Posted on

#NZCMS is going to be a little different this year. The biggest change: we’re stepping down to a post each fortnight, aiming for quality over quantity. That means we should be able to provide fresh content each time without relying on ‘re-blogs’ (though we’ll  include occasional articles from our Intermission magazine when the topic is particularly important.)

As it turns out, the latest issue of Intermission was on a very important issue, one I think future generations will look back and judge us on: Slavery. Human trafficking. The fact that there’s more slaves in the world today than at any point in history, despite 200 years of explicitly challenging the whole thing. And Intermission looked at how modern day slavery and the way I shop are woven together like some sort of disturbing tapestry. I made a perhaps obscure comment at the back of the issue so thought I’d tease it out a little further here.

This morning I had the privilege of sitting down over a cup of chai with Peter Mihaere. He runs an organisation called Stand Against Slavery, and we got talking about whether New Zealand could eventually become truly slavery free. That’d mean no slaves or exploited workers here nor anyone trafficked to or from here. It’d also mean no products could be bought here that have in any way been produced by slaves or exploited workers. New Zealand would effectively be a fairtrade country.

The Pope’s goal is to do this globally by 2020… It’s a good goal, but without a huge miracle, it ain’t happening. But what if we started with a small country, an isolated island where borders are pretty easy to control, with a population the size of an ‘average’ city in other parts of the world… I think that’d actually be attainable in our generation if we learn to really work together on this.

The first step? Becoming conscious of the issue at a grass roots level. It needs to become part of regular conversation.

Peter’s challenge to me was to ask, when buying something, whether any slaves were involved in making it. We already know what the answer will be, and I know it’ll make the conversation awkward. “Um… I have no idea… Surely not, right…?” Or perhaps they’ll just look at us funny. But the thing is, how else will people become aware of this problem unless we make this part of daily conversation? If that shop attendant gets asked once, they’ll forget about it. But if it becomes a daily occurrence they’ll start thinking about it. They’ll start asking their manager, who’ll start asking others higher on the food chain. Eventually someone will take notice.

Not alone.

Another side of the equation is making it regular conversation among ourselves. If you’ve tried being a ‘Kingdom shopper’ for a while you’ll know how I often feel. It’s frustrating. It’s challenging. It’s sometimes isolating and disorientating! Many times I’ve wondered whether I can keep it up or whether I should give up trying (which is a crazy thought – should I keep on bothering to care, because of some inconvenience to me, about people who are literally in chains because of what I buy?!).

My life-saver has been the fact that I can talk openly about it with my wife – and slowly but surely there’s others who have joined the conversation. And it’s not just about having people to talk with, but having a shared language. As a rabid Simpsons fan, a line from Krusty has enabled Mari and I to make this all-too-serious topic part of daily conversation. He’s up on a stage promoting his new line of t-shirts (watch the video from 30seconds – it’s a terrible quality video, but it’s much better hearing the quote than reading it.)

“Slavings.” It’s not even a word, and I’m not quite sure how it happened, but it’s now part of our daily vocabulary. When we’re out shopping and one of us is interested in something that almost certianly has dubious origins: “Have you considered the slavings?” When we’re watching TV ads and a too-good-to-be-true deal comes on: “There’s some amazing slavings.” Mari’s been after a nutra-bullet for a while, but whenever a special came up the word “slavings” kept us from acting. (She’s found one on trademe, so all is well with our smoothies).

I’m not sure what these conversations sound like to other ears, but this one simple word has kept at the forefront of our minds the reality of exploited workers across the world. It’s changing how we shop. It’s changing how we view advertising. It’s changing how we talk. It’s changing our family’s priorities. It’s changing our plans and dreams for the future. One word that isn’t even a word!



What can you do to make the harsh realities of human trafficking and worker exploitation part of daily conversation?



Challenge yourself: the next time your shopping ask someone whether the product has been in any way made by slaves.


#NZCMS is all about exploring what it means to be God’s missional people in today’s world. Sign up for the emailer by filling in your email at the top of the page or join the discussion at the #NZCMS Facebook Group (and turn on ‘all notifications’ to stay in the loop!) 


Image by Charles Rodstrom on Flickr.

Tragedy in Togo

Posted on

Todd Dekryger, who was the chief of staff at the Hospital of Hope in Togo where Miriam Tillman works, died on Sunday from complications from malaria and typhoid. He was a key figure at the hospital and indeed in the initial setting up of the hospital. He, his wife Jennifer and their four boys had been in Togo since 2005, initially at another hospital near Lome and since 2013 have been involved in setting up the hospital in Mango.

