing this, more rain has fallen. Thank you, Lord. Right now, Peter is out in our garden with the hoe, and has planted beans and peanuts. It is very hot out there, which seems to be a hopeful sign that more rain is on its way. Certainly the clouds are building up again.

We know that in western countries, shops are full of things to buy for Christmas, but there is no sign of it here. Not that we mind! We don’t know how we will be celebrating Christmas this year, but the local Christians will be full of joy, and probably full of rice and meat too. We will be missing our own family in Rangiora, as well as our church family with all the beautiful Christmas music, but we praise God for all of you who are supporting us, in so many different ways. We couldn’t be here without you. The Lord bless each one of you.

Edric’s Legacy

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Dr Edric Baker established a health care project in rural Bangladesh many years ago. It’s a project for the poor by the poor that has empowered local people to serve one another through basic health care. Though Edric passed away earlier this year, his legacy continues at the  Kailakuri Health Care Project.

The project is currently searching for volunteers to fill a number of roles:

Someone who can help with English communications, writing updates and liaising with the project’s supporters around the world. A nurse practitioner who can act as a consultant for the mother-child village health programme. A medical doctor who can act as a consultant for paramedics and internee doctors.

The preference is for volunteers to be able to stay for at least three months. They are expected to fund their visa and return airfare, though the project can provide free accommodation and meals. An interpreter can also be provided.

If you are interested in any of these roles, email office@nzcms.org.nz and we can send through further information.

 

(Image: Kailakuri staff put on a play to teach about medical conditions.)

 

 

Steve’s Sabatical

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It’s nearly seven years since I started with NZCMS. I’ve learned a lot and have seen God do amazing things in and through NZCMS. People often ask: Steve, when do you ever take a break? I’m grateful that Council have approved a three month study leave next year. As I will be taking annual leave as well, the Maina family plan to leave New Zealand for five months (28 Nov 2015 to 29 April 2016). We’ll be based in Kenya most of the time.

I have three goals in mind for my study.

A study tour of Israel. To investigate ‘reverse mission’ models in England to see how NZCMS could help the Church in New Zealand receive the gifts of the global Church. Find spiritual refreshment through prayer, reading, retreats and meeting with leaders.

Please pray this time will bring fresh perspectives and renewed energy and also for great connections with friends, family and our sending churches in Kenya.

While I’m away, Lesley Smith (Personnel Director) will be taking up some of my role as the Acting National Director. To assist with the Personnel role, we are grateful that Maureen Harley (former NZCMS Mission Partner in Cambodia) will come on staff from November on a part time basis as Personnel Assistant.

Thank you for your support over the years. May you know Christ’s unending joy this Christmas.

Destination: Papua New Guinea

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The last year seems to have disappeared in a whirlwind. It began with four and a half months of training and orientation in Melbourne, followed by four months deputation in the Wellington and Waiapu Dioceses as well as some very special times with family. I’m feeling grateful to all the staff at St Andrew’s Hall in Melbourne, for all their advice and wisdom about adjusting to a new climate and a new culture.

On arrival in Papua New Guinea I was warmly welcomed to Begabari or ‘place of peace’ and then on to my apartment where I began the process of unpacking. I’m pleased to report that for me even though there is a security presence everywhere, Port Moresby hasn’t lived up to its negative reputation. Everyone here is, however saying bikpela sun (‘it is HOT!!’), although some nights we do get down to a cool 26 degrees.

Each morning I’m up around 5am ready to walk down to the Diocesan compound for 6am Morning Prayers and a Communion Service in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd. My packed breakfast is then shared over a cup of coffee before moving across to the office to check emails and news ready for the day ahead. The working day ends with Evening Prayer and a ride home.

References to foot washing in the Bible have taken on a whole new under-standing since being here. Arriving home one afternoon on what had been a particularly hot day, there seemed to be dust everywhere. My desire was that my feet not carry dirt and grime around the house so I decided to wash them in the basin… It was one of the most refreshing things I have experienced.

Each of my first four Sundays has been different: On one, we arrived to find that the University Chapel was ‘shut up’ as the teaching year had finished. Within no time at all the area under the chaplain’s house had been converted to a chapel and the students and lecturers gathered for their final time of worship before heading home to their villages or to the Solomon Islands. The Archbishop reminded the students to stand firm in their faith.

On another Sunday St John’s Cathedral had some special visitors. Miss South Pacific contestants were present as part of their week of preparation for the pageant to be held the following weekend. The Archbishop encouraged these ladies to reflect the image of God. These ladies described themselves as ambassadors and advocates for the women and children of PNG.

