November 2017

A giving heart (Issue 33)

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“Whatever the capacity for human suffering, the church has a greater capacity for healing and wholeness” Bill Hybels, Willow Creek Community Church

A great capacity for giving comes from a generous heart, and a generous heart always finds the motivation and the outlets to love all people (including difficult people). The Bible challenges believers to recognise each person’s value and seek ways to validate each person we interact with.

Not that we need reminding, but throughout Scripture it’s clear: each and every one of us has profound value as creatures made in the image of a God who loves us deeply. Here’s just a few examples that speak clearly of the value given to each and every person.

Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32)

I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139)

Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us (Genesis 1:26)

If we as Christians, as God’s people on this earth, fail to adopt a giving attitude of valuing and validating people, we will be a second-rate church.

You see, it’s not just what we believe or what we think that will count in eternity, it’s what we do with what we think and what we believe that’s really crucial. If we’ve heard the Lord and are obedient to him and claim to have become people who have giving hearts, then it must be showing in our lives. Let’s see it in action. Don’t just think it’s a nice idea. Don’t just talk about it – do it!

Learning to Value, Learning to Validate.

The challenge God is putting to us is that we must stretch our capacity to love others by valuing and validating them. It’s not enough to just believe that we should have giving hearts, and it’s not enough just to accept that it’s a good thing for other people either.

A Pastor of a large North Island church whom I’ve known personally for over 20 years recently shared with a group of leaders some of the lessons he’s learned through the years. He told us about when he was transferred from a moderately small church to take over the Senior Pastor’s role in a large, ‘successful’ church. He was quite intimidated by the prospect and was very aware that he had ‘some big shoes to fill’ as he was still quite young and inexperienced. So, he asked God to speak to him about a strategy or leadership style that he should apply.

All that God told him (very clearly) was “Value and Validate.”

These two words were to be his strategy. And this was to apply to every person he met, irrespective of their office, or standing, or position, or ability.

He was concerned about having such a limited statement to work with, so asked God for a broader strategy, or at least a clearer word of explanation. But all he received from God was “value and validate.”

For the last 20 something years, that’s been his primary call. So in everything he’s done, he’s sought to be a source of encouragement, to build people up, to never let a goal or outcome become more important than the people involved. He’s sought to highlight people’s achievements and listen to their hearts. To value and validate a person means listening carefully to them. And it’s more than simply listening, but recognising and acknowledging that everybody has a story and needs a voice to tell it. It’s finding ways to help people recognise that everyone has a gift, and helping each person find ways to express and practice it.

Of course there are strategies, plans, budgets, trust boards, management, vision casting and everything else involved in a large church’s ministries. But he said it all must be deliberately approached, articulated and out-worked from the call to “value and validate” every individual person that may be involved at any level.

This church has gone from strength to strength. They’ve developed the larger church while also building up a number of satellite congregations, a number of local and international missional enterprises, a large private tertiary training institution, and have recently even purchased a fully functioning medical and counselling centre. And all of that has flown out of the simple challenge to “value and validate.”

For discussion

How are you & your group doing when it comes to valuing and validating people?

What opportunities is God giving you & your group to grow in this area?

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.

Introducing Jairus

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Hello! My name is Jairus Robb and I’ve recently accepted the role of Communications Officer at NZCMS. It’s great to join the team! In my short 27 years, I have lived in many places, including Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, and about 6 other locations all over New Zealand. In that time I’ve collated a lot of different skills and experiences, ranging from journalism, teacher aiding, labouring, tax processing, Church ministry and all manner of youth work roles. I’ve recently just resigned from my position as Youth Pastor at Westside Acts church after serving in that role since July of 2012. Who knows what the future will bring but at the moment this decision closes 9 years of youth ministry service. How time flies!

I’ve recently become engaged in October of this year to my incredible fiancé Jasmine and can not wait to become a ‘married man’. Engagement has marked a real change in season for me where I believe God will reveal parts of his nature that I’ve never known before. Jaz and I are ridiculously excited to marry each other and both feel a call from God to do ministry together. Whatever form that may take in the future, I’ll tell you right now, we’ll be a force to be reckoned with!  

My main passions include writing, reading, preaching, boxing and being the number one fan of the band twenty one pilots. Given half a chance I’ll give you a pre-prepared, thirty-minute lecture on this musical duo (no there’s not twenty-one of them) and explain in great detail how ‘amazing’ they are. Seriously, they really are amazing. 

One of the other things that really gets me enthusiastic is looking at how to translate the Gospel to today’s under 25’s in a way that grabs their attention. Because I grew up as a Pastor’s kid and missionary kid, I get especially excited whenever I’m thinking about how to hook in ‘churched’ people that may be bored or desensitized to Jesus. I believe that there’s always a deeper relationship to be had with God and feel a real desire to see people of all ages transformed by the love and power of his Spirit in tangible ways. And I believe mobilising Christians for mission is a key way that we can see this happen.  

I’m very excited to be a part of the CMS team and can’t wait for the various ‘communications officiating’ that I’ll be doing by spreading the vision of mission to New Zealand and the world.

Many blessings,

Jairus.

 

 

 

 

 

A Focus on Fey’s Ministries

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“What time is your flight tomorrow?” This is a regular question from me to Féy at this time of year as she has a number of commitments with the leadership team of European Christian Mission (ECM). As you all know, NZCMS has seconded Féy and I to ECM International who work across Europe. Féy has been drafted into ECM’s leadership team, and with over 200 missionaries who work from Spain across to Ukraine, and from Ireland down to Greece she has a significant role. She has three main foci in this work (apart from what she is doing in Albania):

Féy leads a team of five people who approve and oversee ECM’s projects. At present there are around 30 projects ranging from €1000 to €150,00. 

