April 2017

21 Days

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A few weeks ago Miriam Tillman shared that the Hospital of Hope was once again facing Lassa Fever season in northern Togo. They were going to remain on high alert until they hadn’t seen any new cases for 21 days. She wrote the following update last Thursday.

We finally reached day 21 but are holding our breath… Lassa Fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness that is endemic in many countries around West Africa but was not believed to be in Togo until last year. One of our Missionaries became sick and died from an undiagnosed disease but it was not until a second Missionary got sick that we found out they both had Lassa Fever. Last year these were the only two cases that were discovered in Togo.

In February this year, as I was preparing to return back from furlough in New Zealand, I found out that our hospital was treating a patient with Lassa who had arrived from a neighbouring country. Since then the Hospital of Hope has treated five Lassa Fever patients from Togo and the surrounding countries. We are taking precautions to limit the risk of exposure to our team and medical staff. Until further notice we are limiting our clinic services to follow-up and urgent cases. We are also washing our hands with bleach water when we return from market or visiting and not meeting in large groups (which restricts playing sports and going to church). We will remain on high alert until we have not seen or heard of any new cases for 21 days.

Which brings us to today… day 21… Unfortunately we had a patient die over the weekend who is a potential Lassa Fever patient and so we must wait until the blood test results come back from Lomé tomorrow before we can know if we are at day 2 or 22.


Unfortunately the tests confirmed that the patient had Lassa, meaning they were at day 2. Please pray that no further cases will occur so that the hospital can resume it’s normal functioning as soon as possible.

Short-term Mission – further reading

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As a follow up to our issue of Intermission about ‘short-term mission’ here’s some useful online articles that capture some of the pitfalls of short-term mission and ‘voluntourism.’

A Cautionary Tale. A brilliantly funny short video from the Helping Without Hurting training mentioned at the end of this Intermission. 

The Voluntourism Paradox. How your visit to orphanages could be traumatising children, breaking up families and fuelling human trafficking. 

Western do-gooders need to resist the allure of ‘exotic problems.’ A deeper look at the problems addressed in Noah’s article. 

The Good Missionary. A look at short-term mission trips through the eyes of an African orphan. 

Stop Calling it a Short-Term Missions Trip. Why the phrase ‘short-term mission trip’ is unhelpful, and some better alternatives. 

When Short Term Missions is Actually Christian Tourism. Our saviour complex is challenged when we realise they might not need us. 

Why You Should Consider Canceling Your Short-Term Mission Trips. How our going and giving can actually hurt those we’re going to. 


The playground

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Our play equipment in our Junior Playpark had really become old and shabby and needed replacing. Last year we were given a whole set of play equipment (like a McDonalds playground) which had hardly been used. The challenge was, how would we get it it out of the building it was in and out of the tiny streets of an old part of Manila?

Well, someone lent us a six wheeler truck and with six men we spent the whole day dismantling, loading, travelling and then finally unloading it back here. That involved 3 hours of taking it apart, carrying each part through double doors, down steps, into a yard and heaving them onto the truck – by the end the truck was completely filled! 

The next challenge was how to erect this indoor equipment outdoors, but in the shade so it’ll be nice and airy (and beyond the access of frogs and cats!). Our school PTA President and her committee got behind the project and raised money for roofing to install it outside in the Junior Play-park. All this week our maintenance men and caretakers have been busy fitting all the bits together again. It was quite the puzzle, but they’ve succeeded and it looks good. Praise God!! Engineer Daniel, husband of the PTA President, is organising his workmen for free to put up the roofing and fencing and gate. 

Isn’t that just like God! He wants to bless us! We are his children! We didn’t even pray for this, but he knew we needed it and where it was, sitting doing nothing, just gathering dust. Now it’s ours and ready for the kids to enjoy.


Tests and Oxygen

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Thanks for all your prayers for my recent Spanish test. I’m very happy to report that I passed! Language learning has been a big part of my first term in Spain and I can see that to love and respect the people and culture well here it is essential to be able to share life in their heart language. I’ll always be a Spanish language learner and I’m incredibly thankful that this term of full-time learning has given me a really good base in the language.