Todd was initially treated for malaria and typhoid. When his condition didn’t improve, he was moved to a hospital in Cologne, Germany where he died Friday, February 26, with his wife, Jennifer by his side. It is still unclear what precisely caused his deadly infection.

Todd, a surgical physician assistant from Michigan in the United States, was the chief of staff at Hospital of Hope in the Togo’s northern city of Mango. The hospital’s opening in early 2015 was such a big deal that the nation’s president came to the grand opening and met with Todd. Since it’s opening, the hospital has treated more than 10 000 patients, many coming from the surrounding countries of Ghana, Benin and Burkina Faso.

The opening of the hospital had been a goal of Todd for years, after he moved his family to the West African country in 2005 to do mission work. He and his wife, Jennifer, who had done mission work in Hong Kong, wanted to share their faith while providing healthcare to those in need. “They served the physical needs of the Togolese people,” said Jeffrey Burr, pastor of Forest Hills Baptist Church. “But their goal was to compassionately communicate the good news of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ.” The family was overdue to take a furlough back to Michigan because they were so committed to serving the Togolese people, he added.

In a message to the church, Jennifer wrote about her grief and her husband’s sacrifice:

My heart is overwhelmed with unspeakable grief – for myself, our boys, our extended family, our spiritual family and the Hospital of Hope team. I cling only to the gospel and the certain hope of our salvation through Jesus Christ. I long for the men, women and children of Togo to know the Savior that Todd served so faithfully. Even in my pain, I am confident that our sacrifice – that Todd’s sacrifice – was worth it. I believe that the great commission is a cause worth dying for. And in the midst of my grief, I fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith.

Please pray for Jennifer and the boys as well as Miriam and the rest of the team as they come to terms with this huge loss. Todd was a vital part of the community at Hospital of Hope. May they know God’s love and comfort in these days of deep grief.

Further details including a video of Todd from 2014 can be found by clicking here.

From the Editor (Issue 26)

Posted on

How will future generations talk about today’s world? What will we be remembered by? Perhaps at the top of the list will be the fact we could sleep soundly at night while millions were enslaved worldwide… largely because of our own greed! Maybe we’ve forgotten that we’re made in the image of a God who calls us to “let justice roll down like a river” (Amos 5:24), to “do justice and love kindness” (Micah 6:8), to “defend the rights of the afflicted and needy” (Proverbs 31:8).

While much could be said about modern-day slavery, forced-labour and human-trafficking, this issue focuses narrowly on the role we play in this global problem. We’re digging down, seeking to uncover the truth beneath the barcode, looking at where the things we buy actually come from and how our shopping often contributes to the suffering of many worldwide.

Slavery is a complex beast and we’ll only scratch the topic’s surface, but we want to make one thing abundantly clear: we all have the choice to either contribute or to challenge it. Sometimes living missionally involves changing simple aspects of our lives, such as how we shop.


Issue 26 of Intermission was released earlier this month. Over the coming weeks the articles will be posted to Occasionally we will highlight an article by including it in our weekly Interchange newsletter.

March’s Missional Movements

Posted on

Cliff and Irene Studman will be returning to Tanzania in March. They expect to be back in NZ in November.

We congratulate Murray & Féy Cotter on the birth of their latest grandchild, Ambrose.

This month Phil Sussex is starting two new lecture series for his dental students.

Nick and Tessa are returning to Uganda after a fruitful time of Leave and Home Service here.


February’s Missional Movements

Posted on

We’re delighted by the news that the baby of partners from Asia was born happy and healthy in December.

Jonathan and Tess Hicks will be welcoming their fifth child into the world in June. The plan is to stay in the Solomons for the birth.

Carol Roger returned to Papua New Guinea late January to serve as a short-term Mission Partner for a year. She’s teaching at the Kapuna Life School.

Anne McCormick now has a fulltime assistant in her arts programme, enabling the programme to further develop and progress.

Féy Cotter will be doing much of her work from Wellington during the month of February as she supports and enjoys the arrival of their second grandchild.

Jobs of Hope

Posted on

Hope International School in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, is currently searching for a number of new staff. It’s a fantastic Christian school providing an internationally recognised education for the children of missionary families and other expats.

The roles that need filling are diverse, including primary and secondary teaching as well as key administrative positions. One of the most important roles that needs filling is that of the Chief Finance Officer who will oversee and develop the financial, accounting and business/administrative personnel of the school.

For further details about this or any of the vacant positions click here.

