#NZCMS (for under 30s)

Staff journals: Mike & Ruth in Cambodia

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

Facebook:

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

Instagram: 

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

We’re called across the street (Intermission – Issue 34)

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Acts 3 is proof that something had changed in the Apostle Peter. I know in Acts 2 he was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then he preached and saw thousands of people come to Christ. And that’s awesome. But it’s pretty easy to be bold and courageous in certain environments isn’t it? Peter, on the day of Pentecost, was no doubt feeling pretty good. The adrenaline was probably pumping. His friends would have all been cheering him on. But what about later when the moment had passed and when the feelings had faded? What did Peter do when things all went back to ‘normal’ again? Well, Acts 3 tells us.

The story and what we learn from it

Peter walks with a friend down the road. It would have been busy, dusty and hot. Stinking donkeys are led past them by grumbling young men, woman work busily in the hot, morning’s sun. It’s just a regular day. Then, all of a sudden, the Apostle and his friend see a crippled man being carried to the temple gates. Nothing unusual about that. He’d seen that same man numerous times before, begging for money. But what does Peter do? He walks across the street and he speaks to the man. He speaks the name of Jesus. He speaks with boldness. And he declares healing. And the man is suddenly able to walk.

The question has to be asked-Why, when Peter had probably seen this man countless times in the past, did he go over to speak to him then? I think it’s because Peter finally realized what God’s mission was. I think he knew he was called to join Him in it. And I believe, perhaps most importantly, he knew he could. Finally, after all those years of Jesus training and teaching him, Peter believed in God’s mission enough that, even on a regular day, he walked across the street and declared the love and power of Jesus into a hopeless situation.

The questions we ask about missions

Though many churches and organisations speak on how important missions work is, it often remains undefined doesn’t it? When the topic of missions is bought up we ask ourselves “What does a missionary do? Am I qualified? What does a life of mission look like?” And sadly these questions are not often answered. Or sometimes we’re not even brave enough to ask the questions.

Next week, NZCMS is mailing out 2018’s first issue of our bi-monthly publication, Intermission. It’s titled “We’re all called to go” not because we want to beat you over the head and say “Do more!” but because we want to encourage you that the mission of God is very, very possible for you to be part of. And we want to show you how. Perhaps, just like Peter, your mission is right across the street.

If you are not on our mailing list and would like a copy of next week’s Intermission, please contact us at office@nzcms.org.nz or call us on +64 3 377 2222

Introducing Ana

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Hello, kia ora, vanakkam, my name is Ana. I am stoked to have recently joined NZCMS as the Intercultural Communities Enabler, in partnership with the Anglican Diocese of Wellington. For me, stepping into this role feels like the next part of the journey that God has been leading me on. I am incredibly grateful for that.

I have spent most of my life living between cultures. I was born in Sri Lanka into a Tamil family and migrated to Aotearoa at the age of one. I grew up in Mt Roskill, Auckland which has a reputation for being one of the most ethnically diverse parts of New Zealand and was involved in a community led development there. After training as a lawyer I spent some time with International Justice Mission in Washington, D.C. and South Asia. More recently, I have been learning Te Reo Māori as I begin to explore what it means to be Pākehā (a person living in relationship with Māori as the tangata whenua). I have also been passionate about mission on the margins from a young age. For the past few years my Scottish husband, Paul and I, have been part of Urban Vision-a missional order of the Anglican Church. We have recently relocated to Whanganui with our son Ishmael as part of an Urban Vision team. Paul and I were both ordained as deacons at the end of 2017.

I am really excited to discern what God is doing among the different ethnicities and cultures in New Zealand and discovering how we, as the church in this place, might better reflect the full diversity of the Body of Christ so that we can receive the integral gifts that each part has to offer.

Sportsfest Filipino style

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      

 

Memory + Geography = Mission?

