October 2016

Helping Without Hurting in Short-Term Mission (Issue 28)

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At the end of a trip, one of the students uttered the words every leader hopes to hear: “This was the best short-term mission experience I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a bunch.” I’ve led my fair share of teams, so what made this one so good? Was it my amazing, charismatic leadership? … Actually, no! Perhaps ironically, it’s because we didn’t follow the typical approaches for short-term mission trips.

In many cases, short-term teams want to maximize the opportunity by visiting as many places, people and projects as they can. Instead, we decided to stay in one location and work with one church. And typically, short-term teams pack as much into the schedule as possible. In our case, it wasn’t long before our contact ran out of things for us to do! He’d even dismiss the team after morning Bible studies, telling us to “just take rest today.” We were in a bustling South Asian city, so once the contact left I’d whisper to the team: “we’re not taking rest today.” Instead we’d break into groups, ask God what we should do, and then go do it. We’d end up encountering new people, finding and meeting needs, and sharing life with various folk. It’s hard to summarise just how fruitful this actually was!

So why did my student think this was the best mission experience he’d had? “Because what we’ve done here is precisely what we can do back home.” Normally we run around doing so much, meaning there’s no way we can replicate it in our normal lives. But here, we were integrating mission and regular life. We were learning how to be open to the opportunities God was opening up in front of us.

FINDING A BETTER WAY

This experience left me wondering: are there approaches and models for short-term teams that will help people integrate what they learn into their ‘normal lives.’ I’m not interested in people creating nice memories. There needs to be something of ongoing value from the experience for both the team and those we’re seeking to serve. How can we be making disciples (Matthew 28:19) not just good trips?

Many short-term teams go out with very little solid training – but good intentions are simply not enough! Helping Without Hurting in Short-Term Missions (Moody Publishers, 2014) is a new biblically grounded training package designed to help short-term teams prepare, process and maximise their experience. It also helps teams avoid attitudes and practices that actually harm the communities we’re seeking to bless. Though it focuses on teams going to poorer communities, we think it’s beneficial for almost any team crossing cultures.

It’s made up of eight 90 minute sessions that include reflections, discussion questions and short video teachings. Each team member receives a Participants Guide to help them process all they’re learning, and the Leader’s Guide is designed to give the team leader(s) all they need to know to facilitate the training, preparation and debrief. We hope this package will assist many Kiwis put together, implement and process short-term mission encounters.

If you’re interested in finding out more or discussing your ideas for a short-term Encounter Team experience with NZCMS, email kirstin@nzcms.org.nz

 

For discussion

In what ways do teams need to prepare and train well – whether for a cross-cultural trip or local mission?

If you want to explore in your small group how these concepts apply to local (and global) mission, I can’t recommend enough the free online video series ‘Helping Without Hurting’

 

Exploring today’s missional issues from a variety of angles, each edition of the Intermission magazine will equip you and your group to engage with God in your community and beyond. To signup to receive the Intermission in the post, email office@nzcms.org.nz. Intermission articles can also be found online at nzcms.org.nz/intermission.

Sachet ban: Where are we at?

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(This update was written in July this year.)

Anyone remember these? The 40% spirits packaged in a convenient little 100ml plastic sachet available in every single local shop for only 25 NZ cents?

Unfortunately, they are still everywhere. I biked to a meeting yesterday and the road was littered with them. I spied a 10 year-old sucking on one in her school uniform at 9:30am.

We began our fight to ban them at the beginning of last year. Our community organizing group, Wakonye Kenwa, campaigned on the radio. We presented our research to Gulu District Council. We lobbied Councilors and found them NGO funding from 8 different groups to fund their law making process. We found them a pro-bono lawyer to draft the law. We helped organize and pushed through all 6 law making meetings. When progressed stalled we collected over 10 000 signatures in support of the move to ban sachets, and organized our religious leaders to lead a public march to present the petition to Gulu District Council as a public statement of support for the process (and a wee nudge – kindly get on with it!).

