Mission Partners

A Mission Partner’s Miraculous Story

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My wife Shona sensed the call to global mission at 12 years old at her home church in Auckland. In her 20’s she did mission trips to Tanzania and Colombia. I grew up as a son of British missionaries in Peru and we later met in Spain in 1999. We bonded over our shared experience living in Latin America during very dangerous times. Shona had always had a conviction that she would marry somebody with a passion for global mission and he would decide where we would go. Our question at the time though was “Where?” I met a key leader from the Middle East and asked him how I could strategically serve the Muslim world. Without flinching he gave me an answer that changed my life. “Andy with your background and bilingualism, mobilise the church in Latin America! This one conversation mobilised me. I married Shona in London in 2000 and we moved to New Zealand in 2001 to start a family. We thought that after 2-5 years God would call us to be part of facilitating a missional movement from Latin America to the unreached nations.Upside DownAt that time I felt God had told me it was not time to leave but to work on my character as I had been struggling to control my emotions for a few years. Unfortunately, I just didn’t know how bad it really was. In 2002 my life was turned upside down when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. In that instant, despite the strong sense of calling Shona and I had received, I disqualified myself for service in global mission. How could I take my family to a foreign country away from our support structures if I was emotionally unstable? So I decided that we would serve in the church in New Zealand.In 2005 I received a very strange prophetic word. A friend of mine said to me “Andy, somebody is going to give you a pair of shoes and it will be a sign to you that you will travel across many nations with a message from God.” I thought it was weird at the time but it impacted me and I held onto it.After spending some time serving as youth pastors in Tauranga, we moved to Christchurch in 2009 and I made a serious attempt to understand the bipolar diagnosis, researching with doctors, Christian counsellors, and psychiatrists. What followed were some of the hardest years of my life. I had terrible side effects from all the medication and even went on the sickness benefit for a time. We got to the point where my medical team and I agreed that it wasn’t working and in 2013 I came off all my medication slowly. I felt like I had no solution. My mood swings wouldn’t stop and every three weeks I battled with suicidal thinking. During this period Shona started training as a teacher and I became the house husband, looking after the kids, working part-time, and serving at church in the children’s ministry and small groups. Again, I felt disqualified from global mission and quite ashamed. The MiracleIn 2015, I was invited by my friend Gabriel, to a meeting run by a healing evangelist named Susan Pillains who was visiting from England. I didn’t want to go but I knew Gabriel wanted me to translate and was hoping I would be healed. Gabriel is a passionate intercessor and over the years he had prayed with many tears for God to heal me. I had experienced God’s healing over the years in other ways, but it had been 14 years since my bipolar diagnosis, God had not healed me and I was feeling a little jaded. I decided to attend the meeting, telling Shona I would change my attitude.It turned out Susan had an amazing ministry with miraculous healing meetings across India and Africa. She began to pray for me but after a couple of times of commanding the sickness to leave, I apologetically said to her that I felt no different. She asked if we could pray and wait on God. So we did and I stood there with my hands stretched out before me as she quietly prayed. After about ten minutes Susan said she believe God told her that my illness had been passed down to be me from previous generations. So she began to methodically go through my family generations one by one, asking Jesus to release me from any sickness that had begun there. When she counted to the eighth generation I suddenly collapsed on the floor and began to scream!I am not going to give you more of an explanation or an interpretation of this story because I simply cannot. I can only tell you the story as it happened. All I can say is as Susan prayed, the power of God began moving in my life in a way that was beyond my understanding. After a while, Susan began to pray for peace and said “I think something significant has happened.” I replied, “I think so too.”I knew it would be very easy to check because for the past 20 years I hadn’t gone three weeks without facing a cycle of uncontrollable depression and elation.From that day on March 8, 2015, the mood swings stopped. One Christian psychologist told me that’s impossible as a bipolar diagnosis is incurable. However, I know what I was like then and I know what has changed and there is no way I would be taking my family to a foreign country and away from our support networks if God had not healed me. A miracle had happened.The ShoesIn June of 2015, I was invited to speak at a combined service. I was at the church social event on a Monday night and the Pastor, Pastor Jorge, decided to pray for some people. All of a sudden the social event became a ministry time and he began to pray for me. Incredibly he said that I would have a ministry travelling across Latin America and countries where Christians faced persecution.“Like the valleys are raised up and the mountains are lowered and the favour of God goes before you and you are walking in some shoes…” Then all of a sudden he slowed down for a bit before continuing. “Like my ones…” He stopped for a few seconds again. Finally, he said “This is going to sound very odd to you. But I believe the Holy Spirit is saying that I am to give you these shoes and they will be a sign to you that this will come true.” I couldn’t believe it. That was it! When I got home I chatted to Shona and within a month I had resigned from my job.Jesus’ ScarsJohn 20:20 and 20:21 have been a theme for me over the last couple of years. Jesus enters a room where the disciples were hidden away from the world for fear of death. Jesus surprises the disciples and meets them at a point when they had been blindsided by the unexpected. They had been ravished by the trauma of the death of their hero, the hero that most of them had abandoned. All were overwhelmed by their circumstance and totally baffled by the apparent news of the resurrection of Christ. And then, suddenly, he appeared to them.Jesus showed them his hands and he said “As the father has sent me, I am sending you”. Jesus shows them the scars of wounds that should have declared his demise but now proclaimed his victory. I believe this point is relevant to all of us. God sends us fully aware of our weaknesses, frailties, insecurities, and our quirks. And yet God still calls us to go and be an incarnation of the Gospel to the world.Andy and Shona have been Mission Partners with NZCMS since 2017. They work with Pro-meta (an online Christian university) to train leaders and work alongside missional organisations across Latin America to Mobilize the church into the call of God. Andy and Shona believe passionately that Latin America can be a powerhouse to accomplish the great commission among the remaining 7000 unreached ethnic groups around the world.  

