Guest Author

30 Days of Prayer

Posted on

If you receive our mailings you will have received a flier about the ‘30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World.’ For over two decades Christians around the world have been praying for Muslims throughout Ramadan – their special month of focused prayer and fasting. It’s a time Muslims are seeking an encounter with Allah, and since the 30 Days of Prayer movement started, many Muslims have encountered the living Christ during this season. Prayer really does change things.

During my time with an Australian mission training centre, Ramadan was set aside to pray for the Muslim world. Once a day a call to prayer in Arabic was blasted through the sound system across our centre. Up to 100 of us would drop whatever we were doing to gather in the courtyard so that we could pray for a specific location or people group. I’m sure it confused our neighbours to no end, hearing a Muslim-sounding call to prayer coming from a Christian centre during Ramadan. But in those moments we took our attention off ourselves and paused long enough to get a glimpse into God’s heart for this group which makes up almost a quarter of the world’s inhabitants.

The question is: what will you be doing this Ramadan (27 May – 25 June)? Copies of the prayer booklet can be purchased from marn.org.nz

Thy Kingdom Come

Featured Video Play Icon
Posted on

Archbishop Justin Welby is calling the global church to a season of prayer for more people to come to know Jesus. This season of prayer, happening over the 10 days between Ascension day (May 25) and Pentecost (June 4), is aptly called ‘Thy Kingdom Come’.

Archbishop Justin has said this about Thy Kingdom Come: “After Jesus ascended into heaven, the disciples went to Jerusalem and prayed for the coming of the Holy Spirit. The vision behind Thy Kingdom Come is to do just what these first Christians did – to pray, in faith, that the Holy Spirit would come and lead the way in witness and evangelism.”

Few things are more important to followers of Jesus than prayer. It’s been a core principle of CMS since our very beginning in 1799, and we’ve recently re-emphasised it as one of the five missional postures we as the NZCMS family share. 

We encourage people to #Pledge2Pray through the Thy Kingdom Come website to show that you’re joining in the global wave of prayer and to inspire others to join in! Over the next few weeks the Thy Kingdom Come team will keep in touch, and send you videos and resources to encourage and inspire you. The Thy Kingdom Come website has a wealth of prayer resources for churches, individuals, families and children. There are all sorts of creative ideas to help you pray in new ways.

If you want to know more about Thy Kingdom Come, to get prayer resources or to commit to participating in the event, visit thykingdomcome.global

CMS UK has interviewed Archbishop Justin about this event, offering more insights into his take on mission, prayer and the world church. You can read the interview by clicking here.

Global Christianity

Featured Video Play Icon
Posted on

This recent video of Dr Todd Johnson from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity gives a brief update about the state of the world and the global church. He also explains what the Center does and the resources they produce. No matter what mission and ministry God has called us to, having a good understanding of our global context helps shape and influence how we go about our mission locally – as well as helps us see where we, as the global church, are doing well, are struggling, or are failing. Research like this is therefore one of the most incredible gifts for us as God’s global people.

The Center has just published a new infographic on 500 years of Protestantism, anticipating the many meetings this year commemorating the anniversary. They have also released the latest figures for global Christianity and world religions for 2017 here – something that they update every year.

In addition, the first in a ten-volume series on global Christianity from Edinburgh University Press is a about to be publication. Here’s the announcement. Significant discounts will be available this year via mail and at conferences.

 

You can find out more at www.globalchristianity.org

Community is not the Goal (Issue 30)

Posted on

When I think about belonging or community, I always think of my time with a large mission training centre in Australia. For almost four years I journeyed with a group of people who were all deeply passionate about knowing God and making him known. In the midst of all the busyness and excitement, I felt a deep sense of being known as well. These people from a huge variety of backgrounds and cultures and experiences and Christian persuasions – an eclectic mix of people who I would have otherwise never met – became far more than friends.

They were comrades. They were life-lines. They were prayer-partners, safety-nets, the voice of encouragement. They inspired me to go deeper, challenged me to reach higher, pushed me to expand my vision for God’s world. I’d always have someone to process with, to laugh with, to cry with, and I’d be there for them in the same way. It was a space to be ministered to and to learn to minister, to give as much as you received, to bless as much as you were blessed. In one month our relationships were deeper than anything I’d really known before.

