Jairus Robb

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

Posted on

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

Toward True Globalism in World Missions

Posted on
CROSS-CULTURAL WISDOM FOR A POLYCENTRIC MISSIONS REALITY

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

Southward turn

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

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

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

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

Korean missionary movement

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

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

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

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

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

THE KOREAN CHURCH IS NOW AN IMPORTANT SOURCE OF MISSION RESOURCING.

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

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

Polycentric expansion

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

Missiological implications

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

INCARNATIONAL MINISTRY IN THIS GLOBAL AGE REQUIRES A DEEP COMMITMENT TO A RESPECTFUL MINDSET.

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

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

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

ASKING QUESTIONS INSTEAD OF ASSUMING COMMON GROUND IS CROSS-CULTURAL WISDOM.

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

Endnotes Dana L. Robert, ‘Shifting Southward: Global Christianity Since 1945’, International Bulletin of Missionary ResearchVol. 24, No. 2 (New Haven: Overseas Ministries Study Center, 2000), 57. Larry D. Pate, From Every People: A Handbook of Two-Thirds World Missions with Directory/Histories/Analysis(Monrovia: MARC, 1989). Larry D. Pate, ‘The Changing Balance in Global Mission’, International Bulletin of Missionary Research Vol. 19, No. 2 (New Haven: Overseas Ministries Study Center, 1991), 59. Michael Jaffarian, ‘Are There More Non-Western Missionaries than Western Missionaries?’, International Bulletin of Missionary Research Vol. 28, No. 3 (New Haven: Overseas Ministries Study Center, 2004), 131. Ibid., 132. Ibid.; Enoch Wan, Michael Pocock eds. Missions from the Majority World: Progress, Challenges, and Case Studies. E-Book (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009), Loc 168. Marlin L. Nelson, Directory of Korean Missionaries and Mission Societies (Seoul: Asian Center for Theological Studies and Mission, 1979), 43. Steve Sang-Cheol Moon, ‘Missions from Korea 2018: Mission Education’, International Bulletin of Mission Research Vol. 42, No. 2 (OMSC & SAGE, 2018), 171. Steve Sang-Cheol Moon, ‘Missions from Korea 2013: Microtrends and Finance’, International Bulletin of Missionary Research Vol. 37, No. 2 (New Haven: OMSC, 2013), 96-97. Andrew F. Walls, The Cross-Cultural Process in Christian History: Studies in the Transmission and Appropriation of Faith (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2005), 13. Ibid., 13, 45. Editor’s Note: See article by Allen Yeh, entitled, ‘The Future of Mission is from Everywhere to Everywhere’, in January 2018 issue of Lausanne Global Analysis https://www.lausanne.org/content/lga/2018-01/future-mission-everyone-everywhereEditor’s Note: See article by Ben Thomas, entitled, ‘How Can We Finally Reach the Unreached?’, in March 2018 issue of Lausanne Global Analysis https://www.lausanne.org/content/lga/2018-03/can-finally-reach-unreached

A Tribute to Reverend Gerald Clark

Posted on

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

Connecting With the New Global Youth Culture

Posted on

This article originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of the Lausanne Global Analysis and is published here with permission. To receive this free bimonthly publication from the Lausanne Movement, subscribe online at lausanne.org/analysis. A recent study in the United Kingdom showed that 71 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 24 now identify as having no religious beliefs of any kind.[1]According to Operation World, a growing majority of European countries, including France, the Czech Republic, and Spain, are composed of one percent or fewer evangelical Christians.[2] According to the book Churchless, ‘More than one-third of America’s adults are essentially secular in belief and practice.’ This means there are approximately 156 million Americans who are not engaged with a church.’[3] Much of the formerly ‘Christian’ world is leaving its roots behind and is dominated by secularism (death to religion) and relativism (death to truth). The Bible is no longer considered the moral compass; rather, everyone is free to decide for themselves what is right and wrong. Young people see the church as irrelevant to their day-to-day lives: a dead, empty tradition of the past. And secularization, a trend closely tied to the globalization of culture among urban youth, is not limited to post-Christian regions like Europe or the USA. It is impacting cultures in urban centers of every region of the world, including the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. This next generation, connected by consumerism, social media, and the entertainment industry, forms the largest global culture ever to exist. Throughout the Middle East, for example, an entirely new generation influenced by global secularism has been emerging. This is a generation well versed in modern technology, and highly engaged in global music and art trends. In spite of the political and social turmoil that have characterized the region, these young people are energetic, highly innovative, and creative. At the same time, they have become increasingly suspicious of traditional cultural and religious values, as they aspire for change and a new way of living. Presenting both a challenge and an opportunity in terms of evangelism, this emerging culture calls for new missional models and approaches, as traditional efforts in this region have tended to focus on the values and worldview of the previous generation. We live in a time of unprecedented connectedness. Mainstream media, global economic strategies, and, above all, the Internet have eroded cultural boundaries. Youth culture is more homogenous than ever, leading to a truly globalized youth culture. At the heart of any culture are the core ideas that form its view of the world. For the globalized youth culture, these core ideas are secularism, relativism, and tolerance. SecularismIt is important to understand that secularism is not the total absence of God. Secularism is more accurately characterized by the marginalization and privatization of spirituality.[4] Young people are not consciously rejecting God per se; they just do not think about it. Appropriately, these post-God young people have been dubbed ‘the nones’—a generation without any religious affiliations. Religion and Christianity are irrelevant to their day-to-day lives. At best, they see Jesus as a good person or teacher, and, at worst, as a symbol of repression and bigotry. Just over 60 percent of Millennials consider Christianity to be ‘judgmental,’ and 64 percent say that the term ‘anti-gay’ ‘best describes most churches today.’[5] False perceptions of God leading to the mass secularization of young people is perhaps the greatest challenge to the church today. Not only has religion been relegated to the sidelines of societal relevance, but it also has become something strictly private. RelativismThe second defining worldview of secular culture is relativism. Relativism is the idea that there is no transcendent truth and therefore no universal morality. Concepts such as right and wrong, justice and duty, are social constructs and ultimately illusory. With traditional ethics swept aside, relativism is an absolute pillar of the globalized youth culture. ‘You have your opinion and I have mine’ is the slogan of our day. It does not have to make sense; just do not violate it.Ironically, the only truth that is not relative is that truth is relative. Secular people have no problem embracing two mutually exclusive perspectives, as long as it serves the way they want to live. It is the ultimate ‘have your cake and eat it too’ philosophy. Relativism has become a dominant force entrenched in the minds of young people.