In January this year, Gulu District Council voted to pass the Alcohol Ordinance. It not only bans sachet alcohol, but introduces a whole host of alcohol restrictions. It will restrict drinking hours in bars, so as a friend puts it, ‘men actually go and do some work before they start sitting around drinking.’ It will restrict alcohol sale licenses to reduce the number of places that sell alcohol, stop under-age drinking, restrict marketing and advertising and much much more. In March, our law was sent to Kampala for the last step: the approval of the Attorney General:

But over three months later, still nothing. Our law is stuck in his office. Why?  We are still trying to find out if its sitting forgotten about at the bottom of a large pile of papers, or if its provocative content means they’d rather just forget about it. Central Government sees alcohol sales as a lucrative tax collecting method. So right now we are asking some questions…

Why is our law being delayed? Who do we know with the right influence to find out? Who can advocate on our behalf in this Kampala office? How can we influence the right advocates to take action? 

There is still a long road ahead… watch this space!

Younger Leader’s Gathering

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I’ve recently had the privilege of attending the Lausanne Movement’s Younger Leader’s Gathering in Jakarta, Indonesia. This movement is all about bringing together mission leaders and new missional ideas – and we were gathered to ‘seek God about his plans for our generation.’ Lausanne isn’t a mission organisation; it’s a connection point for numerous mission groups, denominations, nationalities… all uniting around the dream of seeing God’s Kingdom reaching to the furthest corners of the world and influencing society at every level.

It’s impossible to even summarise the connections and strategies that emerged from this gathering, so I’ll offer just one. The Church of an Asian country have a strategy to send over 20000 missionaries by the year 2030. That sounds all good and well, but they are actually making it happen! During the conference, the delegation from this country met with groups from every region of the world, asking how they can partner together to see this dream become a reality! In the near future we will see this become one of the top missionary-sending nations in the world! This is just one example of a considerable number of partnerships that forged during the gathering, and I’m privileged to be part of it all.

 

The State of the World

I thought you’d be interested to hear some details from a “State of the World” presentation by Operation World. Their figures are, of course, just estimates, but they certainly challenge us about the reality of the world we live in. It’s essential that we have clear understanding of our global context, as this informs our on-the-ground local efforts. Here’s some highlights.

Only during the 1990s did we gain a somewhat complete picture of our global context. We know better than ever where the church is, where the church still needs to go, and what the church still needs to do.

More people have become believers in the last 25 years than at any other point in history, and the number of unevangelised people has dropped from 50% in 1960 to 29% in 2015. However, due to population growth, the actual number of people who have no access to the Gospel is growing daily – we’re actually starting to lose ground!

Likewise, Christians have made up a third of the world’s population for the past 100 years, but where that third is has shifted. In 1960, 19% of evangelicals were from Africa, Asia or Latin America. Today it’s about 78%. And the global number of evangelicals has increased from 3% to 8%.

Global mission has changed from being “the West to the rest” to what’s being called polycentric mission: missionaries are being sent from everywhere to everywhere! This means the world’s cross-cultural mission force is now more diverse than ever – in terms of location, nationality and ethnicity as well as methods and organisations. Perhaps this will involve recognising NZ as not only a ‘sending country’ but also a mission field for missionaries coming from places like Africa and Latin America – we’re in desperate need of outside voices to call us back to God and his mission.

Out of the 200 000 who move into cities every day, 80% end up in slums. Over 1 billion people now live in slums – one out of six people – yet less than one out of 500 missionaries work in slums.

We’ve seen significant decline in global poverty in recent years. Only about 10% of the world live in ‘extreme poverty’ – though that’s 700 million people! And 85% of those living in poverty are located in unevangelised regions.

1.2 million children are victims of human trafficking each year. 80% of trafficked people are women and children, the majority trafficked for the sex trade.

The migration challenges we see today are merely the tip of the ice-berg. Over the next 40 years migration will be the context for much human need and conflict – and for ministry opportunity!

About 81% of the world’s non-Christians don’t personally know a Christian. Even if we can’t all go – and we still need many more people willing to go to the ‘difficult places’ – we can all be involved in the urgent task of praying for God’s world.

We live in an age of unprecedented change, unprecedented complexity and unprecedented uncertainty; the challenges the emerging generations will face will be unlike those ever seen before. But this is also an age of unprecedented opportunity. Let’s make the most of the open doors God has placed before us!

The dog hunt

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A while back I went on an impromptu dog hunt. Don’t worry no dogs were harmed in the making of this update!

I was leaving ‘Waffle Breakfast’ (an important weekly ritual on the social calendar here in Mango which is hosted each week by the Molsee family who live on the hospital compound) when I spotted a dog. Normally the guards manage to stop them from slinking though the entry gates but this one must have been extra sneaky.

