June 2016

Waste Not, Want Not (Issue 27)

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Sometimes I feel as if I’ve graduated from a Recycling 101 class… and with flying colours. I work in a trauma hospital in Cambodia’s second biggest city. No, I’m not a doctor or a nurse; I’ve started a crafts programme to help with patients’ psychological recovery. Because of where I am, and because the project isn’t funded by the hospital, I’ve needed to find ways to make it sustainable and cost-effective. And sustainability also means it’s important that it doesn’t cause any harm to the community we live amongst. That’s one reason the Hollander Critter papermaking machine we started using in our project last year has been so valuable.

But there’s another reason this machine has proven so valuable. By using it, we’re able to make something out of nothing. I find this very satisfying, and it turns out I’ve been able to role-model this for those with whom I interact and work daily – almost without exception, the patients here struggle to find enough money to pay their hospital bills, adding considerably to the stress of being a long-term patient. By watching the project and participating as they’re able, people can discover that there are useful resources all around us – we just need to change the way we view things!

“One man’s trash…”

The world around us starts to look different when we have this change of perspective. Here’s some examples from the paper project:

Pages coloured in and thrown away by children in the hospital become the base of the fabric pulp for our paper making Pre-loved cotton that started its days as clothing, bedding, towels or tiny bits of fabric of no use for our “Days for Girls” (org) project become essential elements for the paper A tailor’s scraps of traditional Khmer silk and lace become trimmings for the cards we make Small pieces of silk fabric and offcuts of traditional Khmer scarves become a source of colour and texture for plain paper Husks discarded by the man who makes sugarcane juice are rescued from the roadside and are turned into paper as well Leftover coconut husks from a foot massage project which uses coconut oil products made by the staff become valuable for adding texture Discarded banana tree trunks can also be used to make paper of a tissue-paperlike consistency Pieces of handmade paper too small to be made into greeting cards become gift cards to complement the bigger cards we make

I’m not just involved with papermaking. Another thing I do is operate a small mobile library. This warms my librarian’s heart as I can put books into the hands of many who don’t normally have the opportunity to read. The trolley I use to distribute the books was cobbled together from old IV drip stands and other scrap metal from retired hospital equipment! I found what I needed in a shop, photographed it, showed it to the maintenance team and bingo! A week later I had my very own recycled trolley . It works a treat!

Many patients have benefitted from donations of retired reading glasses from an optometrist in Melbourne. The two most common reasons I’m given when asking patients if they want to borrow a book are “Knyom ot jeh arn” (I don’t know how to read) and “Knyom ot merl kern” (I can’t see). While we can’t help with the first problem, the donated glasses go a long way towards helping people who otherwise couldn’t read the books I offer.

And so the various aspects of my project inter-connect and I’m able to use leftovers from one part of the programme, or from another hospital department, in some other way. A smile crosses my face when I reflect on how I’m making a difference in the lives of patients who have met tragedy in their lives. That’s what I came to do. It’s doubly satisfying to know I’m also modelling good practice in reusing resources while being a responsible steward of what God has provided. God can indeed do amazing things with very little and I’m both honoured and humbled to be the vessel he’s using in this place at this time.

Anne and her husband Anthony are NZCMS Mission Partners serving patients in a Cambodian hospital.

 

For discussion

In what ways is God challenging you to ‘change the way you see’?

Is there anything from your daily life that could be recycled in a creative way rather than going into land-fill?

A BOLD review

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Last year the Diocese of Auckland invited Kirstin Cant to help with the development and facilitation of their new youth leadership development programme for year 11-13s. Kirstin was able to help bring a missional perspective to the heart of these young people’s discipleship journey in the past year. The Diocese celebrated the graduation of 11 young people from the programme this month. It’s great to see the emerging generation catching the Big Picture of God’s mission that is central to their faith.

Above is a video from the Bishop of Auckland Diocese which gives a short reflection on these young people’s journey.

A New Arrival

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We’re delighted by the news of the birth of Immanuel John Hicks at the start of the month. Here’s a short update from Tess about Immanuel’s arrival.

The time around Immanuel’s birth was a mixture of trials and grace. We all sailed to Honiara on May 10 to wait for the baby to arrive. As soon as we got there… we all came down with pink eye. Then Jon got malaria and was bedridden for a week! To top it off, I got a nasty sore on my foot which required a course of antibiotics. I was feeling very pregnant and uncomfortable as well. Through it all, we were convicted to ask God for strength and grace to suffer graciously, as well as to ask for protection from spiritual attack through physical set backs.

