Tess Delbridge talks with NZCMS National Director Steve Maina to find out what courageous faith really looks like.As John Allen Chau prepared to land on the remote North Sentinel island in the Bay of Bengal, its residents known to be violently hostile towards outsiders, he wrote in a letter to his parents, “You guys might think I’m crazy in all this but I think it’s worth it to declare Jesus to these people. Please do not be angry at them or at God if I get killed.”According to his journal, during his first interaction with the tribesmen he shouted, “My name is John, and I love you and Jesus loves you.” They shot at him with bows and arrows. The following day, he was killed by the tribe, his body dragged along the beach and buried. Chau’s story is reminiscent of the story of missionary Jim Elliott, murdered by a remote Ecuadorian tribe in the 1950s, and is somehow both inspiring and frightening for ordinary Christians. “No matter which way you look at it,we need that sort of grit, where you know you’re going to be persecuted, you know you might die, but you’re still willing to go,” says NZCMS National Director Steve Maina. “You’re not being asked to die for your faith in New Zealand, but we still find it hard to share the gospel,” says Steve. “Our confidence in the gospel is getting lost, and we need a reawakening of our confidence and boldness in the gospel.”Steve’s vision for NZCMS is that we would recapture the need for urgent and courageous proclamation of the gospel to all people. “We need to encounter Jesus in such away that he turns our lives upside down. Sometimes I have wondered whether that is actually the problem,” says Steve. “We need to have a living faith and a living encounter with Jesus where it’s his glory we seek rather than our glory or our safety. In 2 Corinthians 5:15, Paul says, ‘he [Jesus] died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.’“Is there a problem with our encounter with Jesus? Have our lives been transformed so much that we are devoted wholly to the saviour who has given his life for us?” Steve asks. That’s the heart of the NZCMS mission.We exist to see lives changed by the gospel, bringing glory to God. This year we expanded our mission focus to include various communities at home here in New Zealand. We appointed someone to research how we could increase our work among migrant communities.We have two mission partners specifically focused on mobilising young people for mission, and we have recently confirmed our first mission partner to work among Maori people in South Auckland. Across the world, the stories of gospel transformation continue. In the Philippines children are coming to the Lord in droves. There are new believers in the Middle East. Families in Asia are being equipped to protect their children from human trafficking, and in Africa, clinics and pharmacies are empowering communities and saving lives. And the stories of transformed lives continue to pour in. These are the stories of what happens when people have a living encounter with Jesus.We give thanks to God for our mission partners and supporters, who have caught the vision of courageous gospel proclamation across the world. But we want to go further. In 2019, NZCMS is prayerfully aiming to raise up 20 new mission partners to take up this challenge of courageous gospel proclamation, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. “We cannot give ourselves to these bold steps without an encounter with Jesus,” says Steve. “People are not naturally willing to give their lives to something where they think there’s a huge risk. But I’m praying that God can help us challenge that because I’m finding that if we’re going to be raising workers for the harvest, we cannot promise them safety. So we need brave people, men and women who are willing to go to places that are broken in this world and bring transformation.”But not all of us need to be John Allen Chau, who was prepared to risk his life for the sake of bringing the gospel to the North Sentinelese. An encounter with the risen Lord Jesus enables each one of us to make courageous decisions to share the love of Christ. For some, being brave in this way may mean risking the good opinion of our neighbours or colleagues in order to see some won for Christ. For others it may mean the loss of a treasured job. And for yet others, it may mean a violent death at the hands of an isolated tribe. Jesus says, ‘the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few’.“Are you going to be brave or safe?”asks Steve. “You can’t be both.”
NZCMS, in partnership with Te Pihopatanga o Te Tai Tokerau, is excited to introduce Te Hau o Te Rangi (Howard) Karaka.
I’ve been in Kenya for just over two months and I am entering into my final month of my placement. As I reflect on what I’ve been able to do, I’m filled with a joyful gratitude.