In Togo a dog bite can be fatal if it has rabies so we definitely want them as far away from the kids as possible. I turned back to the house to call Ethan Molsee as he always enjoys being called to fight off any predator who has invaded our homes or compound, whether it is a camel spider, snake or dog.

We took off on our motos to hunt down our enemy and herd him off the compound. Of course he didn’t stay on our roads but took to the cornfields and zipped around houses and through bushes to try and avoid us. So we followed and enjoyed off-roading from one end of the compound to the other.

Eventually we trapped him in a corner and then carefully guided him past the guesthouse, through a grove of baby trees and out the main gates. While it wasn’t exactly a form of exercise as we rode our motos, it was definitely a great way to let off some steam at the end of a rough week.

Short-Term Mission Impossible? (Issue 28)

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By Mark Barnard.

Not many 14 year olds spend their summer holidays in the interior jungles of West New Britain. But in 1992, that’s exactly what I did, living in a thatched hut for a month with a crew of fellow Kiwis and Aussies. We were there with New Tribes Missions building a house for some missionaries. It was off the grid: wild, primal and dangerous and included scorpions, malaria and crocodiles. OK so there were no crocodiles, but it was still a full-on experience, one I’ll never forget… nor contemplate letting my own 14-year children go on.

It was the first of many short-term mission trips I’ve been on over the last 25 years. Each one has been unique and wild in its own way. My short-term mission itinerary has since included: Indonesia, the Philippines, Turkey and Fiji (and some of these a number of times). As I’ve learned and changed over the years, so too has my understanding and approach to these trips.

So what have I picked up along the way (other than malaria and travellers trots)? What are some of the dilemmas that I’ve faced?

SHORT-TERM GAINS? LONG TERM PAINS?

The bottom line for me is that these trips come out of an immense place of privilege in the world. As a white, middle-class Christian male, the fact that I’ve boarded a plane more times than I care to remember means I’m part of a small percentage of people in the world whose circumstances enable such a luxury.

That’s what these trips are: a luxury, and I have to think about this every time I contemplate such a journey. Much of the world lives in grinding poverty, and I get to hop on a plane and go have a look. Each plane ticket I purchase costs more than most people live off each year. The trip had better be well thought through.

And each time I board the plane I also must remember the environmental impact. Air travel contributes to climate change. I can’t get around this. So again I need to ask honestly: should I be on this plane? I don’t like asking this but when I do, I enter a space that calls me to be real about the impact of my choices. They matter.

Along with these impacts, I think about what it means for wealthy Christians to go to poor countries and share Jesus with the locals. There are so many power dynamics and ethical dilemmas at play! Are we doing things that people can do for themselves? Are we creating dependency? Jealousy? Local rivalry? Are we culturally sensitive? Have we thought enough about what the Gospel should look and sound like in this context? By going are we creating more problems than we solve?

As I ask these challenging questions, the inevitable big one arises… Should we actually go?

MUTUALITY AND MISSION

When I think back over the many trips I’ve been privileged to embark upon, a number of things stand out as gifts that I’m deeply grateful to have received. The global perspective I’ve been exposed to has been life changing. Sitting with the poor in some of Asia’s slums has rocked me to the core. I can’t begin to recount the many stories that have cut so deep, and without these experiences I don’t think I would have made the intentional choices to live in the way I do. Poverty asks me to live with its ever present reality lingering in my mind. I simply have to respond.

The poor aren’t just statistics for me. They’ve been my hosts; they’ve become my friends. I’ve sat at dinner with rubbish picking families, laughed with them and held their children. The gift of friendship is something which stands out as the most enduring contribution of these trips. Friendship creates a sense of mutuality, that in this encounter we both have something to give and to receive.

No matter the country, this has been my experience; there is something sacred in the space created in friendship that transcends cultural barriers. We discover God in our midst. There is something about mutual encounter that creates the space for us to share the stories that mean the most to us: who we are, where we’ve been and where we’re going. The Good News is something we discover together, as we find we don’t have all the answers. There’s much to learn from the experience and understanding of others.

The power dynamics that are inherent when Westerners place themselves for short periods amongst the poor can be somewhat mitigated if we go as ‘guests.’ Being hosted by the poor, eating with them, staying in their homes, when done respectfully and thoughtfully can be a deeply mutual experience which empowers the host with a profound sense of dignity. It’s so important for Westerners to experience powerlessness, where we don’t have all the answers, solutions and suggestions to fix the world’s problems. Sometimes it’s best to sit and cry.

