Article written by 2019 Better World Participant, Anna Smart.
On February 6 people of various communities gathered at Ramsey House (Anglican Chaplaincy at Te Herenga Waka, Victoria University of Wellington) to launch the Better World gap year for its second year, 2020.
The atmosphere in the room was palpable. Looking around there were life-time supporters of NZCMS, there were clergy members, coordinators of Better World, participants from 2019, friends, family and the team committing to Better World 2020. The youngest in the room was but a few months old, and the eldest belonging to a group of people that have been praying for more than fifty years for the mission of NZCMS. It was a truly intergenerational event, which spoke to the kaupapa of inclusion and community that Better World holds.
This year the team is made up of Sam Tovey, Luca Duckworth (leaders), David Prendergast, Olivia Simes and Mercy Mutio (participants). Individually they have faithfully said yes to a radical adventure with Jesus and we were all there to celebrate with them as they made this commitment to God, each other and the gap year, on Waitangi Day.
Better World participants following in the legacy CMS missionaries
On February 6, 1840, Te Tiriti o Waitangi was signed, a symbol of the coming together of two peoples. The treaty was translated into Te Reo Māori by the then leader of CMS in New Zealand, Henry Williams. Without his commitment to making the treaty accessible to tangata whenua, the relationship between colonisers and indigenous people may have looked very different.
The Better World Gap Year and its aim to equip young people with cross cultural skills, missional worldviews and a righteous anger at social injustice, is the carrying on of a legacy. The legacy of justice written into this land by the CMS missionaries who pushed for a treaty between British colonisers and tangata whenua. This year that legacy is going to be carried forward by Mercy, Olivia and David as they delve into the depths of social injustice in the world and at home in Aotearoa. In their introductions each of the participants spoke of how excited they were to be going on this adventure, and that they’re looking forward to all they will learn throughout the year.
The 2020 launch event was special. Commissioning the participants on Waitangi Day, a day so significant for Aotearoa and NZCMS, was a reminder of all that has been and all that is to come in this land. Young people laying their lives in the hands of God, and saying yes to a journey of growing, learning, being challenged and convicted, and ultimately being changed.
Better World 2020
These three incredible young people are intentionally moving into the uncomfortable places so that they are stretched and challenged, and that they might gain new perspectives. The journey begins at Ngatiawa River Monastery, where training and orientation is already underway, and throughout the year the team will spend time in Northland, Wellington, Fiji and Cambodia. In each place the team will be digging into where God is moving there, how they might be able to partner with God in those spaces and learn from those they walk alongside.
Please pray for the 2020 Better World team and all the learning and growing they have to do this year. Also, we invite you to pray with us for Mercy Mutio, our 2020 participant from Nairobi, Kenya. She is awaiting confirmation of her visa applications and was unable to attend our launch event in Wellington. We are praying she will be able to join us soon and that the process will be smooth. We await you with great excitement, Mercy!
Guy Benton (a Better World Program Coordinator) asked the 2019 Better World participants at the launch event if they felt their lives had been transformed over the course of the gap year. The answer was a resounding yes. We are praying for the same response at the end of the year from our Better World 2020 team.
Photo by John Setter