Guest Author

New job at Anglican Missions

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Here’s a new job opportunity from our friends at the Anglican Mission Board.

Anglican Missions is a non-profit organisation that seeks to fund and support overseas missions on behalf of the Anglican church. An exciting opportunity has opened up for an Operations and Projects Officer, with the right skills and experience to contribute to our Board’s strategic directions and business plan, including a key focus on climate change.

We are looking for a person with strong leadership skills due to their responsibilities as second in command to the CEO.

Specific tasks include but are not limited to:

Designing, overseeing, implementing and reporting on the Board’s Strategic and Operational plans; Assist the CEO to design and manage the Board’s approach and response to natural disasters, particularly in the Pacific region; Prepare high quality project ‘packages’ and assist with securing project sponsorships; Look out for better ways to connect groups to projects overseas; Excellent and sensitive team builder.

Qualifications:

Project management experience – aid and development sector. Excellent interpersonal communication skills. Excellent written, verbal and listening skills. Excellent at building and connecting great rapport within a team. Superb attention to detail and organisational skills. Creative problem solving and flexibility.

Preferred but not required:

Knowledge about Anglican church ethos Knowledge about overseas missions

Please send a covering letter and CV to Metua Takairangi, Executive Assistant to the CEO at office@angmissions.org.nz  or  call  (04) 473 5172.  Our website is www.angmissions.org.nz

A Caribbean Perspective on the US Elections

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By Las Newman, Minke Newman.

This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of the Lausanne Global Analysis and is published here with permission as part of the LGA Media Partnership. Learn more about this flagship publication from the Lausanne Movement at www.lausanne.org/lga.

 

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

In the context of the powerful Roman Empire, Paul’s pastoral concern for the role of the church in society was expressed pointedly in his advice to his younger leader and protégé, Pastor Timothy, in 1 Timothy 2:1-2.

Pastoral advice for the church

His pastoral advice has two dimensions to it. Firstly, he calls attention to the power and importance of intercessory prayer for political and civic leadership in the state: I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions. Paul emphasises prayer as God’s resource for releasing divine aid to everyone, especially to those in authority.

Secondly, he pointedly makes reference to the important end-goal or objective of that leadership: that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. Paul emphasises the importance of leadership because leadership in any field of endeavour matters. It influences and carries consequences.

He urges Christian engagement rather than a piety of withdrawal or ignoring the issues of the day. The church should intercede with deep prayers of supplication and intercession for those in leadership. He urges this action for the greater good of society, to the end that ‘we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way’. Peace, a quiet life, and dignity before God are his ideals for his people and his created order of society.

Observing the US election

As people inside and outside the United States observed the conduct of the 2016 presidential election campaign, there was bewilderment, angst, and fear. Those who watched it from a distance may have thought they were witnessing a remarkable race to the lowest level of political contests for power. The expectation was that the US election would be an example to the world of democracy-in-action, with all the robust cut and thrust of the politics of democratic change. Instead, a new kind of politics came into full public view, the politics of personal character destruction of opponents and the pursuit of power by any means. Along the campaign trail, an avalanche of untruths and known falsehoods and deceptions were advocated as though they were gospel truth.

Oxford Dictionaries has recently announced its international word of the year for 2016: ‘post-truth’. This, it says, is because of ‘the rise in false statements by political leaders in major elections around the globe and the use of the word in the English language by over 2,000% since 2015’. It describes the use of language that appeals to and influences people’s emotions and value judgements, over against the objective rationality of known and demonstrable facts. In the campaign, it seemed that the widespread use of ‘post-truths’ pointed to the overthrow of a moral and ethical code where wrong now had to be accepted as right and right had become wrong.

It raised questions. Was this the future of American politics and, by extension, global politics? Was this what we should expect of American leadership and influence in the world? Do morality and ethics still have a role to play in political campaigns and platforms?

 

Caribbean concerns

Throughout the Caribbean, there is real apprehension about the conduct and outcome of the election. There are serious repercussions for US-Caribbean relations. As church leaders and other civil and political leaders in the Caribbean reflect on the process and outcome, they have identified five particular areas to watch, from a Caribbean perspective, in a new dispensation of American politics and leadership in the world.

 

1. Our climate future

The beautiful Caribbean countries are among the Small Island Developing States (SIDS).[1] They are anxious to know the direction of the new US administration in the global fight for a more sustainable climate future. Such a future, they believe, can be secured if global leaders agree and strive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, limit future temperature rises, monitor our carbon future, limit the burning of fossil fuels, and deliver cleaner energy. From the perspective of small developing states that are extremely vulnerable to the vicissitudes of climate change, Caribbean leaders are adamant that they will never allow the overwhelming evidence of the realities of climate change to be obscured and rejected by those who deny or seek to obstruct it for selfish ends.