Oxygen Groups

The church Oxygen group I’m part of continues to challenge and encourage me to keep prayerfully and intentionally being alert for people who want to discover more about God. Please keep praying for people in the church that are living out this method of church planting. 

Leave & Home Service You may already know that I’m due to go on Leave and Home Service very soon. During some of this time I’ll be visiting supporting Churches to share about this term and also what I will be doing when I return to Spain. I’m also looking forward to spending time with people over coffee or food (very Spanish!) and of course being with my family.

For prayer

Please pray for preparations for Leave & Home Service. I’m very thankful for NZCMS for their help with this and giving me time to debrief well when I’m back. Pray for the different Oxygen groups within the church. Pray that we are persistent in prayer and available to how God wants to use in his work in our area. Please pray too that we may find people who want to invite us into their lives and are curious to read the Bible. And give thanks for the Women’s Retreat and also the Church Retreat that happened recently. They were both precious times to get to know people deeper, enjoy God’s word and experience a slice of the countryside.

Clinic No. 3 – Borderline

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Elegu is a “post-apocalyptic shanty town”, explained my wise anthropologist friend. If you only had four words and a hyphen, I don’t think anyone could do better. Arabic music floats out of Shisha bars. Rainbows of money flap in the wind held by flimsy rubber bands. A different language every 10 meters. Refugee intake point with a broken swing. And despite all this hustle and bustle there’s no health clinic – only drug shops. Until now. New clinic number 3: Elegu.

Just three years ago the Border Post between South Sudan was moved 10 km to sit on the actual border, and within those ]three years a bustling ‘gold rush’ town sprung up. Gold, oil and high quality rice is smuggled in from South Sudan. Food is sold at exorbitant prices across the border. NGOs buy up large to look after those the evil war has displaced both in South Sudan itself and the refugee camps nearby in Uganda.

Elegu is a racial melting pot, although as a white person you wouldn’t guess it immediately. We’ll be serving refugees from South Sudan who are making their way outside the camps. The local Maadi tribe. Traders from the East, West, North and South who are trying to escape poverty through the trading gold rush. We asked our waiter Prossy:

Me: “Where do you come from” Prossy “Mbale, Eastern Uganda” Me: “Why did you come to Elegu” Prossy: (Shrugs) “Work, money” Me: “Did you know anyone here before you came?” Prossy: “Not even one person”

The abode we’re renting would not quite meet New Zealand building regulations, but it will do the job. You wouldn’t want to be there in an earthquake that’s for sure! Our nurse Walter is humble, cheerful chap who has moved in with his wife and small child. If anyone can make it work in a weird place like this, he can. He’ll be in Church today, welcoming resurrection and new life. That’s what we’re looking for in Elegu.

This post was originally posted on Nick & Tessa’s blog, Ugandapanda.com

What’s our teapot?

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You may have heard how CMS was formed in England around a silver tea pot. But what’s unique about the forming of the New Zealand CMS? What’s our ‘teapot’?

Here’s one example. In 1892, the aging Bishop Edward Stuart of Waiapu invited a delegation from CMS in the UK to come and mobilise New Zealanders for mission. Three days after they left, NZCMS was born! A year later, Bishop Edward received a letter from a missionary in Persia, begging New Zealand to send the “ablest, and best, and bravest for Christ’s work abroad.” It was essentially a request for Edward to mobilise Kiwis for God’s work around the world. The next month, in an official Church publication it was announced that he’d found someone willing and ready to go – at the age of 66 he put up his own hand, retired as Bishop and set sail for Persia where he served for 16 years!

At 66 society tells us we’re supposed to quit, make ourselves comfortable and count down the rest of our days. But not in the Kingdom! God is still calling “Whom shall I send?” Like Edward, in your season of life how can you still be saying, “Here I am Lord” (Isaiah 6)?

Golden Oldies 2017

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The next Golden Oldies encounter trip is coming up in September. For over six years Graeme and Jane Mitchell have offered specialised introductory mission encounters for seniors to Fiji. It’s non-denominational and open to all.

