August 2019

Mission Misconceptions About a Family Called to Go

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By Tessella Hicks, NZCMS Mission Partner to the Solomon Islands.Being born in Germany in the 1980’s to missionary parents working with Muslim groups, I was automatically included in the day-to-day workings of mission in a cross-cultural setting. Looking back at photos of myself being held by Turkish believers during Bible Studies and sitting side by side with Uyghur and Kazakh children, I can only feel like I was always meant to be with people from other cultures, sharing the love of Christ with them. So when it came time for Jon and I to take our own children overseas to the Solomon Islands in 2015, it felt like the most natural thing to do. Natural, but not easy. Becoming a mother has made me realise all the details my parents had to plan, worry about and deal with so that my siblings and I could live our ideal childhoods overseas. And now it was our turn to apply for passports and visas, get medical exams, raise funds, pack and plan for our new life.  Flashback to my family landing in Almaty, Kazakhstan in 1994 with 10 black suitcases containing all our worldly possessions. We waited around in the airport for what seemed like hours while my father used his Russian and Kazak language skills to secure us a taxi ride and get to our beds for the night. Dad must have been super-stressed, but I was just going along for the ride! But even harder for Jon and I than all the physical preparation if moving to the Solomons, was the knowledge that we would be separating ourselves from our parents, siblings, nieces and nephews and how this would impact our children. Going onto the mission field with a family is often the best thing to do and also the hardest. However when we discuss taking our children overseas, we’ve found just how many misconceptions people have about a family living on the mission field. Here are a couple of the ones I hear most often. Misconception One: Your Children Will Miss Out on Opportunities This is one we’ve heard many people voice over the years. Initially people were supportive when we told them that we would be raising our family in the South Pacific with statements like, “Wow, what an adventure!” or “Your kids will have so many great memories!” However, as a bit more time went by, many people have questioned whether living in such a remote location limits our children’s opportunities to engage in sports, music, access to technology and mainstream education.  While our children are confined to the limits of our tropical seminary campus – we can only make it into the port town once every few weeks to get an ice cream and check the post office for letters or parcels – I think it’s a very real misconception that their lives can’t be rich and full of opportunity.  They have at least two hours of outdoor fun with their friends each day and with the children of our faculty colleagues and seminary students. They play soccer, tag, hide and seek and all sorts of imagination games, including a reenactment of the life of Christ around Holy Week that they did this year! We gather to sing as a family once a day, as well as with our church community at evening services and Sundays. They’ve learned to harmonise and memorise lyrics to dozens of songs in not only English, but also Pidgin English and several indigenous languages.  We’ve also found that being unplugged from technology has been a great blessing to us. We have lots more time to read, explore the outdoors and engage face to face with friends. Our homeschooling programme gives the children freedom to read about diverse cultures, religions, people groups and time periods.  I can say with confidence that far from limiting their possibilities, living cross-culturally has given my children incredibly unique opportunities that have expanded their worldviews in amazing ways and given them an insight into how God works across the globe. Misconception Two: It’s Too Dangerous to Go Without Proper Healthcare. Some people were very concerned about how adequate – or, rather, inadequate – the healthcare would be here. Some questions were “What if your appendix ruptures? What happens if somebody breaks a bone or gets a severe case of …well, you name it!?” Access to decent healthcare is taken for granted by so many of us that stepping into a situation with lower than average healthcare seems naive at best and negligent at worst. We live about a 45-minute drive from the provincial hospital on the island of Malaita. While the basic Kilu’ufi Hospital does have an operating room, scanning facilities, medicines in stock – however, not always the ones you need – and trained doctors and nurses, we’re thankful we’ve never needed to go in for emergency treatment.  