NZCMS

Are we Dragons?

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It’s 4:00am“Doctor, please come now”I sleep poorly on a bamboo mat in our most remote health center Pwunu Dyang. The rain starts pounding on the roof, and soon also on my conscience. Midwife Scovia has fear in her eyes and since I know how tough she is, her fear soon becomes mine too. To cut a long story short, Lucy* is in labour. She had 4 previous cesarian section operations to remove babies from her womb, so there’s no way Scovia can safely deliver her baby in the health center. If Lucy doesn’t get an operation in the next few hours, her womb might rip open and kill her and the baby.Except that the hospital which performs the operation is 4 hours awayAnd the road is close to impassable, even on a motorcycleAnd the rain poursAnd its 4:00amBut we can overcome these challenges. Scovia’s husband had hired a motorbike for a couple of days, and is willing to brave the rain and the road to take Lucy to a halfway point, where she can catch a NGO ambulance the final two hours to the hospital. You might scream “how can a woman in labour with scars on her uterus travel two hours on the back of a motorbike on terrible road?” To which I can offer only an insufficient answer.Because she mustBut one challenge remains – Lucy has no money. And the motorbike transport needs money, as does the ambulance driver. She needs about 20 US dollars in total, not a huge amount even here but still money Lucy doesn’t have. But this time everything might just be OK, because the rich white man is here.This dragon who hoarded his wealth, is about to flick one of his thousand gold coins towards a suffering mother who might then survive the day. Should this dragon feel good about that? Am I somehow a good person because I “helped” someone with 20 dollars?

Loads of money in this worldThere is in fact loads of money in this world, more than enough to go around. The per capita GDP on this humble earth is US$11,000 a year for every woman, man and child, more than enough for us all to live very well. There’s more than enough money in this world to transport this woman to hospital today and every day.

We are dragonsA lot of us are dragons of various sizes, hoarding our wealth as we build our personal or family empire. Us dragons pour our money into bigger and bigger dragons dens (houses), bank accounts with many zeros and the kind of lifestyle the other half of the world can only dream of.Most of us are rich, perhaps richer than we realise. If you own assets worth more than just $90,000, you hoard more gold than 90% of humans. If you have just $4000 of assets to your name, you are richer than half the people on the earth. I’m not saying this to evoke guilt, only to bring us to the realisation that yes, you and I might just both be dragons.

How did I become a dragon?Well most of it was probably chance. There may have been sound decisions and hard work along the way, but your path to a healthy hoard was largely decided even before you were born. You won the lottery, congratulations! Two lotteries define the lions share of how rich we will become.Lottery 1: Your birth country. I spun New Zealand and straight up won the lottery. Your birth country usually has the biggest effect on how much money you will be able to earn and save. A minimum wage earner in New Zealand might not feel lucky because they will understandably compare themselves to their richer neighbours. But by age 40 or 50, many minimum wage earners in New Zealand will find themselves in the top 10% of the world’s richest people.Lottery 2: Your parent’s wealth. Even here in Uganda, if you are born to the tiny percentage who are rich, you will have a decent chance to amass a healthy hoard. While Uganda isn’t rich enough to provide your children with the ingredients for financial success, the good education and healthcare your children need can be bought.Lottery 3, 4, 5 etc.. Your race, gender, orientation, neural make up and countless other dice were also rolled before you were born that might affect your potential to stash cash in this harsh world.

So how can we shed our scales?Realise you are a dragon. This may be the hardest step of all. It’s tempting and easy to tell ourselves and others that we are in fact one of the financial strugglers, usually by comparing ourselves to an even richer dragon. I’m afraid there’s always someone richer, unless you are Jeff Bezos!Disperse your hoard. Whether through personal connections or high impact charities, it might be time to start dispersing your hoard, giving money to people or organisations that are transforming lives. I want to personally thank a growing group of insanely generous churches, partners and friends who have given away huge portions of their stash, often thousands of dollars at a time towards launching health centers like Pwunu Dyang through OneDay HealthShift our future focus away from stashing gold and towards making a better world. We are so blinded by all our dragon friends with their huge hoards, we feel the need to keep up with the Jones’s by making our hoard bigger and bigger and BIGGER. When we realise we have more than enough to thrive, we can choose to change our life’s trajectory. Whether it’s through choosing a job which makes the world better, volunteering for charity or our struggling neighours, or even earning money for the purpose of giving it away, we can shed our scales or at least become better dragons.And while the committed, talented, skilled and grossly underpaid Scovia rushed around to orchestrate the saving of Lucy’s life, I put my head in my useless hands and cried. I cried at my own iniquity, I raged at the unequal, unfair and unnecessary state of this precious earth, but in the end I allowed myself more than a sliver of hope. Despite all my own issues, I trust that Jesus has the power to transform us and peel off our scales, no matter how painful that might be.Aslan peels of the scales of Eustace –“Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off … And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been… and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on – and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again…”* Lucy is not her real name* Conservative estimates of over 7 billion dollars spent by Bezos and Musk on their space race would have been enough to buy enough to vaccinate the 1.4 billion Africans twice.

