Jairus Robb

Big Walls and Small Walls

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Martin, a Youth Pastor in Christchurch, reflects on where he sees the need for the Gospel here in New Zealand. I came to New Zealand about 5 years ago. Before that, my experience of this beautiful country was limited to a high school case study about cattle and sheep farming for geography class. It’s safe to say that never in my thoughts could I have envisioned living here. However, as I’ve come to realise and accept, God’s plans and my plans are very different, and it usually works out for me if I abandon my plans and follow his. Growing up, I always knew I was going to be a lawyer. This position was emphasized for me in high school, because all the teachers talked about was excelling and joining the “Big four” professions, i.e. Lawyer, Doctor, Engineer and Pilot. It was while studying Law in university, in my third year, that I specifically heard the voice of God calling me into full time ministry. The first time I ignored him for two reasons – I did not know if it was my own thoughts playing a trick on me. And, secondly, I was enjoying law school, so why would I quit and do something different? Thankfully, God did not give up on me and, in my fourth year, he came calling again. This time, he’d been working in my heart and I said yes. After graduation, I started working at Nairobi Chapel as an intern. The plan was to do the internship program for two years then go out and plant a church somewhere in Nairobi, or around Africa. About a year in however, St Augustine’s Anglican Church from Christchurch came calling. How did I know it was God’s plan? I wasn’t sure I’d be able to adjust to the culture and, even if I could, I would never get the documentation required. However, it was God who had called me, so that process, although long and tedious, went smoothly and I became the youth pastor at St Augustine’s Anglican Church. This was the beginning of a deep learning process for me.The Kiwi CultureThe first thing I realised about this community is that people were friendly, but without any depth or commitment to the friendship until they knew who you were and they felt they could trust you. This is what I call the ‘small wall’ and the ‘big wall’. In many cultures, especially in Africa and America, if the community does not like your ministry or presence, they will make their feelings known very quickly. So you’re under no illusion as to where you stand. You immediately experience a ‘big wall’, and you have to start bringing it down brick by brick. When the big wall is down, people can trust you and mission becomes easier. Generally, I’ve found this can take six months to a year. In the kiwi context however, it’s the other way round. Everyone seems friendly and happy, giving you the illusion that everything is working well and things are good. But no one trusts you for a long time, until you have proved your worth. This process can take between 1-2 years depending on how consistent you are in interacting with people. However, underneath the clean and neat exterior that forms the thread of our society here in New Zealand is a hurting generation that needs a saviour more than it realises. This Kiwi community needs healing, the healing that Jesus Christ himself can provide, and the confidence that comes from believing in a saviour who loved humanity, not only in word and thought, but through action. This is what I’ve discovered when I started to scratch the surface. Our society is suffering from many things, but I see two big problems. A Life About OurselvesWe are individualistic and are struggling to grow the value of community and togetherness. But because we look like we have it all together, those people who are struggling are repelled by us. The irony of this is that not one of us has it together, yet we drive each other away from ourselves, and from real and authentic community. Reducing GodThe second problem is that we often reduce God to an understandable and malleable concept. Our God has become too small and manageable. By doing this we dethrone him, thinking that we’re autonomous and can do all things right in our own eyes without any consequences. The result of this way of life is that our mental health suffers, especially when we discover we cannot do it on our own, and we end up feeling even more inadequate. These two issues become a vicious cycle hidden under nicely mowed lawns, picket fences, manicured nails and fancy clothes.What Does Mission Look Like?These are the core reasons why I think New Zealand needs missionaries, people who are totally sold out for the Gospel, ready to die to self and proclaim Jesus as king in their lives. People willing to be in an authentic community of believers to grow and be known by others in order to attract and not repel. Henri Nowen, a Dutch Catholic priest and theologian, articulated it well in his book “Out of Solitude: Three meditations of the Christian Life”. “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.” In New Zealand today, mission is denying ourselves and putting away our inclinations of individualism, consumerism and anything else that the western world offers as an alternative to real authentic community. We need to pick up our cross daily and realise that we’re all fallen people. We’re not mistakes needing correction. We’re sinners needing a saviour. A saviour who tells us that he is strong when we are weak. Finally, mission is following Jesus. This means prayerfully and intentionally gravitating towards those in our society that are looking for an authentic relationship, first with others and, even if they do not realise it, with Jesus Christ who understands their deepest hurts and pain. This type of mission cannot be fulfilled within a year or two years. New Zealand needs people who are willing to commit at least seven to ten years of their life to intentional communities that are full of life, love and grace. I finish with the words of Jesus in Matthew 9:37-38. “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest”. There are many ways you can spread the Gospel, but perhaps the first most important question would be to ask the Lord of the harvest Lord, “What are you doing within me and around me, and how can I be part of it?”