Field Ministries Executive team – this team of three people works with country leaders to oversee the ‘on the ground’ work of ECM’s missionaries. Féy monitors Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Austria, Kosovo and Albania, and lately Greece has also become part of her portfolio. A missionary recently emailed Féy after she visited Romania to say, “Thank you so much!!  And thanks to you for your role and wisdom for our team in Romania… God bless you and Murray!  

Féy is also a member of the International Leadership Team (ILT,) which oversees ECM globally. This team meets twice a year, and last month they had their meetings in Athens, and while there they assessed some of the needs in Greece by seeing some of the Greek Evangelical Church’s ministries and their need for help. To hold the meeting in Athens was Féy’s initiative, which meant she also organised all the ministry visits. 

Leadership roles such as those Féy does are essential for the ‘coalface’ work. We cannot deny or avoid this need and good administration enhances the ‘on the ground’ work the rest of us missionaries do.

Team

Our team here in Tirana is set to grow again in the New Year. Miranda Glasbergen is Dutch and is also trained as a social worker. She will be joining our team for a two year period and has a desire to work with people on the fringe of society. She will also work with children, youth and young adults in both our church and another fellowship in our church network after doing some language study. 

After years of preparation, praying and planning, Josh and Alison (Ali) Reeve are set to join us in January/February 2018. Josh is Australian and is trained as a social worker with a special interest in working with people with special needs as well as church planting. He is in the process of finishing his PHD which will be a great blessing to the growing theological community here in Albania. Ali is from Northern Ireland and is a GP (family doctor). They plan to join our team long-term with their three small children.

Update on Church

There have been three main foci for which we have concentrated on in our work with ‘The Church of God’ where we have been for two years now; disciple making, church leadership team and mentoring. 

Disciple making is spreading to the people we are coaching into this role with the idea that they establish it as part of their church culture, and it is going well. The people we are focusing on are discipling others, and also becoming the leaders in the church, which leads into the second focus we have of helping the pastor develop a leadership team. We have had three leadership team meetings this year which have been a bit tough going but seem to be heading in the right direction. We are beginning to see a group forming who are willing to speak what they think, which is quite difficult from an ex-communist perspective where everyone  feels they should agree with the ‘leader’. 

Mentoring is going well with a couple of people because we have plenty of time with them, but not so good with the ones we do not meet with so often.

Cambodia – Teaching Opportunities Available

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Two positions are available for January 2018 and a number of positions available in August 2018.

January 2018

Primary Teacher – HOPE Siem Reap

Preschool Teacher – HOPE Phnom Penh

August 2018

Primary Teacher – HOPE Siem Reap

Librarian – HOPE Phnom Penh

Secondary Science Teacher – HOPE Siem Reap

Secondary Business Studies – HOPE Phnom Penh

Secondary English and English Literature – HOPE Siem Reap & Phnom Penh

Learning Support Coordinator – HOPE Phnom Penh

 

Interested applicants should send their CV and cover letter to recruitment@hope.edu.kh or go to www.hope.edu.kh for more information.

Cairo visit

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I am nearing the end of my studies at Trinity School for Ministry! Originally I wanted to get this degree finished as soon as possible, and then get back involved in things. However, in the first year it became clear that this time of study was much more than just head knowledge, but healing and growing in God. I have two more courses to complete this semester, my thesis is due in April, and (God willing) I will graduate in May 2018.

This year, I’ve been studying courses in Romans, Hebrew language, systematic theology, church history and pastoral care. I’m finally writing my thesis, which will focus on how a theology of the Kingdom of God speaks into the theory and practice of international development.

In July/August, I spent three weeks in Egypt leading a trip with six other students and staff from Trinity. This was a great opportunity to return to one of the places that I call home, and to bring a group of seminarians along for the ride. Some high-lights:

Organising services, music, and preaching at the English speaking congregation of All Saints Cathedral (pictured above), filling in gaps while the priest was away. Visiting ministries of the Diocese. It was great to see projects that I had been involved with funding come to fruition, such as a school for Sudanese refugee children and a medical ICU unit. After many delays, the construction of the new outpatient clinic for Harpur Memorial Hospital in Menouf began this week. The joy of seeing my “Egypt world” and “seminary world” collide. One of our group preached at an Arabic congregation on our first Sunday.  Organising a workshop on the topic of how does theology speak into community development work. This was attended by former colleagues working in refugee ministries, community centres in slum areas, hospitals, seminarians, and a priest. This happened at the invite of the Diocese Director of Development, and modelled on a format of human rights workshops in Norway that a friend had been involved with. The discussion was really good, people gave positive feedback, and it helped me to think through some aspects of what I want to write about in my thesis. One thing that felt very different was the heightened security at churches; a result of the several attacks on churches in Egypt in recent months. A Coptic priest took us around St Mark’s Coptic Cathedral, where in December 2016 a bomb killed 29 people. There was still residue from the explosion on the columns of the church, chips out of the murals of saints on the walls, and a bloodstain on the wall of the courtyard where one of the injured had leaned.

Before visiting Egypt, I visited my seminary roommate Grace and her husband in Kenya. She is an Anglican priest in the Diocese of Kirinyaga, a rural area in the foothills of Mount Kenya. She was a wonderful host and the each day was full of surprises: a 7 hour prayer meeting, speaking to orphans on the importance of education, being interviewed on the Diocese TV station, touring a tea factory… We also did a pilgrimage at the “Safari ya Biblia,”a ministry that Grace was leading before seminary. As it is not a culture where people read a lot, the idea is that groups come to visit and the guide takes them around the bible by walking around the site. It was a great visit of learning more about the Anglican Church worldwide, and understand more of Grace’s context.