Small Steps Toward Mission – The Most Excellent Way

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How do you get from growing up in rural mid-Canterbury to Global mission in the megacity of Tokyo? This is week one of a four-part miniseries “Small Steps Towards Mission” following NZCMS Mission Partner, Luke Sinclair. In this series, Luke highlights four key turning points in his life and four small steps of everyday discipleship that God can use to send each of us out on mission. This is week 2 in the series. You can read the first article here. My first car was certainly no head-turner – a light blue 1989 Hyundai Excel granny-hatchback affectionately named “The OG-mobile” after the first two letters of the number plate. Yet the second turning point on my path towards Japan involved this car – both metaphorically and physically. The big change came about when I finally understood the second half of a single Bible verse.The verse was 1 Corinthians 12:31 and the first half I understood well, “Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.” At High School, I had spent a lot of time reading this chapter and the similar passage in Romans 12 about spiritual gifts. I had tried to work out which ones God had given me and which ones I hoped he would one day give me. Although I would have said I’d be content with whatever the Holy Spirit gave, in reality, I wanted the more impressive, more powerful, more ‘spiritual’ ones. The gifts of serving or giving money described in Romans 12:7 -8 seemed like drawing the short straw!But as I came back to following Jesus while at University, I spent time in 1 Corinthians again and began to spot things I hadn’t seen before. Previously I’d read chapters 12 and 14 as “Paul’s guide to spiritual gifts” – almost as if it was an instruction manual. But I’d never stopped to ask what chapter 13 was doing in the middle of them – that famous passage about love. Reading through the whole letter I saw how the Corinthian Church was full of the Holy Spirit and very gifted (1 Corinthians 1:5-7).  And yet Paul said they were “still worldly” and “mere infants” (1 Corinthians 3:1). They were a church divided over many things, one of which was spiritual gifts that they appeared to be using to gain recognition, status and power. And so smack in the middle of his teaching on this topic in 12:31 Paul says, “Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.” This way is the way of love. Not the romantic kind, but the love that sinful people at church are to show to each other and to build each other up to persevere in following Jesus.All of a sudden my understanding of this passage was flipped upside down. In my eager desire for the most ‘impressive’ spiritual gifts, I was acting just like the Corinthians! I realised that rather than looking inward to ask ”What is my spiritual gift?”, the most excellent way was to look outward and ask “How can I love my brothers and sisters at church one step more?’”Around that time I had been helping with the church logistics team which set up and packed down the primary school we met in each Sunday. Rather than this just being a ‘good thing to do’ I started viewing this as one way the Holy Spirit had gifted me to love my brothers and sisters. And as I kept looking at what the needs were in front of me, I didn’t see any ‘impressive’ upfront roles, but I did see that the logistics team needed more leaders who could take on responsibility for the Sunday set-up. Not quite what I had imagined or desired (being a non-committal 21-year-old). I had wanted the spiritual gift equivalent of a Lamborghini – impressive and powerful! But God had given me a Hyundai. Literally. Yet this was the way to love at that time. So, I and the OG-mobile started turning up early to transport gear to the school and organise set up.If you had told me back then that I would later become a cross-cultural Mission Partner sent overseas, I would have laughed. That was not something I wanted to do nor believed God had gifted me in. And yet, looking back now, I can see how that season of meditating on 1 Corinthians was a key turning point. God had transformed my mind by his Word to change the way I approached service, putting love at the centre. And by his grace I’ve (imperfectly) tried to keep asking the question and remaining open to God’s answer – “How could I love my brothers and sisters one step more?” Who knows where God will lead me, or you, next with such a question!?Do you know someone discerning what it means to be “Sent by Jesus”? We invite you to share this series with them. We will be publishing one article a week here on our website and Facebook Page.