Re-thinking Our Mission Misconceptions

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NZCMS Mission Enablers, Guy and Summer Benton, reflect on the misconceptions the New Zealand young adult community has about mission and what they have been doing in response. A Valuable GenerationWhile our family lived as long-term missionaries in Cambodia for eight years we learned a lot about what mission could look like in reality. We didn’t realise that some of the preconceptions we held about mission would be challenged.Where do the ideas come from about what missionary work might be like? Is it through one-off missionary talks? Is it through history lessons at school? Is it through scrolling Facebook feeds and seeing youth mission trips? At the end of 2017 we moved our family from Cambodia to New Zealand where we took on a role as Mission Enablers with NZCMS, working primarily with young adults. Through this role we’ve been surprised to see how many misconceptions the younger generation in New Zealand has regarding mission. And these misconceptions can often become a massive barrier to their interest in and willingness to participate in mission. As a response to this we’ve developed a new gap year called Better World which strives to combat many of these same misbeliefs. Our hope is to show our younger generation that they can not only participate in mission but that their presence in those spaces is incredibly valuable. Young people are actually striving for significance and a way to engage in God’s work in the world. But sadly the barriers they have around mission often stops them from seeking out these opportunities and recognising that they may even be called to mission themselves.Mission Misconception: EvangelismOne of the misconceptions we’ve encountered lies in the role of evangelism in mission. Many young people have communicated to us that they think evangelism means only preaching and teaching.  Evangelism is then often reduced down to single events of preaching the Gospel, the cross and the resurrection across cultures, often in clunky and awkward meetings with strangers. While we know it does include those very important things, it is also much more than that. Due to many dynamics that are present in our younger generation, they often shy away from verbal evangelism for a variety of reasons including fear of repeating mistakes of the past such as colonialism, manipulation techniques and preaching a fear-based Gospel. There is also fear of appearing to embrace a spiritual paradigm that is dominant to other paradigms in the culture. When society is saying “There is no one way and all ways are fine” then it’s incredibly hard for a young person to declare that Jesus is the only way. Lastly, there can be a lack of discipleship which often results in no real conviction that God is actually good news that’s transforming their own life. This misconception means that you have a whole generation of young adults cringing away from any idea of sharing the Gospel. Mission Misconception: Traditional RolesAnother misconception often held by the younger generation is that to be a missionary you have to have life aspirations that fit into ‘traditional’ missionary roles of teacher, preacher, doctor, or church planter. These misconceptions are often the result of exposure they may have had to other missionaries and the type of work they’re doing. If young people don’t feel called to a more traditional vocational ministry then they often don’t think they could be called into mission. That couldn’t be further from the truth, especially today. The modern mission field is filled with missionaries who are business people, lawyers, IT specialists, lawmakers, human rights activists, engineers, and artists. It’s arguable that what the world needs most is Christians who are bold in their faith and offering their unique gifts for the work God is doing in the world. We are the body of Christ and we all have a part to play in God’s Kingdom work.The Temptation of Shallow MissionsIn addition to these misconceptions, in a society built on fast-paced answers and instant gratification, there is a risk that a young person who is passionate to make a difference in the world is looking to altruistic volunteering short-term opportunities as the answer for that. Further to this, the explosion of connection and networking through the information age has created a dynamic where young people are bombarded with information about things happening in the world and, while they may feel that they’re able to engage in issues they’re passionate about, this risks a glassy-view of helping without much depth or commitment. Also, if they do choose to participate in mission work, they don’t necessarily know what it takes to thrive in that work long-term and, as a result of their individualist culture, they often go about it alone rather than surrounded by a community of support.Better World These are just a few of the core tenants behind the vision for NZCMS’ Better World Gap Year. This program strives to combat these misconceptions by taking young people on a ten-month journey of exposure to what God is doing, both around the world and in New Zealand, and walking with them as they discern how their personal gifts and passions may intersect that work. Our first year of Better World participants have  returned from five weeks in Fiji where they’ve already learned so much about what serving God and sharing their journey authentically with other people can look like in the world around them. And it’s an exciting place to be in as we watch God take hold of these young lives and set them on a path to serve him in the unique way that he created them to serve.The Better World programme has recently begun taking in applications for their 2020 intake. To learn more go here or, if you want to download an application, click here.

Could you be our next National Director?

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Recently, we announced that our long time National Director of ten years, Steve Maina, will be taking up a new assignment as Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Nelson. We’re very excited for him entering into this new season and look forward to seeing all the things God does through him and his family in this position, though, with a bit of sadness as well at the prospect of him leaving us. As of now, the NZCMS board is now taking in applications for a new National Director. For more information regarding this role please click here.