A Japanese Connection

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Did you know that the very first NZCMS Mission Partner, Marie Pasley, went to Japan as early as 1893? “Miss Pasley was farewelled on her departure for training at Dr Warren’s Institution in Melbourne, with a view to working in heathen lands”(i)   “Her’s was a most faithful ministry, chiefly among women and children” (ii)Miss Pasley served in Gifu and Hamada, from 1893 until her retirement in 1922. She died in October 1942.And did you know that now, 128 years later, Luke and Naomi Sinclair are preparing for ministry there?Japan has been on their hearts for a long time. Naomi lived there with her Australian CMS missionary parents from the age of two until returning to Australia for university. Luke studied Japanese at high school and went on an exchange there at the end of Year 11. When they two met and married at Bible College, they saw how God had shaped and prepared them to head to Japan in the future. What an amazing God we have, orchestrating the circumstances and preparing the way for other Mission Partners to influence young people in Japan. Luke and Naomi will partner with the KGK (Kirisutosha-Gakusei-Kai), Christian Students’ Fellowship, encouraging Bible study on campus and training students, labouring to see the next generation of Christian leaders raised up in Japan.Former Mission Partner, Anne McCormick, has put this story together. Anne is currently serving NZCMS by sorting through our archives.(i)  Nelson Church Recorder, July 1st, 1892(ii) “Stretching Out Continually” by Kenneth Gregory, p. 131.

Members of the Japan Church Missionary Conference, 1894.

The Wheeler’s Ongoing Adventure

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Hello all! Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. I first wrote this almost three weeks ago, but we had a 7-day block without any internet and then very poor signal since then. Also, the humidity and a sneaky ant colony have both upset my keyboard and rendered a third of my laptop keys useless. I was tempted to write this missing a third of the letters as a Lockdown entertained test for you all, but I decided against it as I confused myself while writing it! So I’ve waited till I could fix my laptop and here we are. The multifaceted work Scott is doing is overflowing with progress and tangible benefits for the community here. The proposals he has prepared and submitted for funding were successful with donors in the Netherlands. From this, a project trialling ten toilets and tanks for the two neighbouring villages will be able to start. Funding for the building of a Grade 9/10 – equivalent to NZ’s year 10 and 11 – classroom has also been secured. Kapuna Life School has recently been approved to offer these grades which will help keep kids at school longer. If these were not offered here, kids would either not finish their schooling at all or, if the families have the resources and family connections, would have to be sent to education centres far away.A plan to build some new staff housing to support the recruitment of quality staff was also part of the funding proposal which will also begin in time. It is so satisfying to see these things happen because of Scott’s work. This also means that many of the building team who were trained for the hospital rebuild will be able to offer work after the first project has reached completion at the end of this year. Thank you to our supporters for getting us here. It is because of you that these things are happening!I, Nikki, have started taking over more of the Shop Manager role here and am learning how to order supplies for the community. All packaged food, household goods and building supplies come on the barge once a month and are ordered through the shop. Of course the ‘shop front’ is more of a window and grate you look through while paying for your goods.There has been less of a need for my expertise as a Physiotherapist at the Hospital. It comes in waves, and fortunately so, as I’ve just recently been asked to take over teaching the Grade 2 class for an undetermined amount of time. The teacher suddenly became ill and may not be able to return, so scanning around, it appeared I am the best option available! It’s funny how things work out because I had a conversation that same morning with our new Dutch neighbours about homeschooling. I was saying that as much as I enjoyed spending time with the kids and knowing what they’re learning, I’m not sure I’m cut out to be a teacher. And then I go and commit to 3, 4, 5 weeks or more of teaching a real class! God must’ve been having a good chuckle that day. But then I’m sure he’ll equip me with the patience and stamina I need. The children will be studying roughly in the equivalent of a New Zealand Year 3 class and are aged between 8-13 years old.A big relief came the day we received our first Covid-19 vaccination. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of resistance here to vaccines that has come from the West, but education is spreading, and free choice is still a priority. We haven’t had any known Covid-19 cases in Kapuna for a month now, so hopefully, that continues, and the Delta variant stays away. Otherwise, the effect could be devastating in this poor, isolated and TB-ridden region.Recently we just received our second jab. A box arrived one day and with two minutes notice, Scott and I were ushered into a room to get them! We’re very happy to have received the full dose, especially with news of a potential Delta outbreak starting in the Capital.The kids are doing well although they did recently have head lice. Levi also had a nasty bout of tonsilitis. Abby’s infected mosquito bites turned into Tropical Ulcers, which were pretty gross and scary looking. You’ll see the scars from those when we get home! Scott is still battling several weeks of Amoebic Dysentry and has just started another round of medication. Prayers for health and protection are much appreciated.The kids continue to enjoy time outside with their new friends. Abby has a group of girls she plays card games with each afternoon while the boys tend to dart around amongst the trees and sugar cane, catching grasshoppers or throwing mud balls. We bought some simple slingshots in the Highlands and have joined the fight against the fruit bats who eat our pawpaw and banana. Scott hit one the other night and our neighbours were very happy. We decided not to eat it and blessed them with an after-dinner snack.So, life here is full of adventures and challenges. We’ve come to recognise how much the heat and lack of food options have taken a toll on us, but we can see the fruit of the labourers who are committed to this place and community. We’re grateful for the longstanding commitment of the Calvert family who are still here in parts, and for the other volunteers who come and go. We’re so grateful for the support, both financially and prayerfully, of all of you in New Zealand and our Whanau and friends around the world. Thank you, thank you, thank you.Amid the internet challenges, we’ve set up an Instagram Page and Facebook page to document and share our adventures. We will update as the internet allows. If you’d like to follow these updates search for “wheelers.on.a.mission” on Instagram and “Wheeler’s_on_a_mission” on Facebook.Many blessings,Nikki, Scott, Isaac, Abby and Levi

