Mission Partners

Staff journals: Mike & Ruth in Cambodia

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Personnel Managers Mike & Ruth recently took off on a long awaited journey to Cambodia. They have been busy travelling around the capital city Phnom Penh and the smaller town of Battambang. Along the way they have caught up with their son and daughter-in-law who live there and have also spent some valuable time with our Mission Partner’s Anne and Anthony McCormick. The NZCMS office has received some great photos and videos from them! To give you the chance to follow along on their mini adventure, we’ve decided to post up some photos and videos on our Social Media accounts. Feel free to follow NZCMS’ Facebook and Instagram accounts where we will be posting new content every day.      

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/nzcms.org.nz/

Instagram: 

https://www.instagram.com/nz_cms/

Sportsfest Filipino style

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Motorcades, athletics, chess, lip syncs, basketball tournaments, flag ceremonies. What do all these have in common? Not much. Unless of course, you are attending Sportsfest.

NZCMS’ Mission Partner, Dianne Bayley, has been involved in serving with Children’s Bible Ministries (CBMPI) in the Philippines for 40 years as the National Director. And every year she has the pleasure of directing her staff and scores of volunteers in an annual sports celebration called Sportsfest which caters for students roughly aged between 4 and 16 years old. Through the supervision of Dianne and her faculty, the students help to organise and prepare for the event, meeting every afternoon for two weeks or so to practise for the various performances and sporting activities available.

The mammoth event is run through the Hebron Christian College which is an amalgamation of four different faculties: the children’s homes, Bible College and the School and Disabled Ministry. As well as celebrating the school’s anniversary, the festival provides the opportunity for students to take part in multiple outdoor and indoor activities. When Dianne was asked what the core purpose of the festival was she answered:

“To give the students a chance to try out and experience different events; to develop their skills and to see where their talents lie. It also trains them in teamwork and how to accept winning and losing! See my photo: ‘Losing is not failure. Giving up is.’” 

Sportsfest runs over three days that’s jam packed with fun, enthusiasm and competition. The opening day is organised by the PTA officers in each class, with each bringing long tables, chairs and lots of food! The families of the students also attend, able to watch the pre-school show that involves calisthenics and a marching program. It is a relaxed, friendly environment and Dianne stated that the kids love to have their parents attend.

On the second day, the Festival begins,  with a motorcade that drives through the town handing out lollies and school advertisements, each truck filled with a single class that have worked hard to decorate it. At 10:00am the Festival formally begins with a flag and torch lighting ceremony.  Basketball tournaments, chess, lip sync, table tennis, running races and all manner of activities are entered into enthusiastically. There is even a Mr & Ms Sportsfest 2018 competition!  

An estimated 500 people, made up of school students, staff, family and former students who are now in University, attend the Festival each day. 

      

 

Memory + Geography = Mission?

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What does memorising flags have to do with mission? I’m glad you asked. 

Two weeks ago NZCMS released a pamphlet on Valentine’s Day that aimed to bless those our Mission Partners were serving across the world. There were various options. One was that you could donate $10 to support children’s Bible clubs in the Philippines. Another was to buy books for those waiting in a Cambodian hospital. Or you could help buy sewing machines for women in South Asia. Enter William, a six year old boy who noticed this last option and began to think about how he could help.  

After throwing around a few ideas of how he might raise the money with his Dad Zane, they settled on combining William’s love of mission with his passion for world geography. Now, William is currently working on memorising as many country’s flags as he can and is receiving a sponsorship from friends and family for each flag that he memorises. A number of people have also made one off donations towards his efforts and he has already raised enough for a sewing machine which costs a total of $200! William is now pursuing another $200 and seems to be well on his way as he is yet to receive any money for his ‘per-flag pledges’. The fruit of his dedication will be revealed on a live feed video on Easter Sunday in which he will recite the name behind as many flags as he can. William was very clear when asked why he wanted to begin this fundraising effort.

“Because the ladies in Pakistan might not have many clothes, so they can sew some and maybe they can even donate them to other people. They might want to join NZCMS too.”

William’s Dad, Zane, hopes and prays that his son will be an encouragement for other young families to see that we can all make talking and praying for Mission Partners a part of daily life. Though Valentine’s Day is over, the love God calls us to display to others is a daily commission. You can donate to the Valentine’s Day project still. Contact the NZCMS office and we will assist you in ways you can do this. 

A Focus on Fey’s Ministries

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“What time is your flight tomorrow?” This is a regular question from me to Féy at this time of year as she has a number of commitments with the leadership team of European Christian Mission (ECM). As you all know, NZCMS has seconded Féy and I to ECM International who work across Europe. Féy has been drafted into ECM’s leadership team, and with over 200 missionaries who work from Spain across to Ukraine, and from Ireland down to Greece she has a significant role. She has three main foci in this work (apart from what she is doing in Albania):

Féy leads a team of five people who approve and oversee ECM’s projects. At present there are around 30 projects ranging from €1000 to €150,00. 

