Ropeta Mene-Tulia

Joining God’s missional breed (Issue 31)

Posted on

I’ve just come back from the Philippines. No, I wasn’t there to have a holiday or to work on my tan. I was part of a team of Samoan women who all desired an experience of cross-cultural mission. We had the privilege of visiting NZCMS Mission Partner Dianne Bayley and the Children’s Bible Ministries team in the Philippines. 

Some reflections

As I reflect on my experience before, during and after this trip, I have been impacted by a number of things.

People. I’ve come across some phenomenal people who breathe and dream ‘living missional.’ They’re a special breed. Location is not a barrier, their veins are pulsing by how they might join God on his mission and at the same time mobilise others. They are today’s heroes of the faith. While I’m in awe of their faithfulness, passion and boldness, I must admit my surprise with how little interest there is in such global concerns amongst Kiwis (including my own Pacific community).

Excuses. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard phrases like “I can’t be involved in mission.” Some of the excuses have left me picking up my jaw from the ground: it’s only for those who go to Bible College, I don’t know my Bible enough, I don’t have the time. Sometimes I’m struck by disbelief. You’d think that if we’ve accepted the Good News and received forgiveness we’d be eager to share the hope we’ve found. Unfortunately, it’s not often the case. But God calls us all to participate in his mission!

Talk. We like talking about being missional but few people actually want to live it out. Why? Because living missionally will cost you, as an individual, a family, a community, a church. It could be your time, commitment or resources. But just maybe, what keeps an individual – or even a church – from being missional is that we don’t understand the benefits of it.

All this leads me to ask some important questions. Why can we so easily turn a blind eye to the world around us? Why are so many churches not actively participating with God to live missionally both locally & globally? And how did five Samoan women from Christchurch end up joining the crazy ‘missional breed’?  

We must recognise that it’s God’s mission. Not ours, not your pastor’s, not your church leadership’s, but God’s. His is far better, bigger and our task is to submit to his mission. Serving God is an honour, something that made a profound impact on me during my time with CBM. Everyone there, from youngest to oldest, knew the mission. They owned it, believed it and lived it out. They were committed to it, even if it cost them something. They have limited resources but dream big and aren’t afraid. They think, breathe, sleep and dream missional. 

Since coming back I’ve wrestled with what it’ll cost five Samoan women to continue living missional. And as crazy as it sounds, it will cost us everything. When Jesus laid out what it really meant to follow him many of his followers withdrew (John 6:66). So am I willing to pay the price? Most definitely, because I understand the benefits of participating alongside God in his redemptive plan to restore all things. Living missional simply isn’t an event on the calendar or an item on the to-do list. It isn’t just doing some stuff – it’s joining God in his work.  

So what changed for me to start thinking and actually living missionally? It was an encounter with God. It was being deeply transformed by his word and submitting to his will. And it’s ongoing, it’s rewarding and at times it’s very challenging.  

We’re on a journey and we’ve joined the ‘missional breed’ where we embrace and learn to pay attention to what God is doing in our families, neighbourhoods, work places, relationships, communities and in the church. Discovering our part has meant that we can be confident in what God is asking us to do. 

Rediscovering, reconnecting and being refocused on God’s mission has been a life changing process and it’s still on going. We’re not doing it on our own; we’re part of a wider family contributing and participating in God’s mission. We’re doing our part to serve, to love, to celebrate as part of God’s family. Every part of our life is being caught up in God’s mission here and now, just like our brother and sisters in the Philippines.

For discussion

What are some of the ‘benefits’ of participating in God’s mission?

What encounter or experience might help you and your group to grow in your understanding and living of mission?

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

Samoans in the Philippines

Posted on

Kia Ora, Talofa Lava, Hujambo and Kamusta!

The countdown is on and there are less than 40 days left before a small team of ladies from Grace Women’s Ministry (St Paul’s Trinity Pacific Presbyterian Christchurch) along with team leader Watiri Maina (NZCMS) travel to the Philippines on an Encounter trip in 2017.

For most of us the idea of going on a short term mission or encounter trip is new and foreign. But when the seed was planted last year the team were intentional about prayer, fasting and being open to the Holy Spirit in leading us through this process. We’re absolutely excited to partner up, learn from and serve alongside Mission Partner Dianne Bayley and the team at CBM in the Philippines.

It has been a busy, challenging and rewarding 12 months of preparation and we still have much to learn and to prepare for before heading away. We continue to give thanks to God and we are absolutely in awe of what he is teaching us during this exciting season because at the end of the day it’s his plan and purposes; we’re just privileged and honoured to be a part of his plan.

We’re grateful for the new formed partnership with NZCMS to make this possible. We are also blessed for new connections made through Simply Mobilising – Kairos, iTeams and our local Filipino Christian communities. We have been overwhelmed and humbled with the support, love, words of encouragement and donations from everyone, and we especially give thanks for prayers. We couldn’t do this without all our supporters; thank you very much and from the bottom of our hearts we cannot thank you enough.

