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Participating in God’s Work of Hope in Aotearoa

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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

A Video Update from National Director, Rosie Fyfe

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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.

An Update from Maori Evangelist Howard Karaka

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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

An Update from Margaret in Papua New Guinea

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An update while I am in “town’ this week after a three month series of Bible trainings for clergy.  Covid19 legislation meant that we are not allowed have large church gatherings. This became a blessing in disguise as we were able to think in terms of small groups of clergy coming deanery by deanery. So we’ve had over 40 attend together for a week doing three things:– Whole of bible Overview  – Anglican Studies colleagues think Old Testament and New Testaments overview materials condensed from 12 months to six days!– Theological Reflections– Build a community of men serving one another in worship through household chores such as cleaning and dish washing. Selfishly, it was great to be banned from the kitchen for three weeks.Bearing in mind that the groups were multi-cultural and multilingual, praise God we all survived peacefully. Also, praise God we were fed well. Lastly, I praise God for just enough money from supporters for dinghy fuel and for the generator so we that we had electricity for four hours each evening.”

An Update from NZCMS Mission Partners, the Elliott Family

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For the last few months it’s felt as if we’ve been straddling two worlds. We’ve been readjusting to life in New Zealand, while still seeking to minister to the needs of the people at All Saints’ Jakarta. It has been no easy feat. But we have been sustained by God, who has shown his goodness to us again and again. We are always amazed at how God uses people to walk alongside and draw us on when we are facing new challenges.  We are so thankful for your kind messages, financial support and your prayers. We have been on quite a journey since we left ‘home’ at the end of 2018. With great sadness we wanted to write and let you know that our journey is now taking a vastly different direction to what we had hoped and dreamed. Yesterday I wrote to the Church Council to tender my resignation as Acting Vicar, and Assistant Minister of All Saints’ Anglican Church Jakarta. We have arrived at this decision through a pretty robust process of discernment with NZCMS. I’m sure you can understand that this has been an exceptionally difficult decision to make. When we left for Jakarta, we were leaving with the intention of long-term service overseas. We sold up, packed up, and shipped out. I have wrestled at length with a great desire to serve the faithful men and women of All Saints’ Jakarta in the midst of a growing sense of unease as we’ve tried to develop new ministry initiatives, by distance, in a new role (Acting Vicar rather than Associate Minister). There have been some incredible joys in the past ten months as we’ve seen God’s faithfulness to us as a family and within the parish church in a time of incredible trial. But I have also come to the realisation that my personality and style of ministry leadership is not a good fit for All Saints’ Jakarta. This reality, coupled with the uncertainty of remote ministry during a global pandemic and the pressure this places on my wife, Karen and children, William and Amelia, during this time of flux, has led us to the conclusion that the current ministry arrangement is untenable.  We’ve offered to stay on with All Saints’ until the end of this year. After that we don’t know what God has in store for us, but our sense is that basing ourselves in Nelson where we’ve got amazing support around us will be the best thing for now, God willing.  NZCMS have generously committed to supporting us until the end of March 2021 if required.  We couldn’t be more grateful for the support of Lesley our Personnel Manager who has been right there for us every step of the way, to listen, reflect and pray for and with us. The whole team at NZCMS have been absolutely stellar.  While much about this is difficult, we have not lost our heart for cross-cultural mission. It seems unlikely that we will be ‘heading out’ again any time soon, but, we want to encourage others in global mission and to be people who share the Good News of Jesus wherever we are.  In time we will be in touch with more news, but for now we would appreciate prayer in the following areas:  

Pray for All Saints’ Jakarta as they digest this tough decision. Ask God to encourage them, and prevent them from despair.  Pray that we would have wisdom about how to walk in a godly way in a time of uncertainty.  Pray that we would know God’s peace as the impact of this decision, and uncertainty about the future sinks in. Give thanks for the amazing team of supporters who walk with us (you!) and the staff of NZCMS.

Thanks you again for your partnership and support, with love Zane, Karen, William and Amelia.

Floods, mosquitos and COVID-19

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One of our Mission Partners in Pakistan recently sent this update and a collection of photos from her area. Please join us in praying for her and the community in which she serves.After the Pakistan government announcement that schools and Colleges are allowed to reopen on September 15 (after 6 months of being closed), seemingly good news, it is not even possible for many in the rural areas. Extreme monsoon rains and widespread flooding have caused havoc in the area, with water not draining away and therefore many villages becoming flooded. Many people are living on charpais on the side of road which is where the highest land is. They are currently dealing with trying to access food and basic needs while being exposed to a plague of mosquitoes which some describe as being as thick as the locusts which came through previously. These mosquitoes bother not just people, but animals too, causing many deaths from the ensuing disease. People are therefore seeking mosquito netting to protect animals as well as themselves.The grounds of the School and Colleges which our hostel students attend are themselves flooded out, and cannot open by next week and not until the water can be drained. While the rains happened at the end of August, due to the drainage issues water still lies deep in many places.In light of all this, the Hostel will delay calling the students back. We are watching the situation as rains are predicted again September 22. We are hoping that we will be able to bring hostel students back so they can continue their studies by the end of the month. Please pray with us for the many challenges these communities are facing.