Reflections and responses to March 15 attacks

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After the attacks that Christchurch and its Muslim community experienced, there has been a need to process all that this attack means for the future. And, perhaps more importantly, it has brought up many questions for how we, as New Zealand Christians, should respond.Nick Laing is a CMS Mission Partner in Uganda and has written on how we can respond to Jacinda Ardern’s slogan “This is not us” in a balanced and honest way that will continue to deepen our conversations. To read his article, click here. Rosie Fyfe was a Mission Partner with CMS for a number of years in Egypt and is now partnering with us as our Intercultural Communities Enabler based in Wellington. She has a unique perspective on how we can build bridges with our Muslim brothers and sisters and she hopes her article will be an extra resource for you as you reflect on what you can do. Click here to read her article. We pray that these insights will be helpful to you and will continue to deepen the conversations and actions that need to happen following the events of the last couple of weeks.God bless.

Hear the story of our newest Mission Partners to Papua New Guinea

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John and Elaine moved to Papua New Guinea two weeks ago. Elaine writes a bit of their story and what they will be involved in there. John has just finished working as a building tutor at Ara Institute of Technology, where he’s been since 1985. Over twenty years ago he took three years sabbatical to work in Mendi in the Southern Highlands, Papua New Guinea in the early 1990’s. When we left there with our four sons, we said “Well, that’s done, goodbye PNG!” Now we’re saying, “Who would have thought we’d go back?!” We always thought we’d like to volunteer around retirement age but this was just slightly sooner than we imagined. Now we have four grandsons and will have no family with us at Kapuna. We feel God has really set our path straight before us with support coming in from Gulf Christian Services, Hope Hornby Presbyterian Church and NZCMS.I’ve worked as a Midwife and Registered Nurse and have just finished work in Christchurch. In Kapuna, I’ll be working to help with health education and anything else along those lines that is required and John is going to assist in hospital extensions, renovations and various other projects around the hospital.Please Keep John and Elaine in your prayers as they settle into their new location and work in Kapuna, Papua New Guinea.

Singles & Community

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NZCMS Board member, Ian Daily, reflects on how those gifted with singleness find and belong to an intimate, fulfilling and outward looking community. “Don’t expect us to be your friends – we’re very busy people!” The words of this thoughtless and unfeeling remark left me stunned and without words for a minute. Here I was, returning home to New Zealand after 21 years away – a single person without a spouse with whom to share the challenges of adjusting to a new life in an environment that was now strange and unfamiliar. I suddenly felt very alone. The family members and friends I’d had when I’d left so long before had all moved on with their lives and I realised that my network of relationships had to some degree unraveled. There were now few common interests, and not many could relate to my overseas experience and weren’t very interested anyway. I needed a new community into which I could be welcomed, where I could find a place to give and receive, and where I could serve God in a new context. And I was now well and truly middle-aged!Of course, all this had happened in reverse 20 years earlier when I’d arrived in South America, but I was young then and was invigorated by discovering how to live in a new culture and learn a new language. There were quite a few other single Mission Partners (as well as welcoming missionary families) and friendships were quickly formed, many of which have endured to this day. There was an instant missionary community we fitted into and we forged friendships with many of the local people.The number of single people in overseas mission was, and still is, quite striking. At present 30% of NZCMS’s Mission Partners are singles. This is a far higher proportion of single adults in this age group than you will find in the general population. What would overseas mission look like were it not for single women who have been open to serving God in this way throughout the generations?The blessings and dangers of a single life We all start our lives as singles, and as God’s children we are to accept that gift. For many, there comes the opportunity to exchange the gift of singleness for the gift of marriage and they are to embrace that gift as God’s calling on their life. For the rest of us, we still have the gift that God means us to have. Some will go on to take vows of celibacy but most of us are “unintentional” singles who “ended up this way” but who are to continue embracing the gift God has given. Singleness often brings loneliness and a lack of human intimacy, sometimes a sense of not fitting in and an unwarranted sense of failure. But it brings freedom and opportunities that couples often don’t have. I’m not sure I would have visited more than 70 countries on mostly work assignments had I not been single! And, for many, a deeper level of intimacy with God is found. It also brings dangers of self-indulgence and of shutting other people out. The bottom line is that we must echo Paul’s words in Philippians 4. “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation… I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”So what can we singles do to find a sense of community? Looking back over the 20 years since I returned home, I have found the following strategies helpful.Maintaining family networks while awayI have literally dozens of cousins and we have reunions every few years. This engenders a sense of belonging and reinforces a sense of personal identity. I have people out there who belong to me, and I to them. Get to know them again and strengthen old ties.Building relationshipsA place of work is a great place to build new relationships. The same applies to where you live – getting to know neighbours and getting involved in local activities. This has certainly been true for me, living in a community of 59 families, and now co-chairing the committee that oversees the care and maintenance of our homes. Many nationalities live here and I can even speak Spanish to my Colombian neighbour!VolunteeringEvery Friday I drive the buggy at Selwyn Village for those with mobility issues. This has allowed me to get to know a totally different group of people, both staff and residents, and provides me with moments of ministry and a window into a completely different world.Being involved in a faith communityDespite the dispiriting start to this article, my closest and most faithful friends and prayer partners did surround me with encouragement and support. I also joined a small and warm congregation, which incidentally has many singles, including the “once-were-married” and the widowed. Very quickly a sense of belonging and community developed and this is where I felt the strongest sense of community as I became involved in the activities and ministry of the parish.Those who have never married are not to be considered objects of pity, suspicion or condescension. Their life has simply taken a different path – they have received a different gift in life from the majority. They have been granted freedom and time to devote to Christian ministry as the Apostle Paul noted as being one of the advantages of singleness (I Corinthians 7). And many have discovered a special intimacy with their Lord and the joy of being able to channel their reserves of love to the widest possible number of people around them. Let us bless God who gives us the grace that goes with each and every gift he bestows!Questions to considerIn a society that is so focused on romantic relationships as being the pathway to true happiness and fulfillment, in what ways can singleness be viewed as an alternative model of human completeness? How can love of others, as opposed to love of the human “significant other”, help us to understand the character and breadth of God’s love?What ideas do you have about how the gifts and experience of single people (whether they have overseas mission experience or not) could be harnessed to enhance the ministry and outreach of local faith communities?  Most churches have significant numbers of ‘home-aloners’ in their congregations. Many will have felt that their networks of relationships have unraveled over the years, or have worries about living alone, especially if they are older. What more can your faith community do to strengthen a sense of community, belonging and care?