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

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

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

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

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

At home with Mission

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When I applied for my current job at NZCMS (New Zealand Church Missionary Society) I had no idea of what the letters stood for or what the organisation did.  That was pretty much my knowledge of missions as well.  So as you might imagine I went on a bit of a learning curve.

The staff here include an ordained Anglican minister, one who spent 15 years in the mission field, another who in their spare time lectures at Laidlaw, a Pastors kid,and more recently we have been joined by a couple who have served on the mission field in the Pacific and Cambodia.  At the time I started I was one of only two staff who had never been on a mission trip, had no theological training and no inclination to offer our lives in service in the mission field.  Boy did I feel overwhelmed!

Over the years since I’ve gone on what I jokingly call my backwards journey into mission.  I have been absorbing as much as I can to understand the incredible people who serve overseas, why they go, and the joy they bring in sharing the Good News about our Lord.  This backwards journey has been accompanied by several underlying questions:  Why are less Christians engaging in mission than in the past?  And how do we engage churches and people in mission?

Mission isn’t limited to going overseas, it includes all Christians in New Zealand, many who are called to support those who serve as missionaries.  My journey has immersed me in educational opportunities:  The Samaritan Strategy to learn about “Seed Projects” (“Seed Projects” are small-scale, holistic outreach initiatives through which local churches demonstrate God’s love in practical ways to those in their community);  studying Biblical Theology through Laidlaw; Kairos; learning about the Five Marks of Mission as decreed by the Anglican Church;  “Friendship First” a course focused on making friends with our Muslim brothers and sisters; Care of Creation and a myriad DVD’s, books, articles and frequent musings over our coffee breaks.

These experiences started to influence how I viewed life in my local parish of St Augustine’s.  Like most churches we have a small missions committee that prays regularly for mission, but in the wider congregation there is so much to prioritise.  This includes worship teams, ministries, events, family, school, work and life in general.  Amongst all this arose a quandary, how do we get others to consider overseas mission when many of us are struggling to be missional right here in our own backyard.

Recently I was introduced to a course called “Empowered to Influence.”  It’s a four week course of two hours a week that brings about a paradigm shift in how we approach our faith on a daily basis.  It’s founded by a Singaporean businessman who wanted to be a missionary but God placed him in the market place instead.  A huge disappointment for him.  However, after 20 years spent figuring out why, he has realised that God has placed him (and us!) right where we are now for a reason.  We have been placed right here to be salt and light to the secular world around us.  We can flourish in a non-Christian workplace.  We do have the power to influence those we encounter.  Some may be familiar with the terms Theology of Work or Monday Church, where church is not just sitting in a pew on Sunday but about the rest of the week—that Monday to Saturday we are living out our lives.  In this course we were introduced to seven tangible paradigm shifts that can be implemented immediately, and without barely even realising it.

I ran the course in my home group where we found much to discuss.  Ten thought provoking weeks later the results were clear.  One man who works as a driver where every second word is non-printable realised that he could be missional right there in his work-place, resulting in increased job satisfaction.  He gained the confidence to start conversations with some co-workers struggling with issues and even to pray with them.  For a mum, there was the realisation that hosting foreign students isn’t just a great cultural experience, but also an opportunity to be salt and light in those student’s lives.  Her desire being to make such an impact that they will be inspired take back to their native land with them.  Another participant was so excited she insisted the course needed to be opened up to our whole parish.

After a couple of brief conversations, the course was booked and the promotion of it throughout our church organised with the parish office.  As the driving force behind this new thing a doubt surfaced in my mind, ‘is this me forcing this on my church or is this really the will of God?’ 

The following Sunday rolled around quickly and the sermon was based on Mark, chapter 6, where Jesus is teaching his disciples how to do the work of ministry and giving them some important tools for that ministry.  Our minister saw the promo video about the course for the first time at the early service.  He was so excited by what he saw that he incorporated it into his sermon for the later service!

