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From the Editor (Issue 27)

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Does God care about his creation? Should we? They’re questions many Christians struggle to answer. Perhaps we’ve been told – directly or indirectly – that environmentalism isn’t important, that our mission is about getting people into heaven (and maybe looking after them during this life too).

The ‘5 Marks of Mission’ keep our view of mission balanced: it involves evangelism, discipleship, compassion, social justice and creation care. But we like to prioritise lists like these, treating them as distinct items and then ranking their importance. Maybe you’d put social justice on top. Or evangelism. Or discipleship. Yet, reality isn’t that clear-cut. We may have identified 5 Marks, but in practice they always overlap and intersect and complement. They are intrinsically interwoven. That means creation care can’t be put at the bottom of our list as an ‘optional extra.’ If we remove it from our mission efforts we hurt our witness to a God who loves his world, our shaping of holistic disciples, our ability to help the needy, and our voice as we challenge unjust structures.

This issue of Intermission explores creation care, sustainability and mission. For some, this will be a challenging topic. For others, realizing that creation care is something God’s people are to value – indeed, something that God values! – may be very healing.

Sending Mail to the Wrong Address

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You can’t ‘do mission’ without knowing your context. And unfortunately we Christians don’t always understand our own culture very well. It’s been hard for us to keep up in the “post age”: post-modern, post-Christian, post-colonial, post-postal service (almost!). Bishop Justin Duckworth recently said that the church is “sending mail to the wrong address”; the culture has moved on, but we still talk, act and do-church in ways relevant to a past era.

Justin has a gift of being able to name where New Zealand is at, and in this recent video at Laidlaw that’s precisely what he does. It’s long, we thoroughly encourage you to crack out the popcorn and give it a watch!

One year on

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It’s a big day for our little family. One year ago, just before 5am, Mari leapt out of bed. Waters had broken! This was 5 weeks before Jacob was due, so we were certainly not expecting this to be happening so soon. Perhaps ironically, on our to-do list the day before was “pack hospital bag,” but we’d decided to do it later because we just didn’t need it so early. (In fact, when Mari told me the baby was coming, in a doze I essentially told her I didn’t believe her and that we should go back to sleep.)

Once we realised that this was actually happening, we jumped out of bed, called the mid-wife, rushed to get changed, and then ran frantically in circles trying to gather everything we’d need for the hospital. We couldn’t help but laugh at ourselves.

I guess that’s a fair description of a first year of being parents. Unprepared yet prepared. Running frantically in circles yet being able to laugh in the midst of it all. … and lots of waking early in the morning.

So, this time one year ago we were all at the hospital. Jacob was downstairs in an incubator but was relaxed and happy – and a big boy for being 5 weeks early! Mari was in the recovery room under a warming blanket, feeling dizzy and getting her temperature up – she had reacted to some antibiotics and went quite delirious and was unable to see for a while. (She was also anticipating the many trays of sushi she’d be brought throughout the day, as she couldn’t eat it during pregnancy). I was running up and down between Mari and Jacob, taking photos and videos so Mari could see him. (Because she’d gone delirious, she had no recollection of seeing him earlier). It wasn’t until that evening she was able to see him properly for the first time.

Despite quite an eventful arrival, things quickly settled. Jacob was able to come home with us after just two weeks and we began the process of adjusting to life as a little family. He’s developed rapidly too – it’s been a dangerously quick transition from being immobile, to rolling, to sitting, to army-crawling, to crawling, to standing up against things. It turns out that ‘baby proofing’ is an art form that takes a while to learn! Jacob’s proven to be a very social little man, and seems to see himself as a ‘mentor’ to the younger kids he meets, teaching them important life lessons like how to clap. He loves having in depth conversations with whoever he meets (despite not being able to talk), and will happily spend time with new people.