Fun in the mud Our first pineapple!Coconut break Unloading the bargeLevi’s new toyChoresJab number 2Too many distractions!NutsKapuna HospitalThat’s a big boat!

Stories of How God is Still at Work

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NZCMS has always been an on the ground, sleeves rolled up, gritty, get in and get it done type of community. These “Impact Stories” from our Mission Partners are just a few examples of how the Holy Spirit continues to call our community, and us all, to participate in the Kingdom breaking out onto the earth in real and authentic ways. These stories have been taken from our Annual Report. Download the full report here. Nick and Tessa – Uganda  It was nearly Christmas, but Emma was determined to launch remote Te-Olam Health Center before the new year rolled in. Te Olam was two hours away on terrible dirt roads, and after the long motorbike ride, Emma was delighted to find that the house was looking great. The floor was cemented, the rent contract signed, and the health centre was ready for launch.But Emma’s job wasn’t finished. On the ride home, God had something more important in-store. Or should I say, someone. The rest is in Emma’s own words.  “As I was riding, I passed a boy on the road. Something just told me to stop, so I turned the motorbike around. The boy was 16 and was looking for transport to Gulu town.  Boy: “How much can I give you to take me to town?” Emma: “No, it’s OK. I don’t need any money.” The boy was keen to talk. He used to attend a prayer group at school, and two years ago gave his life to Jesus. But soon after, he got a new group of friends who didn’t care about school or prayers and would instead sneak out of the boarding school to drink. Sometimes they would even stay out overnight, bribing the security guard not to tell the teachers. His parents had even been called to school three times to talk about his bad behaviour. He was going to meet those friends far from the village in Gulu town to have some drinks. I asked him what had changed? Why did he leave prayers? Why was he not taking school seriously? He wasn’t sure but had just followed what his friends were doing. We talked for the whole two-hour journey home about school, life, friends and faith. He really opened up, and it was an amazing conversation.  When we reached the centre before I dropped him off, it seemed he had realised that his life had gone off track, and there was a better way. I asked him if he would consider changing his life path and if he would return to the God that brought him so much joy and motivation just one year ago? He said he would go to church at Christmas for sure and talk with his friends from prayer group again.  He gave me his number, and I promised to call him in a month. Unfortunately, when I called the number, it didn’t go through. The phone was out of service. I still believe that conversation stirred something in his soul. I pray that he returned to the God who had so recently saved him.” Andy and Shona – Costa Rica  Our local church has three seasons of 21-days of prayer and fasting every year. We follow this by launching our small groups and to encourage the congregation to join and or lead small groups using a bible study or hobby. The aim is to build a community and create a place for transformation. During the 21 days of prayer, we decided to hold a Monday morning prayer meeting on Facebook Live from 5:00 am-5:30 am. I did not expect the result we got. Over 30 people attended the live stream and, when we posted the recording onto Facebook, more than 200 watched through that day!  Fast forward to January this year, and we again led the morning prayer meeting for 21 days on Facebook live. But this time, we challenged those present to step up and lead five other days in the week to have small groups running and praying all week. And immediately, we had the volunteers we needed!  From February to May, our group grew to 20 people, with about six to nine turning up every day. By the middle of June, we had 13 leaders running prayer meetings every evening with 17-20 people turning up and new people appearing almost every day. We named these groups “Ora Primero” (Pray First). It has been such an empowering experience because, in the midst of so much sickness, death and joblessness, we have resources from heaven. Prayer doesn’t just inspire hope but we see God answer prayers in very personal ways.  