Announcing the new Bishop-Elect, Steve Maina!

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As Chairperson of NZCMS I am writing to you as NZCMS supporters to inform you that this morning it was announced that our National Director, Steve Maina, has been named Bishop-Elect of the Anglican Diocese of Nelson.I know you will join me in congratulating Steve on this appointment and we wish him and Watiri every blessing as they take up new responsibilities and ministries in Nelson. We also wish to thank God for the immense contribution Steve has made to the life of NZCMS for more than ten years. It is expected that his ordination as a bishop will take place later this year at a time to be determined.  Please pray for us all as the first steps are taken to search for a new National Director, and especially for Steve and the Nelson Diocese in this period of transition.   Best regards, Paul Cooper, Chairperson NZCMSPlease follow the link below for an interview with Steve about this new transition. http://anglicantaonga.org.nz/news/tikanga_pakeha/steve

Job opportunity: Donor Support & Office Administration

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Are you a strong administrator who is looking for opportunities to put your skills to work? Have you ever wanted to have a role within an international mission organisation? This job opportunity is a unique opening that allows you to connect the nuts and bolts of administration with the big picture of what God is doing around the globe! We are looking for someone who is competent in managing donor support and office administration to join our team. The New Zealand Church Missionary Society (NZCMS) is a Christian mission organisation that currently equips and supports 37 Mission Partners in 14 overseas countries and in mobilising New Zealanders for mission. You will be the first point of contact to the office. In addition you provide a vital link by engaging with donors and churches to ensure accurate processing of donations. Please download the Job Description here for a detailed description of the role.Please send your applications to janet@nzcms.org.nz.  Applications close 28 February 2019

Meet the Better World team!

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Our Gap Year program is called Better World. The vision is to equip a whole generation of young people to bring the light of the Gospel into the suffering of the world around us. Our team for 2019 consist of six participants and two leaders who will be living in community together for the next ten months. Meet them below and join us in prayer as they undertake this life changing journey. If you want to know more about Better World, click here.

Our Intern, Hannah, leaves for Fiji today!

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Over the past few months, I have been learning a lot about myself, mission and God through the internship program with NZCMS as a part of my preparing to go to Fiji. I found myself reflecting and reminding myself that God is just as much as in the small stuff as He is in the big picture. While spending five months in Fiji, is a pretty major life event, I am realising that much of my day will not look that different from my current day. I will still be interacting with other teachers and children. Reminding myself that even when I am changing nappies God is still working and moving. As part of the training, I also took a deeper look at understanding what is brokenness and poverty. I found many similarities between what the course was saying and New Zealand’s Early Childhood Curriculum Te Whāriki. In that it is important to view from a holistic view, in recognising that poverty is more than just a lack of material items.  So in order to support people we need to empower them to make a difference, which all comes down to strong relationships.I leave to Fiji today, 28 January. Please pray for:·         The final stages of preparations·         Safe travel ·         That I settle in quickly ·          The children, Sisters and staff of St. Christopher’s home·         For my family and friends in New Zealand