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Christmas on the Beach (Issue 22)

By Alicia Hibbert

As we sailed – or rather crashed over rough waves – into Oihi Bay on Christmas day 2014, I couldn’t help but imagine what this same place looked like 200 years earlier. Of course, instead of our engine powered boats there would have been sailing ships… and there probably wouldn’t have been a film crew set up with cameras dotted around the crowd. And I’m pretty sure when Samuel Marsden shared the Gospel he didn’t use a microphone or have a sound system. Yet, stepping off our ferry onto the rocky sand, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of déjà vu. It was as if I’d witnessed this moment before, the crowds perched on the hillside waiting eagerly to hear what was about to be said. This feeling must have come from the many pictures I’ve seen over the last year depicting the first Christian service taking place in Aotearoa. This felt like a pilgrimage back to the roots of Christianity in this land.

There was a real sense of joy, respect and honour amongst those gathered to witness this bicentennial occasion. Joy in being able to celebrate what God has done in our land. Respect for the Maori people and how they embraced and shared this precious message despite incredible hardship. And honour for those who sacrificed greatly in order that others may hear of this Good News of Christ.

This buzz gave me hope that the spread of the Gospel we saw begin 200 years ago can continue today. While sitting in the heart of New Zealand and listening to this Good News shared again, I was challenged as to how I can continue on the work of those who have gone before me. How can I share this message of salvation in a way that is relevant to the culture, context and needs of Kiwis today?

Alicia Hibbert is a former Haerenga intern and is currently studying at Laidlaw College. She is starting a monthly gathering in Christchurch for young adults to encourage and support them in living the Good News in daily life. If you are interested in joining this group please contact Alicia on aliciahibbert@gmail.com or 021 129 0264.

For Discussion

What about you? How can you, your church, your small group continue the work of spreading the Good News?