One way we’ve seen God answer our prayers has been the massive growth in our small groups that we mentioned at the beginning of this testimony. The church had, on average, 600 people attending two services the weekend before Covid-19 hit. But only 70 people were regularly attending seven small groups. Now we have 776 people filling 56 small groups, regularly committed and inviting their friends! We are amazed by the grace of God through a season of great hardship. Mission Partner L. serving in Pakistan  Unexpected circumstances and lives opening up to God are among the places where God’s Kingdom was seen in 2020. From international to local partnership, lives have been impacted and changed. The following stories give you a glimpse of how. A student who recently wrote a reflection for his Leadership Certificate wrote the following. “I always heard or read about the epidemics in the past but never had any experience. It was such a huge lockdown. Everyone was shocked, scared and wanted to rescue their own life. But suddenly, people came out to help those who started starving.  The same happened in my life. After staying home for a month, I thought, “why shouldn’t I go to my church people and get to know how they are living.” I came to know that they are living on water and rice, having nothing left at home. Suddenly I got a phone call from a wealthy man of God who asked me what I am doing for the church. I told him the whole story, and he sent me some money to distribute food items among the needy. Thus this work of welfare started, and many other people came to know that I am doing such work, and they also sent me money to distribute among those who are really in difficult situations.  Thus, I worked three months continually in the church, and thus God was glorified, and we were able to reach those to whom the government was not reaching.” God also provided for a hostel of the Hyderabad Diocese, whose situation became uncertain when promised financial support was suddenly unavailable. Thanks to God’s leading and work through an NZ church, a way was opened for support to be raised despite economic constraints. Without the pandemic, banking transfers had been blocked due to changing regulations, but a small window of time was opened during the first wave of Covid-19 where they allowed transfers to happen! Because of this the hostel did not close, but was able to support its students between lockdowns as they worked towards their Matriculation and College exams and continue to grow in faith and life skills.  In response we say thank You God for giving us our daily bread. Thank you for allowing us to see glimpses of Your kingdom coming here on earth. Tessa – Solomon Islands  I was invited to address 200 girls in the first-ever Girls Friendly Society meeting on the Island of Malaita. I met up with a few other women early in the morning and drove our Toyota Hiace van for two hours down the gravel road to the other side of our port town. The Scripture I shared was from Ephesians about our identity as beloved children of God. I shared about how we’re given many different names as we grow – daughter, sister, friend, student, wife, mother etc – and how these names may come and go as seasons change, but that in God’s eyes we are always his children. I shared about being wise in our relationships and how God wants us to lead pure and holy lives for him.  The subject of abortion came up, and one of the leaders stood up with tears in her eyes. She shared how she had encouraged her pregnant teenage daughter to get rid of a baby and how she felt guilt and fear that God would punish her. She asked, “Who will God punish for this sin? Me or my daughter?” I told her that if she repents and asks for God’s forgiveness, she can rest assured that the Lord loves her and will restore her. I then quoted Romans 8:38 – 8:39 to her and the rest of the group, which talks about how nothing can separate us from the love of God through Christ Jesus our Lord. It was an incredible experience to comfort this mother with God’s word and reassure her that her sins are forgiven in Christ.  Adrienne – Cambodia  The Handa Academy (T.H.A.) school was closed for ten months in 2020. I remained focused on staying in Cambodia as I wanted to get the Learning Center set up and ready by the time the school re-opened. Jesus has still used me to show his love to the students in ways that don’t use spoken words.  After three months or so of not seeing the students, I wanted to encourage them somehow. God gave me the idea of making ‘Educational Care Packs’ for the students to pick up. Management approved this, so worksheets were prepared, copied, and put together along with some craft materials, a bar of soap and a small gift for each of the 80 students. I also made a card for each student with an encouraging note inside written in Khmer for them. I put the contents in a plastic bag with their name on the outside and packaged them in a box ready to distribute at the T.H.A. gate.  I was able to do this a couple of times, and I felt like God used the packs to show our love and care for the students even though we couldn’t be together at school. I was also able to make encouraging signs to hang in the Learning Centre so that the students knew that they were loved, that we believe in them and to encourage them to keep learning. DOWNLOAD FULL REPORT HERE

