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Don’t let COVID-19 Get you Blue

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The passage that has been my focus in this season is 2 Kings 6:8-23. The armies of the Arameans surround Elisha, and his servant sees an impossible situation.“Oh no, my Lord, what shall we do?” he exclaims in verse 15.This is very much the exclamation of the world around us at this time, and in a sense, we feel a bit like Elisha’s servant. Those of us in the US, UK and Latin America have been hard hit, and although New Zealand has the pandemic under control, the economic consequences are affecting us all. Yet in this scripture, Elisha has a word from the Lord for us in verse 16: “Don’t be afraid…”Perhaps, like the servant, we don’t see the purpose of this time, but God has a different perspective.Elisha prays to God to “Open his eyes Lord that he may see…” and all of a sudden, the spiritual reality is made manifest around them. The armies of the Lord had surrounded the Arameans!The State of our Mission HereIn 2019 I was asked to be in charge of mission mobilisation for Costa Rica on behalf of a Latin American wide movement, and it has been a privilege to be involved in these serious strategic conversations. Leaders all over Latin America and the World are asking “Is it the end of the Mission of God as we know it?”  Many of you know that my father, Ray Miller, has developed an online Mission Training course. His aim over the last seven years was to create a specialised Masters Degree to equip a rising generation of Latin American missionaries for the needs of an ever-changing world.Our timing could not have been better. Just before the lockdown started, we launched this Masters degree in “Intercultural Development”. This initiative fits the need of the whole continent at a time when those called to Mission cannot travel. We are also offering Masters courses in Biblical studies, leadership and counselling for local church pastors.

Andy and his family having a “Blue Day Party” during Lockdown

I am taking part as one of the students in the new Master’s degree as a guinea pig, as well as being on the development team. For this course, we will be initially targeting Mission Leaders. However, the aim is to eventually open it up to those professional graduates who are looking for biblical and missions training. We are very excited about the prospect of expansion.  What we SeeThis time is a massive opportunity for the Church. I feel like Elisha’s servant looking at the Syrian army all around them but then suddenly seeing that God’s angelic troops had them all surrounded. God is for us and is challenging the Church to open our eyes of faith!This pandemic is a massive opportunity for the Gospel into the future. It’s like the earthquakes in Canterbury. Though that season was devastating and painful, after going through it I also felt that I belonged in Christchurch and even now I consider myself much more a New Zealander since then. Currently, there is a shared experience and starting point for a conversation of depth about life and death—such a global opportunity for evangelism into the future.This is what we see:1) A rising relational movement of Kingdom-minded church and mission leaders focused on transformational co-operation and collaboration for the sake of God’s Mission.2) An increase in the capacity and reach of the Global Church as we suddenly all develop an online presence and upskill our technological connection.3) Growing dependence on God amid a financial crisis and a re-organisation of priorities towards investing in the eternal purpose of expanding the Mission of God.4) A season of preparation and online training for the church and mission leadership. To be ready to take advantages of the new opportunities that will be created when borders finally open.May the Lord open the eyes of your heart today and build up your faith to know that He is for us, may He give you creative solutions and bless you abundantly as we all partner together to expand God’s Mission from Latin America to the nations!

