There’s been quite a quiet spell recently as I work with NZCMS on what this year will look like. It’s good to be able to share with you now about what has been decided. Thank you for all your prayers!After a lot of prayer, thought and discussion, NZCMS and I think it is best for me to remain in New Zealand for this year. It has been a tough season in Spain and we both see that what I need is some quality down-time in NZ to recover and refresh before looking at the next season. We agreed that as of April I’ll be on an extended Leave of Absence until November 2021, when we will seek to jointly discern God’s leading around a possible return to Spain.I’ve chosen to begin a wee part-time job at a Farmers branch in Christchurch to have some finances coming in and some routine. The job is three days a week so there is time still time to rest and as energy permits, be involved in other things that I enjoy and where I can use my giftings.Thanks, friends, for all your continued prayers. I feel a bit anxious but also curiously expectant about what this year and beyond holds for me. It has been incredible to see God’s hand at work and he keeps bringing me back to that simple yet profound truth of trusting in Him. Please keep praying with me for my Church in Gijón, Spain and also for the ministry of the Shop. My church still only meets online but thankfully the Shop has been able to remain open and continues to be a beacon of Jesus’ light in the community.During this year I’ll still send out updates on the ministry in Gijón, Spain and also how things are going here.In Christ,Katie.
Robyn Appleby served as an NZCMS mission partner at Msalato Theological College in Tanzania for six years and now serves as a priest with All Saints’ in Palmerston North. Robyn first heard the call to ordination in Tanzania. Recently priested in the Wellington Diocese, she reflects on the journey from first acknowledging the call to ordination, to fulfilling it.“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”I liken my journey toward priesthoodto God leading the Hebrews through the wilderness before the time was right for the next step of His plan. They had lots to learn.Like the Hebrews, I wondered what it was all about and if the wandering would ever end. They complained, were impatient and wanted fulfilment of the promise “Right now!”. Being the ”Doubting Thomas” that I am at times, it was easy to think that I’d been mistaken in the call to ordination. But it is God’s faithfulness and love that patiently leads, and He provides and teaches us through the challenges as well as the celebrations. I needed to learn the grace of walking into the darkness and trusting that God was leading the way.Like Abraham’s wife Sarah, I laughed when some of my students at Msalato said I should be a priest. ’Yeah right!’ I said. I thought they were just being nice and honouring me as their teacher. But when it came up more than once in different contexts I realised it was time to talk to God about it. Unlike Sarah, it wasn’t the promise of a baby in my later years but it sure was a kind of rebirthing and definitely the start of a new life. For a while, I felt guilty about doubting and questioning but I eventually realised it was okay. Even the ‘greats’ like Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen asked questions about what God was leading them into and whose desires were driving the thinking.I imagine it was similar for Sarah when that little butterfly-like stirring happened within and the realization of something growing within her. Could this really be true?” She may have asked herself. “Is there really a promise growing and taking shape in me?’Over time and through conversations with trusted praying friends, my wondering turned into amazement then denial, then dread but finally excitement. “Wow!” I said. “This is amazing and wonderful. Yes Lord, here I am!”Fortunately, the 10-year journey hasn’t been as long as the Hebrews’ 40 years or as traumatic as having a baby in old age but I’m truly thankful for the way I‘ve been guided along through this journey.. In my 6th and final year at Msalato, I sensed a withdrawing in my spirit that troubled me until I realised this to be ‘Godly discontent’ and preparation for time to move on. This made me sad, as I love Tanzania and the people and the teaching, but the energy and passion had left me. I felt a failure and guilty, but to stay meant I needed to recommit another three years and that just didn’t fit comfortably.