2021 Annual Report: Still Sent

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THIS ARTICLE WAS PUBLISHED AS PART OF THE ANNUAL REPORT. DOWNLOAD ANNUAL REPORT HERE I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever.With my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.I declare that your steadfast love is established forever, your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.(Psalm 89) Tēnā koutou katoa,As I look back over 2020, I join the writer of Psalm 89 in praising God for His steadfast love and faithfulness. There have certainly been times of grief as we walked alongside global Mission Partners and the people they serve in the midst of a pandemic. There was also uncertainty for all of us, with flights grounded, lockdowns around the world, and plans constantly changing. In the midst of all this, we look back and see God’s faithful hand over us at NZCMS, a faithfulness as firm as the heavens. And, like the generations of CMS before us, we continue to proclaim God’s faithfulness and steadfast love. As a community passionate about mission, we know God’s calling on us as ‘sent people,’ sent into the world to proclaim and live out God’s faithful love.NZCMS has always been about sending people globally. Despite the challenges that 2020 brought, many of our global Mission Partners have been able to stay in country and continue to serve. In times of crisis, there is even more need for people to know God’s saving love, and our Mission Partners have found creative ways to serve in changing circumstances. While some Mission Partners were forced to return to New Zealand, we continue to receive applications from people discerning a call to long-term service in global Mission. Even as we send globally, we seek to support the church in New Zealand in mission. Our heart is for the whole church to live as ‘sent people’ wherever we find ourselves. NZCMS is now partnering with two Māori dioceses to support the ministry of Māori evangelists to proclaim the Gospel amongst their people. Over the past three years, we have partnered with the Wellington Diocese in the Intercultural Communities project, helping churches engage with people from different cultures. We continue to be passionate about discipling young people with a missional heart. In February 2020, we kicked off the second year of the Better World Gap Year, only to have to cancel it due to Covid-19. We plan to relaunch Better World in 2022, with the same vision but located within New Zealand. We took advantage of lockdowns to start ‘Happy Hour,’ online conversations about mission. Mission Partners joined our panels from global locations, and hundreds tuned in to join these conversations.Thank you for your support during this challenging year. As I look back over the year that was, the hymn that comes to mind (one known to many in the NZCMS family) is ‘How Great is the God we Adore’.“To Jesus the first and lastwhose Spirit will guide us safe homeWe will praise him for all that is pastAnd trust him for all that is come.” May the Lord bless you.DOWNLOAD ANNUAL REPORT HERE

Rosie Fyfe National Director

A Tribute to Former Mission Partner, Anthony McCormick

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This tribute was written by Anthony’s wife, Anne.Anthony joined the NZCMS family by association when he married me (Anne Giles) in 2004. Prior to that time, he had considered short-term Mission. After my six years in Pakistan (1989 until 1995) when I returned home to care for my elderly father, I felt that Global Mission wasn’t yet over for me. We decided to pursue mission service together, applied to NZCMS as a couple and were accepted as candidates-in-training at the end of 2008. My father died in 2009 and the following year, we went to St Andrew’s Hall in Melbourne without any clear idea as to where we would serve.While at St Andrews Hall, our attention was drawn to Cambodia. After much prayer, thought and discussion, we concluded that Cambodia was indeed the place for us. In April 2011, we left New Zealand for Phnom Penh and spent almost two years studying the Khmer language. Although Anthony didn’t find language study easy, he persevered and learnt to read, write and speak Khmer, but didn’t achieve the proficiency he would have liked. We moved to Battambang early in 2013 and took up roles at the World Mate Emergency Hospital, a trauma hospital for victims of landmines, traffic and workplace accidents.Anthony set up a social work department at the hospital, writing policies and procedures before recruiting and training Khmer staff to carry out social work amongst patients and caregivers. After two years at the hospital, he handed the programme over to Khmer leadership. He then spent his remaining years in Cambodia training social workers in non-government organisations. With the help of a translator, he devised and delivered training on almost 50 topics on social work theory and practice which were very well received. Anthony enjoyed this teaching role, valuing the opportunity it provided to upskill Cambodians to face the challenges that arose in their lives.Anthony formed friendships with a number of Khmer people he met through his work, as well as at church and frequently found himself in a mentoring role, particularly to younger people, many of whom lacked older role models in their lives. In his quiet way, Anthony drew alongside these folk and they were very appreciative of the advice and encouragement he gave them, sometimes also having an opportunity to share his faith with them.Anthony struggled with aspects of life in Cambodia, particularly the corruption, dishonesty and extreme poverty prevalent there. He missed the outdoors, the New Zealand bush and activities such as camping and tramping. He encountered challenges in both life and work but he faced these head-on, in the knowledge that God had called him to work there and had equipped him for this work.As I have reflected on the obvious influence Anthony had on peoples’ lives, reading and listening to many kind words since his death, I have been humbled to realise again how privileged I was to be his wife and am so thankful that God brought us together for a season, albeit too short. Sharing some of what was expressed to me seems a fitting way to end this tribute to Anthony.Anthony was funny, definite, caring, interested and interesting, a visionary, risk-taker, a good sort. He was a safe, solid presence to his siblings in what was often a chaotic home. He faced life’s challenges and overcame many obstacles particularly during times of untold sadness in his twenties. He had a mystical nature, didn’t suffer fools gladly, fell short in his own eyes and was sometimes misunderstood. He was a curious observer of people who valued actions more than words. He was astute, intuitive, sensitive and wise, possessing both earthly knowledge and spiritual sensitivity. He had the ability to stand alone, yet also valued community.His life story was one of searching, adventure and transformation and he demonstrated fidelity in living out the phrase from Romans chapter 1, about being transformed by the renewing of his mind. He allowed himself to be moved by the suffering of others and knew how to serve others well.Throughout his 15 month battle with cancer, Anthony refused to acknowledge the seriousness of his illness, remaining steadfast in his trust that God would heal him so that he could continue the work in Cambodia he believed God still had for him to do.  Sadly, this was not to be. He allowed no negativity or pity about his situation even as he became increasingly vulnerable and didn’t like how fragile his body had become. I, along with two of his sisters, was privileged to be able to fulfil his wish to remain at home, nursing him there up until his peaceful passing on 26th May.Mission accomplished, Anthony. Well done, good and faithful servant.