God’s way is to have all believers taking part in his mission, Missio Dei, and collectively we will influence the whole world for Him.  One of the things holding many of us back is the feeling that we are not equipped.  We are challenged on this course that we are all equipped, in fact we’re over equipped to such an extent we don’t know where to start.  Too many programmes and too much teaching on the rights and wrongs.  There is also the mind-set that it’s the ministers, missionaries, the volunteers, the retired, the lay people with whom the responsibility lies.  But it’s actually us, the normal day to day Christians who step out into our communities who are best equipped and placed by God to be influencing others.

The course does not tell us to go out and ear-bash anyone.  We do not stand on a corner with a Bible in our hands. It is actually quite the opposite.  As Christians living in a secular society we will be judged in our workplace and communities as being those Christians.  It is by getting alongside our secular colleagues and our friends that we can live out Kingdom values in front of them.  They will see that there is something different about us.

Ken Chua the facilitator of this course says that 8 out of 10 people who join his work-place come to know Christ.  To quote Dr Ravi Zacharias, “When the beauty of Christ is seen, He draws people unto Himself.  Conversion is never an enforced thing.  It is an attractive thing, the work of God… I say, live for Jesus and when people see the beauty of Christ in you, they will ask you questions and they will want the same results in their life.”

And back to that underlying fear… ‘Is this my will or God’s?’ After the introduction evening, the room is a buzz and the future of this course is again moving into another realm as the participants brain storm the next step with comments such as “this course is wasted on just the 12 of us… this needs to go to the whole church,” “It’s good enough to replace a sermon…actually…could we run this each week instead of the sermon…?”—“Let’s give our vicar a rest….” All these responses are not of my making. Such is only possible when God’s will and the power of his Holy Spirit is at work. 

It is hard to believe the time when I didn’t even consider mission was something I could participate in.  Finding out I can do it as I am, where I am, has not only opened my own eyes to the possibility of God working through me but is changing our congregational outlook as well.  I encourage you all to investigate it for yourself and be ready to see God at work.  

 

Empowered To Influence

Introducing the Bentons

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Hello and greetings to you all!

We are so excited to get the opportunity to introduce ourselves to you. Our names are Guy and Summer Benton and we’re writing to you from Phnom Penh, Cambodia where we have been serving as long term missionaries for 5 and 8 years respectively. We’re moving to NZ later this week and are thrilled to be joining the NZCMS team as mission enablers for youth and young adults.

Guy is a NZ native and Summer is from America. We met at a mission conference in NZ in 2011 where Summer came to speak about her work with survivors of human trafficking in Cambodia. After about 18 months of ‘Skype dating’ and a few overseas trips, we were married in America in 2013. Guy then joined Summer in Cambodia and began working with the Anglican Church of Cambodia to strengthen the youth program of the church here.

We have three beautiful children: A son, Pirum Isaac (14), who has joined our family through a miraculous international adoption, and two daughters, Quinn (3) and Norah (10 months). Summer is a counselor and Guy is a youth worker. We both love seeking ways to use our professional talents for the Lord and have a passion for youth, mission and for missionary care and cannot wait to join the NZCMS team! Looking forward to getting to know each of you in the NZCMS family over the coming months and years!

Introducing Jairus

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Hello! My name is Jairus Robb and I’ve recently accepted the role of Communications Officer at NZCMS. It’s great to join the team! In my short 27 years, I have lived in many places, including Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, and about 6 other locations all over New Zealand. In that time I’ve collated a lot of different skills and experiences, ranging from journalism, teacher aiding, labouring, tax processing, Church ministry and all manner of youth work roles. I’ve recently just resigned from my position as Youth Pastor at Westside Acts church after serving in that role since July of 2012. Who knows what the future will bring but at the moment this decision closes 9 years of youth ministry service. How time flies!

I’ve recently become engaged in October of this year to my incredible fiancé Jasmine and can not wait to become a ‘married man’. Engagement has marked a real change in season for me where I believe God will reveal parts of his nature that I’ve never known before. Jaz and I are ridiculously excited to marry each other and both feel a call from God to do ministry together. Whatever form that may take in the future, I’ll tell you right now, we’ll be a force to be reckoned with!  