Across the region, several Caribbean leaders have indicated that are prepared to fight for the region’s economic and environmental survival. Leading up to the Paris Climate Summit in 2015 and afterwards, the Caribbean’s ‘1.5 to Stay Alive’ campaign was a plea for its survival. The COP21 Global Agreement was a significant achievement.[2] Caribbean leaders believe it must be upheld and the US must be held to its commitments.

For the global church, Lausanne’s The Cape Town Commitment (CTC, 2010) is a landmark document. It encourages Christians worldwide to ‘exert legitimate means to persuade governments to put moral imperatives above political expediency on issues of environmental destruction and potential climate change’ (CTC II-B-6). Such strong words to the global church were based on the conviction that ‘we cannot claim to love God while abusing what belongs to Christ by right of creation, redemption and inheritance’ (CTC 1-7).

Care of creation is important in every context, but especially so in the Caribbean where the Lausanne Jamaica Statement was issued in 2012.[3]

Evangelical, Pentecostal, and ecumenical church leaders in the Caribbean are being mobilized to advocate for a more sustainable climate future. They recognize a common cause for the sake of the One True and Living God who owns the universe and mandates his people to steward his creation for the well-being and sustainability of all humanity.

 

2. Global trade policy

The election campaign witnessed many ‘post-truths’ being spoken against global trade, alleging it to be against the US national interest. The alternative proffered was US protectionism, isolationism, and ‘me-and-my country first’. To leaders in the Caribbean, this does not appear to be a good example to the world.

As small developing states, the Caribbean nations are dependent on good trade relations with their big neighbour. Our region cannot afford to be ignored, neglected, or ill-treated by its neighbour or anyone else. If this happens under a new insular, protectionist US administration, the region will suffer a steep decline. Poverty, crime, and therefore, migration flows will increase.

Global trade is vital. Every country is reliant on trade to boost economic growth, create jobs, ensure social well-being, and create opportunities to restore dignity to the lives of the poor. The churches in the Caribbean have been struggling with this issue for more than two centuries. They want to help their congregations find jobs and be able to look after their families. They believe that nations should strive for free and fair trade and ensure better wages for workers—‘the worker deserves his wages’ (1 Tim 5:18). So they have become even stronger advocates for global trade.

The region wants and needs US engagement and leadership in bilateral, hemispheric, and global trade agreements, especially in our multi-polar world. Caribbean leaders are insisting that the bigger economies, including the US, protect, defend, and look out for the weaker ones and help them to grow and develop too. At the same time, they are concerned about the long-standing US trade embargo against Cuba and the effect of grinding poverty on children and families in Haiti.

US leadership is required, especially in an era of rising global super-powers such as China, whose interest and influence in the Caribbean and elsewhere have become quite extensive.

 

3. Marriage equality

One of the big campaign issues was so-called ‘marriage equality’. The Caribbean is one of those regions that has been pressured by the US State Department to adopt marriage equality and same sex unions under the US foreign policy aid and human rights agenda. Government and church leaders across the region have been specifically courted by the US government to enact legislation to this end.

There have been strong reactions from the church across the region to this pressure. In June 2014, Jamaican church leaders held a public rally called ‘Jamaica Cause’ and mobilized a crowd of some 30,000. The Caribbean church and society are generally opposed to US promotion of lifestyles and family constructs that they consider inimical to their culture and well-being.

While some sections of the church, particularly the older and more established churches, argue for a more conciliatory approach, many pastors in the evangelical and Pentecostal churches, and ordinary citizens, are strongly resistant.

The presidential elections seemed to have highlighted issues of abortion rights, LGBTQ rights, and the extent of tolerance in a diverse and very pluralistic society. These issues are of concern in the Caribbean and for the Caribbean church. Here again, The Cape Town Commitment provides very useful guidance for the global church, urging all Christians to reject ‘disordered sexuality’ (CTC II-E-2), while showing Christ’s love and compassion to all people.

 

4. Migration and Globalization

Illegal immigration was one of the hot campaign issues. Many of the illegal immigrants in the US are of Caribbean origin. As far as organized crime and criminal gang-networks are concerned, there are undeniable links between the Caribbean and the US. These networks foster transnational crime and violence on both sides. This must be dealt with. The Caribbean welcomes and needs better immigration policies and effective systems to curb illegal immigration. Caribbean countries, like Jamaica, have benefited greatly from guest-worker programs in the US which have helped the US economy and also helped many poor families back in the region.