Couple Find Window of Opportunity

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Words by Jairus Robb, NZCMS communications  Pocketed away on the corner of Gayhurst and McBratneys Rd in Dallington, Christchurch, a humble Op-Shop sits between the local diary and fish and chips shop. If you were to walk past without going in you would think nothing more. But if like me, you received an email from the owners and were invited to visit you would be immensely surprised to find out this newly opened shop is supporting cross-cultural missions around the globe. Jan and Tony Rawstron opened the Window of Opportunity Op-Shop in March 2021 with the following mission statement: to be a volunteer charity, selling second-hand goods, with all profits going to overseas Christian workers, to improve the well-being of those in need.” Despite only being open for a couple of months, this establishment is a hive of activity. As I introduce myself, Jan quickly ushers me past the rows of clothes, changing room and bookshelves and behind the front counter where a high school student on work experience is regularly ringing up customer’s items.  It seems as if I’ve stepped into another world that is at odds with the relatively quiet and unassuming street corner that the shop is on. I almost feel disorientated at the number of people in the wee shop and the hustle and bustle going on inside.Jan introduces me to the four volunteers in the back who are busily sorting through the newly arrived stock generously donated by the Dallington public.  “This place has been empty since the earthquake,” Jan said. “It was a chemist shop. A guy came in one day, and I said ‘Are you ok?’ and he says ‘Oh yes I used to run the chemist shop. I was here for forty years!’” With the help of St. Stephen’s Church, Jan and Tony et up the business and were able to get charitable status through them.I find out that Jan and Tony attended a missions course run by two of NZCMS’ own staff members, Mike and Ruth Robb. Having completed the course they headed off with Servants Asia on a short term trip to Manilla for six weeks. But it was when a friend of Jan’s went away to do missions work in Korea that Jan was inspired to find a way to support her. It was then that the idea to create an Op-Shop to raise support was born. Having volunteered in a Salvation Army, Jan had already picked up a lot of the skills needed to run Window of Opportunity.  “With my love of Op-Shops,” Jan said, “I thought they must be able to make some money because there are enough Op-Shops around! If you had an Op-Shop in a church that would be great because you wouldn’t have to pay rent. You would just pay electricity.” At the moment Jan and Tony rent our current space.” So far the business has been able to make generous donations to three Mission Partners serving through NZCMS and other organisations, with several more donations due to be given. The response from the community has been fantastic. In just a couple months Window of Opportunity is already well known and is by no means struggling to get enough stock. “All this has just come this morning,” Tony said, gesturing to the large collection of items that the volunteers were sorting through out in the back. “And it’s good stuff! The quality is really good. We’re not a dumping ground for people clearing out. It shows the Lord’s got his hand on something here.” When asked about what inspired the name of the shop and the front window display Jan replied it is a bit of a secret.  “My idea is that the green, and the red and the white are symbols of Jesus’ blood, eternal life and the white, washed clean,” she said, referring to the flags set up in the store’s front window. She chuckles to herself. “It’s a secret code.”  When asked if she would ever have imagined the shop being this successful and busy after only four months of being open she was quick to respond. “No. Not really. But as I say you couldn’t do it without a team. They (volunteers) are great.” “But we’ve got a few years left in the shed. And we wanted to do something for the Lord. And we were thinking, if we don’t do it now, time will pass by.”  For a couple who have named their new shop the “Window of Opportunity,” it’s no surprise that Jan and Tony are living out that ethos themselves.  You will find the Window of Opportunity Op-Shop at 148 Gayhurst Rd, Dallington, Christchurch. It is open Wednesday to Friday at 9:00am – 2:00pm and Saturday from 10:00am – 2:00pm.  