So while I agree that the healthcare is certainly lower than many places around the world, it doesn’t need to be an obstacle to following God here. A misconception people may have about missions is that you can and should only go where you know you will be provided for. Just as we trust God in many areas of our lives, we need to commit ourselves, including our heath and our very lives, into God’s loving care. An amazing story of God’s provision for our health was when we arrived in the country three months pregnant with our fifth child. We waited to arrive to tell our families, knowing that they might have advised us to delay our trip until after baby was born. We considered flying back to the USA or to New Zealand, but, since we had just begun our ministry, we felt that we needed to trust God and stay within the Solomons. In country, with the hospitals being quite austere complete with metal delivery tables, stirrups and national midwives being outlawed – we decided to ask an American midwife to fly out to us and deliver the baby. She waited patiently for our baby to arrive and helped me through a smooth and fast water birth in the comfort of missionary housing in the capital city of Honiara. We heard after the birth that the week prior, the nurses at the national hospital went on strike and as a result two infants had died. I was awestruck at how God’s hand was in every detail and was reminded again that we were in the safest place by being in God’s care. We named our son Immanuel to remind ourselves that in the midst of the difficulty of life, God is with us. Misconception Three: Your Children Shouldn’t Suffer With YouI think this is probably the number one misconception we have dealt with since bringing our children overseas with us. On visits back to New Zealand and the USA, we’ve heard comments from well-meaning people that while we have chosen to be missionaries and suffer for Christ’s sake, we shouldn’t be dragging our children into it with us.  Being here, our children have had to go through some tough things. One of us usually has some kind of infected skin sore that requires vigilant washing, dressing, medication and the occasional round of antibiotics. We had two bed bug infestations that made our house feel more like a battle-zone rather than a refuge from the outside world. We’ve seen death up close and personal, attending over five wakes – this is when the mourners gather around the body before burial and cry, pray, talk and sing together – and funerals of men, women and two infants. The children have willingly come with us to pray with the grieving families and see that, while we weep, we do not mourn like those who do not have hope.   Suffering comes hand in hand with following Jesus. We hold a deep conviction that if we try to protect our children from experiencing the fullness of being a disciple of Christ, we would be sinning. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). He asks this of everyone who puts their trust in Him. And suffering knows no age, gender or nationality. We’ve chosen to bring our children into God’s presence, presenting them to him who is their loving Heavenly Father and letting God meet them in trials and difficulty.  There was a moment when we were cleaning out a particularly deep sore, when one of the children said, “I wish we had never come here.” We acknowledged the pain and the difficulty and then prayed to our Lord Jesus to meet us and carry our burdens for us. And the Lord has proven faithful again and again.  Just recently, one of the girls said, “Whenever we travel back to New Zealand and the USA, it feels like I’m just a visitor. The Solomon Islands feels like home now.” Whatever difficulties we’ve gone through, we have done so as a family with the Lord’s strength and are often reminded of these words from Saint Paul.  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9). 