Churches in the Caribbean are affected by this issue:

Some pastors are struggling with the challenge of providing pastoral counsel and guidance to congregations and communities that exist in the midst of gang-controlled turfs. Churches in Jamaica, for example, are joining together in approaches to law enforcement officials to see how best to tackle what has currently become a major social problem. Children, families, and local communities that are dependent on transnational relationships between the US and the Caribbean are anxious about the future of that relationship. Many are coming to the church for counseling and help.

The US must guard against retreating into exceptionalism and self-isolationism. We live in a global environment. The Caribbean would like to see pastors and churches in the US guarding against hostility towards immigrants, refugees, migrant workers, and ‘strangers’ in their midst. They should welcome the stranger and the asylum seeker, the lost, and the lonely. This is what Christ would have done. This is what he calls his church to do.

 

5. Global Peace and Security

The Caribbean is all too aware of the extent of conflicts and war in the world. As people in the sub-region of the Americas, they are constantly reminded of the words of the popular Jamaican musical icon, Bob Marley: ‘So much trouble in the world’. 

The Caribbean has lived through years of violence and war and civil strife. In the history of the region, people are all too aware of the use of US military power in attempts to bring about regime change. Caribbean peoples feel it is time for peace. They know it is time for healing and reconciliation among people.

In its preaching and teaching ministry, the church in the US and in the Caribbean must proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is about peace, truth, and reconciliation. The church in the US and the church in the Caribbean must work together in partnership towards peace-building in local communities and helping to strengthen global peace and security.

This is the time for global church partnerships in peace-building initiatives. Jesus told his disciples: ‘Blessed are the peace-makers for they shall be called the children of God’ (Matt 5:9).

 

Conclusion

Politics matters. Political leadership is important. Paul’s advice to Timothy is the advice that every pastor needs at this time. The advice is for the church to intercede with deep prayers of supplication and intercession for everyone, especially for those in high office. He urges this action for the common good and well-being of everyone in society. This is not advice for withdrawal and ignoring the issues, but rather for deep spiritual and practical engagement on the part of the church.

These five issues—the future of our climate, the protection of biblical teaching on marriage and family, free and fair trade, migration and the impact of globalization, and global peace and security—are the key areas to watch in our region as a new US administration takes shape. The impact these will have on Caribbean peoples’ ability and capacity to ‘lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way’ is vital to our survival and well-being.

 

Editor’s Postscript

Leaders from several regions of the world were invited to provide theological reflection and pastoral guidance concerning the potential impact of the US presidential elections on Christian ministry in their region. Here are some of their comments.

From Africa

Gideon Para-Mallam, Nigeria—International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) Regional Secretary for English, Portuguese, and Spanish-speaking Africa (EPSA). Based on interactions with church and mission leaders from Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, Uganda, Côte d’ Voire, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, and Ethiopia.

Those who really need guidance are the emerging leaders; in truth the future is uncertain at the moment . . . Emerging leaders should have a clear vision of what the church needs to do in order to re-focus their commitment to global mission in today’s uncertain political climate . . . Global Christian leaders need to help the church think biblically on the future direction of the gospel devoid of political manipulation from politicians, who appear more adept in using the church to advance their political goals instead of the other way around. Complex global realities suggest that we intentionally promote God’s redemptive missional agenda by engaging in what John Stott described as double listening: to God’s word and the world.

From Latin America

Daniel Bianchi, Argentina—Lausanne Regional Director for Latin America. Following survey of leaders from 17 countries in Latin America and Spanish-speaking Caribbean.

Will the church continue to speak against all [that is] against the gospel of justice, compassion, and reconciliation? Will the church continue to seek the advancement and the interests of the kingdom above any other consideration of power or culture?

From South Asia

Dr Jacob Cherian, India—Vice President and Dean of Faculty at Southern Asia Bible College.

Any idea of racial supremacy . . . must be condemned, openly and fiercely, especially by white evangelicals in America and Europe. This will surely help those who preach the gospel in countries like Pakistan, India, and Indonesia, where sometimes anti-Christian actions are spurred on by anti-American or anti-white feelings . . . If Euro-American evangelicals do not clearly and loudly affirm their full support for religious and racial minorities (like Muslims, Hindus, African-Americans, Buddhists), they will be hurting Christians in South Asia, since we are the micro-minorities here.

 

Las G Newman, PhD, is the Lausanne Global Associate Director for Regions. He lives in Kingston, Jamaica, and is the past president of the Caribbean Graduate School of Theology (CGST) located in Kingston. He hosted the Lausanne Global Consultation on Creation Care and the Gospel in Jamaica in 2012 and contributed to the book Creation Care and the Gospel: Reconsidering the Mission of the Church (2016).