So the million dollar question: to go or not to go?

Perhaps, if:

I’m prepared to be honest about the privilege and impact of such a trip and think about some ways to ‘off set’ (such as giving a ‘trip tithe’ to an environmental justice organisation) I can outline how this could potentially improve the situation of the world’s poor I’m committed to building mutually beneficial and reciprocal relationships with my hosts I’m prepared to place myself in situations of powerless that I simply can’t solve

Then maybe.

I’m pretty sure I’ll board a plane to the developing world in the future. But before I do, I’ll take some time to prayerfully consider my own list of questions. If I can answer them honestly, then I can share more honestly with my overseas friends. Treating others with dignity, kindness and respect are signs of the Jesus journey. Such journeys are well worth taking.

Mark is part of a missional clan called Urban Vision. He’s currently based in Mt Roskill with his wife Bridget and three kids.

 

For discussion Identify differences between a trip only benefiting the ‘goers’ and one that will mutually benefit everyone involved.

If you’re going, take time to talk through Mark’s bullet points. Prayerfully ask the question: should you be going on this trip?

 

Exploring today’s missional issues from a variety of angles, each edition of the Intermission magazine will equip you and your group to engage with God in your community and beyond. To signup to receive the Intermission in the post, email office@nzcms.org.nz. Intermission articles can also be found online at nzcms.org.nz/intermission.

Thieving Chickens and a Bible School update

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Dry, hot and windy… A fascinating, partial eclipse of the sun by the moon… Ants, termites and cockroaches parading through the house…

…. and a plague of chickens that race joyfully across the road every day to devour our vain attempts to grow stuff!  (Thankfully, they haven’t found Peter’s tomatoes around the back yet!)

At the Bible School, (which seems to demand 7 days a week for Peter) the eight new 2-year course students are working hard, and I’m enjoying my contact with them in the classroom. Please pray for one student who struggles with reading and writing, having had only four years of primary schooling. Two promising students on another course have not returned due to relationship problems, and that has been disappointing.

We sometimes hear of family violence and suicides and of evil spirits playing havoc with Muslims and Christians alike. The other Saturday morning in our fellowship group, a young girl in the home we had gathered in was writhing under the power of evil spirits. The group prayed en masse for her – loudly, insistently, while hatred in her eyes plagued by the evil one challenged us all. But Jesus won the battle, and the small mud-brick house became a house of peace. Praise God!

The 3-year students are facing a research project, a terrifying prospect for some! Pray for the staff members overseeing that, that they might gently encourage and direct their assigned students. The topics chosen by the students include: Evangelism amongst the Muslims of Kondoa, The place of children in our Diocese, and Christianity in the Burunge tribe.

We had a day’s break from Kondoa three weeks ago. There was a big outreach in the area of Kingale, where Christians are very few, and on the Sunday we piled up the vehicle with people wanting to be part of the service out there. A vibrant team from Dar es Salaam was leading the outreach: a preacher, singers and dancers to attract outsiders, and deafening loud-speakers! The service was held under trees near where the church building has been started. Most people sat on piles of bricks for the 2-3 hour service, although four plastic chairs were found for the clergy up front. The only other piece of furniture was a table brought in upside down on the back of a bike. There was a big thrust for pledges for the new church building Many promises were made, still waiting to fulfilled… We did get some rice and beans before the afternoon outreach but we were all very tired and thirsty when we returned to Kondoa, well after dark.  The road is dark and treacherous when there is no moon, but Peter got us all home safely. Thank you Lord.

We’re looking forward to a week’s break this month! We take a 6 hour bus ride to Arusha on Friday October 14, and the following day a flight to Entebbe, Uganda! From 17 -21 October we’ll be part of a CMS Mission Partners’ Conference, staying on the shores of Lake Victoria. It all sounds wonderful to me – after 13 months in Kondoa.  Please pray for refreshment and rejuvenation as well as being a useful part of the Conference!

Celebrating Debbie Jones

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Debbie was born in Kansas, Missouri. After training as a nurse she joined Operation Mobilisation and worked on the ship MV Logos. She and Andrew met there and married in 1987. Cross-cultural ministry was a part of what brought them together. In 1990, after an intense period of searching and struggling with God over what he wanted their lives together to look like, they made a

commitment to ‘itinerant ministry.’ Since then, in response to this calling and with their growing family, they’ve lived out of backpacks, in tents, vehicles and sometimes in houses all over the world for the sake of the Gospel. Andrew and Debbie have five children, from 25 to 14 years old.