In fact, as a little birthday surprise, we wonder if he said his first words this morning. I’ve been working hard to encourage his choice of first word (“daddy”), but it seems that hasn’t worked. This morning he appeared to be repeating after us the words “tickle tickle.”

Today we wanted to say a big thank you to the whole CMS family, for your prayers, your encouragement, your thoughts (and your patience!). Thank you! May God lead us as we discover what it means to be a family on mission together.

May’s Missional Movements

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A big congratulations to Heather Fraser (NZCMS Church & Supporter Relations) who married John McCall on April 30.

The new Council was announced at the March AGM: Paul Cooper, Ian Dally, Zane, Pane Kawhia, Graeme Mitchell, Anne Segedin and Joanna Frampton. We give thanks for this group of dedicated people.

During April Jonathan Hicks made an unexpected  brief visit to NZ for medical reasons. The results of his trip were positive, both medically and with good connections with some churches and supporters

Steve Maina (National Director) and his family returned to NZ at the end of April.

 

We’ve recently launched a new website for the Haerenga Mission Internship

Moving forward with Haerenga

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You’ll be interested to know how our Haerenga Mission Internship is progressing. Last year we evaluated and reviewed the programme, and we’ve emerged with something exciting that we hope will produce long lasting fruit. What we offered previously was good, but it wasn’t so much an internship as a ‘gap year’ programme. It’s now been reshaped as an actual mission apprenticeship, where young adults are placed under the care of an experienced Mission Partner to ‘learn the trade’ of cross-cultural mission through an integrative, hands-on experience. We hope it’ll be deeply rewarding for those who feel called overseas long-term and those God is leading to workplace mission in NZ.

We’re now recruiting interns who want to be challenged in their faith as they explore what global and local mission can look like. The Haerenga website tells all: www.missioninternship.co.nz. A promotional booklet is also available from the NZCMS office. If you know anyone who might be interested, please let them know.

April’s Missional Movements

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Congratulations to Pippa and Molly Sussex who were baptised over Easter. Also, Phil’s dental team has recently regained access to Cambodia prisons after a three year lock-out!

Todd DeKryger, the Medical Director of the Hospital of Hope in Togo (where Miriam Tillman works), passed away suddenly in March, leaving behind a wife and four boys.

Dianne Bayley has been in significant pain due to a slipped disc in her back. After some weeks she has found treatment which has been of some help.

Margaret Poynton is recovering from a fractured tailbone as well as malaria and dengue fever!

We’ve recently launched a new website for the Haerenga Mission Internship to explain what it’s all about.

How Now Should We Shop? An Action Plan (Issue 26)

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“Now that I’ve seen, I am responsible” – Brooke Fraser

Knowing what we now know, we have a choice: forget about it and do nothing, get overwhelmed and do nothing, or take steps towards change. Here are some tips I’ve found helpful to counter our culture’s consumerism while becoming more of a ‘Kingdom-shopper.’

Admit we’re wrong, admit we’re learning. The first step is always admitting we have a problem, but we also need to acknowledge that becoming a Kingdom-shopper is a journey that takes time. Let’s not beat ourselves up if this is new, and let’s not look down on others who aren’t as far along either.

Make small steps. It’s difficult to jump straight into shopping 100% ethically, and rushed change doesn’t always last. Slow but consistent is better than fast but short-lived.

Celebrate the ‘wins’ along the way. Do a ‘whoop-whoop’ or hi-five when you find a new ethical product or a brand making positive changes.

Buy second-hand. Buying used stuff challenges our materialistic tendencies and doesn’t contribute to the demand of ethically questionable products.

Buy local. Locally produced products are less likely to have ethical issues as they’re produced under NZ law.

Stall before buying. Pause before buying anything and ask whether it’s really needed. The higher the cost, the longer the stall (like 30 days for expensive items).

Buy quality. If you need to buy something with questionable origins, buy something that will last so it won’t need replacing.

