May 2018

Chelsea’s stories

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Last month we had the pleasure of hearing Chelsea speak of her time in Uganda as part of her Missions Internship with NZCMS in 2017-2018. Below is a summary of some of the stories and reflections she shared. 

An Introduction with Lucy

Chelsea’s best friend in Uganda was Lucy. Lucy has a disease which usually takes a person’s life by the age of 7. She is now 33 years old and is almost a walking miracle. However, her life isn’t exactly simple and she isn’t able to work due to her illness. Lucy was just one of many people Chelsea met in Uganda and, by the end of this story, you’ll know how powerful an impact she has had on Chelsea’s life and faith. But before we continue Lucy’s story, let’s journey through some other adventures Chelsea had through her Internship. 

Getting through the checkpoint

Chelsea sat on her ‘boda’ (motorbike taxi) as they flew down the dusty roads, flying past the endless farmlands and beautiful clouds of butterflies. Nervous energy crackled in the air as Chelsea and Nick drove towards a checkpoint. They needed to get to a village called Apaa but there was a high chance that they would be turned away at the checkpoint.

With them was a fantastic young nurse who, with a box full of medical supplies, was travelling with them to get the abandoned health clinic back up and running. The last staff member had been forced to flee because of the local conflict. The impact of this conflict has been slowly displacing thousands of the locals, most of whom are very poor and cannot afford to leave the only home they had ever known. It was very important that the nurse and supplies made it to Apaa otherwise the healthcare ramifications for the locals could be tragic.

Finally, they arrived at the checkpoint. The drivers slowed down to be checked, holding their breath and waiting for the guards to call out. However, incredibly, they noticed that the guards at the roadside were asleep! Without any challenges, the team’s boda drivers drove straight through as fast as they could.

When they arrived at the village, a woman immediately came to them, ecstatic that they were there. She had two sick children. Any other clinic was either too far away or too expensive for her to reach. As they began cleaning up the clinic talking to the locals, it was evident that the land conflict was extremely tough yet there was absolutely no way that the locals would leave unless, in their words, “They were dead”.

When the team left Apaa, they couldn’t help departing with a sense of worry for the people there, unsettled by the news they’d heard and what would become of the people in that area.

As part of here Internship, Chelsea stayed with NZCMS Mission Partners, Nick and Tessa, in their local community for two months. She said that the time she lived there was just a taster of what a Missionary’s life looked like. But it was two months of life-changing moments that consistently stretched and grew her faith. She would often find herself asking “Where is God in this situation?” or on a different day “God is so present here!”

Breaking into a refugee camp

“The worst they could do is get you arrested, and we’ll sort that out later if that happens.”

Quoting Nick’s words brought a laugh from the CMS Support Group that Chelsea was speaking at. During her time in Uganda, she wanted to visit a refugee camp, however, Nick was busy that day. Of course, he had no qualms at all about letting Chelsea loose to find her own way there!

She was warned to keep a low profile when entering the camp and to stay away from the camp authorities who might not be happy to see her there. If she was found, of course, he said she’d either be kicked out or arrested. This didn’t seem to be a big issue for him although Tessa was a bit more concerned. In the end, however, Chelsea decided she would go on her own. 

Through bodas, taxis, and hitchhiking, she eventually arrived at the camp, headed round to the back and entered (Hitchhiking is a way many Ugandans make their living and very different to hitchhiking in New Zealand).

The roads were worse than the Christchurch roads in 2011 post-earthquake. In this one refugee camp, 30,000 people were crammed into a space of dusty paths, huts and barren land, interspersed with the occasional small tree. Chelsea made friends with a young man named Richard who walked around translating for her. 

 

She learned that he was trying to save money to support his family, as his father was injured and couldn’t work. After building a farm in South Sudan, the war tore over his region and they were forced to flee and start again. He was hoping to return to South Sudan later that week because he needed to get some papers to be able to work. Chelsea never found out whether he was successful or not.

For three hours Chelsea walked around the refugee camp, meeting many people and hearing their stories. By the end of the day, when she arrived home, the impact of what she’d just seen hit her. The following is a quote from a journal entry she’d written the night she got home from the camp.

“It’s honestly been a very, very heavy day here. I’m always struggling to find hope in such a hopeless place. Tonight I just curled into a ball, and I cried. A camp of 30,000 people, sort of forgotten by the rest of the world. Why could all of this be happening? Why do some people, so full of the need for power or greed …hurt so, so many people? And what do I do…?”