Open for business Some of the stock availableThere is all sorts here!Front desk ready for actionSome of the incredible volunteers Jan and Tony chatting with some locals

The Questioning Jesus

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The author of this article is one of our Mission Partners serving in South Asia. Due to the location he serves in we need to refer to him and his location vaguely and carefully to protect him, his family and the community where they serve. Early in my twenties, I signed up to be staff on a mission training school. I found myself responsible for the growth and development of a number of young adults from all over the world. It was on me to support them in their spiritual journey, lead them on three months of cross-cultural mission experiences, and then release them back into the wild as well-formed, mature young adults. After a month’s worth of leadership training, I was supposedly ready for action.As it turns out, developing people is far more complex than I had supposed – both a science and an art. I felt increasingly incapable and incompetent, fumbling along without knowing what I was doing. I found it pretty easy to meet with those I was responsible for, listen to them process and get them talking. But I found myself tongue-tied when it came to offering profound advice that would solve all their problems. All the while, my fellow staff seemed to be rocking it! They had no problem diagnosing people’s problems, identifying what was going wrong, and telling them what they should do (At least, that’s what I thought was going on).As it turns out, just like me, all of us can buy into false understandings of what makes a good leader. I had defined a good leader as someone so wise that they always had the right answer to share. And perhaps a better leader would have an answer ready before the person has finished sharing the question. But is that what leadership, discipleship and developing people is all about? Having the right answers?What Would Jesus Question?This raises a pretty obvious question: how did Jesus lead? Or more specifically, what was the role of questions & answers in Jesus’ ministry? A big part of my role is applying coaching skills to develop emerging leaders in Asia, and, crudely, we could say that coaching is all about asking powerful questions. So, naturally, I’m very interested in the questions Jesus asked.Stop and consider for a moment how many questions did Jesus ask?Think about the question itself. The Son of God, God-made-flesh, is walking the earth. It’s amazing he asked any questions at all! Surely God-in-person would invest all their energy telling people what to do. After all, isn’t a lack of information our core problem? Well, Jesus asked about 307 questions! That’s considerably more than the approx. 183 he was asked, and he only actually answered a handful himself. Whether we can consider Jesus an example of ‘professional level coaching’ or not, he certainly put a lot of value on asking powerful questions.So what do questions do? Typically we think questions exist to extract information. But questions do far, far more than that! Questions get our minds and hearts engaged. Questions help us see new options and different futures. Questions create space for possibilities. Questions get us out of hard-wired neuro-pathways and onto new ones. When you use powerful questions they turn the focus from your brilliance, experience and skills to their strengths, internal resources and ability. Questions enable others to listen to and follow God for themselves rather than always relying on you.Let’s turn back to 20 year old me. I thought I had to have the answers to be a good leader, but it turns out I only needed to have the questions. In fact, giving answers can actually undermine the development process and stunt someone’s growth. Stunting the physical growth of a child is something we all find appalling, yet we stunt people’s growth all the time in churches and discipleship groups without giving it a second thought! And amazingly, when my role isn’t seen as fixing things but listening well & asking questions that provoke discovery, there’s a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. In fact, coaching at its best is a “facilitated monologue”; the coach is playing the role of a mirror, disappearing so that the person can hear themselves think and process. Listening And MissionIt turns out, learning to listen and ask questions can do wonders for our leadership. But it also has huge implications for mission. This paradigm helps us see that our role is to empower other people and to never get in the way of their own development. It also helps clarify the role of the ‘outsider.’ Whenever possible, we shouldn’t be coming in and fixing everything for or doing everything for someone, but finding ways to empower others to ‘do the stuff’ for themselves. If I can come alongside a person and empower them to reach higher and further, then not only is the task of mission accomplished but people are developed and meaningful partnership is forged. And what I’ve discovered is it’s so much more fun and fulfilling – and honestly easier – when we don’t need to carry it all on our own shoulders but are instead trained in how to empower others. Over one cup of tea, I can help someone influence a network of 130 church planters reaching well over 10,000 people. Just by being deliberately present, listening intently, and asking a few well-placed questions. All over just one cup of tea.If Jesus would spend so much of his time asking questions, perhaps it’s time we learn to do so too?