Our lovely American midwife, Rebekah, arrived on May 19. We got to do some fun things as a family that we can’t usually do in the village: go out for ice creams, eat at cafes, swim in a pool, watch dances at the national museum, and watch a few movies with the internet working well.

On the night of June 1, my contractions began at 9 pm. We filled up the inflatable birth pool and a few friends came to boil water to make the temperature right. Jon was a great support and at 5:35 am, Immanuel John swam into the world! He was alert and caught onto breastfeeding on the first go. We woke up the kids to see him still attached to me in the water. They were tired but very happy.

Jon and the kids went back first to the village a week after the birth while Immanuel and I stayed a week more to get him vaccinated and gaining weight. Our housegirl, Josephine, looked after us well so I could just rest and eat. On June 20 we flew back home which only took 30 minutes compared to 3-7 hours by boat. We are happy to be reunited.

Yesterday I came down with a fever and body aches, so today we went in for a malaria test. Thank God it was negative, so I may just be fighting off some kind of infection. I feel quite a bit better after sleeping a lot of the day. Please pray that I can get strong to be able to keep up with looking after the kids and house. Pray also for Jon as he preaches tomorrow and Sunday at two different churches.

We are grateful to you all at NZCMS. What a blessing to be a part of your team to serve the Lord.

Integral Mission (Issue 27)

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By Dr Andrew Shepherd

Since the 1970’s there’s been a reawakening within the evangelical Church to the socio-economic dimensions of the Gospel. Activities such as disaster relief, medical welfare, community building & empowerment, job & income creation, trauma-counselling, peace-building, tackling structural injustices, are all now affirmed as an integral aspect of seeking the Kingdom of God.

And over the last two decades, our understanding of the scope of God’s mission has broadened further, with the rediscovery of God’s love for all of creation. The biblical narrative from beginning to end gives an account of this, explicitly stating: the goodness of creation; that creation is created and sustained by the power of God’s life-giving Spirit; of nature’s agency in praising its Creator; that creation reveals the power and nature of God; of God’s intention for the land be a place of life-giving abundance; that humanity, as caretakers, are to respect and nurture creation to fulfil its Creator’s intent for it to teem with life; that God, in Christ, is reconciling all things.

This biblical understanding – that God’s missional intent is not confined to homo sapiens but is about creating communities of shalom in which relationships between humanity, God, and all of creation are reconciled and renewed – is evident in declarations such as the Anglican Five Marks of Mission. But what does this fifth mark of mission actually mean: “to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth”? How does safeguarding the integrity of creation relate to the other marks? Is caring for ecosystems and endangered species of the same priority as care for our fellow human? And, how does this fifth mark become an integral aspect of missional living in the contemporary world?

Five Marks yet interwoven

We need to recognise that the five marks, while distinct in our declarations, are in practice inextricably interwoven. Consider the work of Christian conservation organisation A Rocha in Uganda. A project of providing cheap and easy to use bio-sand water filters to produce clean and safe drinking water for slum-communities near Kampala looks, on first glance, as simply a response to essential human needs. But the benefits of this project spread beyond individuals to families, communities, the land and countless other species!

The distribution of 600 bio-sand water filters has eliminated the need for women to boil water over charcoal fires. Each bio-sand filter is utilised by five families (strengthening community) meaning 15 000 people now drink safe drinking water (health benefits), thus saving $152 000 NZD p.a. in charcoal costs and medical fees (poverty reduction). Healthy children are less often absent from school (education benefits) and women now have 15 days per household p.a. – the total time previously spent boiling water! – to devote to income-generating enterprises (gender empowerment).

And the benefits beyond homo sapiens? Previously, families required approximately 12 bags of charcoal each year for boiling water. So, for every five families, 60 fewer bags of charcoal are bought. For 15 000 people, that’s 36 000 bags. One felled tree makes two bags. Therefore, because of the filters, at least 18 000 trees each year are still growing (less carbon-emissions and on-going carbon sequestration), thus preventing top-soil erosion and desertification, and continuing to provide habitat for wildlife (bio-diversity gains).

Here in Aotearoa the Karioi – Maunga ki te Moana conservation project which seeks to restore biodiversity to a sea-bird mountain near Raglan likewise provides multiple benefits: community building & empowerment, environmental educational for youth, job and income generation for local hapu. (See www.arocha.org.nz/projects/karioi-maunga-ki-te-moana).

What’s our role?

But what of those of us living here in Aotearoa New Zealand not engaged directly in community development or conservation work? How can “safeguarding the integrity of creation” be an integral aspect of our missional living?