Andy Miller, Costa Rica

Making a Difference

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An Overwhelming Response. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Generous folks had already overshot our fundraising target in just two days! I was somewhere between jubilation and relief. We would now be able to prepare for coronavirus properly, and provide our staff with the much needed protection that only a consistent supply of gloves, masks and disinfectant can give. I felt even better as I saw comments that donors had made which showed the incredible love people had for our staff and our work.The money is in action and has been split three ways.Lacor Hospital The majority of the money went to St. Mary’s hospital, Lacor, the largest hospital in Northern Uganda, as they hadn’t been getting support from the government. Lacor is the only hospital north of the Nile with a functional ICU equipped with eight ventilators and a solar powered oxygen plant which can supply about forty people with oxygen at one time. The money helped them with connector tubes for supplementary cylinders, oxygen saturation measuring machines and a thousand surgical gowns for the COVID-19 ward. Equipment for Lacor Hospital St. Philip’s Health Centre Much of the money also went to prepare the Diocese facilities. We bought oxygen concentrators for St. Philip’s Health Centre, and enough masks, gloves and disinfectant for all nineteen Diocese of Northern Uganda Health Centres and the four Oneday Health Centres in the Kitgum Diocese. In an economy where most people have little money, masks are insanely expensive. One Health Centre St. Peters, which is deep in the village, generates around $750 every month from patient fees. Masks alone now cost the facility $250 every month, and this will continue for some time. Thanks to you all, we’ve got enough money now to buy PPE until the end of the year, which means our amazing staff can get on with the real life saving work of curing malaria, pneumonia and diarrheal disease.Because you gave more than we expected, we were even able to give all 70 of our staff at St. Philips about $15 each to thank them for their work. This thank you letter from the centre made me well up a bit! Fuel for AmbulancesLastly, we helped out the district ambulances with fuel. These ambulances are the only way sick patients can get from the village to hospital. Under lockdown patients can’t use the normal transport of motorcycle for risk of getting beaten by the army. The district only has two ambulances for the entire area, and for about a month they had no money to fuel them. We usually fear corruption in government, but we started an account at the fuel station to ensure the money was only used for the ambulances. Among the hundreds of patients carried to hospital by these ambulances, there were about twenty from our health centres directly and almost half of them referred during the night!The Struggle ContinuesMuch stress remains, as the effects of lockdown drive an already poor population to more extreme poverty. Our staff are under pressure from their families to provide for them financially, their kids are unable to go to school and bored at home, and patients struggle to front up with the money to get care, even while our facilities are the cheapest in the region. But thanks to you all, the COVID-19 stress has been greatly relieved, our staff are protected, and they are ready to continue their incredible work.To quote the staff of St. Philip “Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for what he has done”

Nick Laing, Uganda

Missional Opportunity in Fiji

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Are you passionate about growing the Church? Skilled at managing finances? Interested in working cross-culturally? Are you a team-player keen to train others? NZCMS, in partnership with the Anglican Diocese of Polynesia, is looking for a Finance and Trust Manager who can improve and manage the assets and finances of the Diocese, and train up others with these skills.The primary function of the Finance and Trust Manager is to manage the assets, finances, and property of the Anglican Diocese of Polynesia. The Diocese has not been successful in appointing a suitable person locally for this role and have therefore approached NZCMS. In addition to fulfilling the role responsibilities, the goal for the NZCMS Mission Partner would be to work themselves out of the job. They would have an additional responsibility to train a small group to equip them with skills to fulfil this role and others in the Diocese and community.This role is located in Fiji. The successful applicant would serve the Anglican Diocese of Polynesia as a NZCMS Mission Partner. The length of service is negotiable, although it is expected that this role would require at least 2 years commitment.Further DetailsThe Diocese of Polynesia is responsible for the Anglican mission in Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and American Samoa (within the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia). The Anglican Mission in the Diocese focuses on evangelism, stewardship, development and education.The functions of the position include:– General trust office administration including property and financial management– Evaluation and reporting of all assets and properties, and maintaining database records– Analysis of investment opportunities available locally and internationally– Property management– Coaching others with financial and asset management skills.The successful applicant will have:– Experience working cross-culturally– Experience in training and coaching others and excellent communication skills.– A proactive attitude.– Excellent organisational skills.– Experience in managing assets.– Ability to provide sound investment and policy advice.Does this sound like you? We would love to talk more about this missional opportunity with you. Please contact NZCMS at office@nzcms.org.nz for more information. You can download a printable, pdf version of this job description here.

