New Zealand

11.11am for Haerenga

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You’re probably well aware that our Haerenga Mission Internship isn’t running this year. Initially we were quite disappointed when we reluctantly made the decision to postpone it until 2016, but we’re come to recognize God’s hand at work. He has given us an incredible window of opportunity to review, tweak and re-launch our Internship – something we simply wouldn’t have had time to do had the internship been running this year. So praise God that he really does determine our paths as we trust in him (Proverbs 3:5).

Thus far the review has been a long and prayerful process as we’ve laid Haerenga before the Lord and asked him to lead us and place us where he wants us to be. There have been many conversations, questions, prayers, tears, wonderings and imaginings happening over the past weeks as we consider how to best serve the Church in growing up missional disciples for God’s Kingdom purposes. As we got deeper into the process of reviewing – interviews, surveys, many discussions – it felt as if we were in the midst of a deep fog, not quite sure where we should be going. But, thankfully, that fog is lifting. We are beginning to sense where God is leading us with our Haerenga Internship.

This is where you come in. Over the past few years we have had 11 young people journey with NZCMS as Haerenga interns. Will you join us this week, every day at 11:11am, praying for the future of the Haerenga Mission Internship, for the young people of New Zealand, and for strategies for engaging and equipping young Kiwis for mission?

A Kenyan at Waitangi

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What’s this guy doing here? Why is an African hanging around at Waitangi? No one asked me the question but I’m sure many were pondering it.

Over the last three years I’ve gone to Waitangi on Waitangi day and I reckon it’s one of the most amazing trips I make each year. But why do I keep going? Waitangi Day is always special for me because it is here that the relational foundation for our nation was laid. We are still on a journey of understanding what that means, but this is where it all began 175 years ago.

As an emigrant to New Zealand, I believe understanding place and history are vital in connecting to the soul of a nation. It’s not just about heritage but it’s about identity.

You may wonder how Waitangi could be important to a Kenyan, to an ‘outsider’? Isn’t your sense of identity connected to your roots in Kenya? Yes I have roots in Kenya, but I’ve been planting roots here too. Over the last six years my family has been trying to understand what it means to plant our roots deep into Aotearoa soil. It has meant to visit the beautiful places in this country, building friendships with Kiwis and seeking to integrate into New Zealand society. It has meant finding a church to belong to and getting involved. I haven’t picked up the Kiwi accent yet, but my daughters have.

And this is how it’s supposed to be. As I read the Scriptures, I see God calling his people to be pilgrims, people who are on a journey. And even when God’s people had been forcibly removed from their motherland, God still told them to see the peace and prosperity of the city to which he called them into exile (Jeremiah 29:7). Part of what it means to be God’s missional people is to be prepared to sink our feet into the soil of the place God has called us to.

Over the last few years, I felt that there was something incomplete with this journey of discovering and integrating into New Zealand. It was like a tree with lovely branches and fruit but without roots. So I began a journey of planting my feet into the roots of New Zealand. Here’s three key lessons I’ve learned along my journey.

1. It’s about People

Governor Hobson’s speech to the tribal chiefs in which he said “He iwi tahi tatou” (“We are all one people)” mirrors the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:11-22. Paul speaks of Christ, “who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility”. Paul knew what it was to work among two divided peoples, Jews and Gentiles, but also to see a ‘new people’ brought into being. Can we pray for a posture of unity as we explore our unique identity as kiwis?

Waitangi is special to me because it is through what happened there that this country was established. It means people like me are able to come and live here. Because of the Treaty, we have been welcomed to come and call this country our own. Without the Treaty I would not be here, I would not be welcome in this country. So I see God involved in the Treaty of Waitangi and it’s great that Waitangi day begins with a prayer meeting at dawn attended by politicians, local leaders (and anyone who is able to get there at 4.30am!). Which other country in the world begins their ‘independence day’ celebration with a prayer meeting?!