The Paris Climate Change conference in November 2015 was a watershed moment. After decades of denial we seem to have acknowledged that the global ecological crisis stems from the unsustainable mode of living pursued by homo sapiens (especially Westerners). Since the industrial revolution, powered by the cheap energy provided by fossil fuels, we’ve created a way of life in which speed, transience and limitlessness are seen as virtues. We live largely in ignorance to the detrimental impact our pattern of living has on other non-human inhabitants who share this planet with us. Whether we care to admit it or not, the average New Zealand standard of living is unsustainable – dependent upon an overuse of ecological capital and the exploitation of others (human and non-human).

Missional living that is serious about safeguarding the integrity of creation will reflect intentionally on the nature of our housing and churches (size, heating, energy efficiency, water use); our frequency and mode of transportation (public vs personal vehicle); our leisure activities (the luxury of overseas vacations); what we purchase (needs vs wants and the power of advertising; the ecological footprint of a product from extraction-manufacturing-transport to market to disposal; product design & longevity); and what we eat (carbon footprint; water use; ecological impact of insecticides).

Just as we should be aware of the human impact of our consumer choices (explored in Intermission Issue 25), we need to become awake to the ecological impact of our patterns of living. Such awareness however, should not to lead to paralysis.  For the sake of the poor and the planet, we need to transition towards a low-carbon economy – lowering our carbon emissions and then off-setting the rest (see www.climatestewards.org). Background knowledge provides the context where, as missional communities of faith, empowered by the Spirit, we can explore creative ways of living which will benefit all of God’s creatures.

Dr Andrew Shepherd is the National Co-Director of A Rocha Aotearoa New Zealand. Later this year, A Rocha in partnership with Tear Fund, will be releasing the Rich Living programme, designed to assist faith-communities explore sustainable ways of living. Visit www.arocha.org.nz/education-advocacy/ or email

 

For discussion

Share examples of projects which weave together the 5 Marks of Mission (evangelism, discipleship, compassion, social justice, creation care)? Why is this interweaving an essential insight for local and global mission?

What steps will you and your group make to reduce your environmental footprint?

 

 

This article mentioned a holistic bio-sand filter project that simultaneously addresses environmental, social, educational, gender and economic issues. The French government is offering funding for 100 environmental projects that receive the most votes. We encourage you to register and vote, enabling this project to grow. Voting is open until July 7. For more information, click here. To vote, click here.

Flexing in Kapuna

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I continue to be humbled by the kindnesses and support I’m receiving here at Kapuna. One wet day, my students ran along in front of me dropping timber on the muddy track to the classroom so I wouldn’t slip over. The local people are incredibly supportive in prayer and encouragement.

Learning about the human body has been our science focus for Term 1. The class experience of putting into practise muscles contracting and relaxing in pairs created a lot of laughter and competition between students. The test results gave me a few smiles. The jaw bone was labelled joe bone and the answer to the question ‘What organs do the ribs protect’ was ‘piss piss place,’ which is the term they use here for pee.

Pastor Mike Robb and his wife Ruth became good friends while they were here (they have since returned to Christchurch). Mike came to my rescue after I had locked my keys in the school and needed someone to climb into my house and get the spare ones. And yes, as some of you told me, this is not the first time I needed this help.

Jude, my special student with physical disabilities, had a raging infection around the hip area which was also massively swollen. I visited him regularly in the hospital and prayed with the family. We missed him a lot, so when a student suggested we go to the hospital the next day and have our devotions there, everyone got excited. They usually sing quite loud, so I encouraged them to lower the volume, as Jude was still struggling with a headache and fever, but he smiled a lot and thanked them for coming. What a privilege to have the freedom to do that here in Kapuna School. Jude is now back in school and maintaining good health.

I value your continued prayer support as you partner with me here at Kapuna.

Want a Flourishing Community? Care for God’s Creation (Issue 27)

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By Brittany Ederer (with contributions by Lydia Robledo)

Caring for God’s good creation, and caring for the plight of those who experience poverty, unifies Christ followers all over the globe. In 2010, 4200 evangelical leaders from 198 countries met in Cape Town, South Africa for the third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization. Item 7 of the ‘Cape Town Commitment’ clearly connects God’s act of love through creation with our response in worship: “If Jesus is Lord of all the earth, we cannot separate our relationship to Christ from how we act in relation to the earth.” The authors specifically call out our mistreatment of God’s good creation through addictive consumerism, pollution and wastefulness of God’s bountiful gift of the earth.

