After lockdown last year and as I went through my week of debriefing with NZCMS, I found myself asking “What could I, a retired missionary and rather weird senior citizen, do?”The debriefing showed me how I was going in adjusting to New Zealand life, where I’ve come and how I can go forward.I’m an encourager and I have a real love for people. When St. Paul’s Symonds St, my home church, reopened after the first lockdown in 2020, I discovered they had an international ministry for students. So I asked if I could help. I joined them on their Wednesday “Free lunch and English conversation” sessions they had. St. Pauls is right between Auckland University and the University of Technology so there are heaps of people walking past! People from Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka, Nigeria – you name it! I learned that Auckland City is amongst the top five most cosmopolitan cities in the world! For many of these people who attend, it’s the first time they’ve ever been in a church. We have about 20 people who volunteer, from many nations and backgrounds. And each and every one of them serves so that they can eventually help those who attend come to Jesus. The leader is Jeremy – a Korean man who has just the right laidback leadership style for this. Some of those who attend are lonely, dispirited, financially struggling and/or poor in English. But most are also willing for prayer. One time a very troubled young woman came in for the lunch. She was from Sri Langka. As one friend of mine Grace and I chatted and prayed for her, it surfaced that she was a Buddhist. I thought “Oh I’m out of my depth here.” But Grace told her of her Buddhist background and how she came to Christ. And the woman responded! It’s so encouraging to see some come to Christ and grow in Him. After attending the lunch they’re then invited to join a Thursday night Worship and Bible study or the Friday English lessons that the church runs. When their time in NZ is finished, some of the people have gone back to their countries of origin and started Bible studies and even churches!More recently, I’ve joined the Church prayer team. One day as I made my way to the front to stand with the other prayer team members during a response time – and telling myself that I am a very inadequate prayer team member – a young Indonesian Muslim woman came up to me with a cry in her heart to get closer to God! I was able to lead her to Jesus and after just one week she is looking so much happier and has also found an Indonesian woman in her office who is also a Christian. Isn’t that incredible! Who knows what else God has in store for her. Recently my beloved sister died in November. Her sickness was one of my main reasons for returning. I still don’t have a place to live yet. But I have found ministry and I am believing in God for more. If you would like to know more about how you can learn to engage with the nations on your doorstep see our events here.
Dianne Bayley, Former Mission Partner
Recently, the Wheelers wrote an update on their arrival to Kapuna which you can read below. If you’d like to receive more of these updates, contact email@example.com.Hello everyone! We are excited to say that we have safely arrived in Kapuna, Papua New Guinea. We’re currently quarantining in the home that has been built for us by the team here. We are incredibly aware of all the things that lined up perfectly for us to get here. We managed to slip through into Brisbane on a quarantine free flight during a two-day window when the borders were open. That meant we were free to go out to the shops as well, buy a few more supplies and play at a new playground near our hotel. We felt hugely blessed to have all our luggage with us, as a large number of bags had to be left in Auckland as the plane was full. Once we’d made it to Port Moresby, our transfer to the hotel went smoothly and quarantine began. Fortunately, we only had two nights before travelling to Kapuna because one hotel room felt very small for a family of five! The kids were a bit challenged by the food we were given too – Rice and beef for breakfast, rice and fish for lunch and rice and chicken for dinner! But we are fortunate to have food. Cross-cultural learning has started! God blessed us again with our travel from Port Moresby to Kapuna. The forecast was for lightning and storms which would make the small plane ride dangerous and the long dingy ride very uncomfortable but the sun shone the whole way and we enjoyed a seamless transfer. The river ride was lovely and kept the kids entertained as they watched for crocodiles the whole way. We have had an amazing welcome to Kapuna. We are required to stay in the house for the remainder of our 14 days isolation, so fresh fruit, (pineapples, pawpaw and coconut) have been brought to us as well as a few meals and lots of socially distanced chatter and coconut husking demonstrations. We’ve inherited a kitten called Hobbs from a kiwi couple who left just before we arrived. He is very sweet and a huge source of joy for the kids. I was hoping he’d be a spider and rat catcher for us but he’s not showing signs of being a hunter just yet! On that note, I’m not feeling brave enough yet to talk about the insect situation. The saucer-sized spider I came across in the bathroom in the middle of the night and