Minke E Newman, PhD, is an environmental biologist at the University of the West Indies (Mona campus), Jamaica. Her major work involves research on the impact of deforestation of the Cockpit Country, Jamaica’s major watershed. She was a volunteer organizer at the Lausanne Global Consultation on Creation Care and the Gospel in Jamaica in 2012 and one of the Caribbean participants at the 2016 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering in Indonesia.

 

Endnotes

[1] Editor’s Note: See article entitled ‘Climate Change in Oceania’ by Mick Pope in the March 2014 issue of Lausanne Global Analysis.

[2] Editor’s Note: See article entitled ‘Climate Change after Paris’ by Ed Brown in the May 2016 issue of Lausanne Global Analysis.

[3] Read full statement at https://www.lausanne.org/content/statement/creation-care-call-to-action.

State of the World 2016

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In this video Jason Mandryk and Molly Wall, editors of Operation World, give insight to key issues in the church, the Great Commission, and the world based on their extensive research and encounters around the world.

‘These are tumultuous times. Change in every sphere of life seems to be accelerating. What really is happening in the world? And how does this relate to the staggering scale, complexity, and urgency of the Great Commission?’

During this session of the Launsanne Movement’s Younger Leader’s Gathering, participants were asked to listen to the groans of the world and to how the Holy Spirit might be speaking specifically to their context.

This presentation was given at the third Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering (YLG2016) held in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 3-10 August 2016.

Download the presentation and the accompanying notes

Kenyans in Wanganui

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Earlier in the year NZCMS, in partnership with a number of churches and groups across the country, hosted a ‘reverse-mission’ team from Kenya. This team was split into smaller groups and sent to various parts of New Zealand. We’ve invited representatives from the team to write some reflections on their experience. Other reflections can be found by clicking here.

By Pastor Kinyua Kathuri (Ingestre Street Bible Church, Wanganui)

He had been advised to be very careful about publicly sharing his faith. Now he was in a public toilet talking about Christ with a total stranger! And the stranger loved it! Joseph shared aspects of his story and the Gospel in the most unlikely and unpredictable places.

A month ago, we at Ingestre Street Bible Church (ISBC), Wanganui, were privileged to host Joseph, Tony, Lilian, Calista, Jimmy & Milly and Emma from Kenya for a short-term mission. One of the objectives for their visit was to work alongside us, as a church, in reaching out to our city with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This team acted as a catalyst in assisting us engage our world.

Wanganui is our immediate world. The ISBC planning team did a splendid job in creating avenues for the Kenya team members to share their faith. The Kenya team members shared their faith with courage and in winsome ways. Many days after the mission, we still receive encouraging feedback from people whose lives were touched and challenged by the team. Their sacrifice for the Gospel was worth it. Through their work here, God is opening opportunities for us to enter schools, people’s homes and hearts. The narrative they started hasn’t stopped-sharing the Gospel through our stories. How would it be if each one of us shared our faith story to our neighbours, colleagues or even strangers? How would it be if each one of us continued to intentionally invite people both to church and to a relationship with Christ? What will it take for us to engage those who live next door to us?

Engaging our world means that we will present the Gospel across the street and around the globe. We are being challenged to not only pray and support missionaries but we will also to pray and participate in outreach (in its different forms) within our city. Engaging our world is a call for us, as individuals and as a church, to be salt and light in our city.

Did the stranger come to faith in Christ? Not then, but a seed was planted. The stranger attended ‘The Kenya Experience’, a cultural concert that the Kenyan missionaries put together. Was Joseph embarrassed? No! Actually he was surprised at the wisdom and boldness that God granted him at his hour of need. Each one can reach one.

Kenyans in Christchurch

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Earlier in the year NZCMS, in partnership with a number of churches and groups across the country, hosted a ‘reverse-mission’ team from Kenya. This team was split into smaller groups and sent to various parts of New Zealand. We’ve invited representatives from the team to write some reflections on their experience. Other reflections can be found by clicking here.

 

By Susan Mwathi.

The journey to New Zealand was a faith journey, beginning with raising the actual amount for flight and also for the visa – this was not an easy task. We had intense training and classes every Sunday morning to prepare us and also to give us an overview of what we were getting into. During each lesson my desire grew deeper and my faith more as I saw myself being part of this mission. I was in it to learn, share my faith and let others know of God.