Nairobi Chapel, where I have been serving, has been an incredible work place of ministry with amazing people. I’ve been able to serve in many different contexts including the youth department, young adults, PPI (Bible in Schools) with the younger kids and am also involved with the worship team.
I’ve been struck by the faith that the leaders have and the amount of prayer that backs this faith up. There is no limit to what God is capable of in the eyes of the Kenyans and in a lot of cases it is all they have. This is something that’s really challenged my way of thinking and something I hope to bring back with me. It is a challenge to the church in New Zealand and an opportunity to learn from our Kenyan brothers and sisters. An example of this is the vision statement of Nairobi Chapel – planting 300 churches by 2020. They have set an impossible task in the eyes of men but have decided to look at it through the eyes of our Father to whom nothing is too big or too impossible.
The last two months have been filled with highlights and memories I will never forget. I’ve seen my faith tested, my dependence on God challenged and my relationship with him grown. God is working in big ways and I’ve learnt a huge amount about myself and also about Him.
I’m constantly thrown in the deep end and it has been a sink or swim reality. I‘ve been given responsibilities of preaching, leading Bible studies and prayer groups, all of which has thoroughly put me out of my comfort zone. Through all of this, I’ve been learning about the limitations of my own abilities and how to depend on God when I find myself stretched.
As I head into my final month I’m praying that I finish my time here strong and that the Lord continues to teach and mould my character into more of a Christ-likeness.
I want to be able to continue to serve at full capacity and be available in any way I can. I’m so grateful for the support from those in New Zealand and the constant prayer. It means the world to me to know that, as I walk out the door, I’m doing so with the prayers and faithfulness of people back at home. I’m also so thankful to the Lord for making this opportunity possible in the first place.
Blessings from Kenya,
The early Christians were Jews and strict monotheists – believers in only one God. But they came to believe that God should be called both ‘one’ and ‘three’ at the same time. Their belief in the Trinity became a central belief (even though ‘Trinity’ is a Latin word not found in the Bible). What persuaded them to do this?
Some New Testament Foundations
Look at the following four New Testament passages and ask, “How do they speak of some kind of ‘threefold’ (Father, Son, Spirit) action of the living God?”John 16:13-15 The Son speaks of his Father and the Spirit Ephesians 1:13-14 Our God-given salvation Romans 8:9-11 The Spirit does God’s work 2 Corinthians 13:13-14 One God of love, grace and fellowship
None of these passages “proves” the Trinity – but they do show how the one God works in a threefold way in our world. That’s why the idea of the Trinity became the heart of the Christian understanding of God. The belief says that God is relational in his very being. The one true God is social not solitary.
God as Trinity
We know the doctrine of the Trinity is true by experiencing and worshiping God as Father, and as Son, and as Spirit – rather than by working it out in our minds. God cannot be fully known by reason; but God can be fully loved and worshiped. The personal salvation we experience reconciles us to God the Father, through the life and death of God the Son, in the power of God the Holy Spirit. So, our Gospel is Trinitarian, and the Trinity is the Gospel. Our eternal life comes from the Trinity, happens through the Trinity, and brings us home to the Trinity.
Our God is not an isolated ‘individual’. Our God – Father, -Son, Spirit – is, we could even say, a ‘small group’. And in the doctrine of the Trinity we feel the heartbeat of God for salvation and mission: moving away from isolation to fellowship and community, and lovingly longing for this for others too.
The Trinity as a ‘divine dance’
This is the suggestion of Baxter Kruger in his book The Great Dance. Kruger uses the image of a ‘divine dance’ to try to explain a key word used in the early church: perichoresis. This word means ‘interpenetration’ – the way in which the concerns of one member of the Trinity become the concerns of each. So, whatever is the ‘work’ of one is the work of each – whether it’s creation, salvation, mission, making us holy, and so on. All three work together in each of these areas and the image of the three dancing is a lovely one that preserves their individuality and their perfect harmony together. So, writes Kruger,
“The logic of the incarnation and death of Jesus lies in the determined passion of the Trinity to share their life, their glory, their great dance with us – and not just with us, but with the whole creation. The dance of the Triune life is no longer just a divine dance. It is now and forever a divine-human dance.”