‘Hope deferred …’My first big test came when back in NZ, the diocese discernment team closed the door and said no to ordaining me! If there was ever an opportunity to give up, this was it. The temptation was great to give up and to take myself out of this sense of rejection and of not being good enough. But, like Peter, I had nowhere else to go! I believed in the priesthood of believers and I knew I had to keep going in faith. By grace, I was given a pastoral role in the church and I perceived this to be the call of God. was serving God’s people and building the church.However this was to be the continuation of my training. I needed to get over my sense of rejection and learn to engage with the New Zealand church and community. I only knew my passion for the church and I thought this to be the same in New Zealand as it was in Tanzania. But no, this is of course a different culture. Same God but different needs.I often reflect on the words of the “Hound of Heaven”/ All that I have taken from thee is not for thy harms, but that you would find it in my arms. There were deep valleys in my wilderness – re-entry, culture adjustment, finding a home. And these were just small things compared to some major health and financial crises. But the deepest valley was the death of my youngest son with cancer in June 2019. All these are the prisms of God’s loving refining work. But even in the midst of all this came the invitation to reconsider and re-apply for ordination discernment again! I’m very thankful that it didn’t take another ten years in the desert, even though the repeat process was more intense than the first.Now I feel deeply centred, and I no longer wonder about God’s Call.Like the Hebrews who sang their way into freedom and the new life, I can sing a new song of “Goodbye” and “Hello” with the melodies that continue to grow within me.“Somewhere within my yearning has been metThe God of graciousness has gracedThe God of tenderness has blessed.” -Joyce Rupp
It was with joy and excitement that The Handa Academy (T.H.A.) here in Battambang, Cambodia was able to open again on Monday the January 18. School had been closed for the last 10 months due to Covid-19. The Cambodian government set in place “Three Phases” for opening schools depending on how well the phase before did. Because T.H.A. is a private NGO school we could open in the third phase. Originally the new school year should have started in November but because of a community outbreak it was postponed yet again until January of this year. It’s been a long wait!
From January 11 – 15 the T.H.A. staff spent time cleaning and preparing the classrooms, the hall, and the grounds. Alongside my work at the T.H.A. as the crafts teacher and helping with the English classes, I also coordinate the Learning Centre. I have 16 years experience in teaching Early Childhood and had some free time so I volunteered to take on a coordinators role to develop this program. It was started sometime in July 2019 by a visiting American team. I had lots of ideas and researched a lot more. I was told it would be for ‘Educational games and books’.
During our week of cleaning and preparation I spent time preparing the Learning Centre. I wanted it to be just right for when our students came back. I’d already purchased the furniture and the resources that we needed and had been storing them in my spare bedroom. I had shelves, boxes of activities, a basket of soft toys, mats, cushions and encouraging posters that I’d made and prepared while school had been shut. We’ve also had all sorts of books and activities donated to us from New Zealand and I’ve also been able to bring resources from various Expats leaving the country which has been a huge blessing. Previous NZCMS Mission Partner, Anne McCormick has been especially instrumental, donating her educational games, puzzles and the Khmer books from the activities program she ran at the hospital she worked at. It is a delight to see the students spending time in the Learning Centre, playing and exploring with the activities and learning as they go. It’s great to see their creativity coming out while using the open ended play resources, such as the blocks and construction straws. I’m spending some time with the teachers to help them understand the benefits and purposes of the Learning Centre so that it will continue in the years ahead.