They became involved assisting in the planting of new churches in both USA and Europe, especially among the emerging generation; these are sometimes known as ‘fresh expressions’ of church. Woven into this work was an itinerant ministry that saw them connecting with people on the margins of society, especially nomadic, ‘new age,’ pagan and seeker communities. They sought to provide a holistic, contextual and appealing Christian witness to these communities. They did this by journeying with these groups as they moved from one festival to another, and sharing their family life with them. This was largely possible because, for much of their married life, they have lived and travelled in a motorhome or truck. In fact, many of those who have shared life with Andrew, Debbie and their family have lived and travelled with them in their truck.

During 2015, as the refugee migration hit Europe, they travelled with and ministered to some of the refugees in various places in Europe. Along with their two youngest daughters, they also participated in ‘Rainbow Gatherings’ in Eastern Europe and Egypt and travelled with small groups of people they had met during those. Rainbow Gatherings are intentional gatherings of all kinds of people who come together for a month somewhere in nature to cook together, sing around the fires, make workshops, share experiences and generally come together as a ‘family.’

In June this year Debbie was in Ethiopia attending the Rainbow Gathering there and travelling with a small group. It was there, as Debbie was celebrating life and sharing Jesus with this group of young people, that she fell ill and passed away so quickly and unexpectedly.

Debbie’s deepest desire was to share God and his love with all he brought along her path. She was a colourful, fragrant flower; her warm, vibrant personality drew many to want to share life with her and Andrew and their family.

We will perhaps never understand why such a bright light was taken from this world so suddenly, and there is inevitably darkness, loss and grief where she is no longer. However the colour, hope and reflections of God that she brought to life carry on in all those who knew her.

Through Their Eyes (Issue 28)

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“Finally got a cuddle with a white baby! #savingnewzealand.” Imagine me writing that in a support letter back to Kenya. Sound offensive? Yet how many short-term teams send home photos of themselves holding dark skinned orphans? It’s so commonplace that ‘instagramming Africa’ is actually a thing. We can be certain about one lasting change for almost every short-term team member: their Facebook profile image!

It’s often said that short-term teams benefit more from their trips than the locals they visit. But what do the locals think about teams visiting from the West?

I’ve hosted many short-term teams back in Kenya and now I send teams from New Zealand. While most of the teams that visited Kenya brought encouragement, I’d like to reflect on things we often don’t talk about. Here’s some don’ts for Encounter Teams written from a host’s perspective.

DON’T MAKE IT ALL ABOUT YOU

Many people have realised that short-term trips don’t always do much for those we visit. So why do we keep doing them? Often it’s for the personal growth of the team. That might sound good until we reword it: we use someone else’s poverty and suffering and shame for our own self-development. Does that sound right to you? Is that the ‘Jesus-way’ of mission? (See Philippians 2:1-11.)

However great the experience may be for us, the primary purpose has to be blessing those we go to. In fact, research suggests the transformation teams experience doesn’t often last very long. Once we’ve shown the photos, what actually changes in our lifestyle? Could making the primary goal a ‘good experience’ for the traveller be a reflection of our self-focused and consumerist culture?

DON’T ‘JUST DO IT’

You may say that you didn’t just go to ‘feel good’; you went to do something practical. One of the teams I hosted insisted they paint some school classrooms. Were they skilled painters? No. Had they ever even painted a room before? Perhaps not. We not only had to re-paint some rooms after they left, but also put our workers out of jobs for two weeks.

When you’re in a country with an unemployment rate of 60%, is it ethical to do what the locals could easily do themselves? It’s not necessarily that they can’t do it, or that they don’t have the money. It may just not be a priority.

Going into another culture, do we stop to ask what local resources already exist? Will our involvement lead to future sustainability and self-reliance? Will it develop creativity, communal concern and responsibility? Is our perception of their needs even correct?

DON’T COME UNPREPARED

Many teams end up doing things they never do back home. Why is it ok to preach while overseas but not in your home country? Or share the Gospel on the streets without any experience back home? Visiting teams need to prepare themselves for effective service, even if it takes a couple of months or even years. This includes learning something of the culture before you arrive.