It’s all about ‘interdependence’ and partnership
Our God is a relational God and he intends that we reflect his relational nature in our lives. This can only happen if we move out of our isolation and into relationship with God and others. Community is not simply one aspect of human life; community is found within the divine essence of the living God. There is a relational heart to our understanding of God. Remind one another of John 3:16. From that “giving” of the Father and Son eventually comes the outpouring of the Spirit – look again at John 16:13-15. By growing the fruit of this Spirit in our lives (look at Galatians 5:22-23a, 25) we live out the message that Jesus, risen from the dead, is indeed Lord.
The self-giving life and serving of the Trinity becomes the model for the self-giving life and serving of God’s people.
The transforming difference that belief in God as Trinity makes
The argument runs like this: since we are made in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27), God is the model and standard for humanity. The essential inner nature of God shows how we should live both as individual Christians and as the Christian community. The model does not focus on us as solitary individuals, but on ‘persons-in-community’. Nor does this life destroy our individuality. This is not independence, and it’s not dependence. It is interdependence. This becomes the ideal for us as people who are made in the image of our Triune God.
Knowing our God as Trinity influences and models the way we should act towards one another. So, what are some practical everyday ways we can partner with our God – Father, Son, Spirit – to bring God’s love and healing to family, neighbours and friends? Imagine how different our world would be if families, marriages, communities and nations lived according to the loving, serving, harmony of our one-but-three God. Now turn that imagining into prayer.
Finally, go back over what’s written above. And then prayerfully think about and respond again to the four bolded paragraphs.
My journey towards overseas mission began as a child when my family and I visited an Operation Mobilisation ship that was moored near to where we lived. After looking around the ship and hearing about life on board from people working there, I told my mum “When I grow up I would like to be a missionary!”
I first visited Fiji in 2015. As I visited villages and special needs schools I began praying and exploring the possibility of doing a short term mission assignment. I’d just completed my degree in Early Childhood but I knew I would have to work two years in an early childhood setting in order to get my registration. During this time, I have continued to feel the passion for overseas mission, and to explore where my experience as an Early Childhood Teacher could be used overseas. Earlier this year I approached NZCMS with a view to them supporting my desire to do short term work in a Kindergarten in Fiji.
Since beginning my journey with NZCMS I’ve felt a peace which I believe is a real confirmation that God is calling me to serve in Fiji. They’ve provided me with the logistical, spiritual and personal support needed to take the next step in serving God on mission overseas. Therefore, from January 2019, I’ll be partnering with NZCMS as an intern volunteering as an early childhood teacher at St Christopher’s Kindergarten in Suva. As I prepare for this new season please pray for:A continued sense of God’s call and peace as my time overseas gets closer A sense of his peace and presence as I settle into a new country and a new role And the knowledge and assurance that God is with me
“This then is how you should pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:9-13)
I think it’s so powerful this prayer. It seems likes Jesus didn’t separate his prayer life with God from the will of God. I often think of my “re-charging and connection time” with God as quiet, prayerful reflections. And certainly there are times for that! But what if prayer could be so closely entwined with our being obedient to God, that doing God’s will and seeing his power transforming this would is just as re-charging and connecting as our quiet times?
I’m reminded of John 4, where Jesus is speaking with the woman at the well. After she leaves, Jesus’ disciples tell him he should eat something. And Jesus replies “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” Wow. Isn’t that a powerful statement. Jesus was so connected with his heavenly father that doing his will was his source of ultimate fulfillment and nourishment.
What if prayerful and spiritual fulfillment didn’t just encompass our quiet times with the Lord but included the times that we were serving others? Acting. Doing. Knowing we are being replenished by acting in the authority and power of the God.