Luke & Naomi Sinclair Preparing for Ministry in Japan

No Room at the Inn

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Earlier this year we ran an appeal for a hostel in Pakistan. In order to house and disciple the next intake of students, the hostel needed $10,000. You and others raised over $18,000. Our Mission Partner who serves there reports back on the powerful impact this will have for these students and their communities.In order to protect her, the ministry she is involved in and the communities she interacts with, the Mission Partner who wrote this article is kept anonymous.No room at the Inn. What difficult news that would have been to hear when Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem. Yet we know the events, and that God made provision for where baby Jesus would be born. In 2021 it seemed the Diocese would have to tell new students wanting to continue their studies that there was no room at their hostel. But this is not how the story unfolded.Thanks to God’s provision, through your generous response to the appeal, the way was made for our new intake of hostel students to come from their villages to continue their studies. Nine new students were accepted and joined the Diocesan Hostel.After another covid-delayed start to the new school year, the boys joined 9th grade classes at St John’s High School in late August. They have since all received their covid vaccinations, which is now mandatory for senior students. Since joining the hostel one of our students has lost his father, being in the hostel will enable him to continue his education thus building a stronger foundation for his family’s future.The opportunity to be part of the hostel family opens up new doors for these students. Computer literacy in NZ is very high, in contrast, most of these boys have never had computer access. The hostel laptop lab gives these boys the chance to build basic computer skills. Our College students this year were needing to put in their admission forms online. I watched the senior students helping one another fill out their applications and they said, “it is because we learnt computer skills at the hostel that we are able to do our online applications.” These skills are important for their future prospects.Along with computer literacy, the new students will have opportunities to grow through a variety of hostel activities, exposure visits and trainings. They will develop self-confidence, life, faith, leadership and vocational skills. Even the short term impact on others might be like Arjan (name changed) who last year learnt about girls’ rights. He said, “I told some of my relatives about girls’ education. Now they are motivated and agree to send girls in to school. Four girls take education because of my little bit of effort. After this training, I feel more respect for my sisters.”Thank you for enabling these students to benefit from being part of the hostel family, and for the overflow from this which will reach into their own families, their villages and the wider community. Your support is changing the trajectory of these boys’ lives… and they are deeply grateful. Thank you for making ‘room at the Inn’.

