It’s always such a joy to sit and listen to people tell stories about God’s mission and how they found themselves caught up in it.This week we bring you a video of Dianne Bayley, – recently retired Mission Partner – chatting with NZCMS’ Mission Enabler Kirstin Cant about the beginnings of her journey serving in the Philippines 43 years ago. We hope it inspires you about how God works and calls each of us so differently.Watch the video HERE.
In this story, we hear from our Mission Partner John and how he and his family chose to respond to their unexpected evacuation. We also share a video from one our Mission Partners for prayer, and don’t miss an important update of NZCMS family news at the bottom of this email.Responding to Times of ChangeBeing an evacuee has not exactly been something I had on my bucket list. And though the country my family and I we were in had a fairly severe lockdown, my thought was “Well, evacuation is a pretty strong word. It’ll never happen to us.” Needless to say, it was a shock when our course suddenly changed and we quickly found ourselves being evacuated to Europe, sitting on a Qatar Airways charter flight with the airline staff dressed in hazmat gear.Response vs ReactIt’s a unique time for humanity, where all of us find ourselves caught up in a global mess with no clear solutions, answers or pathways forward. Each and every one of us has been forced to react to what’s happening.And that’s what we’ve seen: a lot of reacting. Panic buying. Anger. Blaming. Protests. Counter-protests. Anti-counter-protests. Instinctive, emotive, knee-jerk reacting has been hard to avoid.But I believe, in times like this, God actually calls us to respond rather than react. To pause and, from a posture of trust, lift our hands to heaven and ask how should we act in this present moment? Responding isn’t to deny the reality we find ourselves in; it’s simply to recognise that we always exist within a much greater reality, God’s reality, and to think, process, decide, feel and imagine from within God’s reality rather than ours.Put differently, it’s easy to get caught off-guard by all the things that are no longer possible, and as a result we can miss the new opportunities that are in front of us. The pandemic has absolutely disrupted life as usual, but it’s also opened doors that we had previously missed, and even created new ones.There are a good number of people, families and organisations who have faced the reality of our current situation and asked “What do we need to change?”. They’ve found a way to pivot and to hold onto their vision, purpose and calling and make whatever changes are needed to continue forwards.What has been our response to this?While we were still in Asia we found ourselves unable to do pretty much anything we were there to do. But as it turned out, because everyone else in Asia was facing more or less the same thing, we realised that we could start running our trainings online from Europe. After all, everyone else was also stuck at home!Within a month, we were able to offer training to around 100 people and were quickly adapting our methods for online platforms. And what’s more, because we’re now thinking in a different way, we discovered that the potential reach from our humble home office is actually huge, in spite of it being hundreds of miles away!As a result of this, though our vision is the same as it was before, it feels like the pipe-dream that we originally had of influencing and empowering leaders right across Asia, is actually possible!We have new tools, new strategies, new partners, and even new dreams, all which will still carry that vision forward in far better ways than before. Rather than merely hunkering down, we chose to respond rather than react and therefore discovered opportunities we previously couldn’t see.My family and I have decided to embrace the stressful, scary unknown and take some pretty real risks. We’re still in the middle of the unknown and have basically no idea what the future holds. But we’ll keep trying to change, respond and lean into God as best as we can.So what’s God placing in front of you, and how are you responding?John,NZCMS Mission Partner to Asia
Hearing for the First TimeWe gather together at the end of the day, sitting on grey plastic chairs, our open Bibles illuminated by one solar light. I look around at my sisters in Christ, women from different language groups, representing diverse cultures yet together nonetheless to share in the hearing of the Gospel.We start with a few praise choruses accompanied by an eight-string hand-made ukulele. After a brief prayer of thanksgiving, we open our Pidgin English Bibles to The Sermon on the Mount. As I begin to read aloud, they turn toward me, attuned to the words of Christ: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. As we meditate upon and discuss the text around our circle, the words of Scripture come alive in the tropical evening.As a missionary in the Solomon Islands, a chain of islands in the South Pacific, it is my joy to work with my husband as teachers at an Anglican Seminary. The enrolled students are all men and many of them bring their wives and families to the school for their last two years of study. Their wives are then able to join the Women’s Ministry Program, which equips them to partner with their husbands.All but one of my women students have only a primary level education, and on average they finished formal education after the fourth grade (approx age 10). They struggle with feelings of inferiority and ineptitude when it comes to studying anything, especially the Bible, a realm that they are more than happy to leave to their soon-to-be ordained husbands.However, it is a beautiful thing to behold these women, despite their fears and insecurities, showing up every Monday night and opening themselves up to hearing the precious word of God. Many of them are unable to read fluently, so instead they open their ears to let the Gospel in. Their attitudes represent what it means to be poor in spirit, in a place of emptiness and need at the feet of Jesus. Most of the time, they are hearing the words being read for the very