Same Vision. New Programme. Be a Part of a Better World

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This article was taken from our annual publication Snapshot, published in March and written by our Youth Mobiliser, Kirstin Cant. To learn more about Better World, visit the website here or download an application for 2020 here. Applications close November 1st.The dream is still the dream. The challenges are still the challenges. The call is still the call. NZCMS continues to have a vision of growing young leaders for the Church and raising up future long-term missionaries who are passionate about the gospel and equipped to do their part in bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth.There are many ways NZCMS seeks to do that with its mobilising team throughout New Zealand. We invest in and mentor leaders. We facilitate and train teams. We speak about God’s mission wherever we go. We journey with a wide range of young adults throughout the province who are exploring their next steps into mission. We have our new model of the Mission Internship Programme –  for individuals who we journey with for about 1 year and during that time they spend 3-6 months as an ‘apprentice’ to a Mission Partner of NZCMS (or partnership organisation) in a cross-cultural location. But there is still room for more ways to engage young people in mission. We saw an opportunity and launched a new programme in 2019.Here’s what we’ve seen and learned about young people: Most young people in New Zealand are interested in and passionate about issues of social justice around them but many do not know or understand that these issues are central to the Christian faith and the gospel. So to engage in this space, we have created a new Social Justice focused Gap Year called Better World. Better World is a 10 month, full-time programme that takes the team on a journey in Wellington, New Zealand (5 months), Suva, Fijia (6 weeks) and Cambodia (4months). It is centred around issues of social justice in our world today and putting those issues into a context of biblical truth, the Great Commission, and God’s heart for these issues in the world. The programme is designed for young people who are seeking to grow in their understanding and experience of what it means to follow Jesus, to serve the Church, and join in God’s mission. Better World also has a strong focus on spiritual formation and developing both the competency and character of the young participants with the end goal of preparing them for ministry in the New Zealand church and around the world. Better World aims to take a young person’s desire to ‘make the world a better place’ and turn that into a mature understanding of the role the Church can play in bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth – joining in on the ‘better world’ that God has planned and is at work redeeming. We focus on four social justice issues – Ethical Consumption, Climate Change, Urban Poverty, and Refugees and Migrants.We see Better World as a critical part of the pathway for growing young people with a Global Mission heart-beat and are excited to create this opportunity in 2019. There is a comprehensive team of exceptional people who are bringing about Better World:Guy and Summer Benton, who joined NZCMS staff in January this year, are the creators and coordinators of the programme, along with the support of Kirstin Cant, our Youth Mobiliser.Much of the daily instruction of the Better World participants is carried out by two Team Leaders who live and travel with participants throughout the year. We’re delighted to have two exceptional leaders for 2019; Sam Tovey, and Luca Duckworth who both have significant experience to offer in terms of cross cultural living, local mission and ministry engagement, engaging with issues of social justice, living in intentional community, youth work, and administration. We’ve have taking on Sam and Luca as Short-Term Missionaries in these roles. Sam and Luca are raising support to serve Better World and are committed to the vision of raising up young leaders for global mission.Better World also engaged Kate Day to develop and teach the majority of the curriculum for the Wellington Block. Kate has a decade of experience in Christian activism for social justice and is the Advocacy Enabler for the Anglican Diocese of Wellington.The whole NZCMS staff team have roles in supporting and enabling Better World to happen. We’re so grateful to be continuing to step into what God is doing in New Zealand, faithfully serving and providing our skills and support to see young people joining in on God’s mission. The dream is still the dream. We are a part of it.

Toward True Globalism in World Missions

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This article originally appeared in the January 2019 issue of the Lausanne Global Analysis and is published here with permission. To receive this free bimonthly publication from the Lausanne Movement, subscribe online at  The historical pattern of expansion in mission resourcing has not been a process of even progress from a single center. The 20th century marked a change in the flow of missionary personnel and financial resources from the Western world to the non-Western or majority world, and from the Global North to the Global South. What are the realities of this transition? How can we understand its nature? What does this change imply for future intercultural ministries? These are important questions to ask as we envision and strategise future ministries.

Southward turn

The main theme of the 1938 International Missionary Council (IMC) conference in Tambaram was the ‘Upbuilding of the younger churches as a part of the historic universal Christian community’. The 1938 IMC foresaw the future of world Christianity resting with the younger churches.[1]

Larry D. Pate’s book From Every People (1989) projected that by the year 2000, the majority of Protestant missionaries would be from the non-Western world, assuming the growth rate of the time continued.[2]His subsequent projection was that by 2000, there would be approximately 131,700 Western missionaries and 164,200 non-Western missionaries.[3]However, Michael Jaffarian, in an article in 2004, pointed out that Pate counted both domestic and foreign missionaries for the non-Western world, while only counting foreign missionaries for the Western world.[4] His analysis of the 2001 Operation World data suggested that there were still more Western Protestant missionaries than those from the non-Western world:

Jaffarian’s total count of non-Western missionaries reached 91,837—less than the 103,437 Western missionaries.[5]He also pointed out that the growth rate of non-Western Protestant missionaries was 210 percent for the period of 1990–2000, while the rate for Western missionaries was only 12 percent.[6]

My own observation is that Pate’s projection was not totally unsupported, even though he did not compare the same kind of missionaries. Pate focused on Protestant missionaries, whereas Jaffarian’s analysis showed the comparison including Roman Catholic missionaries. If we compare Protestant missionaries only, we could conclude that Pate’s projection was simply delayed in coming true. It could be that the number of non-Western Protestant missionaries outnumbered that of Western counterparts not by the year 2000, but by, say, 2010. To verify this hunch would demand solid empirical research.