Small Steps Towards Mission – Saved and Sent by Jesus

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How do you get from growing up in rural mid-Canterbury to cross-cultural mission in the megacity of Tokyo? This is week one of a four-part miniseries “Small Steps Towards Mission” following NZCMS Mission Partner, Luke Sinclair. In this series, Luke highlights four key turning points in his life and four small steps of everyday discipleship that God can use to send each of us out on mission. We begin with Luke’s first article “Saved and Sent by Jesus”. The most radical step I have made on my path towards Japan was to invite some classmates to go and watch Batman at the cinema. That may seem like a mundane, everyday affair but in the journey God has led me on, this became a significant turning point. To see how the Dark Knight fits into the picture, let me first backtrack to earlier in my story.I grew up in mid-Canterbury and had followed Jesus my whole life. Through encouragement at youth group, I had loved sharing the message of Jesus with my friends at school and did outreach in our community and in short term mission trips to Fiji. Yet, after moving to Christchurch to study at the University of Canterbury, it took only six months for me to walk away from Christianity. The shock and loneliness of living in my hall of residence coupled with the challenge of vocal and provocative atheists made me unsure whether I could trust anything about Jesus. And so, I quietly withdrew from Church, from Christian friends, and from seriously trying to engage with my questions.After 18 months or so of drifting, I finally admitted to myself that I was miserable and needed to find answers. I had heard of a new church for students and so I started attending. At the same time I was continuing to think through atheism and agnosticism and, to keep my mind open, also joined some Buddhism classes. While comparing and contrasting all these worldviews I increasingly saw how the Bible’s answers to the big questions of life fit best with my experience of the world. And as I went back to the Bible I was brought face to face with Jesus again and was amazed by Him. There wasn’t an individual moment, but over that year God slowly brought me back to being a follower.Then one morning as I sat reading my Bible, I came across a passage speaking about God’s judgement. And the question rose in my mind for the hundredth time – “Do I really believe all this again?” So I worked through my findings: Do I have good reason to trust these words are the reliable records of the eyewitnesses? Yes. Do I have good reason to trust that Jesus rose from the dead and that His words can be trusted? Yes. And on top of all that – is it good? Absolutely! I hadn’t learnt anything fundamentally new about the Gospel over that year. But what I now had was a deeper view of grace. I had turned my back on God, but He had not stopped loving me. Jesus, the good shepherd, had left the 99 and had come after this one sad, lost sheep.Then along floated in the next thought – “This matters for all my Uni classmates who don’t know any of this!” And as I prayed I came up with one very small but totally radical step: Batman.We were a reasonably nerdy bunch who only talked about assignments, sport, and TV shows. However, we didn’t do much together and our relationships weren’t at a depth where we could discuss what really mattered to us. If I wanted them to know Jesus, something would have to change, and the new Batman movie seemed a good start to connect with each other more and grow in friendship. Though I was shy and disliked taking the initiative, I invited them, organised the event and got them all along to watch the movie.That small step of everyday discipleship was the turning point God used to get me praying for and, timidly, trying to tell people about Jesus. I knew that as a disciple I was saved by Jesus and sent to tell the world about Him (John 20:21). But it was only until I knew how good His good news was for me personally, that I became motivated to go outside my comfort zone to do this. Saved and sent by Jesus – how could I not want the people in my life to know the good news He offers them too?Do you know someone discerning what it means to be “Sent by Jesus”? We invite you to share this series with them. We will be publishing one article a week here on our website and our Facebook Page.

Luke & Naomi Sinclair

Preparing for Ministry in Japan

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

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?

Reaching the Nations from our Doorstep

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After lockdown last year and as I went through my week of debriefing with NZCMS, I found myself asking “What could I, a retired missionary and rather weird senior citizen, do?”The debriefing showed me how I was going in adjusting to New Zealand life, where I’ve come and how I can go forward.I’m an encourager and I have a real love for people. When St. Paul’s Symonds St, my home church, reopened after the first lockdown in 2020, I discovered they had an international ministry for students. So I asked if I could help. I joined them on their Wednesday “Free lunch and English conversation” sessions they had. St. Pauls is right between Auckland University and the University of Technology so there are heaps of people walking past! People from Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka, Nigeria – you name it!  I learned that Auckland City is amongst the top five most cosmopolitan cities in the world! For many of these people who attend, it’s the first time they’ve ever been in a church. We have about 20 people who volunteer, from many nations and backgrounds. And each and every one of them serves so that they can eventually help those who attend come to Jesus.  The leader is Jeremy – a Korean man who has just the right laidback leadership style for this. Some of those who attend are lonely, dispirited, financially struggling and/or poor in English. But most are also willing for prayer. One time a very troubled young woman came in for the lunch. She was from Sri Langka. As one friend of mine Grace and I chatted and prayed for her, it surfaced that she was a Buddhist. I thought “Oh I’m out of my depth here.” But Grace told her of her Buddhist background and how she came to Christ. And the woman responded! It’s so encouraging to see some come to Christ and grow in Him. After attending the lunch they’re then invited to join a Thursday night Worship and Bible study or the Friday English lessons that the church runs. When their time in NZ is finished, some of the people have gone back to their countries of origin and started Bible studies and even churches!More recently, I’ve joined the Church prayer team. One day as I made my way to the front to stand with the other prayer team members during a response time – and telling myself that I am a very inadequate prayer team member – a young Indonesian Muslim woman came up to me with a cry in her heart to get closer to God! I was able to lead her to Jesus and after just one week she is looking so much happier and has also found an Indonesian woman in her office who is also a Christian. Isn’t that incredible! Who knows what else God has in store for her. Recently my beloved sister died in November. Her sickness was one of my main reasons for returning. I still don’t have a place to live yet. But I have found ministry and I am believing in God for more. If you would like to know more about how you can learn to engage with the nations on your doorstep see our events here.

Dianne Bayley, Former Mission Partner