first time.Listening WellIn an oral culture, listening is a far more practiced art than the act of reading. Sometimes I am shocked when someone repeats back to me something I said in a context where I thought nobody was listening.At feasts, when important guests are given a turn at the microphone for a speech, I look around at the crowds of people sitting around in the shade of fruit trees, eating roasted pig, sweet potato and fish. Most of them seem oblivious to the man talking. Many of them are even talking loudly amongst themselves, chewing and spitting betel nut, barely even looking at the speaker. But rather than not paying attention, these men, women, and children are actually tuned in and could tell you exactly what was said if you asked them afterwards.When Jesus went up on that hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee and sat to teach the crowds, I’m guessing it was a very similar scene to the Solomon Islanders sitting around at a feast. Over the din of playing children, squabbles between siblings and chitchat, those Israelites had their ears tuned in to hear the Master’s words. They were the very first ones to hear what we as modern Christians have the privilege of reading again and again.Poor in SpiritAround our little circle of chairs, we read Jesus’ words to those who would hear and open their hearts to the transforming power of the Gospel: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Those who are poor in spirit are those who do not think highly of themselves, but rather come to Christ ready to be filled with his Holy Spirit. Men and women who are poor in spirit will see God’s will be done here on earth, as it is in heaven. They will get a glimpse of what is yet to come.The women in my Bible Study are hearing the Word of God in clear Pidgin English for the first time and are soaking it all in. One of my students has said to me several times, “Before, I just heard the words being read from the Bible. But now I can actually understand them!”Reading together in a common language is making the Word alive to them. As I said farewell to a woman leaving the school yesterday, she tearfully told me that when she came to the school, she came with an “empty heart.” She continued by saying that she had learned so much, especially about the Bible through our classes and Bible Study.These women have never had access to Bible Study guides, inspirational Christian books, topical studies or video teachings. Instead, they sit in dim light, holding an open Bible, allowing the Light of the World to shine on them and show them the path of discipleship.What about us?We as Western Christians can’t fake poverty. No matter how hard we try to simplify and reduce the clutter of our physical lives, the fact still remains that we are privileged to have a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips. So how can we become “poor in spirit” when we are just too rich in comparison to our brothers and sisters in the 2/3 World?When the rich young ruler comes to Jesus in the Gospel of Mark and asks how he can enter the kingdom of heaven, Jesus tells him to sell everything he owns and give it to the poor before following him. The young man leaves downcast and bereft, knowing all to well that his heart and very life are set upon his wealth and that he is not willing to give that all up for the sake of following this Saviour.Where do our hearts lie? For many of us, our status, education and wealth are dearer to us than the voice of Jesus. We are like the rich young ruler in this story. “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mark 10:23). While he could not make the choice to follow Christ, we can! When the disciples ask Jesus in dismay, “Who then can be saved?” (Mark 10:26) Jesus lovingly responds, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God” – Mark 10:27.We can make the choice to follow Christ, to hear his voice in the Scriptures and to come to our Heavenly Father as children with empty hands and supple hearts.Simplify for a SeasonI recently met a retired missionary pastor who was reminiscing about how many books he had owned at the height of his ministry. As he prepared each Sunday Sermon, he would pore over numerous translations, commentaries and other Christian texts in an effort to get to the heart of the passage that he was going to preach to his congregation. Upon his retirement, he sold his entire library to a budding seminarian.He thought he would dearly miss his faithful leather-bound companions, yet what he found was quite the opposite. He was delighted by the simplicity of reading a passage of scripture and allowing the words to seep into his heart, mind and spirit. He still preaches occasionally and an NIV Study Bible is his only resource. He has found freedom in dwelling deeply in the Word of God.What if we were to set aside our books, study guides and other devotional materials for a season and simply allow the Word of God to speak to us? Take a week or month, to de-clutter your devotional library and focus solely on the Bible. Join together with millions of brothers and sisters around the world who hunger and thirst for righteousness and find real food and drink in the pages of Scripture.Look at it as a spiritual fast. When the noise of the words and opinions of others are quieted for a while, perhaps we are able to hear afresh what God wants us to hear.Refocused and RenewedWhen you return from your time of fasting, you will have fresh eyes and ears. You will have feasted on the Word and found how it feels to be “poor in spirit.” As you reintroduce other books and materials to your reading, you will be able to better discern those resources that nurture your love for God’s voice and those that distract you. Just as you might return from a physical fast to face a plethora of tempting food choices, you will have feasted on what is good and necessary and know which things you can live without. Let’s be more interested in what the Bible says than what others say the Bible says.Come to Jesus in his Word as beloved children, setting your gaze upon him and opening your empty hands towards him to be filled to overflowing.