Field Ministries Executive team – this team of three people works with country leaders to oversee the ‘on the ground’ work of ECM’s missionaries. Féy monitors Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Austria, Kosovo and Albania, and lately Greece has also become part of her portfolio. A missionary recently emailed Féy after she visited Romania to say, “Thank you so much!!  And thanks to you for your role and wisdom for our team in Romania… God bless you and Murray!  

Féy is also a member of the International Leadership Team (ILT,) which oversees ECM globally. This team meets twice a year, and last month they had their meetings in Athens, and while there they assessed some of the needs in Greece by seeing some of the Greek Evangelical Church’s ministries and their need for help. To hold the meeting in Athens was Féy’s initiative, which meant she also organised all the ministry visits. 

Leadership roles such as those Féy does are essential for the ‘coalface’ work. We cannot deny or avoid this need and good administration enhances the ‘on the ground’ work the rest of us missionaries do.

Team

Our team here in Tirana is set to grow again in the New Year. Miranda Glasbergen is Dutch and is also trained as a social worker. She will be joining our team for a two year period and has a desire to work with people on the fringe of society. She will also work with children, youth and young adults in both our church and another fellowship in our church network after doing some language study. 

After years of preparation, praying and planning, Josh and Alison (Ali) Reeve are set to join us in January/February 2018. Josh is Australian and is trained as a social worker with a special interest in working with people with special needs as well as church planting. He is in the process of finishing his PHD which will be a great blessing to the growing theological community here in Albania. Ali is from Northern Ireland and is a GP (family doctor). They plan to join our team long-term with their three small children.

Update on Church

There have been three main foci for which we have concentrated on in our work with ‘The Church of God’ where we have been for two years now; disciple making, church leadership team and mentoring. 

Disciple making is spreading to the people we are coaching into this role with the idea that they establish it as part of their church culture, and it is going well. The people we are focusing on are discipling others, and also becoming the leaders in the church, which leads into the second focus we have of helping the pastor develop a leadership team. We have had three leadership team meetings this year which have been a bit tough going but seem to be heading in the right direction. We are beginning to see a group forming who are willing to speak what they think, which is quite difficult from an ex-communist perspective where everyone  feels they should agree with the ‘leader’. 

Mentoring is going well with a couple of people because we have plenty of time with them, but not so good with the ones we do not meet with so often.

Cairo visit

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I am nearing the end of my studies at Trinity School for Ministry! Originally I wanted to get this degree finished as soon as possible, and then get back involved in things. However, in the first year it became clear that this time of study was much more than just head knowledge, but healing and growing in God. I have two more courses to complete this semester, my thesis is due in April, and (God willing) I will graduate in May 2018.

This year, I’ve been studying courses in Romans, Hebrew language, systematic theology, church history and pastoral care. I’m finally writing my thesis, which will focus on how a theology of the Kingdom of God speaks into the theory and practice of international development.

In July/August, I spent three weeks in Egypt leading a trip with six other students and staff from Trinity. This was a great opportunity to return to one of the places that I call home, and to bring a group of seminarians along for the ride. Some high-lights:

Organising services, music, and preaching at the English speaking congregation of All Saints Cathedral (pictured above), filling in gaps while the priest was away. Visiting ministries of the Diocese. It was great to see projects that I had been involved with funding come to fruition, such as a school for Sudanese refugee children and a medical ICU unit. After many delays, the construction of the new outpatient clinic for Harpur Memorial Hospital in Menouf began this week. The joy of seeing my “Egypt world” and “seminary world” collide. One of our group preached at an Arabic congregation on our first Sunday.  Organising a workshop on the topic of how does theology speak into community development work. This was attended by former colleagues working in refugee ministries, community centres in slum areas, hospitals, seminarians, and a priest. This happened at the invite of the Diocese Director of Development, and modelled on a format of human rights workshops in Norway that a friend had been involved with. The discussion was really good, people gave positive feedback, and it helped me to think through some aspects of what I want to write about in my thesis. One thing that felt very different was the heightened security at churches; a result of the several attacks on churches in Egypt in recent months. A Coptic priest took us around St Mark’s Coptic Cathedral, where in December 2016 a bomb killed 29 people. There was still residue from the explosion on the columns of the church, chips out of the murals of saints on the walls, and a bloodstain on the wall of the courtyard where one of the injured had leaned.