This year’s 11-day trip in September will take you to see and experience the missions the Church is involved in around Suva, including visiting schools, hospitals, old people’s home, squatter settlements, as well as remote villages including a day trip to a cyclone-impacted village. The tour is fully escorted with experienced leaders. More info can be found by clicking here.


Applications close 28 April. Be quick! Limited positions are available.

For more information or to request an info pack contact:

Graeme and Jane Mitchell (Team Leaders)   graeme@goldenoldiesmission.com

Rev. Wendy Robinson (Secretary)   022-083-1058 or pwar.nz@gmail.com

A season of mobilisation

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‘Making Mission the Centre.’ That’s what we feel God calling us as NZCMS to focus on in this season. We’re excited when we hear and join with churches, groups and individuals who are discovering more of what it means to make God’s mission central to following Jesus. But this statement, ‘Making Mission the Centre’ also implies one important thing: mission isn’t always at the centre! We’ve been quite stumped when we hear stories of just how far from the centre mission can be.

Recently someone questioned whether ‘being missional’ or ‘cross-cultural mission’ are even phrases young people understand anymore. We’ve known for a long time that ‘mission trips’ are often seen as an ‘optional extra’ for people to ‘go on,’ but when you spend most of your days thinking, speaking, dreaming and praying about God’s mission, you forget that for a lot of people, it can be a peripheral faith ‘activity.’

Though lacking the camel-garments and honey addiction, we resonate with John in being a “voice in the wilderness” (John 1:23). Like John, we’re desperately trying to stay the course and be faithful to the words God puts on our hearts. But we sense that clever strategies won’t change what we’re seeing; what’s needed is a prayer movement petitioning God to raise up people of all ages who are inspired and challenged by God’s mission call on their lives! Will you join with us as we hope and pray for this a new wave of people in mission?

Community is not the Goal (Issue 30)

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When I think about belonging or community, I always think of my time with a large mission training centre in Australia. For almost four years I journeyed with a group of people who were all deeply passionate about knowing God and making him known. In the midst of all the busyness and excitement, I felt a deep sense of being known as well. These people from a huge variety of backgrounds and cultures and experiences and Christian persuasions – an eclectic mix of people who I would have otherwise never met – became far more than friends.

They were comrades. They were life-lines. They were prayer-partners, safety-nets, the voice of encouragement. They inspired me to go deeper, challenged me to reach higher, pushed me to expand my vision for God’s world. I’d always have someone to process with, to laugh with, to cry with, and I’d be there for them in the same way. It was a space to be ministered to and to learn to minister, to give as much as you received, to bless as much as you were blessed. In one month our relationships were deeper than anything I’d really known before.

It’s not about building community

Maybe I’ve reminded you of a similar experience. Maybe you wish you’d been part of a group like that. Perhaps you’ve been in a similar environment but were burnt by the encounter. In either case, it’s likely a reminder of the longing many of us feel for a deeper, more authentic experience of community and belonging. Ingrained within us is a sense that we’re not supposed to be alone on this journey of faith and life. Yet, though we may have momentary tastes of true community along the way, for many of us it’s not our ongoing reality.

In fact, ‘community’ is a bit of a buzz word. You’ll find it in the vision statement – maybe even in the name – of many churches. Theological books have made community their uniting theme. Counsellors are being trained to think of individuals-within-community. Hundreds of sermons on “Getting back to Acts 2:42-47” have been preached across the country. Many Church leaders have made forming and nurturing a thriving community one of their top priorities.

That’s certainly not a bad thing. The problem is, community doesn’t really happen if it’s your goal. Michael Frost, an Aussie missiologist, says that aiming for community is like aiming for happiness. You can’t aim to find happiness; it’s a by-product of seeking after something else, like love or justice or hospitality. But when you aim for happiness, you’re bound to miss it!