Tess Hicks, Solomon Islands
Keri-Ann Hokianga, NZCMS Maori Evangelist
Life in New Zealand is starting to feel more normal for many of us. Recent months have been hard, especially for those who have lost jobs, but there is also a strange sense of normality – we can visit cafes, go shopping, and gather at church. However, there is also a sense of disjuncture knowing that even as life goes on here, in many countries COVID19 is causing untold a suffering.What does it mean to be part of the global Church at this time? This question stirs us. In our church calendar this week we celebrate Trinity Sunday. We are reminded of the community of love in God’s own being: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is a relationship and community that extends beyond the Trinity to include us – the Church. Like the God in whose image we are made, our identity is communal. As a member of the global Church we are part of the one body of Christ. This is language that we are used to hearing, and it has become very familiar. But the implications of living into this reality are radical.When we are baptised, we become united with Christ and we become a member of Christ’s body, the Church. At baptism, this membership becomes our primary identity: “for in one Spirit, we were all baptised into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor 12:13). Our identity as a Christian, part of the body of Christ, comes before our nationality or any other human marker of identity. We are ultimately citizens of the Kingdom of God and this identity comes before what’s written in our passport.Another implication of our membership as Christ’s body is “if one member suffers, all suffer together.” (1 Cor 12:26). When I wrote funding proposals for development projects in a previous role, it was common to use language such as ‘beneficiaries,’ or ‘developing countries’ that signifies the otherness of those in need. These designations, which categorise humans into ‘us and them’ are ultimately invalid in the Kingdom of God. There is no ‘us and them’: there is only one body. We are to experience the suffering of our Christian brothers and sisters like it is in our own body.As members of the global Church, we do not have the option of sheltering ourselves in a safe New Zealand bubble and forgetting the rest of the world. We are called to live into our membership of the global Church, a body with Jesus Christ as our head.At a missions conference last year, I sat at the same table and prayed with Bisoke from Bunia in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tess Hicks, one of our Mission Partners serving in the Solomon Islands. Recently, I shared with Tess messages from Bisoke about the situation in Bunia, and she immediately wrote back asking how to give. This is what it looks like to live as the body of Christ: to live out this metaphor in our actions.As a family with a heart for global mission, NZCMS intentionally looks out and engages with the global Church. New Zealand is facing an economic recession, and we know that NGOs like us will face financial challenges. At the same time, we want to not only look to our own interests, but also to the interests of others (Phil 2:4).In this context, I want to share with you some needs from our CMS counterparts in Africa. NZCMS is part of a global CMS network – we are sister societies who seek to support and learn from each other.The director of CMS Africa, Canon Moses Bushendich, shared with me recently the needs that their local partners are seeing and responding to. He writes:“Many states have instituted lockdowns in response to Covid19 without capability to support those who live on daily wages. Many people have lost their jobs, a means of survival. Pastors in churches cannot get paid because congregations cannot meet and raise the usual offertory. Many families have a real threat of hunger.Several communities, especially in Northern Uganda, have been suffering drought the last few months and when the rains came, there were fresh invasions of desert locusts that are ravaging crops.In Bunia, DR Congo, Local Partner Bisoke has sent distress calls over war and killing that has hit him closely. Conflict has displaced 400 families coming to his peace centre for refuge. Normally food for the centre comes from the surrounding villages, but now there is no food coming which means that life is so hard. More children are developing malnutrition.Images coming from Kivu Province in DR Congo show floods with many feared dead and hundreds displaced from homes. Our CMS Africa Local Partners are on the frontline all over the continent calling for prayer, for practical relief, and supporting efforts to alleviate suffering.”It hurts us to read and hear this account of our body suffering; it’s overwhelming, and it challenges our own sense of comfort and safety. Together we are brought to our knees in prayer as we bring our concerns before a loving, present, and redeeming God. We pray that God would show us how we can be the hands and feet in this world at this time, with whatever we find in our hands. We invite you to continue to pray for our brothers and sisters around the globe who are