As the departure day drew closer, the challenges increased and my faith was tested. The visas took so long to be approved and still my flight fare was not enough. We finally got the visa on the very day we were due to travel. Our long journey of 22 hours finally begun. We were curious and expectant. We finally got to Auckland and after some orientation we set out for our different locations. Christchurch is where I would be located. When we landed heaven must have known because it was raining and way colder than Auckland but the reception at the airport made it warmer.

Christchurch has amazingly beautiful architecture. Even with the earthquakes having happened it was still beautiful. We got to interact with the people in Christchurch and everyone we met left us amazed. The hospitality and love shown made us feel at home even if we were away from home. Getting adjusted to the time difference was a challenge. The team had prepared for us a well-organised time table throughout our stay.

After each and every meeting we went to I was left impacted, and just sharing my story and listening to others share made me realise we can all be effective where we are and no one is less useful. One of the many encounters is when I had a one on one with a young lady and my heart was broken. Her story has made me pray for her that she will get to know Christ for who he truly is. She is a young girl yet has taken up the responsibility of taking care of her siblings since her mother cannot due to a drug addiction. On top of that, she’s been brought up in a home where she has had different religions blended together and cannot understand which is true. She wants to encounter God but is still held behind by the different religions and their teachings and cannot understand real from fake. She constantly reminded me that at times we complicate the gospel. It’s been a prayer burden for me that she will find Christ and that also through finding Christ she will lead her family to Christ and that she will not give up searching for the truth.

As I sit and write this I carry a lot with me from New Zealand. What God has taught me through that short mission is that we have so much to give to others if only we avail ourselves to missions. I don’t need to be a preacher….  My story is a testimony in itself and I should be bold to share it. I should not be ashamed to share it at all everywhere I go and with whomever I meet. My heart was moved for New Zealand and even for the young people who are needed more in the church to serve and give of themselves. For me one of the many take home prayer points that I have is that there will be a revival and it will indeed start with the youth and will spread across the church of New Zealand. The church needs to also be ready to pass the baton to the young generation; there is a big need of young people to serve in the Church. I will keep praying that the church will equip and mentor them to be the next wave of effective leaders.

Kenyans in Wellington

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Earlier in the year NZCMS, in partnership with a number of churches and groups across the country, hosted a ‘reverse-mission’ team from Kenya. This team was split into smaller groups and sent to various parts of New Zealand. We’ve invited representatives from the team to write some reflections on their experience. Other reflections can be found by clicking here.

By Ken Muchiri and Samuel Kiautha.

The Nairobi Chapel Ongata Rongai (NCOR) mission team to Wellington was sent to Newtown.  Newtown is a mixed neighbourhood with a mix of the upper and lower middle class living right next to the poorer in society.  The team of six missionaries were hosted in people’s homes with three of us hosted by the Greenhaus community.  The Greenhaus is a large wooden house built in the 1920s and has more than a dozen bedrooms, a large lounge, a large kitchen and dining area and a lot of warmth. The community consists of 12 people living in one house! There were two couples and eight single people. In terms of their faith, 8 are believers and 4 are non-Christian. These guys share the kitchen and the lounge, the bathrooms and toilets. They have a duty roster of who cooks, who goes to the market, who empties the dishwasher, among others. Each person has something they give to the community. They share what they have so that no one misses provision, even the non-Christians in the house. Living with the Greenhaus community provided our first major lessons – even a paradigm shift – on what mission is all about.

We interacted with the homeless, mentally challenged and drug addicts as they ate their meals in church funded soup kitchens. We met people that lived on the streets, in their cars or in drug/mental rehab facilities among other folk. Back home we are afraid of the mentally ill and drug addicts – we had a paradigm shift in Newtown! We wanted to tell our stories and share our testimonies, act our rehearsed plays and sing songs of praise we had practised, but instead we learned to sit and listen as they shared their stories and asked about our culture. At first it was difficult for some – listening is not an easy skill but as we adapted and got the grace to practice listening. We served them breakfast and engaged in conversation.

We also got time with youth groups from neighbourhoods and from churches. We visited an aged care home, joined in playing at a kids club, and met the coolest Anglican bishop in New Zealand who walks bare foot and has dreadlocks but has great vision for the church in NZ, Bishop Justin. We sang at a local market, attended a powerful Bible study called ‘Soup and Luke’ at the local priest, Mark’s home.  We also attended a Maori class, ate raw paua (a shellfish) with Malini, visited the beautiful Tepapa museum, shopped in the op–shops and watched an All Blacks rugby match.