I woke up with my heart leaping from my chest. My mind and emotions were not at rest. I had made some decisions that might have impacted my family negatively. I felt a lack of communication and a tangible sense of unease in some of my primary relationships. I felt more tired than I thought I should be, flat spiritually and as if discouragement had somehow attached itself to my insides. In other words, I felt some kind of spiritual resistance. I think I was under attack!
Scripture tells us we have three primary enemies: the devil, the world and the flesh. When D.L Moody – an American evangelist in 1837-1899 – was asked one day, “Who is the biggest obstacle in your ministry?” his response was, “D.L. Moody!” That has also been my experience. My biggest problems are usually caused by… well, me, to be honest. But before we get too discouraged, Moody also said, “If this world is going to be reached, I am convinced that it must be done by men and women of average talent.”
And I think that means we don’t need to be spiritual giants or super humans to deal with spiritual attack. But we may need to be alert, because the devil, that enemy Satan, is an opportunist, and just loves to find a chink in our armour. He tries to irritate, distract or harm us. It can be mistakes we make, sins we commit, sins of omission, and even sins we have been forgiven that he may suggest we are not really forgiven for, that Satan will use against us.
So when we find ourselves in what may very well be a spiritual storm, what can we do? Scripture is the obvious place to start, and I love the clear, practical advice in James 4:6-10:
“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
’God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble’.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
Good old James is so sensible and practical, isn’t he? The following are some practical steps we can take.Submit to God. Do things God’s way. Am I part of the problem, in my actions and attitudes? Confess it to God. Clean up any unfinished business. Is there anyone I have harmed or neglected etc? Go to them soon, apologise and ask for forgiveness. Then, resist the devil. Simply, clearly and with the authority God has promised in the scripture above. I believe that if you’ve acted on the first two steps, then any legal ground the enemy may have to hassle you is gone. You will find that “mountains” become “molehills” pretty quickly, the fog will lift and you will be able to see the sun and the way forward again.
Just a small example of this. My wife, Ruth, and I pastored churches in New Zealand for about ten years, and we had five small children. And if ever Ruth and I were going to have an argument, it would seem to erupt just before we were heading off to church on Sunday mornings. If ever a child could not find one shoe, it would be Sunday morning. If ever a child was to throw up all over their best clothes, yes, it would be Sunday morning! So, we would not arrive at church happy and serene as befitting our station! It didn’t take too long to see this was becoming a pattern. Did the devil cause these things or just take advantage of them happening? I’m not sure, but what I do know is that he loved to see us angry and frustrated right before we headed off to church.
When we prayed that this pattern – and our reactions – would change, almost immediately things improved. Yes, there was still the occasional lost shoe or vomit, but our reactions to these things became much gentler and more loving towards each other. And, as a bonus, we became more strategic as well! We would make sure all the shoes and clothes were laid out and ready on Saturday night. Also, I (Mike) would try and have my sermon written and finished off by Thursday night to relieve any ‘late pressure’.
Usually, when I don’t see a change for the better or have a breakthrough, it’s because I have tried to shortcut the process, and have not completed steps one and two properly before entering the battle. I have to remember that “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” I believe the most effective warfare stance is the bent knee and a humble, teachable heart.
Some may say, “This battle is not spiritual, it is emotional, psychological, physical, circumstantial, etc. and I don’t see a devil or demon hiding behind a bush waiting to attack.” Well that is ok; however you perceive it is fine with me. Yet I still think the principles outlined in James will put you in a far more secure place, knowing that you are submitted to God, open to his guidance and striving to be at peace with others in your world.
This will give you victory over many kinds of battles.
Mike works on staff at the NZCMS central office in Christchurch.
This article is part of NZCMS’ quarterly magazine Intermission. Each article will be uploaded periodically and can be found online at nzcms.org.nz/intermission. Alternatively, to receive a physical copy of the magazine, feel free to email us at email@example.com or call on 03 377 2222.
I’ve now been in Nairobi Kenya for over a week and decided it was time to stop and reflect on the blessing and provision of God and all that has happened.