This article was originally written September 10.

Mission Partners in Cambodia “Released” from Lockdown

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After close to six months our children are finally able to physically be back in school. Praise God!Theirs is one of the few schools in the country that is now open and this comes with some fairly strict requirements from the government. Jonathan, Aaron and Emily are still getting used to full-time mask wearing, constant hand washing, separate desks, no library and limited play time.They are into their first week back and are glad to be there but hopefully there will be an easing of the restrictions soon.Life in CambodiaSome things are open and others are still closed. All religious venues are still shut, however the malls and markets are open and most people are carrying on with life as normal. There are odd ways in which things are operating too. Karaoke bars are only allowed to open if they serve food as well (as then they are classed as restaurants, which have different rules. The big movie theaters are allowed to open but only to sell food from the snack bar, not to show movies. People have also been asked to refrain from going to beauty salons and hairdressers. All this, alongside the heavy-handed approach to schools, can lead to people being uncertain about the seriousness of the current situation.Pchum BenNo, this is not someone’s name. Rather, Pchum Ben is one of the main religious festivals in the Cambodian calendar. It is a 15 day festival where Cambodians remember their ancestors and earn merit through visiting the temples and offering food to the monks there. It’s believed that during this time, the gates of hell open, allowing tortured spirits unable to pass onto the next life to enter the land of the living. Hungry, the spirits roam the earth searching for food. If they fail to find it, it is thought they will avenge their living family members and curse them.This year the festival concludes next week and friends of ours here comment that it can feel like a spiritually dark time. Cambodian Christians are often at odds with their non-Christian families over what they should do. It can be a difficult balance between showing respect to your family but not compromising in their love for Jesus.Thank youFinally, thank you always for your thoughts and prayers. We know that even though we are far from “home” we have so many people here alongside us, supporting us. Thank you especially for the many kind messages over the last couple of months since my (Neill’s) father died. We were able to watch his funeral with no internet or power issues, and were delighted to hear the kind things said about him. We continue to miss him but thank God for his life. Please keep Mum in your prayers as she copes with life with him not in it. Blessings,Neill, Rebekah, Jonathan, Aaron and Emily. 

Neill, Rebekah and family, NZCMS Mission Partners to Cambodia

Missio Dei in the Solomon Islands

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Normally, when I get complaints about my speaking, they are of the “You spoke too long!” variety. Nearing the end of our school-year today, I delivered a short, impromptu chronicle of the year to our school community. So much has happened. I was surprised, however, to discover how difficult it was to fill my ten-minute window. How odd, I thought, walking home. And then the reason came to me this afternoon in conversation with my wife, Tess. For obvious reasons, this year has been short on big events – which usually fill school chronicles and make for interesting stories – and long on the kind of relational drama that you cannot talk about in front of everyone. “Like what happens to a family in quarantine?” Tess offered.  In past years, Trinity STM (School of Theology and Ministry) has been engaged in outward mission weekly by: – Prison visitations  – Praying for the sick in hospitals – Taking Bible studies into people’s homes – Preaching and singing in the marketplace – Reading portions of the liturgy on festival days in other villages The value of this has been unmistakable. But this year we were given something different. Stay at home. Work together daily at close quarters. See the same faces every day for weeks on end.  At the best of times this has looked like: Wake up for prayer. Go to class. Go to work session. Pray before the evening meal. Study. Sleep. Repeat.  At the worst of times it has looked like: Be annoyed by someone. Gossip about them. Be alarmed at the relational chaos that ensues. Say sorry. Repeat.  It has not been easy. But we have, like so many this year, learned some important things in the process. Outward mission, taking the Gospel to places where it has not been heard or is not yet believed, is not total mission. Outward mission can assume a dimension it should not for the Church. We can overlook the work of God that is taking place in our homes and churches among people like us who have believed the Gospel already, but who need deepening. When this happens, we pursue shoots at the expense of roots. The outward and visible replaces the subterranean. Far from preventing God’s mission this year, the coronavirus has opened up to us afresh its grandest scope. God is at work everywhere, but chiefly in the Church.    