Korean missionary movement

The missionary movement in Korea might not be a typical example of a majority world missions movement. Korea belongs to the non-Western world, but is also a part of the Global North, like a few other developed Asian countries. The categorisation can be different depending on whether the criterion is cultural or economic. What is important is that the Korean missionary movement provides an example of a former mission field turned into a sending base for missionaries.

93 Korean missionaries working in 26 countries through 21 mission agencies in 1979

21,220 Korean missionaries working in 159 countries through 159 mission agencies in 2017.

This shift may look dramatic on the outside, but it took a lot of time and energy inwardly. The Korean church commissioned its first cross-cultural missionary Ki Poong Lee (1868–1942) to Jeju Island in 1907. It commissioned its first missionaries to go abroad in 1912 when Tae Ro Park, Young Hoon Kim, and Byung Soon Sah, set off for Shandong, China. After Korea’s independence, the Korean church sent more missionaries to other countries:

According to Marlin L. Nelson’s pioneering research on Korean missionaries and mission agencies, there were 93 missionaries working in 26 countries through 21 mission agencies in 1979.[7]By the end of 2017, there were 21,220 Korean missionaries working in 159 countries through 159 mission agencies (Figure 1).[8]


The Korean church is now an important source of mission resourcing. The churches in Korea today spend more than USD 363 million a year to support their missionaries’ ministries, counting only the amount that has been channeled through mission agencies and not including direct expenditures.[9]

The Number of Korean missionaries (1979-2017)It was in 1832, when Karl Friedrich August Gutzlaff (1803–1851) arrived in Korea for a short-term ministry as an itinerant, that Korea saw its first missionary. The first long-term missionaries Horace Grant Underwood (1859–1916) and Henry G. Appenzeller (1858–1902) did not arrive in Korea until 1885. Thus it did not take long before the Korean church began to send its own missionaries. However, it took almost 100 years for it to see a major missions movement catalysed to send multitudes of missionaries, with the start of the Mission Korea Student Convention in 1988.Korea is only one example of the missions movement in the majority world. There are now multiple streams of the global missions movement in many parts of the world.

Polycentric expansion

The pattern of expansion in Christian missions is not a process of even progress emanating from one permanent center, like that of Islamic expansion.[10] After a number of serial expansions, there are now multiple centers in Christian missions.[11]The dichotomy between Western world and majority world or Global North and Global South gives the impression of a dramatic or paradigmatic shift in mission resourcing. The reality, however, is much more complex than this simple description. Looking into the process of the changes enables a subtle understanding of the gradual and cumulative dynamics of change. There is much more continuity than the titles of Pate’s writings convey. The Western centers are still functioning as missionary-sending bases, although there are new centers expanding continually in the majority world.The global missions movement is expanding through polycentric multiplication in this ever-globalising world.[12] The question is no longer a binary one of Western or non-Western. The issue is how to harness the plurality of the streams of the global missionary movement.The Global South has as much or even more heterogeneity than the Global North. The cultural difference or distance between an Asian country and a Latin American country might be greater than those between an Asian country and a Western country. In this global age, categorising difference as a black and white dichotomy is no longer valid. The polycentric or pluralistic model is more realistic and applicable.

Missiological implications

We therefore need to pursue true globalism in doing theology and ministry, overcoming the dichotomic view of Western versus non-Western. There are many kinds of parochialism that we need to overcome. No localism should dominate the scene. We need to pursue a dynamic balance between the global and the local.