That night, Chelsea returned home full of questions and wondered where hope was. Hope, however, was found in the life of her best friend, Lucy.

A Conversation with Lucy

One afternoon Lucy told Chelsea her story. At a young age, her mum died, and her dad was murdered. She then cared for and raised her two younger siblings who now did not want a relationship with her. Lucy’s story was full of grief and Chelsea specifically remembered the two of them sitting down for an entire afternoon and crying together as they talked.

However, despite all of this, Chelsea remembered hearing Lucy sweeping the compound around their huts every morning. And every morning while she worked, Lucy sang praises to God. And throughout the day, she laughed at a joke or story. Lucy’s singing helped Chelsea have hope that God could help her through anything. And her laugh proved that he was present in every situation, no matter how hopeless it seemed. 

Through Lucy, Chelsea was reminded that God was not the brokenness. And he was not the pain or grief or loneliness either. God was with those in their brokenness. And, through Lucy, Chelsea saw that God could make something beautiful out of something that was broken. That is Lucy’s story. And this is Chelsea’s. They’re both only in the beginning chapters of their lives. And sometimes their lives are not easy. But they both hold onto God because they have faith that he is the hope for all people.

Hebrews11:1

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

If you would like to know more about the Internship opportunities that NZCMS provides, we would love to hear from you. visit our Internship page at http://www.nzcms.org.nz/haerenga/ or contact us at internship@nzcms.org.nz

 

 

A nation of many colours (Intermission – Issue 35)

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I’ve always loved to draw. Even when I was a kid I would write up little comics for hours (And force my parents to read them no doubt!). For whatever reason though, I always stuck with drawing. I never picked up a paintbrush. I think it was because, at the time, painting a picture with different colours just seemed too overwhelming. And messy! Also, I never found someone to teach me how.

Most of us know that a vibrant cultural diversity has filled New Zealand. But we all seem a bit separate and ‘uninvolved’ somehow don’t we? Sure we may interact with others somewhat. Say hello. Perhaps a couple of us have a friend from a different ethnicity than our own. But what have you learned from another that has challenged the way you view the world? Has your life been forever altered through an intercultural engagement? What memories come to your mind when you try to recall working with a group of diverse nationalities engaged together in God’s work? Have you heard sermons or Bible Studies in your church from an Asian perspective? A Middle Eastern? A Western? A Pacific Islander?

If you’re like me, and if you’re honest, you will struggle to answer any of these questions with a resounding “Yes!”. And if I’m honest, sometimes I don’t even want to think of an answer. Otherwise, it means taking responsibility and possibly changing something in my life. It’s simpler just not to think about it. Easier to understand. Uncomplicated. Not as messy. A little like drawing with a pencil.

But my friends, we’re a nation of many colours. The question is what are we going to do with them? Will we continue to think and dream and create with the only colour we’ve used in the past? Or is it time to begin choosing some different shades? 

I want to learn how to pick up a brush and start painting, and I’d love for you to join me. It will be messy. And yes, it may be quite complicated. But I believe the New Zealand Church is in a unique position to create something beautiful. And I think the Holy Spirit will be more than capable of teaching us how.

NZCMS’ quarterly magazine Intermission will arrive in your mailbox in the first week of June. We’ll also upload the PDF that week to this website. Within it are some incredibly valuable articles and resources all aimed at helping us becoming an interculturally engaged church. Feel free to contact us at office@nzcms.org.nz to subscribe to our mailing list or call us on +64 03 377 2222. Also keep an eye on our “Resources Tab” for an Intercultural Engagement page. Let’s start painting!

 

Saying “Yes” to Jesus (Intermission – Issue 34)

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Over the past 18 months, my wife and I will have helped to mobilise 16 Adults and 6 Children to be involved in short and long-term mission. That is approximately 15% of our church family.  The reason this has happened is that God has enabled us to create a culture where people can say “Yes” to Jesus, in whatever way that looks like for them. We believe that it is no more or less virtuous to serve in our nation or the nations of the world and we believe, as Christians, we’re all called to a place of service.