Community vs Communitas

Many of us have looked at the various expressions of community we’ve been part of with the question: “Why’s this so different to what I see in the New Testament?” Jesus invested much of his time forming a community of disciples and presenting them with a new ‘covenant charter’ of how to do life together (e.g. Matthew 5-7). Throughout the New Testament we see communities marked by extravagant love and faith (2 Thessalonians 1:3), by unwavering passion for Jesus (Revelation 3:8), by radical sharing and devotion (Acts 2:42-47), by incredible diversity (Galatians 3:28), by forgiveness and compassion and humility and peace (Colossians 3:12-15). The language describing the church is that of body (1 Corinthians 12:13), temple (3:16), family (Ephesians 2:19), vine (John 15:5), people (1 Peter 2:9), all images which stress that together we are God’s people. In fact, a key theme of Scripture is God’s mission to form a people for his name. Yet this biblical vision for the Christian community seems to stand in stark contrast to the reality we often experience.

So why did I experience all that in Australia? It’s because community wasn’t the focus. We were all there because of a shared passion for God and his mission in the world. It was out of that shared purpose and vision that true community was forged. We were on a shared journey, but it was a journey somewhere.

This is the different between community and communitas. Communitas is community that’s formed in the context of an ordeal, a challenge, a task, a mission. It’s a community that forms for the sake of something beyond itself. Community isn’t seen as an end in itself; it’s the means to an end. A deep sense of love and care and compassion is formed, but it’s as a result of being on a journey together. Perhaps ironically, when you set out to achieve that same sense just for its own sake, the results can feel quite superficial.

The desire we have for community is a legitimate one, but to pursue it for its own sake is a mistake. “We build community incidentally, when our imaginations and energies are captured by a higher, even nobler calling” (Michael Frost). If you set out to build community, you end up with more of a support group. If you set out to form a group on mission together, you end up with communitas.

So when we say that We’re All Called to Belong, we’re not talking about belonging as the goal itself. We’re all called to belong to God’s family of mission.

For discussion

When on your journey have you experienced communitas?

How can a group move from community towards communitas? What steps could your group make?


Exploring today’s missional issues from a variety of angles, each edition of the Intermission magazine will equip you and your group to engage with God in your community and beyond. To signup to receive the Intermission in the post, email office@nzcms.org.nz. Intermission articles can also be found online at nzcms.org.nz/intermission.

Welcome Rainfalls

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We seem to have survived a 5-day flurry of visitors over last weekend!  Mothers Union leaders from around Tanzania, a Sunday School teachers’ seminar led by a Lutheran woman pastor, the UVUKE choir from Dodoma (of which Peter was a part way way back in the 80s and 90s!), an all-day meeting for Area Deans of this Diocese, and a Bible School Board meeting which involved us both. These events overlapped with each other but the poor cooks were the same and were exhausted. We had six of the visitors to look after here at home and no water!  We have had plumbing problems for weeks. We were very thankful for a mighty deluge of rain on the Sunday night and we were able to fill all our buckets in no time at all. The river, usually a trickle in the river bed, became a fearful flood, and evidently got very close to swamping the Bible School! We could hear the roaring waters from here, some way up the hill on the other side.

After February’s haphazard rainfalls, which brought hope but no growth of crops or pasture, hundreds of cattle died, and many Masai committed suicide. Families struggle to survive still, although the rains have been great throughout March. We look on that as an answer to the prayers of God’s people, here in Tanzania, but also in New Zealand, UK and USA from where many Christians have been praying.  The price of maize has rocketed up, four times the norm and well out of range for the average family.

On the home front, Peter’s peanut crop looks good, and the forest of spinach around the back has been shared with hungry students. Most of our ‘off-duty’ daylight hours are spent weed-pulling! There is still food in the Kondoa market, and the Bible School students keep fairly healthy, thanks to individuals and churches from overseas who contribute to the work here.

All the students bar one arrived back for the new term and they are working hard. However, there are many concerns for their families back home. One student has had to go home twice to sort out problems of neighbours’ cattle eating new crops in his fields, and just today, one of the staff had to face the anger of his neighbours who claim that his donkeys have eaten their crops! The student who didn’t arrive at the start of term had a critically ill wife to care for. Many prayed for her and she gained strength, but then his daughter became ill, so he still hasn’t appeared.

Peter has finally been able to get some computers set up, and is teaching the students in groups, after lectures are over for the day.  Most had never before touched a keyboard, but Peter hopes they will soon be able to write up their own documents and essays …. slowly, slowly.