who reappeared in our bedroom a day later has my heart racing even while writing this! I’ve been told it may be a Huntsman. All in all, we’re so grateful for the many many blessings along the journey to get us from Wellington to Kapuna. There were so many opportunities for things to go wrong and nothing did. Travelling to this isolated place is tricky at the best of times but in these times of Covid-19, there are so many more rules and socially distanced queues. And oh the paperwork! We thank God for his facilitation of all this. We’re humbled to be quarantined in a beautiful, tropical, super hot home. The internet is currently very intermittent and only accessible when leaning, arm extended, over the balcony. Hopefully, that will get better once they can install a repeater but we’re not sure when that’ll be. We’ll be in touch once we have finished isolating and are able to look around, be introduced with handshakes rather than waves from afar and put to work!Appreciate your prayers for health over this time. We’ve had two minor tummy bugs in two different people as our guts adjust. We have twice daily check-ins to the PNG Covid Controller on our tracking device app and also daily temperature checks. So far so good!Thank you for your prayers and support all. Blessings to you , Nikki and Scott, Isaac, Abby and Levi from Kapuna, PNG
There’s been quite a quiet spell recently as I work with NZCMS on what this year will look like. It’s good to be able to share with you now about what has been decided. Thank you for all your prayers!After a lot of prayer, thought and discussion, NZCMS and I think it is best for me to remain in New Zealand for this year. It has been a tough season in Spain and we both see that what I need is some quality down-time in NZ to recover and refresh before looking at the next season. We agreed that as of April I’ll be on an extended Leave of Absence until November 2021, when we will seek to jointly discern God’s leading around a possible return to Spain.I’ve chosen to begin a wee part-time job at a Farmers branch in Christchurch to have some finances coming in and some routine. The job is three days a week so there is time still time to rest and as energy permits, be involved in other things that I enjoy and where I can use my giftings.Thanks, friends, for all your continued prayers. I feel a bit anxious but also curiously expectant about what this year and beyond holds for me. It has been incredible to see God’s hand at work and he keeps bringing me back to that simple yet profound truth of trusting in Him. Please keep praying with me for my Church in Gijón, Spain and also for the ministry of the Shop. My church still only meets online but thankfully the Shop has been able to remain open and continues to be a beacon of Jesus’ light in the community.During this year I’ll still send out updates on the ministry in Gijón, Spain and also how things are going here.In Christ,Katie.
It was with joy and excitement that The Handa Academy (T.H.A.) here in Battambang, Cambodia was able to open again on Monday the January 18. School had been closed for the last 10 months due to Covid-19. The Cambodian government set in place “Three Phases” for opening schools depending on how well the phase before did. Because T.H.A. is a private NGO school we could open in the third phase. Originally the new school year should have started in November but because of a community outbreak it was postponed yet again until January of this year. It’s been a long wait!
From January 11 – 15 the T.H.A. staff spent time cleaning and preparing the classrooms, the hall, and the grounds. Alongside my work at the T.H.A. as the crafts teacher and helping with the English classes, I also coordinate the Learning Centre. I have 16 years experience in teaching Early Childhood and had some free time so I volunteered to take on a coordinators role to develop this program. It was started sometime in July 2019 by a visiting American team. I had lots of ideas and researched a lot more. I was told it would be for ‘Educational games and books’.
During our week of cleaning and preparation I spent time preparing the Learning Centre. I wanted it to be just right for when our students came back. I’d already purchased the furniture and the resources that we needed and had been storing them in my spare bedroom. I had shelves, boxes of activities, a basket of soft toys, mats, cushions and encouraging posters that I’d made and prepared while school had been shut. We’ve also had all sorts of books and activities donated to us from New Zealand and I’ve also been able to bring resources from various Expats leaving the country which has been a huge blessing. Previous NZCMS Mission Partner, Anne McCormick has been especially instrumental, donating her educational games, puzzles and the Khmer books from the activities program she ran at the hospital she worked at. It is a delight to see the students spending time in the Learning Centre, playing and exploring with the activities and learning as they go. It’s great to see their creativity coming out while using the open ended play resources, such as the blocks and construction straws. I’m spending some time with the teachers to help them understand the benefits and purposes of the Learning Centre so that it will continue in the years ahead.
