Jairus Robb speaks with NZCMS Maori Evangelist Rev Te Hauoterangi (Howard) Karaka about what God is doing among Maori.
In 2017, NZCMS was invited to partner with te Takiwa o Manukau (a group of Māori Anglican churches in south Auckland) in supporting Māori evangelists in Manukau, where more Māori live than in any other place in the world. Rev Te Hauoterangi (Howard) Karaka is the first evangelist to be commissioned as a result of this partnership.
Howard understands his ministry to be more than just preaching and leading a church. The most powerful thing he can do as an evangelist is to show others how the Gospel had transformed his own life. He can relate to the apostle Paul who encountered Jesus in a powerful way, and then testified to others that it was only through this encounter that he had become a changed man.
Howard often provides counselling to those he meets, and leads them through a process of forgiveness, healing and reconciliation. Many Māori have a negative view of the Church as a result of the history of this land, and in these conversations he often needs to break the chains of misinformation that many have come to believe. The way that he lives his life is essential, he says, so that other people can see the reality of the Gospel that has changed his life. As he has evangelised and pastored those in Manukau, he has been blown away by God’s capacity to work in the lives of Māori.
A Powerful Invitation
Recently, Howard attended a tangi at a marae which in the past has not welcomed Christian worship. As is Māori custom, the deceased person’s casket was carried into the marae’s meeting house. Surrounded by whānau, the casket was laid down, with many of the elders seated on the paepae which is where the kaumātua and chosen speakers of the marae sit. Normally the kaumātua would conduct a non-Christian karakia (service). Wonderfully, however, the six of them seated there requested that Howard conduct a Christian karakia. This was an incredible honour and blessing, especially to be given by the kaumātua of a marae with such a deep history. For many years, this marae had been opposed to Christian faith, but Howard was asked to openly acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ.
For the next three days of the tangi, Howard was given freedom by the kaumātua to conduct the karakia, including the burial service.
This is just one example of Māori responding with openness and joy to God as Howard has continued to build relationship with them. He said he has even repented at times of his own unbelief as he has seen God breaking down impossible barriers to the Gospel that has been there for so long. This year, Howard planted a church, Te Rama o te Ao (the Light of the World).
“God will make a way through the desert place…Where there are places we think may be out of bounds or where there is no hope, God has continued to open doors in the dry waste land and several have received salvation and are receptive to the word of God more than ever before. The places we think are dry waste lands have become places of harvest, it is springing up, like Isaiah 43:19 says!”
Prayer for the Future
Howard’s hope and prayer is that more people would come know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. However, this often means first offering and ministering healing to the many Māori who have been hurt by the Church. Unhelpful boundaries, limits and religious spirits still live in many churches today, he says and he asks that we would pray for his ministry and for the wider Church of New Zealand, that the Church would live in the vision set out in Psalm 133.
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.”
He also asks that we would pray for the right people who have a heart for God to partner with him in his work. Let us continue to uphold Howard Karaka and his family in prayer as they work to see those streams of living water saturate Aotearoa.