Bicentenary

God of Nations

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The terminator without Arnie? Pride and Prejudice without Mr. Darcy? The Simpsons without Homer? Bro Town without the bros? – Stories are nothing without a main character.

Have we, as Kiwis, forgotten the main character in our story?

Over Labour Weekend more than 100 guests gathered as part of the NZCMS Hui and Pilgrimage Our Story: Aotearoa to explore our identity as Christians in relation to the New Zealand story.

The welcome offered by Bishop Kito set the tone for the event, telling us that ‘The gospel was invited to New Zealand. Chief Ruatara was a person who was fully committed to bringing the good news to his own people and they created space for the gospel to take root in their lives, minds and hearts… The roots of our nation find themselves in the gospel’. We were each invited to remember that the main character of our story is Christ, and to find our true identity as we respond to Jesus’ death and resurrection.

The theme of the weekend was Te Raranga, or ‘the weaving’. This theme of being woven together, of our stories being shared and our futures being knitted together came through time after time. It was a great weekend of discovering more about our history as we heard from expert speakers and explored significant sites around the Bay of Islands.

A visit to Oihi Bay was incredibly meaningful. We could see the Holy Spirit at work when leaders of CMS in New Zealand and the UK officially extended their welcome and embrace to the descendants of Thomas and Jane Kendall. It was clear God’s Spirit was bringing restoration and reconciliation after many years of brokenness.

It was a privilege to hear the story of the Kendall family told in more detail during the weekend, to recognise their contribution to early New Zealand history and to give thanks for the grace of God at work in their lives.

But it wasn’t all looking back at the past. With a global focus we shared stories, hopes and dreams with brothers and sisters from all over the world. Our praise and worship times were led by Taking Back, a Kenyan band from Nairobi Chapel. We had the privilege of hearing from CMS leaders from Africa, Asia and the UK who shared how God is working around the world.

A Sunday service on the grounds of Waitangi proved to be once-in-a-lifetime moment as different cultures gathered to share communion in the shadow of native bush echoing with the sounds of Fantail, Shining Cuckoo and Tui.

Drawing our Hui to a close we looked forward to what God has in store for the future. We were inspired by the vision, passion and enthusiasm of Jade Hohaia. Her message encouraged us to continue trusting in God to restore our land and draw all people to himself.

She spoke of how God is using young Maori and Pacific leaders to make a difference in their communities, and how she has seen the power of God to change lives and hearts.

The weekend was an inspiring journey of discovering our story and remembering who the main character is – remembering the goodness and faithfulness of our God of nations who continues to work mightily in New Zealand and around the world.

Bearing the cross… across New Zealand

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It’s always exciting to see stories that highlight God’s work in regular newspapers. This week Stuff.co.nz included a story about a 27 year old man who is going to be carrying a cross the length of New Zealand for the fourth time. The article also reminded me that this is a year where people from all walks of life are remembering our Kiwi Christian heritage.

The article states: “This is his longest trip – a 2500km journey – and this one has even more significance. It will end on Christmas Day in Northland’s Oihi Bay, where he will be among 5000 to 6000 people gathered to mark 200 years since missionary Samuel Marsden preached New Zealand’s first sermon on the beach there. … The former Youth With A Mission missionary has travelled the world, including mission trips up the Amazon River to build a church in South America, to Pakistan and deep into the backcountry villages of Morocco.”

Isn’t it amazing to see the Gospel-bicentenary along with mission work mentioned in a regular newspaper?! To read the full story click here.

 

 

 

 

Africans ‘Taking Back’ New Zealand

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‘Taking Back’ is an African evangelistic band that will be touring Christchurch, Tauranga and Auckland in October. They’ll be performing at local schools such as Aranui High, Central New Brighton, Avonside Girls, Mairehau High St Margaret’s College, as well as busking in the streets and performing in local churches. We’re looking for some musically minded volunteers who would love to hang out with the band, assist with time-keeping, odd jobs and getting them around venues.

The dates are: Christchurch 10 – 20 October, Auckland 11 October, and Tauranga 20 – 24 October.

On another note, there are still some spots in their performing schedules in particular:

Christchurch:

Monday October 13 (in the evening) Wednesday October 15 (in the morning) Thursday October 16 (morning and afternoon)

Their programme is still being finalised in Tauranga and there are many time slots still free.

 

So if you would like them to come and play for your school, church or other organisation or if you can assist them on the ground, please contact heather@nzcms.org.nz

Our Story – Video Promo Download

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The Our Story: Aotearoa hui is fast approaching.  You’ve probably already seen the promo video we’ve made for it, but have you shared it with your church? If you visit www.vimeo.com/105709277 you can download a copy of the video that can be played Sunday morning (or evening).

 

For more info about the Our Story hui, and for bookings, visit www.nzcms.org.nz/our-story/ 

Turning Mission Upside-down (Issue 20)

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In this bicentennial year we as NZCMS are expanding our idea of mission. With a three-fold tactic – teams, events and training – we are seeking to reawaken New Zealanders to the God who has been central to our story.

Teams

We can no longer conceive of mission as us going “over there.” This year various short-term mission teams will be sent from the nations toNew Zealand. In April we hosted twelve ‘reverse-mission’ evangelists from Kenya who were involved in over 400 events. We have invited 28 more evangelists to come to New Zealand to share the gospel in other parts of the country. Feedback from the first team was incredibly positive, particularly the receptiveness they experienced from Christian and non-Christian alike.