It’s not about building community

Maybe I’ve reminded you of a similar experience. Maybe you wish you’d been part of a group like that. Perhaps you’ve been in a similar environment but were burnt by the encounter. In either case, it’s likely a reminder of the longing many of us feel for a deeper, more authentic experience of community and belonging. Ingrained within us is a sense that we’re not supposed to be alone on this journey of faith and life. Yet, though we may have momentary tastes of true community along the way, for many of us it’s not our ongoing reality.

In fact, ‘community’ is a bit of a buzz word. You’ll find it in the vision statement – maybe even in the name – of many churches. Theological books have made community their uniting theme. Counsellors are being trained to think of individuals-within-community. Hundreds of sermons on “Getting back to Acts 2:42-47” have been preached across the country. Many Church leaders have made forming and nurturing a thriving community one of their top priorities.

That’s certainly not a bad thing. The problem is, community doesn’t really happen if it’s your goal. Michael Frost, an Aussie missiologist, says that aiming for community is like aiming for happiness. You can’t aim to find happiness; it’s a by-product of seeking after something else, like love or justice or hospitality. But when you aim for happiness, you’re bound to miss it!

Community vs Communitas

Many of us have looked at the various expressions of community we’ve been part of with the question: “Why’s this so different to what I see in the New Testament?” Jesus invested much of his time forming a community of disciples and presenting them with a new ‘covenant charter’ of how to do life together (e.g. Matthew 5-7). Throughout the New Testament we see communities marked by extravagant love and faith (2 Thessalonians 1:3), by unwavering passion for Jesus (Revelation 3:8), by radical sharing and devotion (Acts 2:42-47), by incredible diversity (Galatians 3:28), by forgiveness and compassion and humility and peace (Colossians 3:12-15). The language describing the church is that of body (1 Corinthians 12:13), temple (3:16), family (Ephesians 2:19), vine (John 15:5), people (1 Peter 2:9), all images which stress that together we are God’s people. In fact, a key theme of Scripture is God’s mission to form a people for his name. Yet this biblical vision for the Christian community seems to stand in stark contrast to the reality we often experience.

So why did I experience all that in Australia? It’s because community wasn’t the focus. We were all there because of a shared passion for God and his mission in the world. It was out of that shared purpose and vision that true community was forged. We were on a shared journey, but it was a journey somewhere.

This is the different between community and communitas. Communitas is community that’s formed in the context of an ordeal, a challenge, a task, a mission. It’s a community that forms for the sake of something beyond itself. Community isn’t seen as an end in itself; it’s the means to an end. A deep sense of love and care and compassion is formed, but it’s as a result of being on a journey together. Perhaps ironically, when you set out to achieve that same sense just for its own sake, the results can feel quite superficial.

The desire we have for community is a legitimate one, but to pursue it for its own sake is a mistake. “We build community incidentally, when our imaginations and energies are captured by a higher, even nobler calling” (Michael Frost). If you set out to build community, you end up with more of a support group. If you set out to form a group on mission together, you end up with communitas.

So when we say that We’re All Called to Belong, we’re not talking about belonging as the goal itself. We’re all called to belong to God’s family of mission.

For discussion

When on your journey have you experienced communitas?

How can a group move from community towards communitas? What steps could your group make?

 

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.

Hope International School

Posted on

The Hope International School in Cambodia are currently looking to fill a number of positions starting in August this year.

The current needs are:

Secondary Principal Primary Principal Primary Teacher Secondary English Secondary Geography Teacher Librarian Guidance Counsellor Facilities Manager

For more details or to apply for any of these positions visit the school’s website by clicking here.

Remembering Stewart Entwistle

Posted on

Stewart Entwistle passed away early morning Sunday March 19. He was deeply loved by many, particularly within the NZCMS family. The following are some reflections on Stewart’s life from long time friend and fellow NZCMS Mission Partner Keith Mitchell:

Stewart qualified as a medical laboratory technician analysing samples sent in by doctors from all over Christchurch. As a committed Christian he used his gifts in a wide variety of areas of service, including managing the NZCMS Bookshop on Manchester Street from 1965 while their children were little.