Miriam’s Moments in Mango

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Miriam runs the Pharmacy at the Hospital of Hope in the town of Mango in Togo, Africa. Life in Mango has been affected by the Covid-19 virus as has most of the world. Borders, airports, roads, schools, mosques, churches and ‘disco techs’ have all been ordered closed by the Togolese government. So far we have been fortunate not to have any confirmed cases at the Hospital of Hope. However the number of cases do continue to climb slowly in Togo and the surrounding countries. Worldometers is now a daily addiction… when the internet works.The closure of the airport has meant that short-term volunteers are no longer able to come and with scheduled furloughs upon us we have drastically reduced missionaries on the field. This has increased the workload on the remaining long-term staff. Please pray for stamina, grace and patience for those who stay behind.Ministries outside of the hospital such as village churches, French club and prison visits have been suspended due to the government regulations. We are very grateful that the radio ministry has been able to continue, including broadcasting sermons from a local church on Sunday mornings. Groups of up to 15 people are still able to meet so we are able to visit our Togolese friends. Please pray that people are able to tune in to the radio and continue bible studies on their own.I felt a little left out from all the hoarding that I heard about going on around the world but as you can see I was able to join in a little bit ‘Mango Styles’.Read more about Miriam’s life and ministry in Mango by clicking the image below.

Miriam Tillman,

Mission Partner in Togo, Africa

Better World Update

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Kia ora everyone, Guy and Summer here. We are excited to bring you an update about what Better World Gap Year has been up to during and post Covid-19 Lockdown.In February, as the circumstances surrounding the pandemic began to escalate, our team were in Fiji. We made moves to bring them back early for their safety and managed to get them back to New Zealand on the last commercial flight out of Fiji just days before our country went into Level 4 lockdown (a bit of unexpected excitement for our crew!). In the days that followed, as decisions came down from the government, we made the very difficult decision that Better World 2020 could not continue under the current global circumstances. We got our team back home to their bubbles and debriefed them via zoom. We are also currently helping to support them as they make choices about how to spend the rest of their year, and working with ministry partners to provide opportunities for discipleship and community that don’t depend on open borders and international travel.Our leadership team spent levels 4 and 3 in prayer and discernment, asking God to show us our next steps for the future of Better World as a programme. With so much unknown both here and around the world, it has been quite difficult to know how to move forward. Now that things are feeling a bit more certain for New Zealand, however, we have been working hard to re-imagine Better World for next year.Better World was designed and founded on the principles of discipleship through deep engagement in mission and social justice both in New Zealand and around the world. We seek to take young people on a journey full of adventure, discovery, and a deepening relationship with God. At this point we have no idea when it will be safe to travel overseas again, but we do know that we can still do all those things and go on a radical journey together right here in New Zealand in 2021.Together with Sam and Luca, our amazing Better World leaders, we are in the process of designing Better World 2021 to take place right here in New Zealand. We will explore the same deep and important issues of social justice from and in our own backyard. We will travel around the country to meet phenomenal people, be a part of radical communities of Christians who are doing their part to bring about God’s Kingdom here on earth and find plenty of amazing adventures.Are you or someone you know interested in joining this once in a lifetime, local edition of Better World Gap Year? Get in touch with us at info@betterworld.org.nz. Details on applications are coming soon. Or check out the Better World website here.Better World 2021 is going to be huge!