Events

The major celebration of this year is the Our Story Hui, to be held near where Samuel Marsden preached the first gospel message in the Bay of Islands. This will be a time of reflection on the role of past missionaries who were sent to and from our country, on what is presently happening in our nation, as well as a chance to look forward to the future. Bishop Kito will host us in this bi-cultural celebration of the gospel as we take a pilgrimage to Oihi Bay and other significant sites.

Throughout this year, Mark Grace is speaking at churches across the country about the significance of this year. For many this is the first time they have seriously contemplated the impact the gospel has had in our country and the role it played to foster peace amongst Maori and Pakeha.

Later in the year we will be hosting multiple events when a top-notch band from Kenya comes to tour the country. Their goal is to share the gospel with youth through music.

Training

Leadership and mission training seminars will be held throughout the year. The focus of these is to help identify and build future leaders and mission workers for both local and international mission. We are also creating resources to equip and inform God’s people, such as a video series that address the myths and realities of the story of Christianity in New Zealand. (Visit http://www.youtube.com/NZCMS for more.)

 

We want thousands of New Zealanders to hear the gospel for the very first time in 2014. Our reverse missionaries have committed to covering 50% of their expenses so that they can bless out nation. They have taken annual leave, left their children with friends and relatives, and spent dedicated time fasting and praying to prepare to minister to us. Our challenge is to raise the other 50%. Many people have been generous and we are well on our way to raising the $100 000 needed to make this possible. Will you consider partnering with us financially as we seek see New Zealand re-impacted by the powerful message of our risen Lord?

 

Originally published in Intermission (July-August 2014)

Weaving together Kenyans and Kiwis – part b (Issue 20)

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By Alice Kinyua, a member of the first reverse-mission team from Kenya.

As the time for our departure for New Zealand drew nearer, the cost of obedience started becoming clearer. Our reverse-mission team had just finished a section of our training that covered ‘the cost of discipleship.’

There was the financial cost. Not only did we have to raise over $4000 to cover our expenses, but we also had to convince our employers to grant us a whole month’s leave from work. One of the evangelists – a father of four – had to resign from work a few weeks before the mission in order to go. At one point four of the evangelists were denied visas and it was discouraging, exhausting and expensive to reapply. Another one of the missionaries was five months pregnant, making long-distance travel that much more taxing.

Then there was the emotional battle of leaving behind little children. I remember one of the parents asking for prayer because, as she said, “the thought of not being there to feed my three year old daughter, tuck her in bed and read her bedtime stories for an entire month was almost too much to bare.”

But somehow in our hearts we knew that the Lord was urging us to keep going and to keep trusting him.

Why would the Lord not allow us to give up? Well it is because he had some work to do in us and also through us. Through the time of preparation, our faith was stretched. Our sense of dependence on God was heightened. With all the miracles God did for us – providing finances, visas, assurance, peace, and wonderful partnership with our Kiwi hosts – our confidence in sharing the faithfulness of God was increased. God was preparing us to be able to celebrate the 200 years of Christianity in New Zealand by sharing what it means to hope in him.

I will never forget the conversation I had with one lovely lady. We were in the kitchen of the Mornington Presbyterian Church, preparing food to share with the people during the African cultural night. This lady walked in looking for me, holding her three year old daughter. It turned out that this lady had listened to a sermon I had preached the previous Sunday at Dunedin City Baptist Church on the story of the prodigal son. The focus was on the compassion of the father mourning the loss of a child. According to the father, the prodigal son was not only lost but also dead. I related this to my testimony of the loss of our child and how God had worked in us to give us assurance of life defeating death forever. In the same way, God, through forgiveness of sin, brings life back to those who are dead in their sin.

During the service this lady felt what I term as a conviction of the Holy Spirit. The only thing is that she had no vocabulary to describe it. She hadn’t been to church for over 16 years. She was there this Sunday because a friend invited her, and as she listened to the sermon she couldn’t stop crying. She said that she was shaking uncontrollably the entire time. She had sought me out to ask what to do because she couldn’t shake the experience off.

Upon enquiring, I realized that her life in the more than 16 years she was away from church had been a wreck. She had lost her mum at the age of 15 and she had no way of dealing with the loss and the pain. In desperation she turned to drugs and reckless living. But she knew that she needed to turn her life around. A message of a God who identifies with death and who has power over death was what she needed to start getting hope.

She gave her life to Christ that day. She wanted this God who restores lives, who gives hope beyond this life. That was a special moment. I remember Debbie, one of my team who had chatted with this lady earlier, saying to me, “Alice, if this is the only reason we came to New Zealand, then it was worth it!”

That was not the only life that was saved. There are others that gave their lives to Christ during the mission – at least ten in our count. There may be more. What is even more encouraging is that many others heard the gospel. The seed was planted. Others are watering it. We are also continuing to water those seeds through prayer. We believe that in due time the Lord will cause the fruit to grow and the harvest to increase.

Looking back, I realize that all the challenges we had to overcome in planning for the mission were just part of the plan. There is no price too high to pay when it comes to the privilege of sharing the gospel of Christ. It is always more than worth it!

 

Originally published in Intermission (July-August 2014).