He and Patricia went to South Asia in 1978 at a time when church leadership was more and more in the hands of locals. He worked closely with the Rt. Rev. Bashir Jiwan, the newly appointment Bishop of the region. Stewart was a wonderful help to the bishop as he fitted into his new role, giving advice in such a way that it was closely considered before decisions were made.

While the Entwistles were back in New Zealand from 1983 to 1989 Stewart managed a number of Christian bookshops in Christchurch. He and Patricia were then welcomed back to South Asia in 1989 where Stewart became the administrator at the Kunri Christian Hospital, again a post needing much tact as overseas doctors and nurses learned to work together with local colleagues.

When they returned to New Zealand in 1993, this time for good, Stewart worked very closely with Patricia to start the Te Waiora Healing Centre at Hororata, a place where many people find healing and renewal. Stewart also continued working closely with the NZCMS team over the 24 years since his return. He spent a bit of time in the NZCMS office going through missionary correspondence files to summarise, for the first time, the contribution individuals made to Christian outreach around the world.

 

The following are some additional comments from Steve Maina, the NZCMS National Director.

Stewart supported the staff team at NZCMS immensely, especially me in my role as National Director. He popped into the office regularly and had a few jokes about coming to catch a few of the ‘melons’ falling from the National Director’s many ideas. Stewart was also a walking encyclopaedia of NZCMS Mission Partners. He helped  manage the NZCMS archives. 

He will be remembered as a pillar of mission for NZCMS for many years to come.

 

At Stewart’s request a small private family funeral will be held.

Awards for Documentary

Posted on

We’re delighted to share that a short documentary film – put together by a relative of some Mission Partners – has won the award for best documentary and best editing in a Christian film festival. The film, which captures the day to day life of these Mission Partners living in a slum in Asia, has also won various other awards.

Though we’re unable to put the documentary on our website, if you contact the NZCMS office we can tell you how to access it. Please email office@nzcms.org.nz for more information.

Tethered to Christ, Tethered to Each Other (Issue 30)

Posted on

By Scottie Reeves

In Jesus we see this most powerful picture of inclusion. This man of immense integrity, character and holiness is always inviting those to the table we would never expect. The prostitutes, the thieves, the loan sharks and the violent extremists. At Christ’s table there’s room for Trump, room for refugees, room for beneficiaries and room for billionaires. There is room for you and room for me.

This is the reckless hospitality of Christ that whips up some more wine for a room full of wedding guests who were likely already inebriated. It’s the outrageousness that kneels down and washes the dusty feet of his disciples. It’s the controversy of a saviour who looks over the crowd immediately in front of him to call the short swindler down from a sycamore tree to eat with him.

In my experience of leading Blueprint, a church community of Millennials in the liberal heartland of Wellington City, I can tell you that my generation loves this radically welcoming Christ. He sits well alongside our near-religious fervour for tolerance at all costs. Our Jesus is shaped by a culture which says daily, ‘how dare you judge me!’ Yet we also follow a Christ who said in Matthew 16 that people weren’t really his disciples unless they left behind their families and began to carry their own instruments of death too. To sit at a table with Jesus was one thing, but to truly follow him meant abandoning family, reputation, career and security. Christ is consistently welcoming, but there is something quite exclusive about the way of Jesus too.

BELONGING AND COMMITMENT

When we talk about what it is to belong we must remember that our sense of belonging will always be equal to our commitment to one another. We belong truly with those who are tethered to us and whom we have tethered ourselves to. So while inclusive hospitality is deeply important, this alone will not build belonging or a dedicated community of disciples. Faith communities that provide constant encouragement and inclusion without a call to look beyond themselves will inevitably create consumers instead of disciples.