Jonathan and Tess Hicks, NZCMS Mission Partners in the Solomon Islands

Introducing the Sinclair Family

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We are thrilled to welcome our new Mission Partners – the Sinclairs! Luke and Naomi Sinclair, along with their daughter Angeline (aged 18 months), and a little boy coming mid-October, will be serving in student evangelism ministry in Japan. Read below to learn more about them.What have you been doing up till now professionally and personally?  Luke grew up in Ashburton, then moved up to Christchurch to study engineering. Naomi grew up as a missionary kid in Japan where her parents served with CMS Australia, then returned to Australia to study global studies. After both doing ministry apprenticeships, our paths converged at Bible College in Sydney where we met and married. Since then Luke dragged Naomi to Christchurch (it’s the most rural place she’s ever lived!) where we’ve been working for three years at Cornerstone Church, a church which has an outreach to university students. Luke serves as the mission pastor with a particular focus on evangelism and training others to share Jesus with their friends, colleagues, and neighbours. Since Angeline’s arrival, Naomi hangs out with the local mums looking for opportunities to speak about Jesus. She also leads a women’s Bible study and helps to train several ministry apprentices. Tell us about the place where you will be living and what you hope to do there? We will be moving to Japan, home to over 126 million people and where less than 1% profess to be Christian. We are preparing to partner with KGK, which is the student Christian group – equivalent to TSCF (Tertiary Student Christian Fellowship) in NZ. Sandwiched between their exam-pressured high school years and workaholic professional years, university is a critical time for Japanese people to engage with the Gospel. How have you come to know that God has called you to cross cultural missions?We have both been captured by the love of Jesus, who ‘though he was rich, yet for our sake he became poor, so that we through his poverty might become rich.’ – 2 Corinthians 8:9. We want to model our lives on this Jesus by sharing the eternal riches of the Gospel with anyone who is spiritually poor. We would be willing to labour for the Gospel in any location, but since both of us happen to be fluent in Japanese (Naomi a bilingual-missionary-kid and Luke a language-nerd who went on exchange in Japan during High School), we feel that God has uniquely prepared us to serve in Japan. What do you hope and pray God will do through you in Japan? The Japanese church is rapidly aging and desperate for a new generation of Christian leaders (the average age of pastors in Japan is 68). Our hope and prayer is that God might use us in his work of raising up Gospel workers in Japan.  How can those reading this pray for you and your family?  Praise God for pastors who are serving faithfully in Japan. Pray that God might grant them perseverance and encouragement amidst difficult labour. – Pray for God to raise up a new generation of Gospel workers.  – Pray for the KGK student ministry as it reaches out to curious students and equips Christians in ministry.– Pray for courage for Japanese people to step apart from their culture to investigate Christianity. – Pray for our family as we prepare to make transitions to a new country and ministry. Want to Support Luke and Naomi?If you’re interested in connecting or supporting the Sinclairs see their online profile here or email us at office@nzcms.org.nz to receive news and updates from them. They are also looking for link churches in Christchurch to join their support team. 

Luke & Naomi Sinclair, Mission Partners to Japan

“People are practically running forward for prayer!” NZCMS Maori Evangelist Says

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NZCMS’ evangelist to Māori, Rev. Hauoterangi (Howard) Karaka, has been busy. During this year, and even during times of lockdown, God has opened up many opportunities to reach out to others with God’s love and to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Just in the last month, Howard has had the opportunity to lead and minister at five funerals and three unveilings (unveilings are a ceremony held one year after a person passed away).“Due to this wonderful ministry of evangelism,” Howard said, ” I have had the opportunity to lead five people to salvation on the marae and at their homes and also see six re-commitments of faith to God.”   From this group of people, six of these families are now attending the church that Howard leads, Hoani Tapu Anglican Church in Drury, South Auckland. The pews are filling! The worship has been powerful and large numbers are stepping forward for prayer every Sunday.   “If I was to describe the experience,” Howard says, “I would say many people are practically running forward for prayer!”  Howard shared about one couple who walked away from church a long time ago. Their marriage came under significant spiritual attack, and they separated for many years.   “The husband was suicidal not long after leaving the church,” Howard said. “He and his wife then separated as he turned back to drinking and anything else he thought would take away the pain. Now it is so encouraging to see them both reaching out for support, prayer, fellowship and rededicating their lives back to God and each other.”  Howard also shared that he led a gang member to the Lord during lockdown. This young man is now attending church regularly and attending a discipleship program. We invite you to continue praying for Howard and his wife Gladys as they pastorally care for and disciple those in their parish and continue the work of evangelism in South Auckland. Pray that God would continue to open springs of healing and transformation at Hoani Tapu Church and that God would open more and more opportunities for Māori to hear the Gospel.  To read more missions stories and NZCMS updates, subscribe to our fortnightly email newsletter.

Rev. Howard Karaka, Maori Evangelist