DON’T IGNORE US

Let’s be honest – Westerners love tasks! (That’s the stereotype anyway.) But completion of tasks can obscure relationship-building. One team was so focused on building a church facility that they virtually refused to interact with locals. In contrast, if a team ends up not doing ‘any work’ because they spent time having lots of cups of tea and talking, that’s okay. That may be what’s needed to open doors for ministry in that culture. If mission is framed as a project that can be accomplished and therefore left behind, what is communicated to the developing community that received workers in a spirit of friendship? How can teams instead prepare to initiate or enhance a long-term partnership?

DON’T DO IT ALONE

If relationships are key, visitors shouldn’t be the only ones singing, preaching, witnessing and serving during the visit. When we hosted teams, we tried arranging home-stays for a couple of days so visitors experienced Kenyan family life. We also ensured there were enough locals on the team to help, not just with translation, but as equal co-participants in ministry. This reminds us that we’re a ‘body of many parts’ that need to work together (1 Corinthians 12:12-26).

DON’T SNUB OUR HOSPITALITY

In many parts of the world, hospitality is such a strong value that hosts often super-extend themselves to make visitors welcome (sometimes even putting themselves into debt). The ‘gifts’ host communities offer need to be valued – including non-material things such as a warm welcome, forgiveness for cultural blunders, their time and energy, protection from thieves, social guidance to negotiate an unfamiliar culture. Local food may not be to your taste but it’s served in a spirit of generosity. Often hosts provide food that‘s rarely eaten, such as chicken or goat, sacrificing part of their livelihood to honour the visitors. How offensive, then, is it for us to spend every meal complaining about what we’ve been served when it’s better than what they typically get to eat themselves?

DON’T DISRUPT OUR CULTURE

I once insisted a team couldn’t take pictures in the slums or take more than five people at a time as it’d generate unnecessary attention. I was ignored. After the visitors returned home, we went back to the slum to do some teaching. The people who’d seen us with the mzungus insisted we give them any money we’d received and pay them for the photos taken. That team had left us with issues we had to sort out for many weeks to build credibility again. Encounter Teams need to humbly accept they don’t always know what’s best, or else they may unintentionally do things in the community that are culturally disorienting and disruptive.

DON’T FIX US!

A team I hosted brought a 40 foot container full of electrical appliances. Washing machines are great … but not in the community I was working. They had no regular running water, power bills were high, the machines’ voltage was 110 instead of 240, and we would have put people who do laundry out of a job. The team planned to ’fix’ our laundry issue but we didn’t need to be fixed. At least not that way. And the icing on the cake: the money used to clear customs could have employed 20 local people for a year!

Developing a passion for sharing, supporting and reaching out to others is important, but it needs to be well informed. Throwing money at a project can actually have negative impacts in the Majority World, often hindering where we’re trying to help. Well intentioned aid can develop a culture of dependency, and a subtle message can be communicated – that communities can’t help themselves and that local ways of doing things are always wrong.

DON’T FORGET ABOUT US

If involvement in an Encounter trip is to be more than a tick on your bucket list then keep in touch with your hosts. The trip is the beginning of a journey, a relationship, an encounter.

Perhaps I’ve raised more questions than answers. I don’t want to discourage Encounter trips or generous giving, but these are questions we need to wrestle with, along with opening our wallets and investing our time.

 

For discussion

Go through and discuss the don’ts that stood out.

Read Philippians 2:1-11. How do these principles apply to your group’s local mission involvement?

 

Exploring today’s missional issues from a variety of angles, each edition of the Intermission magazine will equip you and your group to engage with God in your community and beyond. To signup to receive the Intermission in the post, email office@nzcms.org.nz. Intermission articles can also be found online at nzcms.org.nz/intermission.

Job Opportunity: Personnel Director

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Is God calling you to join our team?

Are you passionate about cross cultural ministry? Are you a warm and caring people person? Have you experienced living in another culture? Are you organised yet flexible? Could you manage the adventure of travel within New Zealand and overseas? Do you have the right to live and work in New Zealand? If so, NZCMS needs you!

We are looking for a Personnel Director to join our team. This role is primarily about offering care and support for a number of our many Mission Partners who are scattered across the planet. That includes providing pastoral care, administrative support, risk management and crisis planning support, and cross-cultural advice. The role also involves intentionally seeking and identifying suitable people as Mission Partners, placing them in locations as set out in the NZCMS Strategic Plan, and developing and maintaining effective relationships with them as well as with the Church in New Zealand and our placement partners overseas.