Booking flights is the season of Covid-19 and uncertainty is our current challenge.We were so relieved to receive our Visa’s just before Christmas but unfortunately, our travel path may involve a two week quarantine period in Brisbane rather than the usual four hour transit period. We would appreciate prayer for the situation as we would really like to avoid quarantining in both Brisbane as well as Port Moresby! The NZCMS travel agent is working amazingly hard for us exploring all options, so please pray for her as she supports us and also our safety from the virus while we travel. We trust that God has this journey all mapped out for us, so we are just taking it day by day, decision by decision as we have been to date. At the moment all of our actions are pushing us towards a departure date of February 23. We have seen God’s hand in the acquisition of our vaccines. Some of the less common vaccines we require aren’t usually kept in New Zealand and need to be ordered from Australia. They’re not easy to come by at the moment with limited international movement and this has been a tricky area to navigate. Despite this, our travel Dr. has managed to get hold of everything we need and we had our first round of vaccinations last week!We are looking forward to finally getting to Kapuna where we will be serving. The community has been patiently awaiting our arrival. We received a lovely email saying they have planted some plants near our house in anticipation of our arrival! Please join us as we pray for safe travel and transit and quarantine.Go here if you’d like to support the Wheeler’s.
Many of you had little to be grateful for last year – my heart goes out to you. To those who lost loved ones, your jobs, or even your motivation to keep going, I pray that this 2021 brings renewal and joy. We mourn and laugh together.I was fortunate enough to have much to be grateful for despite the challenges. I express this gratefulness with some trepidation. Not out of pride or competition, but perhaps to spark a little joy and hope for the year ahead. I am grateful for so many things in 2020. Here are seven.Grateful for our home. Simple by New Zealand standards, while opulent in the eyes of many Ugandans. Just being at home can fill our cup. “For the homeless and the cosseted, may your home be simple, warm and welcoming.”Grateful that coronavirus largely spared the poorest region on earth. Here in sub-saharan Africa (besides South Africa), coronavirus hasn’t wreaked havoc. It’s rare to have a global tragedy where the poorest suffer less than the rich, but the respite is welcome.Grateful that we launched 11 OneDay Health Centers this year, and extend healthcare to tens of thousands of people in remote places. I’m Especially grateful for Emma in Gulu, Josephine in Kitgum and Innocent in Lira who overcame dead months and transport challenges to achieve remarkable things.Grateful for my inspirational wife, who will again tomorrow bike 100km on dirt roads to help remote communities both keep their only home and aspire towards an unlikely but beautiful peace. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”Grateful for the overflowing generosity of people who thought beyond themselves during a crisis to give even more than we needed to live here this year, and to support launching health centers, building health centers, peacemaking and co-vid relief. You know who you are.Grateful for our nurses Elec And Acire, who overcame enormous odds to work with the community and build a beautiful new 4 room health center in Pwunu Dyang. The community now boasts the most remote health center in the Gulu sub-region, more than 4 hours travel from town.Grateful for one of the best holidays I’ve had in years, with a bunch of fine people who both think and care deeply about the people around them.Grateful for discovering John Mark Comer, a spiritual teacher who has sparked new insights into our world, our culture and the sorry state of my own heart. I’ve realized more than ever the need to work first on myself before I leap too fast to judge others.“…love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”
Nick Laing, Mission Partner to Uganda
On February 3, 2020, I began my role as one of two Māori Evangelist for the Manukau, Auckland area in Aotearoa New Zealand. Just over six weeks later Aotearoa moved into alert level 4, putting us all into lockdown.You might be thinking it must be hard to be grateful to God for starting a new evangelism ministry right in the middle of a pandemic. Businesses and education facilities shut down. Tangihana (funerals) were limited to small numbers. Churches were unable to gather. Fear was so present during lockdown in my community that many were tempted to lose hope. But I will show you why I have had many reasons to hope, and many reasons to be grateful for all God did in 2020.New Initiatives of HopeForty-eight hours before Aotearoa moved into level 4 our team, led by the Venerable Archdeacon Lyndon Drake, decided to serve our church community online with an Anglican Eucharist service. We acted straight away and purchased all the equipment required to ensure our live streaming and pre-recorded services ran smoothly. I gave thanks to God for providing the funding needed to purchase this equipment.I also felt that God had told me that a spirit of fear was present in my community. So we advertised our services online and through print, including Psalm 23:1 written in both Māori and English. Incredibly, we reached over a thousand people! Over lockdown, my bubble was the worship team for