In February 1987, Gillian and I arrived at the Bible College of New Zealand in Auckland on a hot afternoon to start a new chapter of our lives. We’d got lost on the way which led to an argument and we arrived feeling like we had failed the first test and should turn around and head home again.  The problem was that our home was now rented out and the family business that I had run for the previous 7 years had been sold.  We reminded ourselves that the reason we were here was because we’d said “Yes” to Jesus to train for the next season of ministry in our lives.  We thought we were training for overseas mission, where we would use our medical and horticultural skills to bring a kingdom transformation into people’s lives.  Our plan was to start a family in our first year of Bible College but our first child Jonathan didn’t arrive until the end of our third year!

Over the years we have discovered that our calling is to be on mission with God wherever that may lead.  We haven’t always done this perfectly and there have been mistakes and disappointments along the way, but we have always tried to say “Yes” to Jesus.  At the end of our time at Bible College, we were planning to head to China or Chile when I was asked if I would teach at a Bible College and pastor a small church. It wasn’t what we had planned but we were challenged by the Call to mobilise others for mission both in New Zealand and Overseas. Over the last 27 years, we have tried to outwork that Call.

Gillian and I were asked if we would consider coming to Christchurch in August of 2009.  Gillian had grown up in Christchurch and we were married there. It wasn’t great timing for us as a family for a number of reasons. For example, our son was living at home at the time and suddenly he needed to move into his first flat. However, over a 6 month period, we saw God’s answer to all our objections and in February of 2010 saying “Yes” to Jesus looked like moving to Christchurch.

Our vision coming to Christchurch has been to help people be obedient to the call of God on their lives and say “Yes” to Jesus, whether that be in our community, Nation or the Nations of the world.  People should not expect to be on mission overseas if they are not on mission in their day to day living.  We have found the Simply Mobilizing resource “Empowered to Influence” a valuable resource to help people be salt and light as they establish the kingdom values of righteousness, joy and peace in their world.

The challenge for Gillian and I is that these are some of our best people and by empowering them to say “Yes” to Jesus we must continue living in the vacuum created by that obedience. But our focus must always be on being willing to follow Jesus wherever he calls us. Paul writes to the church in Rome with these words:

Romans 10:14-15 (The Message)

But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it? That’s why Scripture exclaims,

            A sight to take your breath away!

            Grand processions of people

            telling all the good things of God!

Whatever saying “Yes” to Jesus looks like for you, the Kingdom of God will be established through the alignment of our actions and our words.

Questions for discussion 

What does saying “Yes” to Jesus look like for you in your present circumstances?

What does it look like for you to share the Good News of Jesus with actions as well as words?

 

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.

A story, a culture and a call (Intermission – Issue 34)

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I wonder sometimes if focusing on missionaries and pastors makes us as Christians feel better about ourselves. We go to church, we hear an incredible sermon and we say “Wow, that Pastor is really gifted. It’s so great to have him at our church”. Or we pick up a Christian article (much like this one) and are amazed at the missionaries overseas, working themselves to the bone for the sake of the Gospel. We say “God, it’s so good you’ve given these people such an amazing call from you”. It makes us feel good, doesn’t it? But what if something like that were a bit ‘closer to home’ for you? Let me create a hypothetical situation.

A story

Imagine walking into the smoko room at work and making yourself a coffee. A couple of your workmates are there as well, laughing and talking about the sport over the weekend and moaning about the boss. You join in happily and begin to make your lunch. When you turn from the kitchen bench to comment on the rugby game you suddenly see him through the door window. Jerry. The new guy. The Christian. Well, of course, you’re a Christian too but there’s a difference between you and him. He keeps on talking about it!

“Good afternoon everyone!” he roars as he enters the room with a grin the size of Cheshire the cat. Everyone else greets him but you quickly zero in on your sandwich and don’t reply.

“Please don’t do anything weird”, you think to yourself. But you hope in vain.

“I had a great yesterday,” Jerry says as he puts last night’s leftover tea into the microwave to heat up. “Amazing sermon and incredible prayer time with God. It was powerful stuff. How was everyone else’s weekend?”

You shrivel within yourself, wishing you were anywhere but here, dreading the response from your colleagues and feeling completely uncomfortable for them. You quickly finish your meal, drain your coffee and leave the room. “Why does he always have to make it so awkward?” you think to yourself grumpily.