We ask that if you are reading this to please pray for Dianne Bayley, CBM and our team as we prepare.

If anyone interested in finding out more about our journey, please visit www.stpaulstrinitypacific.co.nz/encounter-philippines/.

God Bless and Fa’afetai tele lava,

Ropeta Mene-Tulia (On behalf of Encounter Philippines Team 2017)

Pacific 2 Nations: a Report

Posted on

NZCMS Office Intern, Ropeta, recently attending the Pacific 2 Nations conference in Auckland, a conference focusing on calling Pacific people into global mission. Here she shares her reflections from the event.

If my people….

never had the chance to hear the Gospel, I wonder how different my life would be.

If my people…..

have heard the Good News of Jesus, how has this shaped and transformed their lives, their families, their communities and their nations?

This year’s P2N conference theme was ‘Awakening the Warrior.’ Leading up to the conference I had pondered the above questions. What did it take for someone that was so on fire for God to leave the comforts of home and overcome barriers such as language, finances etc. to venture out and take the Good News of Jesus across the Pacific ocean? I truly believe it came down to their first love, knowing who Jesus was and what he had done for them and wanting to share that with others. The Great Commandment and the Great Commission – they go hand in hand.

Seems so simple, yet so daunting. I guess that’s what makes a Warrior.

My definition of a warrior: Someone who is loyal, gets the job done no matter what the cost is for them. They are often the hero in the making on the verge of doing something great. They are misunderstood at times but always pull through. They are forceful souls; they embody qualities of strength, courage and determination. They rise to the challenge because there are causes to serve and struggles to overcome, battles to be won. They like to be on the front line with their trusted comrades. Their basic drive is to uphold what is right and defeat what is wrong. They are honourable, faithful and a true witness to the mission. This is the warrior.

I have come away from the P2N conference challenged, stirred and out of my comfort zone. The speakers were great, the worship was on point and the message has hit home for me: be available, no more excuses and it’s time to take part in what God is already doing. I don’t want to be the disobedient one. I want be a part of God’s plan to be a blessing to others. Because I have heard the Gospel, I see how it has transformed and shaped people’s lives, communities and nations. I want to be a warrior for mission and be a part of God’s story, one that brings hope, love, transformation and grace to all his people and creation.

The Pacific drum for mission is beating from the north in Hawaii, from the east in Tahiti, from the west in Papua New Guinea and to the south in New Zealand. It’s getting louder and louder but will my people hear it?

God is awakening the warrior.

 

(The above photo is from Amy Huffaker on Flickr.)

Pacific 2 Nations: Ropeta’s Reflections

Posted on

It’s been almost two weeks since NZCMS and St Paul’s Trinity Pacific Presbyterian Church hosted the Pacific2Nations Pastor & Leaders breakfast in Christchurch.

Pastor Lui Ponifasio and the P2N team travelled from Auckland to share the P2N vision with Pastors & Leaders from Christchurch’s Pacific community. It’s been an amazing experience as throughout this process God has weaved together at the right time people, organisations and churches to make this happen.

A highlight of the breakfast was seeing pastors and leaders come from different denominations and ethnic groups – including Samoans, Fijians, Papua New Guineans, plus a couple of token Europeans and a Kenyan (Steve). Steve reminded us that Pacific people were born to be missionaries: we can sleep anywhere, we can eat anything and we can blend right in because we’re neither too black nor too white.

Hearing the vision of P2N was refreshing. It was a reminder to the Pacific faith community about the legacy of our forefathers who spread the Gospel throughout the Pacific. Theirs was a passion that stirred their hearts so much that they conquered language, cultural and financial barriers to undertake the task that was set for them by God.

The challenge that’s been put out to the Pastors and Leaders by Lui is simple: will you and your church be the Goer’s, the Sender’s or the Disobedient ones? Breakfast literally means “breaking the fast,” the fast of the night, as it’s the first meal after sleeping. Some pacific churches are already engaged in local and global missions, praises to God, but the majority are still sleeping. God is slowly awakening them out of a deep sleep and helping his people ‘break the fast,’ directing them towards the ‘morning meal’ of mission involvement locally and globally. I’m excited about the follow-up from this breakfast as key leaders in Christchurch work with NZCMS and P2N on the where-to-next questions.

On September 11 & 12 the second P2N conference will be happening in Auckland and NZCMS will be there too. We’re expecting over 2000 people and some are coming from all over the world to attend. The theme this year is “Awakening The Warriors.” Will you pray for this up-and-coming event, that God will awaken many to what he is up to and how they can partner with him, and that by his power he will release the next generation of workers into the nations. For more info about the (free!) conference click here.