Guy & Summer BentonNZCMS Mission Enalbers

Tending the Mustard Tree

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Waiting. We’ve been doing a lot of that the last six weeks or so haven’t we. Some of you will remember I waited three years for a visa to go to my country in South Asia between 1989 and 1992. That was hard. Hard because I didn’t know why it was delayed or if I’d ever get it. Hard because God had placed before me a vision of what He had for me to do. Would I ever get to do it? And if not, then what has He been saying? Have I got it all wrong?The other reason it was hard was because some of those around me began to hint that it was time to move on to other things, that I was wasting my time and that there were other urgent needs out there and I was in the wrong place. How did I answer them when those thoughts were already whirling around my mind. But they just didn’t ring true.Well, there was an anchor. A promise and a sign that was given. And God gave me instruction to wait for the visa. And when it finally arrived he gave more instructions: “Don’t try and begin what I’ve shown you. Do what you’re asked to do. Wait, and I’ll begin everything at the right time”.That time, waiting for God to start the new things, was another seven years. And now, since serving the original vision He gave me, it has taken another 15 years for that vision to come into being. And, in truth, there is still a lot yet to unfold.So now that I have returned to New Zealand, how am I responding to the wait now? Will I ever get to go back? What about the unfulfilled vision and expectations I have?A Generational PerspectiveOver these many years I have learnt that God’s ways are not like our ways. His timetable is way, way different. We think in terms of months or a few years. Maybe even a decade or two. He spans generations. Just like the mustard tree in the parable, the Kingdom of God grows. But it may not be possible to see its progress in the short time we have on this earth.I’ve also seen Him keep me in a country where fellow workers have had to leave. I’ve seen him time and time again nullify the plans of others that interfere with His plan.Now I’m more relaxed about the future than I would have been 30 years ago. I know that if I rest and trust and remain ready to obey, then God will do something amazing. But it might not look like what I was expecting. It seldom does.Our Part to Grow the KingdomBeing able to rest in this truth means I’m not so driven about being in the centre of it all. Because God’s Kingdom is far larger than my role. Like Jesus modeled, I’m expected to do my part and to follow the guidance given. To see the mustard tree grow in and through my work. Then I need to leave the rest of the results for God to work out into future generations and see its final beauty from the perspective of Heaven.So often we tend to try to wrap it all up and ‘finish’ the work in our lifetime. But we need to see the Kingdom from a multigenerational point of view.I know many who came in years past to my town and area who never got to see fruit in their time. The mustard tree didn’t seem to grow at all. Some left disillusioned. Others trusted that seeds sown would, in time, come to fruition. All of them sacrificed much to be there. Some stayed only months. All contributed to where the mustard tree is now.I’ve been the fortunate servant who has seen many of those seeds sown now start to sprout and become fruit. Was it my doing? No! We owe it to the generations before us to honour their hard labour, tears and prayers in the desert.Seeing our labour in Kingdom terms for many means jagged endings. Unfinished, unresolved issues, questions and situations. It doesn’t gel with our need for closure and tidy endings. It means trusting that our unresolved ending is, in fact, another part of the growth of the mustard tree. We trust God will fit it in the right place. And we wait and trust God with the ambiguities.This Article was written by a Mission Partner who serves in South Asia. For security reasons, names and places have been omitted or changed.

Living in Cambodia

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Here in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, we’re not under an official lockdown, but still, many things have changed. We’re in our eight week with no school, this will be our eight weekend with no church meetings  and our language learning has mostly had to move online.Cambodia, being a relatively poor country with minimal health support, is not well equipped to deal with a major virus. There are few testing kits – mainly limited to the capital city of Phnom Penh – there are no ventilators in the country and if you do have to go to hospital often your family has to be the ones to provide daily care for you.I’m sure you’re aware that social distancing and working from home is a luxury that many people around the world just cannot afford. It’s no different here. If people don’t work, they don’t eat. They generally can’t bulk buy in advance and the lack of tourists is hitting many people hard. For many of the poor they will be affected economically much more than anything else.On the spiritual side, it’s been disheartening to hear of some Cambodian Christians who have turned away from God at this time to lean on traditional religious practices. However, there are hopeful moments too; recently we had non-Christian Khmer friends asking us to pray for their families!One of the biggest decisions that the government has made was to postpone the Cambodian New Year holiday and all the celebrations that go with it. This is one of the biggest holidays of the year and most people go back to their hometowns for a week to be with their families. However the government has said that, rather than travelling and potentially spreading the virus, it is safer to continue working.As for our family, our three children have coped well which has made life easier. They won’t physically be back in school until the new school year in August however, so we’ll see how we’re all doing in a few months’ time. We have delighted in being able to spend some more time together, even if that involves playing the same board game several times a day! It’s also been lovely having “home-church” where we’ve been able to pray and sing together and tune in with various church services from New Zealand.  The joys of technology!Like all Christians around the world, we can’t give definite reasons as to why this is happening. But  we can endeavour to show love to our neighbours and share the very definite hope we have in Jesus.