This is a unique opportunity for an enthusiastic individual, or even a couple who could share the varied responsibilities involved in this role.

The New Zealand Church Missionary Society – NZCMS for short – is an evangelical mission community seeking to mobilise the Church of New Zealand for God’s mission. We are primarily linked to the Anglican Church though we also work with other churches with which we share a common vision. Our passion is to see God’s people taking the whole gospel of Jesus to the whole world.

 

A full job description can be downloaded by clicking here.

 

Please email any questions to our National Director Steve Maina. Applications, including a detailed CV with contact details for three referees and covering letter, must be received by 30 October 2016 addressed to National Director, NZCMS: steve@nzcms.org.nz

Final Hearing For Asia Bibi Today

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The following is an excerpt from ChristianToday.com. We encourage you to read the full article here and to pray for her trial which is happening today (Thursday October 13).

Asia Bibi, the Christian mother sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan, will on Thursday face her final appeal. It was announced over the weekend that the date has been set for October 13, after years of postponement.

Who is she?

Bibi’s actual name is Aasiya Noreen, though she has become better known as Asia Bibi through media coverage of her case. Bibi is a general term widely used in South Asia as a term of respect towards older women.

She is from Ittan Wali, a rural village in the Sheikhupura District of Punjab, eastern Pakistan – about 60 miles west of Lahore. She has five children, and before being arrested in 2009, worked as a farmhand to support her family. Her husband, Ashiq Masih, is a labourer.

What actually happened?

A row broke out between Bibi and a number of Muslim female colleagues in June 2009. They were picking berries together when the other women refused to drink from a water cup used by Bibi because she was a Christian and therefore deemed ‘unclean’. Bibi reportedly said: “I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your Prophet Muhammad ever do to save mankind?”

Reports vary as to what happened in the immediate aftermath of the incident. Her husband told the New York Times in a 2010 interview that Bibi was immediately accused of blasphemy by her fellow workers. “Suddenly she saw men and women walking towards her with angry gestures,” Masih said. “They started beating her and shouting that she had made derogatory remarks against the Prophet Muhammad”.

Masih said the mob dragged his wife to the local police station where she was charged with blasphemy and jailed.

However, the BBC’s Orla Guerin reports that it was not until a few days after the argument at the farm that Bibi was accused of blaspheming.

Whatever the exact timeline of events, campaigners are united in the belief that the charges levelled at Bibi are trumped up, and that she was falsely accused to settle a score.

Judge Muhammed Iqbal sentenced Bibi to death in November 2010. In a memoir written by Bibi and translated into English in 2012, she recalled the moment she was told of her fate: “I cried alone, putting my head in my hands. I can no longer bear the sight of people full of hatred, applauding the killing of a poor farm worker. I no longer see them, but I still hear them, the crowd who gave the judge a standing ovation, saying: ‘Kill her, kill her! Allahu akbar!’

“The court house is invaded by a euphoric horde who break down the doors, chanting: ‘Vengeance for the holy prophet. Allah is great!’ I was then thrown like an old rubbish sack into the van… I had lost all humanity in their eyes.”

Is this common in Pakistan?

Sadly, yes. At least 95 per cent of the Pakistani population is Muslim, and Islam is enshrined in the constitution as the state religion. The US Commission for International Religious Freedom last year said the country represented “one of the worst situations in the world for religious freedom” and accused the Pakistani government of failing to provide adequate protections for faiths other than Islam. It argued that repressive blasphemy laws in particular are used to target religious minorities.

These laws prescribe life imprisonment for the desecration of the Qur’an and the death sentence for “defiling” the Prophet Mohammad, and accusations of incidents have often prompted mob violence. According to the Centre for Research and Security Studies in Pakistan, more than 62 people have been killed in such incidents since 1990. More than 40 people are currently on death row for blasphemy, the majority of whom are members of religious minorities.

Bibi, however, is the first woman to be sentenced to death in Pakistan on blasphemy charges.

What can we do?

Campaigners are urging Christians to pray for Bibi’s release ahead of Thursday’s appeal. CSW has launched a 24/7 prayer for supporters, and Release International is calling on the Pakistani government to repeal the blasphemy laws – a petition can be signed here.

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