experiencing so many devastating challenges. We also invite you to consider how you might offer what resources you have to the global Church.Relational Relief GivingWe are opening an appeal for giving to CMS Africa’s Local Partners who can distribute shopping vouchers to families in need.Here is how a small amount can make a big difference: One shopping voucher worth KEs 2,500 (Approx $40NZD) buys basic food and sanitation needs for a household of 6 people for 1 month.Directions for how to give:– Go to the “What would you like to support?” drop down menu – Select “Other”– Go to the section”Name of Mission Partner or Project”– Type “CMS Africa Appeal”As a member of Christ’s body, we are on a journey of learning what our identity as citizens of God’s Kingdom looks like in this Covid19 world. We pray that God would continue to teach us what it means to suffer, reach out, give, receive, and see beyond our own borders. As we live into the reality of ‘one body and one Spirit,’ we ask God to shape our hearts and to be ever-transformed into the likeness of the triune God. Your sister in Christ,
Rosie Fyfe, NZCMS National Director
Prayerless Striving. I used to work for a global anti-slavery organisation. The founders of the organisation were passionate, faith-filled, Jesus followers who were dedicated to seeing God’s Kingdom come through the rescue of men, women and children around the world. They were willing to pay the price to follow God and serve His world. Yet after several years of giving their all, there was little to show for it.When one of the founders talked to his mentor about this frustration, the mentor described their deep commitment to their work as “prayerless striving.” They were desperate to see God’s Kingdom break through but spent little time in prayer. When I joined a decade later, the work day for the entire staff began in personal devotion and prayer. Later in the day, every office around the world stopped their work as investigators, lawyers, social workers and administrators, and gathered to pray for God’s Spirit to move powerfully.
Setting aside “productive time” to pray saw more fruit than we could have imagined, breakthroughs in places where there had been resistance, and thousands of people rescued into lives of freedom. The work remained as challenging and costly as ever before, but was now under-girded by prayer and that made all the difference.Praying as One Many of us already have rhythms of prayer in our daily lives individually and as local faith communities. Many of us already pray faithfully for our Mission Partners, and for the places and communities they serve. We pray because we believe that God’s Spirit is active and working to bring about His Kingdom. We pray because we believe that prayer makes a difference – in this world and the one to come. What we do here has echoes in eternity!But sometimes we forget the power of praying together. In Chronicles, God says to his people “[I]f my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (Chron 7:14), God makes this promise to a collective. Jesus affirms this when he says “when two or three are gathered in my name, there am I with them”(Matt 18:20).Yes, God hears and responds to our individual prayers. But when God’s people come together in agreement to pray for the things of God’s Kingdom, something happens, something shifts.This year, the NZCMS Intercultural Communities Project is helping to lead the Wellington Anglican Movement as they engage in Thy Kingdom Come, a global prayer movement from Ascension to Pentecost. After Jesus ascended into heaven, his disciples “along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers”(Acts 1:14) joined together constantly in prayer. When the day of Pentecost arrived, God poured out the Holy Spirit on these followers and sent them to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom.We know that our world still needs the transformative work of the Spirit. We know that frequently the movement of God’s Spirit has come through a movement of prayer. The most powerful thing we can do, to see God’s Kingdom come, is to pray together; to pray as one people in the name of Jesus.One of the founding principles of the Church Missionary Society is to begin with prayer. As a global mission movement, the call is to begin with prayer before acting, relying on the Holy Spirit to guide our actions. This is part of our DNA as NZCMS, and it is a constant challenge and reminder to pray for our global partners in mission, and for the transformative work of God to break through in the communities where they serve.The Global ChurchThy Kingdom Come helps to connect us with our brothers and sisters in the global church in a way that we don’t often have opportunity to do. Joining our brothers and sisters in this way is an act of loving care, mutuality and solidarity. It reminds us that we are all part of the one body – and that we are united in both our joys and suffering in Christ, through the one Spirit. Likewise, we can be encouraged that others will be praying for the things that we long for, interceding on behalf of our friends and family, community and country.Praying with the global