Research expands options. If we don’t research in advance, we can be caught-out, needing to buy something less ethical or very pricey.Giving ourselves time makes Kingdom-shopping an opportunity, not an inconvenience.

Wear it out. Do I really need the latest iPhone or that new pair of shoes? Let’s be counter cultural by actually using what we buy until it needs to be replaced.

Fair-trade isn’t the only option. Buying exclusively Fair Trade (or equivalent) brands isn’t always possible or viable, but many other brands are making positive steps. I choose to consider a company’s trajectory – are they actively trying to improve? Plus companies are more likely to listen and make changes if I’m actually a customer.

Expect to be frustrated, misunderstood and disappointed. You’ll find many favourite brands fail to meet fair ethical standards. It’s meant no more Hallensteins jeans for me (but thankfully Cotton On is heading in the right direction). And friends won’t always understand why you’ve become picky about where you shop.

Make a tough decision. When Jacob was born I made the conscious decision that my child wasn’t going to grow up at the expense of someone else’s. It’s been surprisingly difficult, but having such a personal (and specific) goal has made compromising much harder.

Make it daily conversation. Don’t keep it to yourself, but journey together with friends or family. Mari and I talk about ‘slavings’ when we see suspiciously cheap products or are tempted to buy something we probably shouldn’t. It may sound crass, but it’s made us conscious of product origins and has made it easy and natural to constantly remember something deeply serious.

Don’t just talk. 90% of Kiwis say we want to shop ethically – let’s actually act!

The remarkable thing is, if you start living and thinking this way, you’ll discover the way you view the world changes. It’s becoming easier to value other people’s freedom than my own convenience, and increasingly difficult for me to enter the temple of the local shopping-mall… and I think that’s a good thing.

Programme Director for Asia Gateway

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AsiaCMS is searching for a Director for the Asia Gateway training programme. Please share these details with anyone who may be interested.

Part-Time or Full-Time Position 

Asia Gateway is an intensive programme laying down a firm foundation in intercultural learning for mission, combining practical experience with theological reflection. It is uniquely endorsed and sponsored by two Malaysian churches (Anglican Diocese of West Malaysia and Methodist Church of Malaysia), Malaysia Theological Seminary (STM), and five mission agencies: AsiaCMS, InterServe, OM, OMF, and SIM East Asia.

A leader who believes in mission training and with the right qualification is needed to conduct this programme in Malaysia for the partnership.

Further details can be found here.

Easter between the times

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We’re now well into Easter season, standing between Palm Sunday and Easter Friday. That is, we’re standing between Jesus’ victorious entry into Jerusalem as King, as Messiah, as the one who was going to deliver Israel (and all humanity!) and restore all things, and the day that so-called Messiah died a shameful, criminal’s death on a cross – certainly not the sort of thing you’d expect of a mighty, powerful, sent-by-God King.

When Jesus entered the city the people were no doubt asking the all important question: who is this man? They would have heard about how he’d restored people’s sight, healed cripples, challenged the religious authorities, spoken of freedom for the downtrodden, welcomed the outcast. In fact, just before Palm Sunday, in Bethany, Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. Here was the Messiah they were waiting for, the one who would stand with them in their pain and misery and fight for them. The one who had power over death!

Many in the crowd on Palm Sunday were there because of Lazarus. The story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead was so powerful that many were coming, not just to see the so-called Messiah, but to see the man the Messiah had raised. So many people were coming to Jesus because of Lazarus that the chief priests decided he needed to be killed as well (John 12:10-11).