St Martin’s on my third Sunday saw the church filled with parishioners from all over Port Moresby as they came together for a combined Service where Bishop Denny ordained a new priest. Processions were led by dancers from Oro Province in traditional dress.

Last Sunday there was lively worship at Holy Family Church, Hohola. The unaccompanied singing was certainly not to be missed!

Reaching Secular Kiwis: What Will it Take? (Issue 25)

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By Ron Hay

Two hundred years after the coming of Christianity to these shores we face a huge missional challenge: how to re-evangelize our nation, how to reach New Zealand afresh. There’s no question that we live in one of the most secular nations in the world. Even one of our leading literary figures, a self-declared atheist, comments that “Our society is abnormally secular – and passes this off as common sense.”

What is needed to reach our nation afresh? I’d like to suggest three key factors.

The eyes of Jesus for lost people

Jesus saw the crowds in his day as “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” and that’s the reality for people in every age without Christ. People today are harassed by many things – job insecurity, relationship breakdowns, health concerns. They are helpless before so many forces beyond their control, not least the passage of time and human mortality. And they’re often looking for inspiring leaders of integrity and too seldom finding them amongst our public figures.

As Jesus looked at the crowds, he didn’t judge them or condemn them. He didn’t say, “What a Godless lot!” Instead, he had compassion on them because of their harassed and helpless state.

Mission begins in the heart of God – and it ignites in local communities when we have the eyes and the compassion of Jesus for lost people.

Enthusiasm for the Gospel

In recent months I’ve re-read my way through Paul’s letters. One of the things that struck me afresh was how intoxicated, how enraptured Paul is with the person of Jesus and how excited he is by what he calls “the glorious Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In Christ and his Gospel, Paul has found a treasure beyond compare, a treasure he can’t possibly keep to himself.

Think for a moment – what is the alternative to the Christian Gospel in a secular society? The alternative is what is called naturalism or materialism, the belief that there’s no supernatural, nothing but molecules and matter, nothing beyond impersonal physical and material processes. The leading public advocate of this gospel is Richard Dawkins who tells us we live in a universe where there is “no design and no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” That’s a pretty dispiriting worldview to live with, but that’s the honest assessment of where secularism leads us.

In huge contrast, the Christian Gospel tells us that we’re not alone in an impersonal universe, that we’re not at the mercy of blind, indifferent processes. There is a God who is the “father of compassion and the God of all comfort.” This God is not remote and far away, but came into our world in the person of Jesus and lived our life, died our death, and rose again that we might be delivered from the fear of death and the power of evil. Secular Kiwis desperately need to know the joy and liberation of this Gospel.

Equipped for mission

Having the heart of Christ for lost people and enthusiasm for the Gospel is important, but it’s actually not enough. We need to be equipped to engage in mission. In writing Finding the Forgotten God, I wanted to help resource Christians in mission in two ways. The first was to help prepare them for conversations and interaction with non-Christian friends. Often we encounter searching questions and objections to faith that are hard to answer. A major part of the book seeks to address those questions. Recently I received an email from a young woman who said that, as a result of reading the book, she now felt “able to have a more logical and confident conversation with a non-believer.”

Secondly, the book can be a resource to give away to non-Christian friends and family. Everyone, I think, needs to hear a reasoned case for faith. In Acts 18 we’re told how Paul in Corinth “reasoned in the Synagogue” each week “trying to persuade both Jews and Greeks.” Presenting a reasoned case for faith is something Nicky Gumble does superbly well with Alpha, and I’ve tried to do that too in Finding the Forgotten God, starting a little further back than Nicky does by asking questions like “Is this world all there is?” and “What evidence is there for the existence of God?”

Getting a friend to come to church or Alpha to hear a reasoned case for faith is not always easy. But there is nothing threatening about being offered a book which you can read at your own leisure. Many people have said how much they have appreciated having a book which comes out of our Kiwi context and which uses Kiwi illustrations and examples in attempting to reach secular people in Aotearoa-New Zealand.

Ron Hay is the author of Finding the Forgotten God: Credible Faith for a Secular Age. With Christmas around the corner, this book could be the perfect gift for friends who don’t yet understand the reason for the season. For more details see www.findinggod.co.nz

For discussion

What other alternative ‘gospels’ exist in our world? How does the true Gospel challenge, subvert or fulfil those gospels?

 

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.