Ministry Highlights

Fred – The policeman from Karatina and Old People’s Home

On one occasion we went into an aged care facility, Ultimate Care, Mt Victoria. Old folk listened to the songs and watched a skit we did for them.  As we sang songs in Kiswahili, Fred heard the Kiswahili and came out of his room. When we sat down to interact after our presentations, a few of us sat with Fred. Fred was a policeman in colonial Kenya in the 1950s. Imagine that!! We learnt later that Fred had not talked to anyone for more than five minutes in the last one year. On that day he talked and we listened. He spoke of the Mau Mau and a trusted African Police lieutenant he had from Western Kenya. Yes we talked about God too – and he said, “God can’t love me – I have done too many bad things.” One of us spoke to him and said, “God has already paid the price; you don’t have to pay the price for your mistakes.” We told him God loves him and had forgiven him unconditionally. We sensed that was God’s message – ‘Fred you are forgiven’ – delivered by the sons and daughters of Kenya whose fathers he probably killed! The past does not have to weigh on him anymore. We pray that he will experience God’s forgiveness and love of Christ.

A woman in the same home, who had never spoken for two years, spoke for the first time after out visit and even sang with us. We pray that she will experience the peace and joy that comes from Christ.

Ahmed – a young Muslim

Ahmed is a young Muslim who owns The Red Sea restaurant in Newtown. We introduced ourselves to him and ate at his restaurant. We shared what we were doing in town. He just loved the fact that we were from East Africa near his home country, Somalia. He invited us for a free cup of coffee or tea whenever we were in his location. He made a superb cup of tea, just the way we like it back home. Wasn’t that God telling us to love everyone and share the gospel with them? Isn’t it amazing how doors can be opened through the smallest things like a cup of tea?

Bishop Justin

The Anglican Bishop of Wellington is barefoot and dread-locked. If you met him on an ordinary day you might dismiss him for his looks. Do we judge too fast? Do we concentrate on small things and miss the bigger picture and plan of God? He lives a simple life, housing the homeless and other people needing care in his house. We encouraged him and he taught us the true service required from Christians. It’s not about being mighty men of God but men who know a mighty God.

The Need – Churches are Closing Down

There are many closed Churches in Wellington. Beautiful churches with no congregation. We visited one, St Christopher’s Church, Seatoun which was sold and was turned into a community centre. It is now used by an atheist music director to play musical instruments with the mentally ill which has a therapeutic effect on them. They call themselves the Ssendam Rawkustra band. We played the many wonderful instruments with the band and shared a meal too. We were left with questions however: What is “church”? Buildings or people in relationship to each other and God?

In the words of Mark, the Anglican priest of St Thomas, the harvest is ready but workers are few. Mark prayed that our visit will be like a spear to pierce the hard ground for Christian ministry. Only about 5% of the people worship God and attend Church. St Thomas chapel has a capacity of approximately 50 people. The first service is about 10 people most from one Samoan family.

We pray for the few Christians so that they may not be discouraged and that their impact will be felt. Though they are few they deeply love the Lord. We believe that our visit encouraged them to carry on with the good work.

Thanks

We are extremely grateful to God for the opportunity and privilege to be part of his work in New Zealand. We know he is at work in this nation. We thank Rev. Steve Maina and the team from NZCMS for the great effort and partnership they created to ensure that the team spread out in New Zealand seamlessly. We thank Richard Noble, Mark and the leadership of the St Thomas Anglican Church in Newtown, we also thank Pastor Ondachi and the NCOR team for initiating this mission, and for NCOR members for the prayers and support. We had families that allowed us to be away; we thank them too.

Some Lessons

We witnessed and experienced God’s miracles through the encounters with our travels documents. Our passports with visas came very late – literally at the airport. Our God still performs miracles. We just don’t pay attention to them.

We had our plan but God’s plan took centre stage. It is ALWAYS about God. When we let go and let God, HIS glory is seen. We only need to avail ourselves as God’s instruments. He will use us for HIS glory. (HE does not share HIS glory with anyone).

Listening, listening, and listening. It is a hard skill. But just staying quiet to hear someone speak is service. Servant-hood is a good place to be. God takes over. After all it’s about HIM, right?

When we strategically position ourselves to reach out to people however different they are from us (Christians or non-Christians), we can win them for Christ. Jesus himself came for the unrighteous. That is the heart of mission. For many of us, God opened our eyes to the people around us and how we can reach them in non-intimidating ways.

We’re All Called to Belong (Issue 29)

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By Paul Thaxter (CMS UK).

The Church Mission Society emerged from an informal mission community, the so called Clapham Sect. This group of people met together, ate and prayed together, and were in and out of each other’s homes. It was energetic group of diverse, influential leaders being shaped by God’s mission in Christ. Led by the Spirit they set up CMS to work for social and moral reform in the UK, to spread the Gospel in Africa and Asia, and to abolish the slave trade.

