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Riding the Wave


I once went surfing with some of my young people when I was a youth worker. One morning I woke up and I thought “Why not shave a handle bar moustache and go surfing with the lads?” I should have realised when I had the idea of a handle bar moustache that this was the beginning of a very bad idea. But I went ahead. The short end of the story is that I went surfing, flipped off my board and took the full force of a 10 foot long surf board straight to the face.

For the weeks following, I had planned to surf waves, build relationships, and tell stories. Instead, I ended up in hospital with a bad moustache. The funny thing is, all of these things, the relationship building and storytelling, still happened! Just not how I had planned them. And I definitely wasn’t surfing any more.

I recall this story because 2020 hasn’t happen as we planned either. At the start of this year we were excited for Better World 2020. This would be our second year of taking young people on radical adventures for Jesus throughout the globe and exploring the big issues of justice and faith. Then COVID19. Talk about falling off the surf board and getting smacked in the face! With all the uncertainty of the first lockdown and the unknown nature of the COVID19 pandemic Better World and the NZCMS leadership decided that the best option was to cancel Better World 2020. We spoke with our past and present participants and also made a way for them to engage in the Anglican Youth Movement here in Wellington so they could continue to engage in radical discipleship.

When the thing you’re investing in or planning to roll out doesn’t go to plan it’s easy to sit there and say “Sorry folks it’s all said and done” or “Let’s just wait till the pandemic is over.” But when we decided to sit at the feet of our radical God who can overcome or use anything for Kingdom advancement, it felt only right to reimagine our program and press into the core things that Better World Gap Year stands for: adventure, growing in faith and discipleship, and going deep with young people in mission.

These things are still true to what Better World is. Only now we can’t unpack these things in another country. What we can do, however, is unpack them here in Aotearoa. Being able to adjust and pivot to changing circumstances is something that we have had to rely on God for a lot in this season. Maybe if I’d done that while surfing I might not have landed in hospital.

So, after two years building up this Gap Year program and with a movement of young people starting to trust and get in behind it, we asked God “What are you doing?” The fruit of this questioning is that in this season, we’ve sat at his feet and trusted in His faithfulness. We've also decided to pair this with enough gumption to keep going rather than throw it all away because it’s not working the way it was before.

We’ve learned to be bold enough to trust in what God is doing amongst young adults here in New Zealand and continue to recognise how passionate they are about exploring the world, faith, justice and their role to play in advancing God’s Kingdom here on earth. As we’ve been riding the wave of this current environment, we continue to feel called by God to be passionate about exploring, discipling and journeying with these radically ordinary young New Zealanders as we learn what mission looks like today.  

That is where Better World 2021 Aotearoa has come from. And we would love to include you in that journey.





Guy Benton
NZCMS Mission Enabler