My involvement as a representative of  NZCMS at Waitangi is in some small way a ‘coming home.’ Members of CMS were among the British missionaries who contributed to the original Treaty process in 1840. I also see the key role the missionaries, especially Henry Williams, played as trusted friends of Maori in the treaty formulation and promotion of it among Maori. While some scholars have painted some of the early missionaries as colonist puppets aligned with land confiscation, a careful reading of history must recognize that these missionaries, although not angels, came to New Zealand for the Maori people, offering support, education and translation work.  This work was often carried on by Maori evangelists working among their own people.

I have many Pakeha friends after being in New Zealand for six years, but until two years ago I didn’t have many Maori friends. So I enrolled at Te Wananga o Aorearoa to study Te Reo Maori in order to communicate with Maori folk as I build friendships. I now have a number of Maori friends and I value their friendship deeply. This has been my bi-cultural  journey connecting to Tangata Whenua.

2. It’s about Place

As I studied Te Reo, I learnt that it was not just about language. Like many African cultures, the class was a community. We prayed for each other, played games and enjoyed kai together – and somewhere in the learned some Te Reo. But the most significant discovery for me was the importance of place among Maori. Its interesting that when you introduce yourself, you talk about where you comes from before you even say your name! So I decided I wanted to visit as many places of significant for Maori as I could. I’ve since been to Onuku Marae in Akoroa, there the Treaty was signed in South Island. I’ve been to Rangiatea Church in Otaki built by Te Raupaha who had been greatly impacted by the Christian message. I’ve been to many other places of significance in North Island.

But Waitangi beats them all! Why?

3. It’s about Posture

Although People and Place are important considerations in finding our roots, I’ve found that a posture of learning, of being a student of culture, is vital in helping me appreciate the beauty of culture. Although there are many things I have not yet understood about Kiwi culture, I have learned to ask questions and not assume.  I believe the Treaty of Waitangi has the potential to cultivate a unique national identity if we approach it with a learning posture. I believe the spirit of the Treaty should be one we seek to live out as we model a posture of ‘peace-making’ in this complex, multi-cultural world.

Moving forwards

I also go to Waitangi day not just to look back but to celebrate the present and look to the future. I go to celebrate a rich multi-cultural event earthed in a healthy and vibrant bi-cultural relationship.  Unfortunately what we mostly see in the media is the negative side, but a lot of great things happen at Waitangi: families on the beach, cultural groups doing variety shows, a stunning array of great kiwi food including mussel burgers and just a lovely holiday atmosphere. It’s like a big camp for the whole country where thousands of kiwis of all shapes and colours gather to celebrate. I think we need to learn the art of celebrating.

But its more than just celebrating the past. The treaty of Waitangi looks to the future too. Looking out over the Marae at the Dawn Service and seeing  representatives of iwi, government, church, and New Zealanders from up and down the country strengthened my conviction that the Treaty is still a significant factor in developing a deeper bi-culturalism and a richer multiculturalism. While we must be aware of the continuing disparity between segments of the Maori population and wider New Zealand society, I do believe there’s significant progress in social and economic development among iwi.  Asking what went wrong with the process will take us only so far. Instead we are better to focus on what is going on now. If we are to avoid criticism and conflict and embrace cooperation and consensus we must learn from our history and take the best of its strengths to build into the future. I believe God is doing something unique in New Zealand and I want to be able to listen to discern where he is at work so that I can join him!

A Crossroads in New Zealand

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In this latest edition of NZ: Myths and Realities Keith Newman shares about the critical crossroads that we are at as a nation.

Throughout the year NZCMS is putting together a series of short videos where reputable Christian thinkers address the myths and realities of the Gospel in the New Zealand story.

For more information about New Zealand’s Gospel-bicentenary click here. Celebrate with us 200 years of the Gospel in Aotearoa.

Bearing the cross… across New Zealand

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It’s always exciting to see stories that highlight God’s work in regular newspapers. This week Stuff.co.nz included a story about a 27 year old man who is going to be carrying a cross the length of New Zealand for the fourth time. The article also reminded me that this is a year where people from all walks of life are remembering our Kiwi Christian heritage.