The strongest statement reads, “Creation care is thus a gospel issue within the Lordship of Christ,” and inspired further collaboration of Lausanne leaders to pursue action on creation care, culminating in a meeting of world leaders in Jamaica in 2012. From this gathering the Lausanne Creation Care Network and the ‘Jamaica Call to Action’ were formed.

In 2016 the World Evangelical Alliance officially partnered with the Lausanne Creation Care Network, now called the Lausanne/WEA Creation Care Network. Through conferences in places such as Southeast Asia, East and Central Africa, thousands of Christ followers from every corner of the globe are mobilising their local communities and national Christian networks to enact plans to tackle creation care issues. So far, five regional conferences have touched 47 countries and over 480 participants, with at least four more conferences being planned for 2016 and beyond.

Example from the Philippines

One strong leader within this Creation Care Network is Lydia Robledo, a Filipina woman who is the founding chairman of Christians in Conservation Philippines. She’s especially passionate about solving problems of human rights and ecological health in the Philippines. Below is her account on the challenges of ecology and poverty in her country.

The Philippines is ranked as one of the 17 megadiverse countries of the world, possessing two-thirds of the earth’s biodiversity due to high species endemism (which means most plants and animals are only found in this one place). In fact, the Philippines is believed to have more diversity of life on earth per hectare than any other country in the world.

Based on the United Nations latest report, our current population is 102 million, the 12th most populated country. Its people are largely dependent on land and sea ecosystems for their basic needs. The forest ecosystems provide important supplies of water for agricultural, industrial and domestic use. The islands’ coastal areas provide food and generate livelihood for millions of people.

The Philippines ecosystems are threatened by the consequences of poor governance, over population, lack of education and greed. The forest reserves have been severely logged due to the high demand for fuel and timber, agricultural expansion, upland migration of poor families (who practice slash and burn activities), poorly planned eco-tourism and urban development. Mining has not only caused massive destruction of the forests but has affected gravely the water systems including marine life. Local communities have been displaced and the fishermen’s livelihood severely affected.

The unabated destruction of the Philippine environment is now aggravated by the devastating effects of climate change. In 2013 Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms recorded in history, woke the world from slumber. More than 6000 people were killed and over 4 million lost their homes. The people of the island of Leyte, which was hit especially hard by the typhoon, don’t understand storm surge or climate change. Likewise, people affected by heavy deforestation, who live far from coastal areas, don’t realize that they’re experiencing a similar ‘environment surge’ – just at a much slower speed than the typhoon. The effects of deforestation due to heavy logging and mining subtly confront those unprepared for the consequences of climate change. The present status of the Philippine environment puts the people in a dangerous situation. This country, devoid of green cover that keeps soil from running off during storms, has been suffering greatly from extreme weather.

Climate change intensifies the adverse weather conditions a tropical country normally experiences. For 150 years highly industrialised, developed countries have induced the devastation of climate change due to high levels of greenhouse gas emissions. The Philippines has already suffered too much from its effects. Together with other developing and poor countries, we remain at the mercy of those responsible for the greenhouse emissions, who continue their economic dominance with reluctant commitment to address the urgency and trauma brought about by climate change.

Filipinos believe climate change is a human rights issue. We’re doing our share to address the local environmental situation while the government campaigns in the global arena, urging polluting countries to find lasting solutions and to compensate countries gravely affected by it. Many lives, property and livelihoods have already been lost. Many are still unaware and are ill prepared.

An active campaign is needed to make climate change known to every Filipino, in terms that can be readily understood. Christians in Conservation is a non-profit evangelical organization established to inspire and equip Christians to become responsible stewards of God’s creation. Through Biblical and science based research, education and advocacy, our vision is to see transformed Christian communities caring for creation, thereby honouring God.

Without understanding ecology, it will be difficult for anyone to feel the need to care for our environment. We urge people, young and old, to go out to experience, discover, learn and enjoy nature. To reduce carbon footprints, we teach and encourage everyone to live simply. We also plant trees to help mitigate the impact of climate change.

 

People like Lydia and Christians in Conservation Philippines address simultaneously the dire problems of poverty and ecological damage, because the present status of the Philippine environment puts the people in danger of losing their homes, property or their very lives. As Christ followers, it’s our duty to continue working together to restore human dignity and environmental health.