Allan Bloom, in The Closing of the American Mind, points out the following:“There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative. If this belief if put to the test, one can count on the students’ reaction – they will be uncomprehending. That anyone should regard the proposition as not self – evident astonishes them, as though he were calling into question 2+2=4.[6]“If followed to its logical end, moral relativism would lead to unmitigated evil and a total collapse of society, and yet this has not happened. This is because no one lives as if relativism were true. Notions of right and wrong, duty, honor, and justice are familiar themes in entertainment and pop culture, speaking to the larger rejection of relativism as a practical way to live. Even secular writers seem to agree. Consider the thoughts of Helen Rittelmeyer, writer for The American Spectator, who says, “Overprocessed chard – slayers like Katy Perry and Ke$ha do not act as if they want to be judged by the brutal honesty of their self – expression, and neither do mannered indie darlings like the Decemberists. As for cinema, anti – heroes are out and heroes are back in. Virtue, authority, and law and order are all in fashion, as the bank accounts of Chris Nolan, J.K. Rowling, and Marvel Comics will attest. [7] “It is almost impossible to find someone truly committed to moral relativism in Hollywood or elsewhere. What you find in abundance, however, are people who say that morals are relative and yet live as though they are not. Secular young people have not abandoned morals and duties; rather, they have rejected traditional moral anchors and reference points, creating a value system of their own. Jonathan Merritt argues in The Atlantic that ‘instead of being centered on gender roles, family values, respect for institutions and religious piety, it [the modern notion of morality] orbits around values like tolerance and inclusion. This new code has created a paradoxical moment in which all is tolerated except the intolerant and all included except the exclusive.’[8] Relativism is an important, unifying characteristic of secular young people in theory, not in practice. Though it has not produced the moral monsters and philosophical nihilists that it should have, it has given rise to another foundational belief of secular young people: tolerance. ToleranceWe are told to be open-minded, and this sounds noble on the surface. Every idea, belief, and view is equal and should be respected by all people everywhere. It does not take a professional philosopher to see the self-refuting nature of this ideology. Tolerance is the logical extension of relativism, and it shares in its incoherence. After all, demanding the tolerance of all views is not very tolerant. As D.A. Carson points out, ‘It [open-mindedness] no longer means that you may or may not have strong views yet remain committed to listening honestly to countervailing arguments. Rather, it means you are dogmatically committed to the view that all convictions that any view whatsoever is wrong are improper and narrow-minded.’[9] The best form of tolerance lies in the ability or willingness to listen to people with beliefs and opinions that differ from your own. In the past, people were sacred, while ideas were up for debate. Today, tolerance guards ideas and attacks people. This has created a climate of conformity. People no longer have the freedom to think critically about issues and come to their own conclusions, for fear of being rejected or bullied. Tolerance suddenly is not so tolerant. In a culture dominated by secularism, relativism, and tolerance (at least as it is liberally defined and applied), it is no wonder that Christianity, with its exclusive truth claims and absolutes, is incompatible with secular culture. More and more young people reject Christianity because to follow Jesus is to swim against the current of our times—the road is too narrow, the cost too high. As followers of Jesus, it is clear that we need to respond—but how? 1. Respond by developing authentic relationships. Get out of our Christian ghetto, develop authentic relationships with unbelievers, ask them questions, and really listen. Isolation is our enemy. We need to reintegrate into secular culture and eliminate the superficial differences that keep us isolated and irrelevant. Jesus’s life demonstrates a delicate balance: being part of culture while not being polluted by it. 2. Respond by gently challenging presuppositions. Help them see how believing in God is rationally sound, historically accurate, and philosophically congruent. Demonstrate that, unlike secular humanism, our faith is internally consistent and corresponds with how we really experience life. 3. Respond by seeking God. Pray like you have never prayed before. Let it disrupt your schedule. Ask for unreasonable things and demand that God move in power in and through your life, and do not stop asking until he does. 4. Respond by stepping through fear. Boldly preach the cross, take Holy Spirit–led risks, and do not wait. We may feel as though we have all the time in the world, but we do not. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 5:15–16, ‘Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil’ (NIV). Time is short, and the needs are great. It is time to act!