Godly Safety in a time of Risk

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Zane writes from Jakarta, Indonesia.There’s no doubt that living with COVID19 in a mega-city of 30 million people raises some questions.  How reliable is the drinking water supply? How we can be the church in a meaningful way when we can’t meet? How are we ever going to open a bank account now?We also know that some of our supporters have got questions too. The question we are asked the most by people in New Zealand is “Is it safe?”NZCMS have been brilliant at keeping in touch with us. They have offered us amazing support around planning for this pandemic as things have changed on the ground. And they’ve also  offered to help us get back to New Zealand if we felt that was the best option. We haven’t felt it was the best option.When we decided to serve with NZCMS we knew we would have to risk something. Reputation. Lifestyle. Friendships. Aspirations. Hopes. Dreams. We traded them out for something different, something truly unsafe, a gospel vision for Jakarta.We haven’t felt like returning to New Zealand was the right thing to do because we weren’t ‘safe’ here before. Not safe in a kiwi senseThere are inherent risks serving here. Risks of illness, of terror attacks, of disease, of robbery, of motor vehicle accident and risks associated with the healthcare system. But we knew some of the risks of living and working here before we signed on the dotted line with NZCMS. And that’s true for almost all of NZCMS’ Mission Partners.We aren’t unconcerned, über victorious super-Christians. We’re regular, and at times, very sub-par followers of Jesus who have responded to God’s call to live in a different paradigm and a different place. That’s unsafe. Following Jesus should never feel safe.As we’ve grappled with safety, in the wake of our new home having the worst COVID19 fatality rates on the planet we’ve asked ourselves “What’s the worst that could happen?”. The answer is we could die. But what was the worst that could happen before COVID19? We could die.Having just worked through the book of Philippians, Paul’s words ring loudly; “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” – Philippians 1:21. I don’t write that flippantly. My wife, Karen, and I have run through the worst-case scenario a couple of times. It’s scary. Would we go home? What would change? How would life look?We’d be gutted. Devastated. Heartbroken. Yet, God would still be on the throne in heaven. Such a tragedy as one of us dying would undeniably change life forever. And that’s ok, because at the end of the day, we know that our safety doesn’t rest on a set of earthly circumstances, pandemic or not.We can be sensible, and we can minimise our exposure to risk; we’ve been following the advice of the New Zealand Embassy here, which is essentially the same advice as in New Zealand. But the safety we enjoy is in the hands of God, it is in an eternal safety.Our surroundings may not always feel safe, but Christians live and serve in the knowledge that our souls are safe with Him. Psalm 46 says the God of Jacob is our refuge and we serve in an unsafe place so that others might come to know this eternal safety too.Want to keep thinking about this theme of “Godly Safety’? Join in on our “Happy Hour” zoom meeting on Thursday, April 23.