Brittany Ederer works for Care of Creation, a Christian environmental non-profit in Wisconsin, USA, and serves as the Global Campaign Administrator for the Lausanne/WEA Creation Care Network. Lydia Robledo is the founding chairman of Christians in Conservation Philippines

 

For discussion

What do you make of the contrast between the ecological richness and the dire environmental problems in the Philippines, especially when we consider it’s about 90% Christian?

In what other ways are human flourishing and ecological health interconnected?

June’s Missional Movements

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The Hicks family expect to welcome their new baby on or around June 1. They all travelled on May 11 to the capital, Honiara, for the birth. They will return to their village as soon as the baby is strong enough and Tess feels ready to make the boat crossing.

Peter Akester will be ordained at Kondoa Cathedral alongside 11 others on June 19. Rev Andrew Allan-Johns from Rangiora will lead the preceding retreat.

Katie has finished her Spanish Classes at University and hopes to be transitioning out of full time language learning soon.

Dianne has recovered well from the slipped disc in her back and is now ‘walking like a solider.’

We’re invited to join the World Weekend of Prayer for Children at Risk (June 4-5). Find out more at http://hk.viva.org/world-weekend-of-prayer.aspx

Phil Sussex is trialling some Saturday evening church-based dental clinics to make dental care accessible for factory workers who work long hours 6 days a week.

Souls, Seals and Creation (Issue 27)

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When you hear the words ‘Creation Care,’ what immediately comes to mind? There are three typical Christian responses:

Irrelevant. Caring for the earth isn’t important for Christians – we should be concerned about people’s eternal future, not this earthly dwelling. For these people, the Gospel is about saving souls, not saving seals, and environmentalism is a distraction from real mission.

Incidental. Caring for creation is right and important but it’s not everybody’s calling. Just as some are ‘Christian Surfers,’ others are ‘Christian Conservationists.’ These people are glad somebody’s caring for the planet – so long as it doesn’t have to be them!

Integral. Caring for God’s world is a core Christian commitment. It’s found throughout the Bible and is essential to discipleship, worship and mission. All of us are called to witness to God’s creating, sustaining and saving love in how we care for the natural world.

God’s World, God’s Story

The story of Scripture can be summed up as Creation, Fall and Redemption. As Christians we often see this story as two dimensional, about our relationship with God and our relationship with others. But the story has a third dimension: a relationship with non-human creation.

As God created the world, he saw that all his creation – human and non-human – was good (Genesis 1). Human beings are a part of creation; we’re creatures, made on the same day as the animals. However, being made in the image of God, we’re also called apart within creation (1:26-28) and given a role to care for non-human creation (2:15).

We know that Adam & Eve’s disobedience (Genesis 3:1-19) caused a fracturing in the relationships between God and humanity (they hid from God) and between people (e.g. Adam blames Eve). However there were two other fractures: between humans and the rest of creation (3:17-19), and even between God and his creation (Romans 8:18-21). All of these relationships are damaged.

As we move through the Old Testament we see the importance of God’s relationship with not only people but also non-human creation. It’s emphasised in Genesis 9:8-17 where God establishes his covenant between himself and all life on earth. If we had space we could look at Israel and their relationship with the land, and some of the ways God expected his people to care for the land and wildlife (e.g. Deuteronomy 22:6,7; Leviticus 25:1-7).

Turning to Jesus, Colossians 1:15-20 tells us much about Jesus’ relationship with human and non-human creation. He’s the reconciler of everything on earth and in heaven. Jesus’ death brings healing to all these broken relationships, and his resurrection brings hope for the future of all things. It’s Jesus’ resurrection that’s the guarantee of hope for the whole universe. The risen Jesus was neither a ghost nor a disembodied soul. There was no dead body left behind in the tomb. He was and is physically alive. The risen Christ is the guarantee that those who trust in him will be raised from the dead and that the whole created order will be transformed and renewed.

So… what does this mean for you, me and those three damaged relationships? If we truly love God, we’ll love and care for his creation. If a friend you loved gave you a beautiful ceramic fruit bowl that she’d made, would you use it as a rubbish bin, allowing it to become dirty and trashed?

If we love God we’ll love what he loves. Every time we’re too lazy to rinse out that container so it can go into the recycling bin, or can’t be bothered walking to the local shops so take the car, we make a spiritual choice to be selfish and say ‘no’ to treating the earth as if it really is the Lord’s. Whenever we buy cheap meat without asking if the animal was cruelly farmed, we show disrespect to our Creator. These are uncomfortable truths, and I don’t always get it right, yet it’s vital we realise the links between our relationship with God and our relationship with the planet.