So what happened between Palm Sunday and Easter Friday? How could the excitement, passion and hope of the Sunday so quickly dissolve to disillusionment, frustration, doubt, anger? How could the people who yelled “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” turn to yelling “Crucify him” in just a few days?! And how could the Lord of glory be crucified as a common criminal? No doubt you’ll hear a sermon or two this weekend exploring some of these issues, so we won’t explore them now…

The remarkable thing is, we still live between Sunday and Friday – between the victory of Jesus the King and the reality of suffering & death. Or better yet, we live between the tension of Easter Friday and Easter Sunday. Friday represents pain, suffering, sickness, sin – and how God steps into the midst of it. It’s God coming alongside us in our mess, standing with us and taking upon himself everything that keeps us tied down, broken, distant to God. It’s the ultimate expression of God’s justice, where he says “The world isn’t how it’s supposed to be, and I’m not going to stand at a distance – I’m going to do something about it.” But Friday’s the day God’s Messiah dies, when hope seems lost, when sin and death seems to have won. Sunday represents the victory, the defeat of death, the putting-back-together of everything broken and disjointed in the world. It’s God’s ultimate declaration that death isn’t the final word, that God’s justice will prevail, that the whole creation really will be liberated from it’s groaning.

We live between Friday and Sunday.

We live in what is famously called “between the times” – between God’s ultimate act of reconciling the world to himself through Jesus, and God actually putting all things back together. Jesus’ death and resurrection – and the coming of the Spirit – was the down-payment, the guarantee, the foretaste of what God will do for all creation. And we get to experience it already – we experience forgiveness of sins, healing of sickness, God’s peace, God’s very presence. Yet we only experience it in part – we’re forgiven and being transformed, but sin is not yet overcome. We witness radical cases of God’s healing… but not everyone is healed. We know God’s presence, but he often seems distant. We are stuck between the ‘already’ and the ‘not-yet.’

Our Mission Partners, in many ways on the ‘front-line’ of what God is doing around the world, certainly experience this ‘already/not-yet.’ Many of them witness people coming to faith, people drawing nearer to God, people healed and set free. But they also experience unique sicknesses due to where they live, heightened stress, distance from family, sometimes fear of troubles or even disaster. In fact, at present there are a good number of our Mission Partners who are experiencing this ‘not-yet’ of our faith. We’ve recently told you about a cholera outbreak and drought where the Akesters are based. Dianne Bayley has been suffering due to a slipped disc in her back. Margaret Poynton fractured her tail bone and was diagnosed with malaria and dengue fever. Todd, the medical director of the hospital Miriam Tillman works, recently died from Lassa fever, a contagious illness that could potentially spread. And there are others who for various reasons we can’t mention here.

During this Easter season we’re encouraging the NZCMS family across the country to set aside some time for focused prayer for the physical, spiritual and emotional health of all our Mission Partners. Would you consider taking some time over this Easter to pray for our partners in all corners of the earth as they continue working with God ‘between the times,’ between the tragedy of Easter Friday and the victory of Easter Sunday?

Chairman’s Message

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By Paul Cooper (NZCMS Council Chairperson)

Looking back over 2015 we can appreciate God’s many blessings. The work of the NZCMS office has been excellent, effectively supporting our Mission Partners and producing first rate publications that keep us informed and active in our prayers and giving. Thank you, Steve Maina and team. A sign of the quality of our publications is that a number of parishes are using Intermission for home group studies. Please encourage groups in your parish to do the same. I also hope you’ve enjoyed the interesting and informative summary of our work in NZCMS Snapshot 2016.

Last year we launched the 2015–2020 Strategic Plan with our focus of “Enthusing, Equipping, and Engaging people for God’s global mission.” We continue to be grateful for your encouragement and support. It’s your involvement through prayer and financial giving that has strengthened NZCMS and made it possible for our Mission Partners to continue carrying out God’s work and for new endeavours to start.

This year’s AGM will see the announcement of the results of the election of a new Council. You’re invited to the AGM in Christchurch on Saturday March 19.

 

May God richly bless you and the work of NZCMS

Paul Cooper (NZCMS Council Chairperson).

 

The NZCMS AGM will be followed by a ‘CMS Conversation’ at 7pm, featuring a partner working in the Middle East. Come to be challenge and inspired about what God is doing in our world and how we can all get involved.