these services. We recorded songs of hīmene (hymns of praise) and helped to lead some of the liturgies as well.Many people began reaching out for prayer while watching from their homes. They also commented on the preaching, singing and liturgy being broadcast live on social media. How could we not be grateful to God for such an impact!?The team’s second initiative over lockdown was to offer pastoral care by any possible means. We used phone calls, text, e-mails, Zoom and even a couple Facebook messages! We listened to people and prayed with them through their struggles, and many relationships were formed with people who had fallen away from the church. Even in the midst of this pandemic, the Gospel was being shared.Widespread Reach In May, we were able to gather in small groups of 10 people. My whānau and I were part of the worship and prayer group who live-streamed our Sunday Eucharist service from our church, Te Karaiti te Pou Herenga Waka, in Mangere. This service had over 1400 views and 215 comments from people watching, showing how engaged they were. We had more attendance at this online church than we’ve had in quite some time in our Māori Anglican church. On May 24, NZCMS’ second Māori Evangelist, Howard Te Hauoterangi Karaka, and I were given a weekly, 30-minute slot every Sunday morning on a Māori Radio station called Waatea News. We provided a contemporary, bilingual liturgical service and reached up to 5000 people most weeks. This was made possible through our partnership with the Christian Broadcasting Association who helped us record the program we called “Karakia Rātapu”. We continue to lead this service every Sunday at 9:00 am. The team at Christian Broadcasting Association has also blessed us by making Karakia Rātapu into a podcast, which we hope to reach a younger audience with the Gospel.Finally, I also began facilitating a new discipleship program at Te Puea marae here in Auckland, alongside Reverend Mark Barnard, the priest in charge of St James Church in Mangere Bridge. This discipleship program is called Moko-a-Rangi, which translates as “a Heavenly mark of approval”. We use the medium of tāmoko (cultural tattoo) to teach on the theme of identity.We’ve seen the Holy Spirit move powerfully among those who have attended the program, with about ten coming regularly. Our hope is that we will be able to use this program to help people take steps towards Jesus Christ and explore faith through discussion and activities in a safe but also ‘stretching’ environment. We have seen real hope become tangible this year. And it has only inspired us to hope for more. In all this, I give thanks to God for making a way through a very tough year, physically, mentally, and spiritually. I feel as though the Spirit of God is at work, and I’ve just been catching the wave and joining in on what he is already doing! Praise be to God.“…I nga mea katoa me whakawhetai atu; ko ta te Atua hoki tenei i pai ai i roto i a Karaiti Ihu hei mahi ma koutou.“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”– 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Over these past months God has opened many doors to minister the Gospel on my marae, Te Kotahitanga in Te Kōhanga alongside the Waikato River. The word God gave me was: I have called you Te Hauoterangi to be my voice, here and now; just speak without ‘ compromise” and I will do what man cannot do.In September, we conducted our first Karakia Rātapu (Sunday service) at Te Kotahitanga Marae. This is a HUGE and exciting breakthrough, to have the support of my elders; and permission to conduct Karakia Rātapu on a regular basis. A huge number of those that attended were people that only recently, strongly opposed our faith, the church and anything they felt opposed Maori Tikanga.The last time we had regular Sunday services was 1963…a long time ago.Our second Sunday service at the marae, on October 18, was attended by 90 local Iwi. Many of our kaumātua (elders) attended with some travelling from as far as Rotorua, a 3 hour drive! Many of these people had not attended church for over 20 years apart from funeral services.God is good. This ministry has been effective in regards to reaching the unsaved, unchurched and those who have a belief of spirituality but do not know the King of Kings. The Lord is turning the dried wasteland into flowing streams.I praise God for the response of the Gospel in Te Puaha O Waikato. Praise Him for the huge growth of the Marae ministry.
Howard Karaka, Maori Evangelist in the Manakau City area of Auckland
An update while I am in “town’ this week after a three month series of Bible trainings for clergy. Covid19 legislation meant that we are not allowed have large church gatherings. This became a blessing in disguise as we were able to think in terms of small groups of clergy coming deanery by deanery. So we’ve had over 40 attend together for a week doing three things:– Whole of bible Overview – Anglican Studies colleagues think Old Testament and New Testaments overview materials condensed from 12 months to six days!– Theological Reflections– Build a community of men serving one another in worship through household chores such as cleaning and dish washing. Selfishly, it was great to be banned from the kitchen for three weeks.Bearing in mind that the groups were multi-cultural and multilingual, praise God we all survived peacefully. Also, praise God we were fed well. Lastly, I praise God for just enough money from supporters for dinghy fuel and for the generator so we that we had electricity for four hours each evening.”