“‘Because he loves me,’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honour him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation’.” – Psalm 91:14-16
I was given this Psalm as I left to begin my journey and the promises in this passage have rung so loud and true, not just for travel, but for the whole journey and preparation involved in my trip to Kenya.
I titled this “God’s blessings and provision” because that is how I would describe the journey to get to Kenya over the last six months. From the year in which the internship at Nairobi Chapel came about and the smoothness of it falling into place, I can only give credit to the Lord. Watching him provide a job for me when over 80 people applied so that I could help fund this journey, to seeing people generously giving in ways I didn’t think possible. I’m in awe of the way the Lord provides for those who seek him.
I arrived in Kenya after a safe, easy traveling experience and had a car waiting for me to pick me up that I’d not arranged. And finally, it’s been such a blessing meeting those I’ve met so far and seeing the joy they have about themselves and filled with such a servant attitudes. The Lord’s provision and blessing has been more than I can handle and I’m reminded of the grace he shows all of us when we have nothing to offer. I’ve called on the Lord and he has answered in so many ways.
If I were to ask for anything it is that you would pray that I keep my eyes and ears open to both seeing and hearing from the Lord. And that my heart would be revived but also ready to give back and show God’s love and grace to those who are brought across my path.
Hopefully this may be an encouragement and reminder of “God’s blessing and provision” and point towards his amazing grace for all.
-Sam, NZCMS Intern.
Last week, we sadly announced that Monica Meadowcroft had passed away. She passed on September 22 and her funeral was held on September 26. Monica was a NZCMS Mission Partner, council member and life long member of NZCMS. Below is a tribute written by her son Tim Meadowcroft, which we would like to share with you and the wider NZCMS family. Please pray with us for the Meadowcroft family during this time.
Our mother, Monica Meadowcroft, died on 22 September 2018 aged 91. She was born Monica Morris in 1927 in Wantage in the south of England, where her father was teaching at King Alfred College. The family came to New Zealand when Mum was three, for her father to take up a post as head of maths at Christs College. He held this post till his retirement. So much of Mum’s upbringing revolved around Christs College and the house in Watford Street, Papanui.
She attended Christchurch Girls High and is remembered to have had lunch regularly with a group of friends on the roof of the old school in Cranmer Square. During this period she was influenced to faith by, among others, Alison Moore who later married Ken Dalley and served with him in medical mission with NZCMS in East Africa. She attended a strong young people’s ministry at St James, Lower Riccarton in the 1940s. She met Dad, who had come down from Nelson to university in Canterbury while washing dishes in the vicarage after evening services and then walking home with him through Hagley Park. The washing of dishes seems to have been deployed as a courtship device in such circles.
Mum completed a BSc in Maths and subsequently taught maths and science briefly at St Margaret’s College. She continued to get to know Dad in the context of the Evangelical Union and the ministry of Roger Thompson at St Martins, Spreydon. They walked home from the evening Bible Studies at St Martin’s also; they seemed to walk home a lot and were still doing it 70 years later, 66 of which were as a married couple.
During these years, the late 1940s, Mum and Dad were part of a flowering of Anglican mission interest amongst young people that would fuel NZCMS for the next generation. They were both active in the League of Youth. A number of people from those years remained close friends. Those years also included being associated with the maturing influence of older returned servicemen students in immediate postwar years. Pakistan was a focus during this period, and Mum, independently of her relationship with Dad, was developing a keen interest in work in India.
After a brief period teaching at Christs College after university, Dad was ordained in 1951 into the Nelson Diocese and posted to Greymouth as curate. He was required to board with the vicar and his mother, and this was not much fun at all. In the meantime, Mum and Dad maintained their courtship by utilising the midnight railcar between Greymouth and Christchurch. Due to his difficult accommodation circumstances, Dad lobbied vigorously for permission to marry before the end of the curacy. He got the dispensation, so Mum married Dad in August 1952, and I arrived in rapid but respectable time.