church also helps to reinvigorate our own prayer lives.Have you ever been in a room with someone fervently interceding and been inspired to pray with more boldness?Have you sat in silence with others, the air thick with thepresence of the Holy Spirit?Have you heard testimonies of healing, of freedom, of miracles and had your faith enlarged?Have you spoken words of a liturgy that feel like they were written just for you?Praying with others who are different from us reminds us of God’s goodness and faithfulness, refreshes and redirects our energy, and enlivens and re-energises our own faith. Will you join us in this global movement of prayer?Join the Global MovementYou can access the resources created through the Intercultural Communities Project and Anglican Movement Wellington here: https://movementonline.org.nz/blog/thy-kingdom-come-21-31-march-2020Or connect with the global movement here: www.thykingdomcome.globalAs NZCMS, one of the gifts that we offer to the church in New Zealand is our connection to those engaging in God’s mission throughout the world. We have curated these multimedia presentations from our partners sharing from around the world to be used over Thy Kingdom Come.
Ana Fletecher, NZCMS Intercultural Communities Enabler
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A decade ago, the idea of being a missionary was so problematic for me that I almost didn’t sign up to serve with NZCMS. The label of missionary is value-laden – there’s a whole lot of assumptions underlying how we understand what it is to be a missionary. Is it someone who’s sent out by a missions agency? Is it only people who serve overseas? Is it only front-line evangelists? Is it a dirty word tied up with colonialism?Last week on Happy Hour, a new weekly zoom gathering featuring a panel of Mission Partners, we grappled with the question “Should we still be sending missionaries in 2020?” It’s a bold question to ask for a mission society, but one we ask seriously. God and His mission do not change, but the world does. As NZCMS, we seek to respond to the needs of the world, and we continue to ask ourselves what is our role to play. So what does it mean to be an NZCMS family participating in God’s mission at this time?The world has changedWe don’t ask this question from a blank slate but instead lean into our story and identity. NZCMS is founded on the passionate call of CMS in 1799 to ‘evangelise the unreached world,’ a mission movement which brought the Gospel to Aotearoa in the first place. It’s built on the global vision of NZCMS, founded in 1892 to send missionaries from New Zealand to the rest of the world.But since then our world has changed. When CMS first sent out missionaries, over 90% of the Church lived in the West: now 75% of Christians live outside of the West. New Zealand itself is also a mission field. NZCMS’ recent initiatives around Reverse Mission – bringing missionaries from overseas to New Zealand – and Intercultural Communities – reaching out to different cultures within New Zealand – have challenged the Church here to see these mission opportunities in our backyard.In the light of changes in the global Church, we must ask: what is the role of missionaries sent out from New Zealand now?The distinction that is sometimes made between mission and missions is helpful. “Mission is the whole life of the church witnessing to the whole world” (Michael Goheen in Introducing Christian Mission Today). Mission is what we are all called to do, wherever we are. It is showing God’s love in our words and in our actions; bringing our world closer to the reality of God’s Kingdom and proclaiming Jesus Christ as King. Missions is used more specifically: “Missions is one part of mission, establishing a gospel witness where there is none or where it is weak”.Reason #1: Reaching the UnreachedWe continue to train and send people to participate in missions in other parts of the world. Even with the growth in the number of followers of Jesus in the Global South, there is still a need to establish and strengthen a Gospel witness to unreached peoples. We are called to the places where there is no indigenous community of believing Christians who can share Jesus with people in their own context. Several NZCMS Mission Partners are front-line evangelists in these contexts, sharing the good news of Jesus in other languages and within different cultures.Reason #2: Partnering with the Global ChurchWe also send people to support the mission of local churches around the world. The global Church is the body of Christ, diverse in how we worship and live out God’s missional call, but united in the Holy Spirit. Churches around the world have different gifts and resources to give and receive from each other. For example, the New Zealand Church can learn a lot from the confidence our East African brothers and sisters have in sharing the Gospel.Our Mission Partners offer specific skills or gifts to build up the local Church. They are involved in setting up medical centres, supporting community development initiatives, creating social enterprises, training pharmacists, coaching future leaders, and training theological educators, to