The article states: “This is his longest trip – a 2500km journey – and this one has even more significance. It will end on Christmas Day in Northland’s Oihi Bay, where he will be among 5000 to 6000 people gathered to mark 200 years since missionary Samuel Marsden preached New Zealand’s first sermon on the beach there. … The former Youth With A Mission missionary has travelled the world, including mission trips up the Amazon River to build a church in South America, to Pakistan and deep into the backcountry villages of Morocco.”

Isn’t it amazing to see the Gospel-bicentenary along with mission work mentioned in a regular newspaper?! To read the full story click here.

 

 

 

 

Africans ‘Taking Back’ New Zealand

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‘Taking Back’ is an African evangelistic band that will be touring Christchurch, Tauranga and Auckland in October. They’ll be performing at local schools such as Aranui High, Central New Brighton, Avonside Girls, Mairehau High St Margaret’s College, as well as busking in the streets and performing in local churches. We’re looking for some musically minded volunteers who would love to hang out with the band, assist with time-keeping, odd jobs and getting them around venues.

The dates are: Christchurch 10 – 20 October, Auckland 11 October, and Tauranga 20 – 24 October.

On another note, there are still some spots in their performing schedules in particular:

Christchurch:

Monday October 13 (in the evening) Wednesday October 15 (in the morning) Thursday October 16 (morning and afternoon)

Their programme is still being finalised in Tauranga and there are many time slots still free.

 

So if you would like them to come and play for your school, church or other organisation or if you can assist them on the ground, please contact heather@nzcms.org.nz

Update from Anna

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A couple of months ago I met with the NZCMS Mission Personnel Committee for my interview for long term mission service. The meeting resulted with NZCMS putting some further recommendations to me in regards to preparation for heading back overseas. They felt it would be advisable for me to do some basic training in counselling and addiction studies here in New Zealand before launching into my Masters in Kenya. They also suggested I get some practical experience in the field especially working with women. I also brought up the need to have some personal counselling to deal with my fear of failure that I have found has hindered me many times from taking on responsibilities and using my gifts to my full potential.

With these recommendations in mind I am taking the following 10 months to work on achieving these goals. I have begun a course through the Wellington Institute of Technology (based at their Auckland campus) called a Certificate in Alcohol and Drug Studies. Currently I am doing four papers which will take me until early November this year. I will then complete the final two papers next year between March and June. As part of the course I do have a practical component to complete but I am also hoping to volunteer in an agency further to this course experience.  I believe that all I am hoping to achieve in this time will make me much more prepared for heading to Kenya in the future.

It would be amazing if you could pray for me as I work towards achieving these goals and seek to continue being moulded by God for his further work in my life. Although I am not formally with NZCMS during this interim time I am grateful for their informal support and encouragement. They have also been kind enough to allow anyone still willing to support me financial to do so through them. We hope to review my progress sometime early next year and I do pray that God willing I can then move forward to going to St Andrew’s Hall and then on to Kenya after my Certificate is complete.

 

Thank you so much for your support!

Heather and Corum Deo

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Not long ago the Disciple Nations Alliance released a new online course called Corum Deo. It’s all about helping people get a broader vision of God’s mission. I started the course a few weeks ago, partly because I’m new at NZCMS and I’ve never done any ‘religious’ study – other than church and home group. On top of that, the course is free! What a bonus!

Already I’m learning many new things. Firstly is the importance of ‘our story’. We’ve adopted it as the title for our October Hui, and yet it is mentioned many times in the first week of the course. What is our story as Christians? Are we still hearing our story correctly? Why/where/how have we lost our story? It’s forcing me to ask: How do I relate to our story, and why has God blessed me with this job within NZCMS. He no doubts has greater plans for me, as he does for all of us. Right now, circumstances mean that I am not going to be a Mission Partner heading offshore, but this course is showing me that right here in New Zealand there is much that we can learn about the Great Commission of Jesus to disciple nations.

The goal of the course is to get people to start a “seed project” – a small project that can help influence my local community in the right direction. At the moment I have no idea of what this project will be. The purpose of this project is not to use money, but to use existing resources within the community to further God’s plan, make disciples of his people, and change people’s lives through practical projects. The start of this project will be in this weeks lessons. I will be praying that God reveals his will to me as I embark on this first small step of mission right here in New Zealand.