Alongside Blueprint’s usual Sunday services we run several community homes of hospitality filled with young adults. My wife Anna and I live in one of these houses on upper Cuba Street with five other young change-makers. Every Tuesday we hold a meal for anyone in Central Wellington who wants to join us. This is an experience of inclusive hospitality where anyone and everyone is welcome, from university students to those in the grip of addictions, from young professionals to those sleeping on the streets. Our guests describe this as a place of love, care, warmth and manaakitanga. There’s something special and profoundly Kingdom-of-God that happens around that enormous table each Tuesday night.

Yet what our guests don’t know is that the power of that hospitality comes from the fact that the seven hosts belong deeply together.

We’ve made unbreakable commitments such as daily prayer, proactive conflict resolution, mission to our neighbourhood and honesty with one another. Everyone is committed to being in our house for at least a year, and some of us are entering our third. When you know you’re still going to be living with someone in a few years it starts to seem silly to avoid the hard conversations.

KNOWN BY OUR LOVE

Jesus said that the world would know we belonged with him “by the love we have for one another” (John 13:35). Love doesn’t just grow in church services or life groups. It grows when we’re committed to one another, when we resolve to belong together even when we’re not sure we necessarily like each other anymore. The power of our dinner table is formed the other six days of the week in a community of people who have done the hard work to love one another sacrificially.

Sadly, if the commitments of our faith communities to one another aren’t deep then our inclusive hospitality is normally severely lacking too. We’re drawn in by the hospitality of God, but we’re formed by commitment to the community of faith we now belong in. As Christians we’re called to become a ‘set apart’ people (1 Peter 2:9), an exclusive people with exclusive commitments to one another and ways of living that stand as stark alternatives to the mindless consumption of the world around us. We are exclusively Christ’s, in order that we may be formed into a radically inclusive people whose dinner tables are always bulging, whose spare rooms are always full and who live out costly empathy, compassion, care and hospitality for all people.

And here’s the really interesting thing. As we’ve begun to pursue this deeper and ‘more exclusive’ way together over the past few years, we’ve seen more people come to know Christ for the first time than ever before. Maybe it is as Margaret Mead famously said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Scottie and his wife head up Blueprint Church in Wellington. He’s an ordained Deacon in the Anglican Church, a Social Entrepreneur, and has previously worked with a nationwide creative arts trust.

For discussion

In what ways does Scottie’s example of the Blueprint house encourage and challenge you?

What would holding together high commitment and high belonging look like in your context?

 

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.

Shane Claiborne in New Zealand

Posted on

Shane Claiborne is a founder and board member of The Simple Way, a faith community in inner city Philadelphia that has helped birth and connect radical faith communities around the world. Shane writes and travels extensively, speaking about peacemaking, social justice, and Jesus. Shane’s classic book “The Irresistible Revolution,” has invited people all over New Zealand to live out their faith in communities that show Christ’s compassion and justice.

Shane’s adventures have taken him from the streets of Kolkata, where he worked with Mother Teresa, to the wealthy suburbs of Chicago, where he served at the influential mega-church Willow Creek. As a peacemaker, his journeys have taken him to some of the most troubled regions of the world – from Rwanda to the West Bank – and he’s been on peace delegations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In association with World Vision, we are excited to have this one-off public event with Shane. Profits from the event will go to World Vision. Tickets are limited so get in quick (there will only be door sales if there are tickets left over).

This is an opportunity to be inspired and encouraged, and to network with other missionally-minded people. These events are the start of a conversation on intentional living.

More on Shane shaneclaiborne.com facebook.com/shaneclaiborne twitter.com/shaneclaiborne

 

Wednesday 15 March 7-9pm Holy Name Catholic Church, 420 Great King St., Dunedin $5

Friday 17 March 7-10pm Papanui Baptist, Christchurch $10

Monday 20 March 6.30pm Edge Kingsland 44 George Street Auckland $10

We’re All Called to Give (Issue 29)

Posted on

By Zane

A couple of weeks ago I held in my hand my first million. There’s a lot of power in those words: ‘my first million.’

