Three months ago, news media started to fill up with the rapid spread of COVID-19. We were hearing stories of over-flowing hospitals and morgues in different parts of the world. New Zealanders were filling planes to get home before airlines grounded their fleets. And in the middle of this, each of our Mission Partners – wherever they served - faced uncertainty and unpredictable situations.
Just as New Zealand entered full lockdown, I sent out an email update challenging us (including myself!) to turn towards God in the midst of fear and uncertainty, and ask: “Lord, what are You doing here?" and “What new opportunities are there to extend Your Kingdom?”
As I look back over what has happened with NZCMS over the past three months, I can see some answers to those questions:
“I’m showing you that I miraculously provide”
When I wrote the update in March, some Mission Partners who had chosen to return because of visas or pre-existing health conditions, had not been able to get flights back. We are thankful for the provision of flights for all who chose to return to New Zealand, including the unexpected provision of a seat on a private jet for one of our Mission Partner’s - a picture of God’s abundance and generosity!
One family was forced to buy three sets of air tickets as the planes from their location kept being grounded. Fearful about the amount of money spent, when we sat together to look at their finances, we found that somehow their budget balanced!
“I’m showing you that I still want you to bring others to know my love”
We are encouraged by our Mission Partners and their commitment to service. About half of our Mission Partners remain in their communities and countries of service, with others in New Zealand temporarily.
We are encouraged by people applying to serve as Mission Partners, in spite of this season of uncertainty. We are encouraged by churches continuing to support the work of global mission.
“Here’s an opportunity for you to be generous – just like I am”
Our Mission Partners make financial sacrifices when they are sent out to serve the global Church, and the staff team at NZCMS has a duty of care to them. Because of the generosity of the broader NZCMS community, we have in turn been able to be generous to the Mission Partners who now find themselves in New Zealand because of COVID-19.
Over $10,000NZD was given through NZCMS Mission Partners Nick & Tessa Laing to support emergency needs of the Anglican health centres in northern Uganda. This has been used to buy supplies in the fight against COVID-19, to pay for transport for patients, and to contribute to critical shortages at the local Catholic hospital.
One of our Mission Partners, currently in New Zealand, ran a full marathon to raise money to support vulnerable people served by their ministry in Asia. Running alongside him was the Bishop of Nelson, Steve Maina, (ex- NZCMS Director).
To date, $13,785 has been given to support the urgent needs that local partners of CMS Africa are seeing in the communities they serve. When we give, we live the nature of our God who gave Christ to see us transformed.
“Here’s an opportunity to do new, creative things – just like I do”
Our staff saw new opportunities for innovation during this season. As we entered lockdown in NZ, along with most of our Mission Partners, we saw new opportunities to connect. Happy Hour zoom gatherings provided a platform to connect as NZCMS family, and to engage in global mission topics.
These meetings continue on a monthly basis: see here for more details.
“Here’s an opportunity to know that I am God”
We are called to trust God in a global situation which is outside our individual control, and when our own lives have not looked as we expected in 2020. I am deeply thankful to our God, who does all things well, and to you, our NZCMS family, who have supported, given, encouraged and served in these months of change and uncertainty.
Let us join together and praise the Lord our God with the words from this hymn:
"Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee,
Who from the heavens the streams of His mercy doth send thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do, who with His love doth befriend thee."
Yours in the love of Christ,