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A Successful Year According to Jesus

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Dr. Omar Djoeandy is the SIM Australian Missions Engagement Consultant. He has recently published a book titled “Redefining Success According to Jesus.” In this article, he gives an intro to the book below. If you would like to buy it, you can order it here. What makes a successful year? 2020 has come and gone. Possibly it was a good year for you, but many might have thought, “Good riddance to the year of the COVID pandemic, deaths, disruptions, recession, cancelled plans and failures.”I struggled with feeling like a failure because I didn’t meet some major goals. I was anxious and afraid when our income and savings declined, partly caused by cancelled speaking engagements.At the start of 2021, there was hope that we turned the corner. Surely it could only get better. Within weeks, we discovered that 2021 might be similar to 2020. Most people are still living under some form of lockdown, and life cannot return to the pre-COVID ‘normal’, even with the vaccine.Was 2020 a failed year? Will 2021 be a failure too?Most people suffer from harmful definitions of success, but they might not be aware. Just as we define a successful life, we often measure a successful year according to more possessions, achievements, external gains, and the fulfilment of our dreams and plans. We often expect that each year will bring more money, new purchases, unique experiences, opportunities to climb the ladder of success, and so on.When so much of 2020 was disrupted and cancelled, we are tempted to consider it a loss and failure. We are anxious and afraid that 2021 may be more of the same.Would Jesus consider 2020 a loss and a failure? What if we could see 2020, even with the losses and cancellations, with a different perspective? What if the pandemic – though tragic and terrible – could contribute to us being a success according to Jesus? Perhaps you grew closer to God as a result of the pandemic?How might Jesus define a successful year?In Luke 12:13-34, Jesus shocked the crowd when He contradicted the popular definition of success. Even back then, most people succumbed to worldly success that defines your worth according to your possessions, popularity, power, achievements, appearance and other external signs.Jesus warned against all kinds of greed – the desire to acquire and wanting more. Measuring ourselves and others according to worldly success will only lead to harm. But Jesus doesn’t just oppose worldly success; He teaches us how to be a success in His eyes.He mentions three essentials which you can read in the table below.

Whatever comes in 2021 can become an opportunity for us to identify harmful definitions of success and grow in ‘Redefining Success according to Jesus’.

Grateful for My 2020 Life

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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

Missio Dei in the Solomon Islands

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Normally, when I get complaints about my speaking, they are of the “You spoke too long!” variety. Nearing the end of our school-year today, I delivered a short, impromptu chronicle of the year to our school community. So much has happened. I was surprised, however, to discover how difficult it was to fill my ten-minute window. How odd, I thought, walking home. And then the reason came to me this afternoon in conversation with my wife, Tess. For obvious reasons, this year has been short on big events – which usually fill school chronicles and make for interesting stories – and long on the kind of relational drama that you cannot talk about in front of everyone. “Like what happens to a family in quarantine?” Tess offered.  In past years, Trinity STM (School of Theology and Ministry) has been engaged in outward mission weekly by: – Prison visitations  – Praying for the sick in hospitals – Taking Bible studies into people’s homes – Preaching and singing in the marketplace – Reading portions of the liturgy on festival days in other villages The value of this has been unmistakable. But this year we were given something different. Stay at home. Work together daily at close quarters. See the same faces every day for weeks on end.  At the best of times this has looked like: Wake up for prayer. Go to class. Go to work session. Pray before the evening meal. Study. Sleep. Repeat.  At the worst of times it has looked like: Be annoyed by someone. Gossip about them. Be alarmed at the relational chaos that ensues. Say sorry. Repeat.  It has not been easy. But we have, like so many this year, learned some important things in the process. Outward mission, taking the Gospel to places where it has not been heard or is not yet believed, is not total mission. Outward mission can assume a dimension it should not for the Church. We can overlook the work of God that is taking place in our homes and churches among people like us who have believed the Gospel already, but who need deepening. When this happens, we pursue shoots at the expense of roots. The outward and visible replaces the subterranean. Far from preventing God’s mission this year, the coronavirus has opened up to us afresh its grandest scope. God is at work everywhere, but chiefly in the Church.    