My main passions include writing, reading, preaching, boxing and being the number one fan of the band twenty one pilots. Given half a chance I’ll give you a pre-prepared, thirty-minute lecture on this musical duo (no there’s not twenty-one of them) and explain in great detail how ‘amazing’ they are. Seriously, they really are amazing. 

One of the other things that really gets me enthusiastic is looking at how to translate the Gospel to today’s under 25’s in a way that grabs their attention. Because I grew up as a Pastor’s kid and missionary kid, I get especially excited whenever I’m thinking about how to hook in ‘churched’ people that may be bored or desensitized to Jesus. I believe that there’s always a deeper relationship to be had with God and feel a real desire to see people of all ages transformed by the love and power of his Spirit in tangible ways. And I believe mobilising Christians for mission is a key way that we can see this happen.  

I’m very excited to be a part of the CMS team and can’t wait for the various ‘communications officiating’ that I’ll be doing by spreading the vision of mission to New Zealand and the world.

Many blessings,

Jairus.

 

 

 

 

 

Your Real Christian Life

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Have you ever found yourself thinking like this: that after the next big step you’re real Christian life will start? You’ve had some great one-off experiences, say a short-term mission trip or some amazing conferences. You know there’s so much more to be living for, that there’s a life available in God that is truly amazing. But you just have to get through the next stage – finish your degree, build up capital to buy a house, get married… It’s easy to keep pushing that ‘real Christian life’ into the future as we wait for a time where we’re suddenly change into the people we dream we could be, but that’s just not how following Jesus works! This is it! The life we’re living now will determine how we’re living in 5, 10, 20 years.

In the video above, Bishop Justin Duckworth challenges us to learn to live for God now, rather than waiting for some mystical time when things suddenly fall into place for us.

#NZCMS will be on pause this month while Jon and Kirstin are travelling overseas.

 

#NZCMS is all about exploring what it means to be God’s missional people in today’s world. Sign up for the emailer by filling in your email at the top of the page or join the discussion at the #NZCMS Facebook Group (and turn on ‘all notifications’ to stay in the loop!) 

Integral Mission (Issue 27)

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By Dr Andrew Shepherd

Since the 1970’s there’s been a reawakening within the evangelical Church to the socio-economic dimensions of the Gospel. Activities such as disaster relief, medical welfare, community building & empowerment, job & income creation, trauma-counselling, peace-building, tackling structural injustices, are all now affirmed as an integral aspect of seeking the Kingdom of God.

And over the last two decades, our understanding of the scope of God’s mission has broadened further, with the rediscovery of God’s love for all of creation. The biblical narrative from beginning to end gives an account of this, explicitly stating: the goodness of creation; that creation is created and sustained by the power of God’s life-giving Spirit; of nature’s agency in praising its Creator; that creation reveals the power and nature of God; of God’s intention for the land be a place of life-giving abundance; that humanity, as caretakers, are to respect and nurture creation to fulfil its Creator’s intent for it to teem with life; that God, in Christ, is reconciling all things.

This biblical understanding – that God’s missional intent is not confined to homo sapiens but is about creating communities of shalom in which relationships between humanity, God, and all of creation are reconciled and renewed – is evident in declarations such as the Anglican Five Marks of Mission. But what does this fifth mark of mission actually mean: “to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth”? How does safeguarding the integrity of creation relate to the other marks? Is caring for ecosystems and endangered species of the same priority as care for our fellow human? And, how does this fifth mark become an integral aspect of missional living in the contemporary world?

Five Marks yet interwoven

We need to recognise that the five marks, while distinct in our declarations, are in practice inextricably interwoven. Consider the work of Christian conservation organisation A Rocha in Uganda. A project of providing cheap and easy to use bio-sand water filters to produce clean and safe drinking water for slum-communities near Kampala looks, on first glance, as simply a response to essential human needs. But the benefits of this project spread beyond individuals to families, communities, the land and countless other species!