Ko Te Tiriti o Waitangi tōku kawenata I tipu ake ahau i raro i te maru o ngā Remutaka maunga ki te taha o Te Awakairangi Ko Te Ati-Awa te mana whenua Kei Te Whanganui-a-Tara ahau e noho ana Ko hāhi mihinare te whare karakia Ko New Zealand Church Missionary Society te rōpu Ko Ngāti Pākehā te iwi Ko Anna Smart tōku ingoa The Treaty of Waitangi is my covenant I grew up under the shadow of the Remutaka mountains beside the Awakairangi river Te Ati-Awa are the people with authority over the land I live in Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington) The Anglican Church is the church I belong to I am part of the New Zealand Church Missionary Society I am Pākehā My name is Anna Smart This Waitangi Day in 2021 I found myself curling my toes in the grass of the whenua at Waitangi, washing dishes in the wharekai, and swimming in the beautiful moana at Paihia beach. Unlike most other Waitangi days in my lifetime, I spent this February 6 immersed in the story of our nation, and what a privilege that was. Listening and Serving Our history as the New Zealand Church Missionary Society is deeply entwined with the history of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and so our identity as an organisation is shaped by the events at Waitangi, both past and present. For this reason, NZCMS sent a small group of staff and friends of NZCMS to join the Karuwhā Trust in their Hīkoi ki Waitangi 2021, to learn more about our collective history. Ngā mihi nui Karuwhā Trust for your mahi. For myself and many others, the central objective of this hīkoi was to go to Waitangi to listen and serve. The weekend was spent visiting significant historical locations related to Te Tiriti o Waitangi – alongside tangata whenua and assisted by qualified historical narrators -, serving with hau kainga at Te Tii marae, swimming in warm Northland waters, observing public commemorations, asking plenty of hard questions and learning new things. In my reflections of the weekend, I am reminded of Mary and Martha’s story in Luke 10:38-42. Like Mary’s part in the story, this week was about listening. In this particular story, Jesus emphasises Mary’s choice to sit at his feet and listen, and I’d like to think that when Martha was called out of her work to listen to Jesus, after some time they’d all get up and start working together. Much like this story, it is essential that we in Aotearoa take the time to listen to our partners under Te Tiriti o Waitangi so that we might be able to work together well. In this beautiful nation of Aotearoa, we have a complex history that colours our landscape and shapes the people that have walked, currently walk, and will walk in this land. For so long, this story has predominately been told through a Pākehā perspective, in a way that dodges the uncomfortable parts, the gruesome parts, and some of the really profound parts. In this moment of information accessibility, the ability to borrow books and use Google, we must extend our horizons of learning. Especially for those of us who identify as Pākehā, we must learn how to listen. As we have conversations in the church in Aotearoa about local mission and the decolonisation of mission, we must place Te Tiriti o Waitanig, te kawenata tapu – the sacred covenant – at the centre of these discussions. Choosing Powerlessness I’d like to speak directly to my Pākehā readers now Something I have been reflecting on while I’ve been in Northland is the importance of choosing powerlessness as a wāhine Pākehā. As a Pākehā living in a Pākehā dominated society, I, by virtue of my skin colour and my whakapapa, have more privileges and power than my Māori friends. When I enter a te ao Māori context, it is essential that I put down that power, choose the place of powerlessness and of humble learning and service. This choosing of powerlessness and of choosing interdependence with others is the way of Jesus. By placing myself into this place of powerlessness and interdependence I can begin to put my worldview aside and try and step into that of another. I begin to see things I wouldn’t otherwise. I certainly don’t get it right all the time. I choose self-preservation over vulnerability, and there is grace for that. It is, after all, a process of learning. But to walk towards reconciliation, us Pākehā need to learn to put down our power and pick up a spirit of repentance, of humility. I’ve learned these things while ironing tablecloths with hau kainga. While watching the sunrise above the flagstaff on the Treaty Grounds. While eating watermelon under the Northland sun. From this stance of listening and serving, we are able to enter friendship. When we have a foundation of relationship, we can walk towards honouring Te Tiriti, towards reconciliation, towards partnership with each other. When we dance this delicate dance of friendship, not shying away from that which renders us vulnerable or afraid, we journey closer to one another. Brené Brown, an American professor, said “…it is hard to hate anyone close up”, and to that I say, lean in. Our time with the Karuwhā Trust, being so generously hosted by Te Tii marae, and serving alongside hau kainga, was the utmost privilege. For me, it felt like a look into the possibility of being reconciled to one another. I have been left with more questions than I have answers, and that is okay. There are many things I am reflecting on and will be writing about in coming weeks, but for now, I leave you with the challenge of deep listening. As Te Rautini sing in their song Te Ao Marama; “Listen to the land, listen to the spirit, listen to the breath, listen to the life we share.” Anna writes regularly in her blog which you can check out here.