Partnering with the Pacific

Posted on

On Saturday 8 August 2015 a Pacific 2 Nations (P2N) Leaders Breakfast is happening in the South Island for the first time, in partnership with NZCMS and St Paul’s Trinity Pacific Presbyterian Church. The purpose of the breakfast is to build relationships, sharing the vision of P2N with local church ministers, pastors and leaders.

So who is P2N and what is it all about?

The Pacific2Nations movement is about mobilising Pacific people for God’s mission in the nations. It’s about stirring the hearts of Pacific Island people, especially the younger generation, with the legacy of mission that came from the Pacific so that a fresh wave of Pacific Islanders may be sent into the nations of the world. P2N is partnering with mission agencies and churches in NZ, Australia, USA and the Pacific Islands to share this vision.

The Christchurch community will have the privilege of hearing from Pastor Lui Ponifasio (the P2N Chairman) and also from Steve Maina (NZCMS National Director). I’m excited about how God will use this event to gather leaders of the Pacific Island community – this will be history in the making, not only because we will hear the vision for the first time, but because this is the first time Pacific Island leaders will be coming together in Christchurch as one and sharing one heart for mission.

 

Would you pray that through this breakfast leaders would hear God’s voice to work together to see a new generation of Pacific young people  released into their God given calling.

 

For more information about P2N click here.

Tautua nei mo sou manuia a taeao

Posted on

Talofa lava. This week Kiwis around the country will be celebrating Samoan Language Week. The theme this year is “Tautua nei mo sou manuia a taeao” which means “Serve now for a better tomorrow.”

My parents came to NZ and didn’t understand or speak any English so naturally at home we spoke Samoan. But at school I spoke broken English – a mixture of Samoan and English. At church we spoke, read the Bible, sat exams and sang hyms in Samoan. Speaking the Samoan language was imbedded in every aspect of life.  I could read it, write it and speak it.

It helped me cross between two cultures: the Kiwi way and the Samoan way. It was useful when I needed to interpret the “white man’s” thinking and translate this to my mother and siblings. Speaking Samoan with a Kiwi accent meant that I was part of a generation breaking new ground. It meant that I could use this gift from God to serve in my family, in my community, in my workplace and in God’s church.

Where does language come from? It comes from God. It is a gift of God to us.  It reflects and reveals him. The first time we see God speaking in the history of the world is at creation. Our Father is the one that speaks, Jesus is the Word and the Spirit is associated with the effects of the words spoken. God invented language, whether it be in English, Samoan or any other language. And God is part of every conversation because he’s our Creator, the giver of our language-ness – no matter what language we speak. Isn’t that amazing!

The Samoan language, like other languages from small Pacific nations, is under threat. If we lose the uniqueness of any language we will lose the gift from God to help share the Good News that brings transformation to indiviuals, families, communities and nations. And we’ll miss out on what God wants to reveal to the world through the Samoan language and culture.

Tautua nei mo sou manuia a taeo – Serve now for a better tomorrow.  To my beloved Samoan community I pray that we continue to embrace the Samoan language as God’s gift, using this to advance his Kingdom and to bring him glory. To serve for a better tomorrow means for us to make the Samoan language a gift to our children.

Fa’afetai tele lava le Atua mo le meaalofa o le Gagana Samoa ma isi gagana esese i le lalolagi (Thank you Lord for the Samoan language and other different languages around the world).

 

THE MUSE

If you speak another language, what are some of the ways you utalise this gift in everyday life? Or have you been tempted to ‘bury the gift’ because of the dominance of English in New Zealand?

 

THE MOVE

If you don’t speak another language and are willing to learn, why not find someone bilingual in your workplace, community or church and ask them to teach you some new words.

 

Join the discussion at the #NZCMS Facebook Group.

Meet Ropeta

Posted on

“The true greatness of any church in not how many it seats but how many it sends!” — Unknown

Talofa lava and warm Pacific greetings. My name is Ropeta Mene-Tulia. I am 38 years old, married with three beautiful children and I hail from the ‘ruby mad’ nation of Samoa. I’m in my final year of study at Vision College completing a Diploma in Ministry (Internship). As part of my study I have gained the opportunity to serve at NZCMS as an intern.

As a New Zealand born Samoan growing up in Aotearoa, the thought of being a missionary was very foreign. In fact, the thought still remains quite foreign. Yet, the Gospel is for all people and for all cultures – and Pacific people are part of that story.

My prayer is that through the work I am undertaking at NZCMS, and in partnership with the Pacific Christian community, the Lord will awaken the next generation of mission workers from Aotearoa – including many from Pacific communities. My passion is to see Pacific Christian communities in New Zealand invest in equipping and mobilising disciples of Jesus into all nations.

I am honoured and look forward to growing and learning during my time here at NZCMS.

Ia faamanuia atu le Atua (God Bless)

Fa’afetai tele lava (Thank you)

 

(Ropeta is to the right in the above picture.)