The distribution of 600 bio-sand water filters has eliminated the need for women to boil water over charcoal fires. Each bio-sand filter is utilised by five families (strengthening community) meaning 15 000 people now drink safe drinking water (health benefits), thus saving $152 000 NZD p.a. in charcoal costs and medical fees (poverty reduction). Healthy children are less often absent from school (education benefits) and women now have 15 days per household p.a. – the total time previously spent boiling water! – to devote to income-generating enterprises (gender empowerment).

And the benefits beyond homo sapiens? Previously, families required approximately 12 bags of charcoal each year for boiling water. So, for every five families, 60 fewer bags of charcoal are bought. For 15 000 people, that’s 36 000 bags. One felled tree makes two bags. Therefore, because of the filters, at least 18 000 trees each year are still growing (less carbon-emissions and on-going carbon sequestration), thus preventing top-soil erosion and desertification, and continuing to provide habitat for wildlife (bio-diversity gains).

Here in Aotearoa the Karioi – Maunga ki te Moana conservation project which seeks to restore biodiversity to a sea-bird mountain near Raglan likewise provides multiple benefits: community building & empowerment, environmental educational for youth, job and income generation for local hapu. (See www.arocha.org.nz/projects/karioi-maunga-ki-te-moana).

What’s our role?

But what of those of us living here in Aotearoa New Zealand not engaged directly in community development or conservation work? How can “safeguarding the integrity of creation” be an integral aspect of our missional living?

The Paris Climate Change conference in November 2015 was a watershed moment. After decades of denial we seem to have acknowledged that the global ecological crisis stems from the unsustainable mode of living pursued by homo sapiens (especially Westerners). Since the industrial revolution, powered by the cheap energy provided by fossil fuels, we’ve created a way of life in which speed, transience and limitlessness are seen as virtues. We live largely in ignorance to the detrimental impact our pattern of living has on other non-human inhabitants who share this planet with us. Whether we care to admit it or not, the average New Zealand standard of living is unsustainable – dependent upon an overuse of ecological capital and the exploitation of others (human and non-human).

Missional living that is serious about safeguarding the integrity of creation will reflect intentionally on the nature of our housing and churches (size, heating, energy efficiency, water use); our frequency and mode of transportation (public vs personal vehicle); our leisure activities (the luxury of overseas vacations); what we purchase (needs vs wants and the power of advertising; the ecological footprint of a product from extraction-manufacturing-transport to market to disposal; product design & longevity); and what we eat (carbon footprint; water use; ecological impact of insecticides).

Just as we should be aware of the human impact of our consumer choices (explored in Intermission Issue 25), we need to become awake to the ecological impact of our patterns of living. Such awareness however, should not to lead to paralysis.  For the sake of the poor and the planet, we need to transition towards a low-carbon economy – lowering our carbon emissions and then off-setting the rest (see www.climatestewards.org). Background knowledge provides the context where, as missional communities of faith, empowered by the Spirit, we can explore creative ways of living which will benefit all of God’s creatures.

Dr Andrew Shepherd is the National Co-Director of A Rocha Aotearoa New Zealand. Later this year, A Rocha in partnership with Tear Fund, will be releasing the Rich Living programme, designed to assist faith-communities explore sustainable ways of living. Visit www.arocha.org.nz/education-advocacy/ or email

 

For discussion

Share examples of projects which weave together the 5 Marks of Mission (evangelism, discipleship, compassion, social justice, creation care)? Why is this interweaving an essential insight for local and global mission?

What steps will you and your group make to reduce your environmental footprint?

 

 

This article mentioned a holistic bio-sand filter project that simultaneously addresses environmental, social, educational, gender and economic issues. The French government is offering funding for 100 environmental projects that receive the most votes. We encourage you to register and vote, enabling this project to grow. Voting is open until July 7. For more information, click here. To vote, click here.