This type of situation may or may not have happened to you before. But it illustrates my point. Perhaps the reason why we’re so comfortable talking about the talents and exploits of pastors and missionaries is because we think they have a calling that we don’t have. Or, more specifically, we think their passion or gift to proclaim the Gospel is something we don’t have any access to. And it makes us feel better about our lack of ‘Gospel sharing’ to rave about them. It’s a subtle way of saying “See, that’s not my calling so it’s fine that I’m not speaking about the Gospel.”. 

But when someone begins spouting on about God right in front of you who has no such title, he or she suddenly destroys that convenient little reason you’d given yourself for staying quiet. Because then the next question you have to ask is this: “If they’re talking about God, why aren’t I?” And that brings up a whole lot of uncomfortable questions.

A culture and a call

I’m still very young in the grand scheme of things, but I’m old enough to know that an attitude or response to something is often the fruit of a long-held belief or assumption. Another word for this can be the more ambiguous word ‘culture’. And I believe that it’s time for us New Zealanders to realise that there is something not quite right with a certain aspect of our culture, especially in how that translates into an authentic, Kiwi way of spreading the Gospel. Underneath our talk that we’re just trying to be humble and inoffensive, there seems to be another voice deeply embedded in our minds and emotions that whispers, “Don’t be too loud. Humility equals quiet. Passion can be low-key. Beliefs are private. Be a Christian through your actions.”

Now, are there truths to these statements? Yes! But they’re not the full story! And our enemy is a master at using half-truths to create the entirety of how we think we should act. When I read the Bible it tells me that the Holy Spirit comes with noise (Acts 2). It says we’ll be empowered to preach, heal and disciple (Acts 2, Acts 3). It says we’ll be filled with boldness and courage (Acts 4, Acts 5). And it declares that the call for all of us is to be witnesses to the ends of the earth and to make disciples of all nations in the name of Jesus (Luke 24, Acts 1). I think it’s time we stop treating these examples in scripture as simply ‘suggestions’ and actually start following their example. Perhaps it’s time to allow Scripture, the full truth, to shape our culture and not the other way around. 

I believe the Holy Spirit is calling us to challenge facets of our culture in light of Scripture, not the other way around. In a country that is experiencing so much tangible pain, both physically and mentally, perhaps moving in the tangible power of the Holy Spirit might not be such a bad thing. Don’t let your personality, culture or feelings shut you up from expressing your faith. You never know what might happen if you just open your mouth and speak.

Personal reflections

Now, it’s all well and good me writing this, isn’t it? But the truth is I find responding these challenges just as hard as you do. I actually find speaking about Jesus to friends, co-workers and -God forbid- strangers, incredibly hard. But, if I believe that Scripture is divinely inspired-which I do-then that’s not a good enough reason for me not to obey is it? Perhaps the biggest facet of myself that actually needs to grow is my faith that the Holy Spirit will “give me the words to say at the moment I need them.” (Luke 12:12). Let’s continue to learn, with his help, how we can be an answer to his call. 

 Questions for discussion

Do you find it easy to talk about Godly things with non-Christians? Why or why not?

What spiritual gifts do you see in others that you wish you had? What could you do to learn more about how these gifts can be activated in your life?

Vocational Recruitment Coordinator

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Are you a strong motivator who is looking for opportunities to put your skills to work? Have you ever wanted to have a role within a mission organisation? This job opportunity is a unique opening that allows you to combine your heart to see people find their God-given vocations, with your passion for the big picture of what God is doing around the globe! We are looking for someone who is competent in influencing skills and who has the ability to effectively recruit global mission workers.

The New Zealand Church Missionary Society (NZCMS) is a mission community aiming to mobilise the Church of New Zealand for God’s mission. We are a team that has a big vision and big ideas who is seeking someone to help move us from ideation to implementation. This person will be able to identify strategic opportunities where we can place people overseas as well as find the right people to fill these roles. To this end, the Vocational Recruitment Coordinator will work with the NZCMS team to recruit and place a growing number of workers into the Asia/Pacific region.

This role is well suited for someone who:

Has the ability to motivate others Is able to self-manage and multi-task Has cross-cultural experience, including experience living and working overseas Understands recruitment practices Relates well to people from a wide range of backgrounds Is passionate about what God is doing around the world Has great communication skills

This is a full-time position, preferably based in Christchurch. You will only be contacted if you make the shortlist. For more details please download the job description here.

Please send your applications to steve@nzcms.org.nz. Applications close 2 July 2018.