Anna Smart, NZCMS Short Term Intern
Booking flights is the season of Covid-19 and uncertainty is our current challenge.We were so relieved to receive our Visa’s just before Christmas but unfortunately, our travel path may involve a two week quarantine period in Brisbane rather than the usual four hour transit period. We would appreciate prayer for the situation as we would really like to avoid quarantining in both Brisbane as well as Port Moresby! The NZCMS travel agent is working amazingly hard for us exploring all options, so please pray for her as she supports us and also our safety from the virus while we travel. We trust that God has this journey all mapped out for us, so we are just taking it day by day, decision by decision as we have been to date. At the moment all of our actions are pushing us towards a departure date of February 23. We have seen God’s hand in the acquisition of our vaccines. Some of the less common vaccines we require aren’t usually kept in New Zealand and need to be ordered from Australia. They’re not easy to come by at the moment with limited international movement and this has been a tricky area to navigate. Despite this, our travel Dr. has managed to get hold of everything we need and we had our first round of vaccinations last week!We are looking forward to finally getting to Kapuna where we will be serving. The community has been patiently awaiting our arrival. We received a lovely email saying they have planted some plants near our house in anticipation of our arrival! Please join us as we pray for safe travel and transit and quarantine.Go here if you’d like to support the Wheeler’s.
Many of you had little to be grateful for last year – my heart goes out to you. To those who lost loved ones, your jobs, or even your motivation to keep going, I pray that this 2021 brings renewal and joy. We mourn and laugh together.I was fortunate enough to have much to be grateful for despite the challenges. I express this gratefulness with some trepidation. Not out of pride or competition, but perhaps to spark a little joy and hope for the year ahead. I am grateful for so many things in 2020. Here are seven.Grateful for our home. Simple by New Zealand standards, while opulent in the eyes of many Ugandans. Just being at home can fill our cup. “For the homeless and the cosseted, may your home be simple, warm and welcoming.”Grateful that coronavirus largely spared the poorest region on earth. Here in sub-saharan Africa (besides South Africa), coronavirus hasn’t wreaked havoc. It’s rare to have a global tragedy where the poorest suffer less than the rich, but the respite is welcome.Grateful that we launched 11 OneDay Health Centers this year, and extend healthcare to tens of thousands of people in remote places. I’m Especially grateful for Emma in Gulu, Josephine in Kitgum and Innocent in Lira who overcame dead months and transport challenges to achieve remarkable things.Grateful for my inspirational wife, who will again tomorrow bike 100km on dirt roads to help remote communities both keep their only home and aspire towards an unlikely but beautiful peace. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”Grateful for the overflowing generosity of people who thought beyond themselves during a crisis to give even more than we needed to live here this year, and to support launching health centers, building health centers, peacemaking and co-vid relief. You know who you are.Grateful for our nurses Elec And Acire, who overcame enormous odds to work with the community and build a beautiful new 4 room health center in Pwunu Dyang. The community now boasts the most remote health center in the Gulu sub-region, more than 4 hours travel from town.Grateful for one of the best holidays I’ve had in years, with a bunch of fine people who both think and care deeply about the people around them.Grateful for discovering John Mark Comer, a spiritual teacher who has sparked new insights into our world, our culture and the sorry state of my own heart. I’ve realized more than ever the need to work first on myself before I leap too fast to judge others.“…love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”
Nick Laing, Mission Partner to Uganda
On February 3, 2020, I began my role as one of two Māori Evangelist for the Manukau, Auckland area in Aotearoa New Zealand. Just over six weeks later Aotearoa moved into alert level 4, putting us all into lockdown.You might be thinking it must be hard to be grateful to God for starting a new evangelism ministry right in the middle of a pandemic. Businesses and education facilities shut down. Tangihana (funerals) were limited to small numbers. Churches were unable to gather. Fear was so present during lockdown in my community that many were tempted to lose hope. But I will show you why I have had many reasons to hope, and many reasons to be grateful for all God did in 2020.New Initiatives of HopeForty-eight hours before Aotearoa moved into level 4 our team, led by the Venerable Archdeacon Lyndon Drake, decided to serve our church community online with an Anglican