Where Two or Three are Gathered…

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Jesus said to his disciples “Where two or three of you gather in my name there I am among them.” (Matthew 18:20). What a mystery that must have been for his followers. Can you imagine your leader or pastor saying that to you? How would you have interpreted this statement?The Church Missionary Society was birthed out of a group of men who gathered in the Castle and Falcon pub in London in 1799. Their topic of discussion that day was how to form a new society that would spread the Gospel in a globalising world. And from there an entire missionary movement was born. In just over 220 years there are now Church Missionary Societies scattered all over the world. And that’s not even mentioning the other organisations and causes that have been birthed from this same community. What must it have been like in that pub that day? A group of people had come together in the name of Jesus, to find ways to participate in God’s transforming work in the world. And Jesus was among them. I can just imagine him pumping his fist with excitement and cheering when he saw the passion for mission stirring in their hearts. I can almost hear the Holy Spirit whispering ideas to them and fanning into flame the spark beginning to grow.    A part of a Heavenly Family    NZCMS was born from a group of people who were attempting to live in community as a part of joining God’s mission work. They were people who loved, trusted and were committed to sticking with each other. Not easy stuff sometimes, but it was driven by their desire to see God’s Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. And this vision of family and community has continued to be intricately a part of NZCMS’ DNA. Not as something that we feel we’ve manufactured ourselves, but something that naturally overflows as we live in our identity as the Body of Christ.  Words like ‘community’, ‘family’ and ‘whanau’ seem to be common buzz words these days. When something is over-used it can lose its essence or feel like a fad. However, in using ‘family’ and ‘community’, we’re trying to find words to explain our sense of belonging and serving together, not because it’s a new idea, but because it seems to be God’s idea of how we are created to be as his people in the world. Jesus sent a group of 72 followers out in pairs to preach the Gospel and heal. He chose twelve to be the growth catalysts and leaders for the budding Church. Before he ascended to heaven, he told his followers to pray together for the coming Holy Spirit.    Jesus commands us to work in community. In teams. As family. Just as God’s very nature and being is communal – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – so God calls us to be image-bearers on earth, living in an interdependent community. Where once we have all been strangers to each other we are now God’s adopted children in Christ. To become a family under our heavenly Father. And as we grow in relationship with each other we reflect the glory and majesty of God who has made us. It is a posture we believe God invites us to express in every aspect of NZCMS family. Our NZCMS ‘family’ includes those who pray, those living overseas as Mission Partners, those who give, those who are on staff, those who serve on our Board and those who gather to hear stories about and pray for God’s mission work to extend in the world.   Learning to be an NZCMS Family   At NZCMS we’re constantly attempting to ask ourselves questions like:    “Is what we are doing here deeply relational?”   “How are we participating in ‘family life’ with one another across NZCMS?”   “Who do we need to learn from about what belonging looks like in this cultural moment?”   These questions are often difficult to ask and know how to outwork, as we feel the prodding, and sometimes the conviction, of the Holy Spirit to uphold God’s call to be an NZCMS family. As I’m sure you’re aware, interdependence and doing deep life together with family isn’t easy! Often it can feel like the hardest way to do things. It takes a lot of humility, learning and grace. Sometimes it can get messy. But for the furthering of God’s transforming work in the world, we commit to coming together and remaining together in the name of Jesus. Because this is who Christ has called us to be. And this is how Christ has called us to live.  Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, we’re grateful for the ways we are part of this NZCMS family with you. It is through family that God has chosen to bring his Kingdom to earth. We pray we can continue to grow in understanding of what that looks like for you and me and NZCMS as we come together in the name of Jesus. 

Jairus Robb, NZCMS Communications Officer

A Successful Year According to Jesus

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Dr. Omar Djoeandy is the SIM Australian Missions Engagement Consultant. He has recently published a book titled “Redefining Success According to Jesus.” In this article, he gives an intro to the book below. If you would like to buy it, you can order it here. What makes a successful year? 2020 has come and gone. Possibly it was a good year for you, but many might have thought, “Good riddance to the year of the COVID pandemic, deaths, disruptions, recession, cancelled plans and failures.”I struggled with feeling like a failure because I didn’t meet some major goals. I was anxious and afraid when our income and savings declined, partly caused by cancelled speaking engagements.At the start of 2021, there was hope that we turned the corner. Surely it could only get better. Within weeks, we discovered that 2021 might be similar to 2020. Most people are still living under some form of lockdown, and life cannot return to the pre-COVID ‘normal’, even with the vaccine.Was 2020 a failed year? Will 2021 be a failure too?Most people suffer from harmful definitions of success, but they might not be aware. Just as we define a successful life, we often measure a successful year according to more possessions, achievements, external gains, and the fulfilment of our dreams and plans. We often expect that each year will bring more money, new purchases, unique experiences, opportunities to climb the ladder of success, and so on.When so much of 2020 was disrupted and cancelled, we are tempted to consider it a loss and failure. We are anxious and afraid that 2021 may be more of the same.Would Jesus consider 2020 a loss and a failure? What if we could see 2020, even with the losses and cancellations, with a different perspective? What if the pandemic – though tragic and terrible – could contribute to us being a success according to Jesus? Perhaps you grew closer to God as a result of the pandemic?How might Jesus define a successful year?In Luke 12:13-34, Jesus shocked the crowd when He contradicted the popular definition of success. Even back then, most people succumbed to worldly success that defines your worth according to your possessions, popularity, power, achievements, appearance and other external signs.Jesus warned against all kinds of greed – the desire to acquire and wanting more. Measuring ourselves and others according to worldly success will only lead to harm. But Jesus doesn’t just oppose worldly success; He teaches us how to be a success in His eyes.He mentions three essentials which you can read in the table below.

Whatever comes in 2021 can become an opportunity for us to identify harmful definitions of success and grow in ‘Redefining Success according to Jesus’.