Since those early day over 10000 people have crossed cultures and continents to share the Good News of Jesus through CMS. Importantly, they’ve been supported not simply by the CMS organisation but by the wider CMS community. In fact, for many to join CMS isn’t just a membership commitment but rather a welcome into a mission family that understands and values them and sees mission as much bigger than any human enterprise. That’s why I’m delighted by a renewed CMS emphasis on regular people putting the call into action wherever they made be.

REIMAGINING BELONGING

The development of new creative Christian communities is vital in the West for the proclamation and demonstration of the Gospel. As CMS began to encourage emerging church movements and pioneers working in the UK, we realised we needed to re-imagine and re-define what membership of CMS means. We were keen to continue to encourage all followers of Jesus to play an active role in mission both locally and globally. As we became an acknowledged community by the Church of England, CMS UK has been recognised as being a community that encourages the wider church into mission.

We wanted to renew the idea that membership in CMS means participating, praying and learning in God’s mission together – and by doing these things we grow as a true community with a contemporary purpose. Developing a missional lifestyle is key to our community and our discipleship. Whilst many of our older members radiate this practice, newer members are attracted by the offer of belonging to such an intentional mission community with a global as well as a local outlook.

ALWAYS BEST IN COMMUNITY

Community is the enabler of mission. When we’re talking about the ‘belong’ of mission, we’re not just talking about belonging to a nice social club. Mission always happens best in community. Think of the early church in Acts. Sure, there were some key leaders who played important roles, but when 3000 people came to faith, they were “added to their number” – they were welcomed into a community. And in many cases today, people come to faith and experience the richness of God’s Kingdom by being accepted within a community – oftentimes, ‘belonging’ actually happens before people come to believe in Jesus. Without a community to welcome people into, mission doesn’t happen.

Community is also the context of mission. Too often we desire to be more missional, but we can feel alone in it – honestly, it can be pretty crippling. Going out and finding ways to engage your neighbourhood by yourself can be discouraging and difficult. If it all rests of your shoulders, it often amounts to little. Mission happens best when a group of people – a ‘missional community’ if you will – has decided that together they’ll reach out to a particular location or group of people. Synergy is created by engaging together. My weaknesses are overcome by your strengths and vice versa. By working together, we can do significantly more than if each of us went about it alone. How sad is it, then, that many who are passionate about mission in our backyards feel so alone and isolated in it!

So let’s remember, we’re all called to belong to God’s family of mission.

Paul is the Director of International Mission for CMS UK. He’s previously worked as an economist, a church planter and helped lead a drug rehabilitation project in South Asia.

 

For discussion

What difference does (or would) belonging to a mission-focused community make for you?

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 belonging?

Eulogy for Ron Taylor

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Paul Cooper (NZCMS Council Chairperson) delivered the eulogy at Ron Taylor’s funeral last week. The following is adapted from what he shared.

It’s a privilege to be here on this day of sadness yet in celebration of a life that has been such a witness to Jesus Christ and a life well lived.

Ron and NZCMS.

“Following Jesus the Trailblazer” was the title Ron gave to a talk about his life and ministry to a men’s group in 2009. And while Ron may have been following Jesus his Lord and Saviour, he too was a trail blazer witnessing to God’s glory and the life-saving death of Jesus on the cross.

Ron Taylor and Barbara, were NZCMS Mission Partners in Tanzania from 1964 to 1974  along with their four daughters: Elisabeth, Katherine, Alison, Priscilla. In 1964 Ron, Barbara and family went by ship via Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth to Columbo and then Bombay and finally across to Dar-es-Salaam.

Ron was versatile. From 1964 to 1967 while initially destined to teach at the theological college, Ron was made Diocesan Secretary which involved oversite of 61 Primary and three secondary schools in a vast diocese, was also responsible for visiting and training pastors and evangelists in the villages as well as serving as the Chaplain to the Dodoma Cathedral and Msalato Girls’ School. Ron also supported the planning and construction of a new 70 bed conference centre and became its first warden.

Family was important to Ron, and family holidays were an adventure, and on occasion, a misadventure. (Thank you Elisabeth, Katherine, Alison, Priscilla for sharing some of those stories with me.)

After Home Leave and Service in NZ in mid 1967, Ron, Barbara and family returned to Tanzania to a place called Arusha, Ron to be Chaplain to an English speaking international congregation and to take up the role of Rural Dean of two northern Deaneries and support the ministries of African clergy in Swahili speaking congregations. Barbara taught at Arusha School. During his whole time in Tanzania Ron maintained a regime of theological study, and a highlight for Ron was being asked to assist at the Nairobi University Mission led by Rev Dr John Stott.