Eucharist service. We acted straight away and purchased all the equipment required to ensure our live streaming and pre-recorded services ran smoothly. I gave thanks to God for providing the funding needed to purchase this equipment.I also felt that God had told me that a spirit of fear was present in my community. So we advertised our services online and through print, including Psalm 23:1 written in both Māori and English. Incredibly, we reached over a thousand people! Over lockdown, my bubble was the worship team for these services. We recorded songs of hīmene (hymns of praise) and helped to lead some of the liturgies as well.Many people began reaching out for prayer while watching from their homes. They also commented on the preaching, singing and liturgy being broadcast live on social media. How could we not be grateful to God for such an impact!?The team’s second initiative over lockdown was to offer pastoral care by any possible means. We used phone calls, text, e-mails, Zoom and even a couple Facebook messages! We listened to people and prayed with them through their struggles, and many relationships were formed with people who had fallen away from the church. Even in the midst of this pandemic, the Gospel was being shared.Widespread Reach In May, we were able to gather in small groups of 10 people. My whānau and I were part of the worship and prayer group who live-streamed our Sunday Eucharist service from our church, Te Karaiti te Pou Herenga Waka, in Mangere. This service had over 1400 views and 215 comments from people watching, showing how engaged they were. We had more attendance at this online church than we’ve had in quite some time in our Māori Anglican church. On May 24, NZCMS’ second Māori Evangelist, Howard Te Hauoterangi Karaka, and I were given a weekly, 30-minute slot every Sunday morning on a Māori Radio station called Waatea News. We provided a contemporary, bilingual liturgical service and reached up to 5000 people most weeks. This was made possible through our partnership with the Christian Broadcasting Association who helped us record the program we called “Karakia Rātapu”. We continue to lead this service every Sunday at 9:00 am. The team at Christian Broadcasting Association has also blessed us by making Karakia Rātapu into a podcast, which we hope to reach a younger audience with the Gospel.Finally, I also began facilitating a new discipleship program at Te Puea marae here in Auckland, alongside Reverend Mark Barnard, the priest in charge of St James Church in Mangere Bridge. This discipleship program is called Moko-a-Rangi, which translates as “a Heavenly mark of approval”. We use the medium of tāmoko (cultural tattoo) to teach on the theme of identity.We’ve seen the Holy Spirit move powerfully among those who have attended the program, with about ten coming regularly. Our hope is that we will be able to use this program to help people take steps towards Jesus Christ and explore faith through discussion and activities in a safe but also ‘stretching’ environment. We have seen real hope become tangible this year. And it has only inspired us to hope for more. In all this, I give thanks to God for making a way through a very tough year, physically, mentally, and spiritually. I feel as though the Spirit of God is at work, and I’ve just been catching the wave and joining in on what he is already doing! Praise be to God.“…I nga mea katoa me whakawhetai atu; ko ta te Atua hoki tenei i pai ai i roto i a Karaiti Ihu hei mahi ma koutou.“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”– 1 Thessalonians 5:18
This Sunday, we begin the season of Advent. Growing up, my long-lasting memories of this season include making advent wreaths, lighting candles each Sunday, and the joyful anticipation recalling the Christmas narrative. Advent is a hope-filled time brimming with excitement as we remember God coming to dwell among us as a baby boy. It surely is a season where we party! In the year of 2017, Advent came alive in a new exciting way for me, as my husband and I had just received the news that we were pregnant after years of challenges trying to create a family. I identified with Elizabeth, I resonated with Mary, and felt the wonder and celebration of the season so profoundly. Then, on Christmas Day, we lost our baby. We were confronted not only with the heart-wrenching loss, but also faced the painful juxtaposition of this celebratory season all around us. Where were we to find ourselves in the joyous Christmas story – and not just this year, but in all the years to come? In the biblical narrative of Christmas, there’s a couple of verses in Matthew I had never noticed before. They’re not the ones we hear sermons on or write Christmas carols about (Who’s gonna write a Christmas carol about a genocide?). Herod goes on a power trip, and fearful of the news of Jesus’ birth, he orders the genocide of all baby boys under the age of two across the region (Matthew 2:16). Here in the midst of our Christmas narrative we find awful, ruthless loss. We see injustice and political powers destroying the most vulnerable in society; it’s not all ‘joy to the world’ in this moment. Quoting Jeremiah, Matthew reveals the grieving reality of those who experience these horrors. “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comfortedbecause they are no more.”