If we truly love God and love others, we’ll love and care for God’s creation. Today’s average Kiwi uses such large amounts of the earth’s resources that we’d probably need more than three planet earths for everybody in the world to live the same way. How I live and the daily lifestyle choices I make affect everyone else on the planet. We can’t escape the reality that the over-consumerism and waste of 20% of the world, us included, leaves the remaining 80% starving and dying early from poisoned waters, soil and air. (You can do a ‘foot print’ calculator to find out how many planet earths we’d need if everyone lived like you: goo.gl/5WnnD9) .

Changing our lifestyles is one of the hardest things to do, but if our desire for change stems ultimately from our relationship with God and with others then I believe it can happen, just one step at a time.

Acknowledgements to A Rocha International’s Director of Theology Rev. Dave Bookless for some of the ideas in this article. Lesley recommends his book Planetwise: Dare to Care for God’s World.

 

For discussion

Which of the three views (irrelevant, incidental, integral) have you held throughout your Christian life and why?

What more can we learn about the relationship between Jesus and all creation from Colossians 1:15-20?

 

Sad and Glad times in the Philippines

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Our news is both sad and glad.

Glad

Our Bible College students graduated a couple of months ago. Congratulations to them all! I’m especially excited for Charles – he cant stop smiling! He was always clever to escape jobs; he’s a bit of an ‘escape artist.’ But up north, during his placement, he found he had to cook … and do the marketing .. and fetch and carry water … and then help with church building repairs! The congregation grew to love him and they all want him back. So that’s where he is going! What a changed person.

Sad

A couple of months ago our long-time faithful senior staff, Pastor Manny Masangkay, went to be with Jesus after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. Since coming to Bible College as a young man he had been with us 34 years. He was married and had a grandchild.

His parents and 10 siblings were all once involved in a cult. He steadfastly prayed for them to be set free and all but one escaped. His two brothers are now pastors and his father has a jail ministry which he still goes to every Sunday, even though he’s now 91.

Manny got his Bachelor of Theology but showed himself to be very good in practical work, which is why he became our Maintenance Manager. He helped oversee all our seven buildings being built or renovated. He had an amazing creativity. His suggestion would often be totally different from others yet very good. He had a good eye for colour and design.

During the three day and night vigil for Manny, his casket sat on our Cover Court where he loved to play basketball. We will miss him greatly!

Prayer

Pray for Manny’s family and all of us at CBM as we continue to mourn his death.

Pray for a good second hand Toyota car for our big trips to Manila (such as airport runs to fetch visitors or important meetings).

My back pain is much reduced though I’m walking like a duck! Hopefully next month it’ll be like a giraffe! Thank you for praying.

The ‘why question’ in PNG

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A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of helping to plan a funeral service for a young girl who was killed by an as yet unexplained bullet to the head. The funeral was held during the time of the ‘Haus Krai’. The ‘Haus Krai’ or open home is where all sides of the extended family, along with friends come together to mourn, it is a place of hospitality and sharing, confrontation and honesty. It is a time of asking the hard WHY question. Always in the background of thought and belief here is witchcraft and sorcery; the dark side of spirituality are the cause of all things unfortunate and unsolved for both victim and perpetrator.

In their search for answers some looked to their belief in witchcraft and sorcery for explanation and even comfort. Others talked the guilt and fear associated of their own encounters with the spiritual realm. Some of our young people who live at the mission house also began to have bad dreams and nightmares after the funeral, they and began to wonder aloud about the presence of spirits of the dead. Nearly all found it hard to reconcile their Christian beliefs and their cultural beliefs, and yet one our church young people came to the point just this last weekend of posting on Facebook “Find joy in every day, not because Life is good but because God is”.

Having lived as a Christian in a neighbourhood where the occult was evident for those who had eyes to see, this reality in everyday PNG culture and belief does not surprise me. Rather it saddens me. Like my New Zealand neighbours, the people of this beautiful country need to know that the light, the life and the love of God can and does transform our hearts and minds to turn away from these things, to stop communicating with the past. To stop exclaiming ‘the devil made me do it.’ There will be more conversations where there is the opportunity to share the freedom we have in Christ.

Please join me in praying not only for the truth to be revealed in this situation, but also for the need all people have to experience the power of turning their lives to walk in the way of truth and light, so that both heart and mind are transformed. Please pray for those who have been traumatised by the things they have seen and heard.

The above photo is of the steps leading from the church hearse lined with flowers as the body of the young lady was carried to the waiting hearse – an act of love created by the youth of the parish to farewell their friend until they meet again.