Open home

Posted on

We’ve talked a lot about discipleship here lately, and rightly so. It’s a pretty important topic, especially since many young adults feel like they’ve never really experienced intentional, sincere discipleship. Plus Jesus seemed to think it was pretty important – it was his answer for all the problems of the world! (Matthew 28:19-20)

But here’s the thing. If you’re like me, you don’t feel you have things sorted out enough to offer much. We’ll all be familiar with the thoughts: “I’m not spiritual enough. “”I’m not deep enough.” “I don’t know enough.” “I just not disciple-making material.”

A month ago I was telling God how I don’t feel deep enough to have much to give (…whatever that actually means). Yes, I’ve grown in my faith over the years, and yes, I’m willing to say that I have something to offer. Yet, I guess buried somewhere in my heart is the belief that only spiritual elites can really make a true and lasting difference. I may have something to offer, but with a world (and church) with so much need, we need the heros of the faith to be discipling people – like Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, the Apostle Paul, [insert the faith-heros you look up to]. They’re the ones ‘qualified’ to be forming disciples.

Sometimes wisdom is knowing when to close your mouth. So I did. And I started to listen. And God spoke.

What I felt him saying was beautifully simple:

It’s not about ‘being more,’ about ‘having more to offer,’ but about opening your home and opening your lives. It’s not about having a whole lot to offer, but about offering what you do have. Start with what you have, and more will be given. Depth always comes AS you pour out, not as you wait until your ready to be poured out. 

I may not be all I want to be. I may have a long way to go in my journey with God (which is a never-ending journey anyway!). I may have much to learn, much to see, much to live out and experience. But I am able to open a door!

It’s easy to complicate discipleship, but I think one of the keys of the whole thing is to just make space to be with people. And sometimes that’s as simple as opening your door.


As we’re heading towards Christmas ask yourself this: What can you do to make your life more open to others, creating space for others to learn and grow?

Communications update and CMS Kids

Posted on

Thank you all for a fantastic year of supporting NZCMS. And thank you for your patience as we’ve made changes to parts of our communications. This has enabled us to engage a wider range of people and churches. We’re starting to see growing momentum across the Society, with increasing numbers engaging with our content and getting more serious about local and global mission. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about! So thank you again for the part you’ve played.

We’ve also been exploring ways to become more ‘family-friendly,’ wanting to engage the youngest members of the NZCMS clan. We’re putting together a little gift for families with children to help young ones learn something about God’s world and our mission. If you have kids between 4 and 14, please email and let us know (along with their name/s, year of birth and gender) so we can send you something early in the new year.


Christmas blessings!

Edric’s Legacy

Posted on

Dr Edric Baker established a health care project in rural Bangladesh many years ago. It’s a project for the poor by the poor that has empowered local people to serve one another through basic health care. Though Edric passed away earlier this year, his legacy continues at the  Kailakuri Health Care Project.

The project is currently searching for volunteers to fill a number of roles:

Someone who can help with English communications, writing updates and liaising with the project’s supporters around the world. A nurse practitioner who can act as a consultant for the mother-child village health programme. A medical doctor who can act as a consultant for paramedics and internee doctors.

The preference is for volunteers to be able to stay for at least three months. They are expected to fund their visa and return airfare, though the project can provide free accommodation and meals. An interpreter can also be provided.

If you are interested in any of these roles, email and we can send through further information.


(Image: Kailakuri staff put on a play to teach about medical conditions.)



From the Editors (Issue 25)

Posted on

“I’m not an evangelist.” Many of us have used this line to remind ourselves of the people in our churches who naturally talk about Jesus with whoever they meet… and that we’re not one of those people. But it seems assumed that if I’m not one of these natural evangelists, then I’m not really called to speak the faith much at all. The words of St Francis are comforting: “Preach the Gospel at all times; use words only when necessary.”

The idea behind the saying is beautifully simple – we need to live the Gospel, not just speak it – but it’s also deceptive, as the quote can be used to justify never speaking at all. (Plus, as it turns out, St Francis probably never said it!)

Concluding that words are important, many of us don’t know what words to say! We’ve realised that older models of sharing just don’t work in our post-modern, post-Christian context. Like the one where we present two options – heaven or hell – and ask people to ‘choose’ which one they want. Or the “Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” approach. We need to find new approaches suitable for the post-Christian era in which we find ourselves – one that’s ‘secular’ yet also full of people seeking a true spiritual (but not ‘religious’) encounter.

I may not be called to preach to thousands, but I am called to witness to the Gospel through my life and my words.


Alicia Hibbert


Issue 25 of Intermission was released earlier this month. Over the coming weeks the articles will be posted to Occasionally we will highlight an article by including it in our weekly Interchange newsletter.