There isn’t space here to establish a comprehensive theology of giving, but perhaps the most important aspect can be summed up with one word: ‘stewardship.’ As caretakers of God’s creation Adam and Eve were given the mandate to ‘have dominion,’ to care for the earth and all that’s in it (Genesis 1:27- 28). The created order belongs to God, but we’re given the task of not only looking after it, but as people living cross-shaped lives, we’re engaged in renewing it. From the beginning, we’re called to be stewards.

That has an impact on the million that was in my hands. Such a vast sum of money opens so many possibilities, and so many pitfalls. Some people just don’t have enough each day, and here I was with more banknotes than I could stuff in my wallet. It was helpful for me to recognise that, as a steward, it wasn’t mine to use as I wished. The money in my hands was actually the property of God.

MORE THAN MONEY

It’s the same for us all, and for all of our resources, not just our cold hard cash. Everything we have comes from God (Psalm 24:1). It’s tempting to think these things are our own, that we’re the masters of our own destiny, that we deserve what we’ve got because we’ve earned it. Giving helps keep our pride in check. When we accept we’re stewards not owners, words like ‘earned,’ ‘deserve,’ ‘entitled’ drop out of our vocabulary.

Giving challenges the greed that’s so pervasive in our society. In Beyond Greed, Brian Rosner observes that “slavery to money can affect those at every level of society, and may even be thought of as encompassing society as a whole. … But worst of all, it can cause people to act in hard, unfeeling and even self-destructive ways.” To borrow a phrase from Batman’s Alfred, our greed – our slavery to money – can turn “good men cruel.”

Often our perceived needs stop us sharing our resources, our desires prevent us from seeing the needs of others, our lust for more keeps us from giving. We put ourselves first, using what we have leftover to build comfortable lives. But Jesus calls us to be people who forsake comfort so we can comfort others. Jesus calls us to be people who reject building bigger houses so that we can house the homeless. And sometimes Jesus calls us to leave our houses and possessions behind to move to someone else’s neighbourhood. Jesus calls us all to be cross-shaped people living to please our Heavenly Father rather than striving for the pleasures of this short life.

Giving is hard. It can hurt. It means sacrificing our desires and enabling someone else. But giving helps us develop Christ-like character, and this is by no means limited to financial generosity. We can give a meal. We can give a spare bed to someone in need. We can give our time serving, interceding, stuffing envelopes at the NZCMS office. In fact, when ministries and mission organisations talk about giving it’s easy for us to roll our eyes: “here’s another appeal for more money.” But giving isn’t just about how much money you hand over. The truth is, sometimes giving money is the easier option. Are we willing to find ways to give that doesn’t include a $ sign – our time, effort, energy, talents?

When we’re generous with the things God has blessed us with we learn to trust him more fully. Instead of living from our excess and relying on ourselves, we rely on God and recognise his provision. We learn to consider others before ourselves – I’m pretty sure Jesus said something about that one. We learn to give thanks for the excess or the talents and gifts we have instead of chasing after what we don’t. And when we give, particularly towards mission projects and Mission Partners, we partner with others and enable them to serve God in ways we may never be able to ourselves.

So let’s start. Start giving. Maybe a small sum of money to bless someone else, maybe a meal to someone who needs it, maybe a bit of your time. Then, when you’ve started, or if you’ve started already, evaluate. Evaluate your giving. What impact is it having on you? What impact is it having on those around you? What impact is it having on your closeness to God? Where could you give a little more?

It sounds easy for the guy with the million right? What could this 32 year old millionaire ever know about the struggle of giving?! Well just for the record, the million was Indonesian Rupiah ($106NZD). It doesn’t matter the amount, or what non-$ gift you’re offering, all the same principles above apply. It all belongs to God, and can all be used to glorify him and as a way to make us more like Christ.

We’re all called to be generous with all we have.

Zane is a member of the NZCMS Council and serves as a Chaplain for the New Zealand Defence Force.

Want to read more? Check out Brian Rosner’s Beyond Greed and Dr Omar Djeoandy’s Redefining Success.

 

For discussion Why is the subject of giving often taboo in our Christian culture? What difference does a broader view of giving make, one that includes but isn’t limited to financial giving?

As someone called to belong to God’s community of mission service, what’s his challenge to you and your group when it comes to giving?

 

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.