Before visiting Egypt, I visited my seminary roommate Grace and her husband in Kenya. She is an Anglican priest in the Diocese of Kirinyaga, a rural area in the foothills of Mount Kenya. She was a wonderful host and the each day was full of surprises: a 7 hour prayer meeting, speaking to orphans on the importance of education, being interviewed on the Diocese TV station, touring a tea factory… We also did a pilgrimage at the “Safari ya Biblia,”a ministry that Grace was leading before seminary. As it is not a culture where people read a lot, the idea is that groups come to visit and the guide takes them around the bible by walking around the site. It was a great visit of learning more about the Anglican Church worldwide, and understand more of Grace’s context.

Snakes in a loo

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Here in Kondoa, we have had many warm windy days and nights. Our outside hole-in-the-ground loo, which is surrounded by lean-to corrugated iron sheets, has all but blown apart. A friend espied a baby snake disappearing into the hole the other day, so it is possible its entire family lives down there! Just as well we have indoor, western-type loos too. We can even flush them sometimes! The hot season will be upon us soon, which hopefully will include lots of rain. Some villages had no harvest at all from the last ‘wet season.’

At Kondoa Bible College, we rejoice in the enthusiasm of all our students. Fourteen students began their 3-year Certificate of Theology course in August, and right now are on their mid-term break. Most of them would have preferred to keep going, battling away with their essays, which many of the staff like giving them for their mid-term assessment. There are several pastors in the group; others are catechists who hope to be ordained when they have their qualification. Two more students may be joining them after the break. The two-year course students have all eagerly taken on leadership roles in the college, which is great! They too are working well, and benefiting from the computer lessons that Peter is giving them. Their goal is to be able to write their essays on the computer.

We’re at presently applying for work permits so that we can then apply for our residence permits to be renewed. We had hoped that by now there would have been an exemption granted for us as missionaries with the Anglican church but that will be too late for us now if granted. This week has been occupied with a long journey by bus to Dar es Salaam for Peter followed by two days trying to complete our work permit applications and then a long journey back to Kondoa, interrupted by a night in Dodoma, having arrived too late to go on to Kondoa. We pray that we’ll have a positive response to our application so that we can then renew the residence permit before it expires in mid-November.

Recently Peter led both services at the church in Kondoa and fortunately did not have to preach as well. Our pastor was away at a family funeral so he had to ask for the part-time pastor and myself to cover for him. We had a time of thanksgiving as part of the service for David Pearce, who had worked in the 1990’s in Kondoa and still had many who warmly remembered him.

Over a week ago now we received news that Peter’s translated version of a book on grief has arrived in Dodoma. They are waiting for us to collect and then distribute. Thank you to all who have contributed to help this come about. It will be interesting to see what it actually looks like after all this time!

Since our last newsletter we have had several groups of visitors which involved quite a lot of travelling to different parts of the Diocese. It is quieter here at present on that front as the Bishop is away on Sabbatical leave until mid-December.  Please pray for him that he can have some refreshment while away and safety in all his travelling.

Safety on the roads is a constant challenge here. An example of that is for one of our pastors who was travelling on a bus from Arusha on Friday. He ended up in hospital after the brakes of the bus failed on a steep incline and crashed. Many were very badly injured. He escaped with cuts and bruises.

We really do appreciate your interest and sharing in our ministry here in Kondoa. We would love to hear from you too when you have opportunity. Why not leave a comment below?

Image: The current three year Bible course students.

The Mayor Saga Continues

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“He has arrived; he is in office.”

Excellent. Against all odds, we have everybody in the same space. Media present? Tick. Religious leaders? Tick. Mayor in his office with no known escape routes? Tick. Ready for ambush.

Since the Mayor intervened and ruined the last sachet alcohol-impounding operation, he had affectively blocked all enforcement by refusing to let his enforcement officers take part in operations. Theres a lot riding on this ambush.

Our District’s former Anglican Bishop (still an influential figure) and Muslim Sheik lead the way with a gaggle of media swarming behind them. At first, I tactically remain outside. The last time I saw the Mayor, we both lost our tempers. I waited. Then my phone rang and I was summoned inside to join the discussion. Things weren’t going well. The Mayor dodged everything, weaving in lies and half truths. His attack was threefold-

He claimed enforcement was unfairly targeting certain businessmen in the town area, and that we should be going out to the villages. This is true but justified- the main suppliers of illegal alcohol are in town! He claimed that business owners had not been properly ‘sensitized’ to the ordinance, and there should be multiple meetings hosted for business owners to have ‘input’ into implementation of the ordinance. Firstly, the news about the ordinance had already saturated the media since its launch the previous year, and business owners had already had illegal product confiscated! The time for ‘sensitization’ had clearly passed. ‘Sensitization of business owners’ is at best a delay tactic to make sure nothing happens, and at worst, an opportunity for business owners to rebel and swing things to benefit their profit focus. Most bizarrely, he claimed that the first round of impounded sachets were never actually burned, and that the big public bonfire was ‘faked.’ How on earth he thought this ridiculous claim would even help his position, I’m still not sure. Afterwards I provided the video footage and photographs to the media of the sachets being burnt.