Introducing our Newest Māori Evangelist

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Tenā koutou e te whānau ā te Karaiti.Matiu 4:18 – 20“Ā, i a Īhu e haere ana i te taha o te moana o Karirī, ka kite ia i ētahi tāngata tokorua, he tuakana he teina, i a Haimona, tōna ingoa nei ko Pita, rāua ko tōna teina, ko Anaru, e maka ana i te kupenga ki te moana; he kaihao ika hoki rāua. Nā, ka mea ia ki a rāua, “Arumia mai ahau, ā, māku kōrua e mea hei kaihao tāngata.” Ā, mahue ake i a rāua ngā kupenga, ā, aru ana i a ia.” Mathew 4: 18 – 20“As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow Me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” And at once they left their nets and followed Him.”Ki te taha o tōku pāpā nō Manutuke, Te tairāwhiti ahau, ki te taha o tōku māmā nō Pamapuria, Kaitaia ahau. On my Father’s side I hail from Manutuke, Gisborne and on my Mother’s side I hail from Pamapuria, Kaitaia. My name is Keri-Ann Hokianga, I am 31 years of age and am the second eldest of five children to the Reverend Rapiata & Venerable Archdeacon Fran Hokianga. I praise God that I can introduce myself to you all as the second Mission Partner between NZCMS & the Māori Anglican church of Te Taitokerau. I have been brought on as an evangelist in the Auckland, Manukau area under the leadership of Dr. Lyndon Drake. I selected Mathew 4: 18 – 20 above, not because I’m able to catch a big delicious snapper because I’m terrible at fishing! It’s because I find a similarity in the calling of Peter and Andrew with my own.Previously I had dedicated eleven years to serving a global corporate company within the freight industry. Throughout the 11 years with this company, I worked my way from customer services roles into sales where I was quite successful and earned a lot of money. The Managing Director of Australasia offered me a promotion along with the opportunity to move to Australia to join his team. At the time I felt that I needed a change in my life and thought “This could be it!” That same day, later in the evening, I received a call letting me know that Dr. Lyndon Drake was looking to create a new evangelistic role in the Mihingare church by partnering with NZCMS. And, not too long after, Lyndon called me to ask if I would consider praying about coming to work as the second Māori evangelist in the Manukau area. He also promised me that this role would be less money and more work! But he added that the reward from God would be far greater. Needless to say, this was not the sales pitch that I was trained to close a deal with. However, miraculously, it worked!My heart was stirred and I was led to this scripture from Mathew 4. My family and I prayed on this together and soon, I had the support of family and my work mates to follow my vocation and calling as an evangelist for God which, even to this day, I am blessed with. It has been three months in my new role as a Māori Evangelist and I’m seeing God at work in many different ways in my life. In my first two weeks as an Evangelist I was given a vision, showing me the shores of a beach fully dressed in scuba diving gear. I could see the open ocean as far as the horizon and I found myself becoming frustrated in the vision because when I looked down the waves were only crashing over my ankles! I remember asking the Lord “How do I go deep in you?! I know that there are many different type of fish in this ocean, good and dangerous fish and all kinds of colours but how do I go deep Lord?!” The Holy Spirit then told me to wait before sending me out and that I had to be still and wait on His instructions for me and not to trust in what I thought I knew. Not long after, I was called to lead as a Kaikarakia in what would be the first funeral I was to conduct on my own in the home and then on a marae. I was used to some of the priests in my family leading at funerals for many years so I was definitely out of my comfort zone. But the Holy Spirit was leading me every day for the next three days of the funeral and right up to the nehu/burial day. He told me what to preach, when to sing a specific song, what to pray and at what time, when to speak Māori and when to speak Pākeha/English. He even told me how I should stand to deliver the Gospel! In my vocation as an evangelist I have seen the mighty arm of the Lord through so many people as they shared their hurts and asked for prayer. They would seek answers on faith where they were not sure and I was glad to share my hope in Jesus Christ as the living Lord of my life with them.  We now find ourselves in isolation for four weeks. Do I still see God moving through Evangelism whilst in isolation? Absolutely yes! Through the use of technology and thanks to Lyndon for providing some flash recording technology from our local church, I have managed to turn my home into a temporary recording studio for my bubble and am able to record songs of praise in both Māori and English, along with Karakia/prayers for all people. We have had a good response from current, former and new church members due to this  daily online content. God has also been leading me to offer pastoral care to many people by offering my personal contact details through social media to those who wish to give their lives to Christ or re-kindle their fire to serve the Lord. Pray for the hearts of those who will see the message of hope online, that they will be encouraged to pick up the phone or send us a message.In closing, I pray for you all in whichever part of the field God has placed you in to tend and minister.Ma te Atua koutou e tiaki I ngā wā katoa.God bless you all.Keri-Ann Hokianga