The art of leadership and competence in this diversifying world lies in how to handle differences.[13] These differences are a given reality in such a world; what is important is how to deal with them. A desirable attitude is to appreciate, celebrate, and maximise the benefits of the differences to make them positive dynamics for synergy. Ethnorelativism, rather than ethnocentrism, will provide a foundation for this kind of positive attitude toward differences. As we respect other perspectives, norms, and categories, we can creatively maximise the benefits of being different. Heterogeneity might be uncomfortable, but it is an important condition for a synergistic relationship.Incarnational ministry in this global age requires a deep commitment to a respectful mindset. It is not just a matter of strategy, but an essential quality of missional spirituality and leadership. True identification with people from other cultural backgrounds starts with recognising the different realities. True ecumenism honestly recognises and accepts the essential differences and learns to coexist with them.What might be the practical side of the missiological implications? I would propose three ‘I’s:

Interacting with other localities. A true practice of missional globalism would emphasise more efforts to cross cultures and traditions and work together.Integrating diverse localism into a globalism. We need to prioritise a willingness to accept one another and learn to form common ground overcoming differences.Standing in between the global and local in doing theology and ministry. We need to build up cross-cultural competence to think and work in and above culture.

To be more concrete, we need to invite others from different cultural backgrounds more. If necessary, we need to lower our expectations of proficiency in communicating. We should ask more questions instead of positing ready-made arguments. An emic category in a culture or language may not exist or be relevant in another culture or language. Asking questions instead of assuming common ground is cross-cultural wisdom.


Also, we should listen more carefully. Before embarking on a discussion or consensus building, we need to pay attention to what others have to say. Sometimes what others are saying between the lines is very important. Inviting, asking, and listening are basic yet significant practices comprising a global mindset.I have greatly benefited from inviting mission leaders from other cultural backgrounds into our programs. It has been an important part of God’s blessing on my pilgrimage. More recently, I have gratefully enjoyed various invitations from other corners of the world to write (as with this article), speak or share, give feedback, brainstorm together, or sometimes just to chat. Overall, I have benefited more from the friendship and companionship than I have contributed to it.Let us invite people from the other side of the world into our fellowship and meeting; let us ask them to give us their feedback, share their thoughts and feelings, and participate in dialogue towards our common agenda; and let us listen to them more carefully to build mutual understanding and opportunities for cooperation and collaboration.

Endnotes Dana L. Robert, ‘Shifting Southward: Global Christianity Since 1945’, International Bulletin of Missionary ResearchVol. 24, No. 2 (New Haven: Overseas Ministries Study Center, 2000), 57. Larry D. Pate, From Every People: A Handbook of Two-Thirds World Missions with Directory/Histories/Analysis(Monrovia: MARC, 1989). Larry D. Pate, ‘The Changing Balance in Global Mission’, International Bulletin of Missionary Research Vol. 19, No. 2 (New Haven: Overseas Ministries Study Center, 1991), 59. Michael Jaffarian, ‘Are There More Non-Western Missionaries than Western Missionaries?’, International Bulletin of Missionary Research Vol. 28, No. 3 (New Haven: Overseas Ministries Study Center, 2004), 131. Ibid., 132. Ibid.; Enoch Wan, Michael Pocock eds. Missions from the Majority World: Progress, Challenges, and Case Studies. E-Book (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009), Loc 168. Marlin L. Nelson, Directory of Korean Missionaries and Mission Societies (Seoul: Asian Center for Theological Studies and Mission, 1979), 43. Steve Sang-Cheol Moon, ‘Missions from Korea 2018: Mission Education’, International Bulletin of Mission Research Vol. 42, No. 2 (OMSC & SAGE, 2018), 171. Steve Sang-Cheol Moon, ‘Missions from Korea 2013: Microtrends and Finance’, International Bulletin of Missionary Research Vol. 37, No. 2 (New Haven: OMSC, 2013), 96-97. Andrew F. Walls, The Cross-Cultural Process in Christian History: Studies in the Transmission and Appropriation of Faith (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2005), 13. Ibid., 13, 45. Editor’s Note: See article by Allen Yeh, entitled, ‘The Future of Mission is from Everywhere to Everywhere’, in January 2018 issue of Lausanne Global Analysis’s Note: See article by Ben Thomas, entitled, ‘How Can We Finally Reach the Unreached?’, in March 2018 issue of Lausanne Global Analysis