Coram Deo uses online video, readings and chat to work through twelve weeks of topics. At two hours a week it is not a huge time commitment and a wonderful way to wind down in the evening after work. It’s also a chance to contemplate God and how I can bless others through the blessings that God has provided me. Another woman from my church is also doing the course. It’s great for us to get to know each other better through discussing the topics each week. However, I’m most looking forward to the seed project. The course has challenged me to see that many churches do not impact society nearly as much as society impacts our churches! This seed project will be a first small step where I can be a part of changing this trend.

 

For more information about Coram Deo or to sign up for a free twelve week course visit www.coramdeo.com

Home Again

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It’s hard to believe but after a year away I arrived back in New Zealand just over a week ago! To be honest it was with mixed feelings! There was the excitement of seeing family and friends again but also the sadness of knowing I am away from other friends and those I consider family.

On my recent holiday in Croatia I unpacked and put everything in the cupboards at each place I stayed even though the longest stay was three nights. My friend Angi asked me why I felt it necessary to do this when she just lived out of her suitcase. On reflection I decided that maybe it was my way of making the place where I was staying home for those few nights.

As someone who has traveled a lot and lived in different places home really is where I find myself. Of course I do also have specific places I call home – I am currently up to the count of four countries that I consider ‘home’: Home 1 is New Zealand, Home 2 is England, Home 3 is Romania and my most recent home (Home 4) is Kenya. I feel blessed to consider each of these countries home: they each hold a special place of significance in my heart. And this year I have had the amazing privilege to spend time in each of these homes.

Ironically my birth home New Zealand is the place I feel least at home. Despite my deep love for New Zealand it is not a place I like to live in and I am always itching to head away again! Most of my friends have realised this: commenting on a recent post on Facebook where I had said I would be home soon a friend asked “but for how long?!!!” A good question indeed! At this stage God alone knows! I am in a period of waiting – waiting to see how the future will unfold and what God’s plans are for me. I am in the process of applying to be a long term mission partner with my mission organisation NZCMS. While I wait I reflect again on home and think about what it says in Hebrews: “For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” (NLT)

I thank God for my many homes and most importantly I thank God I have found my home in Him!

The Great Commissioning

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On Sunday night we had the privilege of joining our Haerenga Interns at their commissioning service at St Christopher’s here in Christchurch. It was an amazing time. Each of them shared the highs and lows from their journey so far. We then had the privilege of gathering around them and praying for them alongside their new friends, mentors and leaders. It has been very special to  journey with them over these four months – four months which have flown past!

These three youngin’s have truly become a part of the NZCMS family. Although we’re excited that they will soon be serving God in Fiji, we will thoroughly miss their presence in the office. Their passion for God, their desire to learn and their heart for mission have been an inspiration to us all.

With all this in mind, can I ask you a big favour?

If you had the chance, perhaps you’d want to take one of our interns out for coffee so they could share some of their story with you. Imagine how great it would be to take them for coffee every week of their internship to learn how their story unfolds. Well, they leave for Fiji in just over week so the prospect of a coffee isn’t all that feasible. But perhaps you could use the money you would spend on that weekly coffee to sponsor one of their missional journeys. Even just $5 a week for the next 6 months will make a huge difference, enabling them to serve God during this season. What’s even more exciting is that this season will set them up for a life passionate about mission!

Now, it wouldn’t be fair to put forward a request like this without taking it seriously myself. So how about we make a deal. If five people join up to support one of our interns at least $5 a week, I’ll do the same! Does that sound like a fair deal? If you’re interested either contact us (03 377 2222) or follow the giving instructions here.

To give to Natalie use the code 04Ym19. To give to Kristy use the code 04YM21. To give to Warena use the code 04YM20.

Lastly, please do be praying for these three over the next six months while the Interns are in Fiji. Your prayers are ever so valuable.

Click here to download an image of the interns. You can  print it out and stick it on your fridge? It can remind you to pray for them throughout the day.