Endnotes

Tom Powell, “More than half of Britons ‘have no religion’, survey reveals,” Evening Standard, September 4, 2017, https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/more-than-half-of-britons-have-no-religion-survey-reveals-a3626896.htmlJason Mandryk, “France,” Operation World, 2018, http://www.operationworld.org/country/fran/owtext.html; Jason Mandryk, “Czech Republic,” Operation World, 2018, http://www.operationworld.org/country/czec/owtext.html; Jason Mandryk, “Spain,” Operation World, 2018, http://www.operationworld.org/country/spai/owtext.htmlGeorge Barna and David Kinnaman, Churchless (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Momentum, 2014), 16. D. A. Carson, The Gagging of God, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 37. Dr. Alex McFarland, “Ten reasons millennials are backing away from God and Christianity,” Fox News, 2017, https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/ten-reasons-millennials-are-backing-away-from-god-and-christianityAllan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind, (New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1987), 19. Helen Rittelmeyer, “Moral Relativism, R.I.P.,” The American Spectator, 2012, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/03/the-death-of-moral-relativism/475221/Jonathan Merritt, “The Death of Moral Relativism,” The Atlantic, 2016, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/03/the-death-of-moral-relativism/475221/D. A. Carson, The Gagging of God, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 35. 

Meet our new National Director: Rosie Fyfe

Posted on

It is NZCMS Trust Board’s privilege and pleasure to announce Rosie Fyfe as the New Zealand Church Missionary Society’s new National Director, taking up her appointment on July 22nd.One of the most striking features of this appointment is that Rosie already embodies NZCMS’s missional DNA, having worked for five years in Egypt and understanding what it means to be a Mission Partner and to live cross-culturally.  While living in Cairo she was the Director of the Diocesan Partnership Office, responsible for building partnerships to support the ministries of the Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa, a large diocese which includes eight countries. This involved her in the planning and implementation of health, education, theological, interfaith, and community development projects, as well as communicating what the Church was doing in Egypt. Prior to becoming a NZCMS Mission Partner, Rosie graduated from Victoria University of Wellington with an honours degree in History and Statistics. Recruited as part of a graduate leadership development programme, she then worked for several years at Statistics New Zealand, including leading a project that developed New Zealand’s first official measures of sustainable development.After completing her time in Egypt, Rosie continued her studies in the USA. She gained a Master’s degree in Church History and Theology at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, an evangelical seminary in the Anglican tradition that aims to form Christian leaders for mission. Founded by a CMS Australia missionary, Trinity continues to base its vision on the mission principles first expressed by John Venn in 1799 in England at the beginning of CMS’s history. Rosie returned to New Zealand at the end of 2018, and took up a role in the Intercultural Communities project, a partnership between the Diocese of Wellington and NZCMS. She currently lives in the Community of the Transfiguration, a missional community with rhythms of prayer, hospitality, and outreach to Victoria University, connected to St Michael’s Anglican Church in Kelburn, Wellington. Rosie seeks to be involved in mission wherever she is, and is passionate about the Church reaching out beyond its walls to show God’s love. Living in Egypt during two revolutions and the Arab Spring, she witnessed the way that the Church in Egypt continued to reach out in love and serve their neighbours even during challenging times. Over the years, Rosie has been involved in a number of community ministries in Wellington, including outreach to international students, community dinners in inner-city Wellington, and refugee resettlement. She has been actively involved in the life of St Michael’s through leading services, preaching and leading the global missions group. Rosie loves to get out into the great outdoors of New Zealand whenever she can. Rosie’s life has been immersed in outreach and mission – she has lived and breathed it.  She brings gifts of communication, wide cultural understanding, strategic leadership and team management skills.  She has vision and theological depth, and we look forward to ways in which God will use her to grow His Kingdom in the coming months and years.  As she anticipates her new responsibilities, Rosie feels honoured to be part of the NZCMS story in Aotearoa New Zealand and is excited to serve NZCMS in this role.We would value your prayers as Rosie prepares to take up this important role.

Big Walls and Small Walls

Posted on

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

Posted on

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.

Reflections and responses to March 15 attacks

Posted on

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

Posted on

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

Posted on

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?