– Matthew 2:18A voice is heard. A weeping. A collective of voices, mourning mothers (and fathers) who are in the gut-ripping claws of grief. This inclusion of the brutal reality of loss that first Christmas made it possible for me to feel a part of the Christmas story. I identified with Rachel, a weeping mother. At the same time that Rachel weeps for the children who are no more, there is celebration for a child born – the Saviour of the World. Here is the juxtaposition right before us. A paradox of lightness and darkness that we still see today. The birth of Jesus is the inauguration of God’s Kingdom coming on earth, yet all creation is groaning and awaiting Jesus’ final return as King, making all things new.We can see in our world today that the rule of the King and restoration of the Kingdom has not-yet reached fruition. And there are a lot of things in our world not-yet restored. There is so much loss this year. So. Much. The world feels more fragile than it ever has, a global pandemic, political upheavals, racial injustice, ruthless poverty and hunger, uncontrollable fires, devastating floods and much, much more. There will be a great mourning this year for the 1,430,000 families (to date) who have lost loved ones to COVID-19, not to mention all the ‘hidden’ losses of babies, the loss of jobs, livelihoods, or homes. There is much to grieve in our world.In the Advent narrative, like Rachel’s weeping, God’s sorrow at a broken world is the very reason God has come to dwell among us. Advent actually invites and makes welcome our tears and grief as a part of the story. We see our ‘not-yet’ realities, and we look to a future hope where all will be restored and every tear will be wiped away.Loss and grief are no longer an end, they are included as part of the way to resurrected life in Christ. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.And that really is hope for our world.So as God’s people who are sent into this world, we are invited to live into this juxtaposition. Grieving for the losses while celebrating that our Saviour is born and all that means for our future hope. NZCMS sends people to the hard places to demonstrate Kingdom reconciliation. We hold the global realities before the NZ Church that we might be stirred to pray, to give and to go. As God’s people we hold hope in the spaces of our world where it looks hopeless. We embody peace and reconciliation in a violent world tearing each other down. We practice joy by celebrating any small miracle or good news amid the sorrows. We enact radical love in a world handing out cheap love and calling some ‘unlovable’. We grow in faith as we courageously (and fearfully) say ‘yes’, like Mary does, to the arrival of God in our midst.To those of us who are carrying grief and loss into this Advent season, you are included. May we live the juxtaposition deeply this Advent. May our Advent be a joyful party and a season for grieving as we know God with us.
Kirstin Cant, Missions Enabler
2020 has been a year full of changes, and learning how to continue trusting God every day. NZCMS continues to rely on God to see Kingdom transformation around the world. In this week’s email newsletter, our National Director, Rosie, shares a video update about what this year has looked like for us so far and invites you to continue joining with us in serving God in mission. Watch the video here.
Over these past months God has opened many doors to minister the Gospel on my marae, Te Kotahitanga in Te Kōhanga alongside the Waikato River. The word God gave me was: I have called you Te Hauoterangi to be my voice, here and now; just speak without ‘ compromise” and I will do what man cannot do.In September, we conducted our first Karakia Rātapu (Sunday service) at Te Kotahitanga Marae. This is a HUGE and exciting breakthrough, to have the support of my elders; and permission to conduct Karakia Rātapu on a regular basis. A huge number of those that attended were people that only recently, strongly opposed our faith, the church and anything they felt opposed Maori Tikanga.The last time we had regular Sunday services was 1963…a long time ago.Our second Sunday service at the marae, on October 18, was attended by 90 local Iwi. Many of our kaumātua (elders) attended with some travelling from as far as Rotorua, a 3 hour drive! Many of these people had not attended church for over 20 years apart from funeral services.God is good. This ministry has been effective in regards to reaching the unsaved, unchurched and those who have a belief of spirituality but do not know the King of Kings. The Lord is turning the dried wasteland into flowing streams.I praise God for the response of the Gospel in Te Puaha O Waikato. Praise Him for the huge growth of the Marae ministry.
Howard Karaka, Maori Evangelist in the Manakau City area of Auckland