The Mayor completely dominated the discussion. The religious leaders (who I clearly had not prepped strongly enough), folded under his pompous display of authority and importance. Too gentle, too polite, their message demanding the Mayor release his enforcement officers for operations was lost. My own attempts to ‘up the anti’ were shushed. We left, I felt deflated.

Outside, we reshaped things with the media, and managed to rework the message to make it stronger!

Despite having essentially failed in our main mission of influencing the Mayor, our ambush had an unexpected positive result. Perhaps frustrated by failed ambush, the Muslim Sheik called the District Chairman and they went on radio and thoroughly dressed down the Mayor. The District Chairman then resolved to go above the Mayor’s head, and ensure enforcement would go on, with or without the town enforcement officers. Boom.

Most of the media coverage was on local radio, but a local reporter also wrote it up on their news blog. 

A busy month coming

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Murray and I have a bit of a heavy travel schedule in October for which we would appreciate prayer for:

From October 5 to 7 we’ll be in Kosovo for a Field Council meeting (oversight group for the Albania/Kosovo ECM missionaries), and to have annual review discussions with the missionaries in Kosovo. From the 7th – 10th we’ll be in Bulgaria to have annual review discussions with the ECM missionaries and national workers there.

From the 17 – 21 October we’ll be in Montenegro, as this year it’s our turn to be the our organisation’s missionary representatives at the annual Albanian Encouragement Project conference and board meeting.

Then from the 24th – 27th Féy will be in Spain to lead the Ministry Direction Group group as they look at all ECM’s missionaries ministry plans for the coming year, as well as evaluating all the new project funding requests.

So yes, October promises to be a busy month! Please keep us in your prayers.

Protests in Togo

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Since early September, there have been demonstrations and protests across Togo, demanding that the current president step down for power. President Faure Gnassingbe has already been in office for 12 years, and he became president following the death of his father who had ruled the country for many years, meaning the Gnassingbe family have been in power for 50 years. Protesters want to see the Togolese constitution limit presidents to two terms in office.

In response to the protests, the Togolese authorities have intermittently blocked internet access, seemingly in an effort to hinder protesters from gathering. The scale of recent protests, which the opposition said were attended by hundreds of thousands of people, represented the biggest challenge to Gnassingbe’s rule since the aftermath of his ascension to power in 2005.

Earlier this week the Togolese parliament sought to pass a bill limiting presidents to two terms in office, but it failed to win approval due to a boycott by opposition lawmakers. Though the opposition are hoping for the two term limit, under the terms of the bill, the current president would be eligible for two further five-year terms that could leave him in power until 2030.

The above video which was released on September 7, gives you a clearer picture of the situation. For more information you can see the articles on the situation at Al Jazeera or Reuters

Nationwide protests are planned again for this Wednesday and Thursday starting at 8am (8pm NZ time). Both the pro-presidential group and the opposition party are planning on protesting at the same time. Miriam Tillman’s team at the Hospital of Hope are taking every precaution to keep safe, and there has been no reported danger for expatriates. But please keep them, and the whole country, in your prayers.

Moving goal posts

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It was a pleasure to see Rev Steve Maina from NZCMS two weeks ago at the Enthronement of the new Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea. The day was bright and colourful – though I can’t say the same about the weather, which was somewhat damp at times. It was also a delight to meet many other old friends and make new ones. The highlight for me however on the Monday following the event where the PNG Bishops sat with their fellow Bishops from Melanesia, England, Australia and New Zealand. They shared their challenges and their mutual hopes for the future of the Anglican Church in PNG.

Now to the question I’m sure you’ve been wondering: Where in the World am I?!  In some earlier newsletters I had said that I’d be relocating again on June 30. It’s now well past 30th of June but… I’m not in the Archbishop’s Office and we are no closer to knowing when I will actually relocate again. Winding back the clock a little, in January I came across to Popondetta to assist at Newton Theological College for ‘six months’ until Archbishop Clyde Igara retired in June.

The new Archbishop, Allan Migi, asked me to continue in my role as his executive assistant for a further term. However that did not mean I would leave Newton College in July, and there continues to be a level of uncertainty around timing – hence the mixed messages in the NZCMS Prayer Fuel about my whereabouts. Simply put: ‘the goal posts keep moving’.

What we do know is that ++Allan will be based in Lae on the same site as the National Office (when he finishes in the Diocese of New Guinea Islands near the end of the year). This means I will not be returning to live in Port Moresby for the foreseeable future but will eventually go to Lae. The building where my accommodation and office space will be is in the process of renovation. So I find myself still living at Newton Theological College in Popondetta.

Thank you once again for your love and prayers.