In their wedding photos, Dad is wearing one of those big old-fashioned clerical collars. It was clear that in marrying Dad, Mum was signing on to her own vocation as ministry in support of Dad’s ordained ministry. This she carried out with great panache and intent. We remember growing up in a hospitable environment, sometimes, from a child’s perspective, annoyingly so. It was a model of generous living. This hospitality continued through the entire period of active ministry.
After a spell working with Dad in Seddon parish, Mum set off with him and a young child by ship to England, round the Horn and through the Panama Canal due to the Suez crisis of 1956. A formative time at Liskeard Lodge in Kent, including regular teaching from Max Warren, was followed by sailing for Pakistan in early 1957. The time in England was a chance for Mum to connect with what she grew up thinking of as “home,” as many New Zealanders of the time did.
We most recently have seen in Mum, a frail old lady. I see a young woman heading off to the unknown with a small child in the days when communications were distant. I see her giving birth to twins in a small clinic up in the Murree Hills, not having previously known she was carrying twins, Michael and Kathy. I see her losing our sister Lucy at several hours old in 1963 and burying her in Sialkot. From that period she was comforted by a verse from Proverbs that hung on her wall for many years: “The blessing of the Lord it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” I see her coping for weeks on end with three children on her own as the patterns of mission life required regular separations from Dad. I see her making a home wherever she found herself. I see her sending her children away to boarding school for six months a year when communication was no more than a weekly letter (written under duress by one party). I see her working as a research lab technician to put Dad through a degree in Princeton. I see her travelling internationally with young children and negotiating the complexities of arrivals and departures in foreign ports. And I remember her being unable to return home when her mother was killed in a road accident in 1974. She spent some hours running around the Murree hillside searching for a working telephone to ring home. Again, such were communications in those days. And of course amongst all this were the many joys of international relationships sustained over the years.
After a term in Karachi on the first arrival in Pakistan, the 14 years at Gujranwala Theological Seminary in Punjab were the centrepiece of both Mum and Dad’s ministry during their time in Pakistan, up to 1975. During those years Mum’s gifts of administration and hospitality flourished. She was on the board of Murree Christian School for a period. Her home was well organised and hospitable, and she was involved in manifold ways in the life of the seminary, from bookkeeping to dispensary work to literacy training to family planning campaigning. These were years of great challenge and significant achievement in ministry; all were supported and enabled by Mum.
From their time in parish ministry back in New Zealand, many can attest to Mum’s focus on making the vicarage a centre of parish life, first in Papanui and then St Matthews, Dunedin. Ministry in both parishes was marked by the development of active groups of young adults into faith and leadership, enabled in no small measure by Mum’s ministry of hospitality and open home. Both were busy parishes, and especially in Dunedin included a strong student focus.
Mum with Dad continued to maintain a strong commitment to NZCMS. Mum spent some years as a member of the council, and she was made a life member of the Society.
Mum loved the caravan and trips to Hanmer and earlier to Waikouaiti out of Dunedin. The years of retirement at Wyn Street in Hoon Hay and then in the villa at Santa Maria/Thorrington Village enabled Mum to express her love of gardening and pets. She became active in St Andrews and St Nicholas.
Mum had a simple, unquestioning faith, which helped to ground those around her. A strong and determined person, she became a leader in places where she has found herself. According to Dad, “she became the leader of every group to which she has ever belonged.” This meant of course that she could occasionally be known to be quite formidable. Yet, for all that, she lived in service of others.
In recent times, Mum has become increasingly confined, and Dad has cared assiduously and lovingly for her. We are grateful for the staff at Thorrington Village for their care of Mum and flexibility with us as a family. The evident distress of so many staff at Mum’s passing is a testimony both to Mum and to their own caring of her, for both of which we are grateful. Mum’s was a life well-lived.
After she died, I found a small book of love poems which had been given to her by Dad. It was marked at Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem, “If Thou Must Love Me.” It opens with the line, “If thou must love me, let it be for naught / Except for love’s sake only.” Our mother both received and gave that kind of love for seventy years with Dad. And we who have been produced by and come within the orbit of that love have been blessed.