Home leave & Service came around again from the end 1971 to mid-1972. Upon returning to Tanzania and Arusha in 1972 as “Provincial Secretary of the Church of the Province of Tanzania” Ron travelled widely, and along with some colleagues prepared and published some new Swhaili and English Liturgies. Ron was the appointed Chaplain of the University of Dar-e-salaam from 1973 to August 1974. In this time Ron and the RC Chaplain designed and built an ecumenical chapel which was distinctive with African carvings on the Lord’s table and other furniture. At the end of this time Ron was also privileged to lead a team of delegates to the Congress on World Evangelisation in Lausanne.

Ron and Barbara were totally committed to the calling God had placed on their hearts to share the Good News to those who had not heard of Jesus Christ. When Ron talked with me of highlights of his time in Tanzania he spoke about about seeing people commit and come to Christ and of a growing church.

At the beginning of 1975 the family returned to New Zealand. In 1975 Ron was elected to NZCMS Council, and in 1976 to the role of Chairman of finance and buildings committee. It was at this time he also wrote up his research thesis on The Growth of Tanzanian Churches and the Aide They Received From Overseas Sources.

From 1992 until 1999 Ron took up the role of General Secretary of the Anglican Board of Missions , and during most of this time he was also the ABM representative on the NZCMS Council.

It was in this time that my family and I first met Ron. We were in South Asia for language exams and Ron was passing through on the way to a conference of some description. He took time out to take us all to a rather flash restaurant and ‘Uncle Ron,’ as he insisted the children call him, wowed our children with stories. Ron had the ability to make people feel special and his interest in us and our work at that early time of our family’s mission service was memorable and encouraging. I know we were not the only ones supported by Ron in this way.

Ron was became NZCMS Vice-President from March 2002 through to March 2007, and Ron was also NZCMS Council Chairperson from 2003-2007. I had the privilege of coming on to NZCMS Council at the start of this time and Ron always impressed me with his ability to recall names, faces and conversations, as well as the important details of Council discussions and decisions. What a great ability to bring to the role of Chairperson. Over 18 months it was Ron who coaxed me to chair different small portions of the NZCMS Council meetings. I didn’t realise at the time, but this was Ron’s succession plan and so I was mentored to be ready to follow in his footsteps.

Ron was made a NZCMS Life Member March 2008.

Ron always impressed me with his unshakable faith and belief in Jesus as Lord and Saviour, and his passion for NZCMS and Overseas Mission, especially his passion for sharing with people who did not know the Good News of God’s amazing gift of Jesus, and the availability of a living relationship with our Heavenly Father. His relationship with Jesus was deep and personal and when he sang hymns and songs of Praise to God his rich strong singing voice transported you to another more heavenly place.

Today is a sad day, but also one of celebration – we know with certainty, Ron is inside Heavens Gates and I am sure, once again Ron is singing with gusto praises to God.

Ron will be long remembered in Church Missionary Society circles and by many others who have come to know Christ for the first time and in a deeper way through his preaching and witness.

Vicar and Associate Minister Positions in Asia

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Here are two job vacancies in South East Asia. If you know of someone who might be interested in these positions, please send them this page.

All Saints Church would like to welcome a new Vicar and Associate Minister to their team. We are a vibrant church, serving the English speaking Christian community of our large South East Asian city. Our ±250 members come from different countries, cultures and denominations, yet together we serve Christ and each other by “knowing and making known the love of Jesus.” We offer a wonderful congregation with which to be a part, with salary plus benefits including housing.

Key responsibilities:

To lead and pastor one of the two Church centres and the congregations who meet there. To work as part of a Ministry Team and for the Vicar, to lead this team To disciple our church members and evangelise other English-speakers To further develop our small group ministry To strengthen our witness in the English language schools and this community For the Vicar, to lead the church in the further development of the church land

Essential qualities:

Strong English speaker and must be an ordained Anglican Priest Ability to work as part of a team Leadership and pastoral experience, cross cultural and multi-denominational skills Willingness to come to South East Asia through a mission agency

 

For more details please email office@nzcms.org.nz

Short-Term Mission Impossible? (Issue 28)

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By Mark Barnard.

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

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

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

SHORT-TERM GAINS? LONG TERM PAINS?

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

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

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

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

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

MUTUALITY AND MISSION

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

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

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

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

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

Perhaps, if:

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

Then maybe.

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

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

 

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

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

 

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