name a few.Should we still send out missionaries in 2020?Absolutely! The NZ Church has gifts and resources that we can offer to the global Church. We can extend what we have to directly reach out to those who have never heard the Gospel, and to strengthen the mission of local churches through cross-cultural partnerships.We can also learn from the global Church in ways that challenge our own cultural blindspots. We can receive the gifts of churches around the world and grow our global perspectivePartnering in these ways demonstrates that the Church transcends national barriers. As we serve together in mission, we learn to more fully be God’s hands and feet in a world of need. We start to live into the Kingdom vision of every nation, tribe, people and language worshipping before the throne of God.NZCMS uses the term “Mission Partner” rather than missionaries. This reflects our model of partnership – we never send out individuals to go and do their own thing. We send people to work in partnership with a local church, NGO or network ensuring that there is both care and accountability.What’s my role?Even as we send people globally, we know that New Zealand needs missionaries. If to be a missionary is to be sent out to make known the reign of God through our words and in our actions, then this is a call for all of us wherever we may live and with whomever we may interact. It’s simply evidence of the life of God in us; an overflow of having the living God take up residence within us as individuals and communities.From that baseline, we’ve each been created by God to do particular tasks, in keeping with the ‘vessel’ God has crafted us each to be – our particular gifts, skills, history and abilities, combined with the presence and power of Holy Spirit. This gives each of us a call from God particular to us. And for some, this is about serving the global Church – learning another language, living within another culture, and serving God from a place of otherness and across cultures.PRAY. GIVE. GO.NZCMS describes our calling to global mission as pray, give, and go. We each have a part to play – whether it’s praying, giving, or going yourself. That going may be to your local school where kids need to know that they have a hope and future, to living out your faith in a business network in downtown Wellington, or indeed to the people living in a rural community in Africa or a slum in Asia. Simply, we’re all called to serve as missionaries in our own places and in the way God has formed us to. So, what has God called you to do and be for the sake of the Kingdom? And if you have a stirring towards cross-cultural mission service, get in contact and let’s talk!Every blessing as you pray, give and go!
Rosie FyfeNZCMS National Director
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This article was written by one of our Mission Partners serving in South Asia. Are there any good reasons for not serving God overseas? You bet! There’s heaps: obligation, middle-class guilt, idealism, Saviour complexes, a thirst for adventure. And no doubt many more. Motivations are funny things, aren’t they? More often than not we actually aren’t truly aware of what really is motivating us. Self-awareness is important for everyone, but even more so for mission partners. It’s so important that its a major thing that NZCMS personnel look for as they interview prospective mission partners. “Hmmm” you might be thinking, “Surely there is no such thing as perfect motivation.” Am I a write-off as soon as something murky is discovered lurking in my motivational faculties?” Good question. What hope is there for those of us with mixed motivations? If dodgy motivation is our topic of choice, there’s no better Biblical passage to explore than Matthew 20 (v20-21). The passage opens with two of the disciples (James and John) getting their Mum to ask Jesus a doozy of a request. “Give your word that these two sons of mine will be awarded the highest places of honour in your kingdom, one at your right hand, one at your left hand.”This must be one of the most ridiculous requests of all time! And to make matters worse the brothers got their Mum to ask for them! Although the rest of the disciples get mad when they hear about this sneaky request (fair enough!), Jesus doesn’t. While on one hand, he calls their arrogance what it is (pivoting into a teaching point on humility), he seems to honour whatever good intention there was behind the request. Check out his answer (in verses 23-24) for yourself. Jesus response to James and John’s poorly motivated request is 1. To gently call out the motivation for what is it, 2. To honour whatever good motivation and intentions there are, and 3. To offer to redeem the stink stuff. My experience has been similar to James and John’s. There have been several moments in my life when the penny has dropped, and I have realised that my true motivations were much more ego than the Kingdom. But when I’ve taken these hard-earned truths to God, I’ve been met by his grace rather than judgment. Rather than condemn me for my bad attitude, I get an opportunity to move forward in greater awareness of myself and my motivations.