When God invited me to travel to India I believe it was an invitation into His heart. To see as He does and to care, because He does.I love India. It is vibrant and pungent with aroma and colour. It is ancient and earthy, communal and spiritual. It is raw and real and pulsing with life. Relationships dominate, rather than tasks. India is the people I know.I hate India because, where I have been, there is so much pain and intense suffering and every single story stands as a testament to what is true for thousands, perhaps millions of others. This, let’s be honest, can be overwhelming. But, I guess I want to say is that I’ve come to know there is more than that. Because the invitation continues! Recently I was reading from Luke 24. Jesus had just died and despair and confusion among his followers reigned. Two of his followers were talking about this when Jesus himself joined their conversation. It took some time for the truth to be opened to them. But when they finally recognised Jesus they exclaimed “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us along the road…”The risen Messiah was breathing real hope into the confusion, the despair and the aimless wanderings of these two men on their way to Emmaus. I almost cried, because I know that feeling, of my heart burning within me. The hope of His presence bringing a different future! And this is the stuff that matters to me.You see Jesus’ invitation is not to despair, and not to aimless confusion. His invitation may travel through these, but it has always been to see through His eyes. Eyes of hope. Real hope. Where there seems to be none. And then to love in action.The stories I want to share with you here are stories of transformation. Stories where hope has become real, one baby step at a time and where I see His Kingship touching down on earth which makes my heart burn within me. I’m not sure if, in a few paragraphs of print on a page you will be able grasp the full extent of what these stories mean to the people involved. But let’s see.These few stories I have chosen are from the work of the many dedicated Indian Christians we worked alongside as part of Emmanuel Hospital Association’s (EHA) community work.While these people all live many, many miles from New Zealand, my prayer is that they will encourage you and enable you to think about Jesus’ invitation to you, into His own heart, even be it though despair, that you would be enabled to see with hope and then to act in love. I know they would be excited to know of such impact!NITUNitu is a girl from Bihar in India. Two years ago, when she was 15, Nitu was studying in 9th grade. She was good at her study and dreamed of becoming a teacher but extreme poverty forced her to leave school and work in a neighbour’s field. Being a determined girl however, she re-enrolled herself, but failed her tenth grade exam. After this her father tried to arrange her marriage. The prospect of marrying a much older stranger devastated Nitu. She tried to convince her parents that she should not marry but they too were determined!Nitu heard about a girls group which had been started by the EHA project in her village. She joined the group and told her story to the group members and project staff. Several of the members and project staff visited Nitu’s home and talked with her father about the risks involved in getting married at a young age and that child marriage is a punishable offence. Nitu’s father was unaware that what he was trying to do was illegal and that he could be imprisoned for up to 2 years and fined. He agreed that it would be best to cancel the wedding plans and for Nitu to return to school. The project supported Nitu by paying her tuition fees and she has since passed her tenth grade exam. She is working hard to fulfill her dream of becoming a teacher.THE ROSHNI SELF HELP GROUPIn a mainly tribal area of Champa district, the community had relied on agricultural work. With continuing poor rains and lack of land ownership, there were huge struggles. People were starting to migrate for work (with all the dangers involved in that) or were doing small local jobs. The EHA project working in the area helped 15 of the women form a ‘self help group’. Together they were able to identify some 5 acres of uncultivated land to use. They fenced it off to protect it from animals and worked hard, transforming it into a vegetable growing area. The project team supported by digging a bore well. Through this initiative the women appreciate the time they get to spend working with their friends. Most importantly, they are all now self employed and earning enough to support their families!MR. RAJUMr. Raju is from Fatehpur in the state of Uttar Pradesh. He has had a disability since birth and was totally dependent on his parents for all his needs. Through the EHA project he was supplied with a wheelchair that was customized for him. This enabled him to help with chores and he was able to go out with friends. His parents were relieved with the changes they saw. The project motivated him to take part in a skills training program and he learnt to repair mobile phones. He has since got work at a local phone repair shop and now also can stand and walk a little with a stick.
Amanda, Returned Mission Partner from India