A Tribute to Reverend Gerald Clark

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The Revd Gerald Clark, a former CMS missionary and then Council member, died on July 8, 2019. His missionary service and leadership role in NZCMS is acknowledged with gratitude to God in this tribute to the blessing he has been to this Society. In 1958 the Dominion Monarch took over a month to convey Gerald Clark, his wife Noeline, and their infant son Paul to Capetown. The young family then waited ten days for another, much smaller, cargo ship to take them up the Eastern coast of Africa to Dar es Salaam, then the capital of Tanganyika, now modern day Tanzania. There they took a train for an overnight journey to their new home, Dodoma, to begin their service overseas as CMS missionaries. Gerald’s missionary interest began at a young age, attending the very first CMS Spring School in Christchurch in 1948 while still at High School. Gerald became a key figure in the early formation of the newly formed CMS League of Youth, assisting in running youth rallies and camps. It was during this time, in the early 1950s, that he and his soon to be wife, Noeline, began to discern the increasing sense of call from God for overseas mission service. On a Sunday evening during a missionary service at St Martin’s Church, Maxwell Wiggins, Dean of Dodoma Cathedral, preached. During this sermon Maxwell read a letter from the Tanzanian Government approving the doubling in size of the Alliance School in Dodoma. This meant that they would need more teachers. Both Gerald and Noeline felt the call of God in this opportunity. In 1957, they met with the General Secretary of NZCMS, the Reverend Harry Thomson, who organized an interview with Bishop Alfred Stanway of Central Tanzania. It was soon decided they would be suitable to join the staff of the Alliance School and their application to NZCMS was accepted.The Alliance Secondary School where Gerald would be teaching was situated in Kikuyu, a village about three kilometers out of Dodoma. Gerald was given classes to teach but found that he was surplus to teaching needs for the first six months until an additional stream of students increased the roll at the beginning of 1959. However, the only ordained man on staff was due to leave and there was no one to replace him. Gerald was encouraged to fill this need and he was ordained and became the Chaplain of the school. Though originally with no formal training in theological, he undertook study towards the New Zealand LTh each year, completing the qualification in 1967.In mid 1961, Gerald was asked to be the headmaster of a new boys’ secondary boarding school to be opened in the extreme West of Tanzania at Kigoma. He was given the privilege of naming the new school and chose “Livingstone College” as, in the previous century, HM Stanley had found the missing David Livingstone only 10km away at Ujiji on the banks of Lake Tanganyika. Livingstone College was the first secondary school in the Western Region of the country. In 1962 the Clarks returned to New Zealand and spent most of 1963 undertaking further study and deputation work. Gerald recruited two other New Zealand teachers to join him. As the school in Kigoma continued to grow the staff took on a very international flavour, with teachers from Australia, Britain, USA, Sweden as well as from New Zealand and Tanzania. By 1966 the school had grown from seventy pupils and two staff in its first year to 280 pupils, with two classes of 35 in each of the four years, and twelve staff members. Educational difficulties for their growing family together with government requirements in 1967 that every school must be run by an African headmaster lead to the Clarks finishing their time in Tanzania.After a brief time handing over to his successor, Gerald and his family travelled to England and lived in Canterbury, Kent, for two years where Gerald did a research degree in History and taught in the local secondary schools while Noeline nursed at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital. In 1969 they returned to New Zealand on the Southern Cross.Following their return to New Zealand, Gerald was elected as a governing council member where he served for two full decades over the 1970-80s. He was later elected as Vice Chairman of the NZCMS Council.