Jonathan and Tess Hicks, NZCMS Mission Partners in the Solomon Islands

“People are practically running forward for prayer!” NZCMS Maori Evangelist Says

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NZCMS’ evangelist to Māori, Rev. Hauoterangi (Howard) Karaka, has been busy. During this year, and even during times of lockdown, God has opened up many opportunities to reach out to others with God’s love and to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Just in the last month, Howard has had the opportunity to lead and minister at five funerals and three unveilings (unveilings are a ceremony held one year after a person passed away).“Due to this wonderful ministry of evangelism,” Howard said, ” I have had the opportunity to lead five people to salvation on the marae and at their homes and also see six re-commitments of faith to God.”   From this group of people, six of these families are now attending the church that Howard leads, Hoani Tapu Anglican Church in Drury, South Auckland. The pews are filling! The worship has been powerful and large numbers are stepping forward for prayer every Sunday.   “If I was to describe the experience,” Howard says, “I would say many people are practically running forward for prayer!”  Howard shared about one couple who walked away from church a long time ago. Their marriage came under significant spiritual attack, and they separated for many years.   “The husband was suicidal not long after leaving the church,” Howard said. “He and his wife then separated as he turned back to drinking and anything else he thought would take away the pain. Now it is so encouraging to see them both reaching out for support, prayer, fellowship and rededicating their lives back to God and each other.”  Howard also shared that he led a gang member to the Lord during lockdown. This young man is now attending church regularly and attending a discipleship program. We invite you to continue praying for Howard and his wife Gladys as they pastorally care for and disciple those in their parish and continue the work of evangelism in South Auckland. Pray that God would continue to open springs of healing and transformation at Hoani Tapu Church and that God would open more and more opportunities for Māori to hear the Gospel.  To read more missions stories and NZCMS updates, subscribe to our fortnightly email newsletter.

Rev. Howard Karaka, Maori Evangelist

Listening and Growing in Partnership

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Tēnā koutou te kāhui ā te Atua,Greetings to all God’s people. Kāhore he Hūrai, kāhore he Kariki, kāhore he pononga, kāhore he rangatira, kāhore he tane, wahine rānei; he tangata kotahi tonu hoki koutou katoa i roto i a Karaiti Īhu.There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28) This Sunday marks Te Pouhere in the Anglican church calendar, which celebrates our life as a three Tikanga Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.  What is Te Pouhere and Why Was it Formed?What is the meaning of Te Pouhere? The Māori word ‘Pou’ is translated ‘post’ and the Māori word ‘here’ is translated ‘bind’. Te Pouhere is a revised constitution established in 1992, which provides an opportunity for each of the three partners to express their tikanga – their way, style, or cultural model. These three partners are Tikanga Māori, Tikanga Pākehā and Tikanga Pasefika. They are to express their minds as equal partners in the decision-making process of the General Synod and to exercise mission and ministry to God’s people within the culture of each partner.For Māori, the 1857 constitution and the 1992 revised constitution has not been truly honoured in terms of partnership and resource sharing. However, in recent times we have seen that there have been some promising steps that we are working towards in achieving an equal partnership. Below are some examples of the turning of the tide.Te Pouhere in Te Takiwā o ManukauMission and Ministry Continues Under Lockdown The Māori ministry team has been blessed to continue proclaiming the Gospel throughout this period of lockdown in New Zealand through the use of live-streaming networks and media platforms. From the 24th of May 2020, Howard Karaka – fellow Evangelist to Māori with NZCMS – along with Archdeacon Lyndon Drake and myself (Keri-Ann Hokianga), have started offering a weekly 30-minute worship service called “Karakia Rātapu” onto Radio Waatea here in Auckland. We collaborate with our Pākehā brothers from the Christian Broadcasting Association who use their resources to pre-record the service for us. They have also created a podcast for the service and we are so blessed that they’re using their gifts to help us proclaim the word of God in our context. We are receiving communication from some un-churched people who are now subscribing to our podcast and letting us know that they will be listening every Sunday. Praise be to God!This has been made possible by the grace of God through Te Rangapū (Partnership) between Te Takiwā o Manukau, the Christian Broadcasting Association, and Radio Waatea.Te Pouhere in the Context of Māori EvangelismThe roots of the Gospel being shared in Aotearoa began through friendship and partnership. At Oihi Bay on Christmas Day in 1814, Reverend Samuel Marsden from CMS preached from Luke 2:10, with Ngā Puhi chief Ruatara translated into Te Reo Māori. This partnership to preach the Gospel message began a journey of many Māori being converted to Christianity and this continued to grow as Māori became pivotal evangelists to their own people. The pattern of this partnership between Rev. Samuel Marsden and Chief Ruatara to effectively spread the Good News of Jesus Christ here in Aotearoa is still being realised today. Praise God that I am one of two Māori Evangelists to partner with NZCMS in 2020, proclaiming the Gospel to our nation. God is doing a powerful and wonderful thing and we are so excited to be part of His plan as we work together. Keri-Ann is one of NZCMS’ Mission Partners evangelising to Maori. Click the photo of Keri-Ann below to learn more about her life and ministry.

Keri-Ann Hokianga, NZCMS Maori Evangelist