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Celebrating Lesley

Let’s start with the basics. When did you begin work for NZCMS and what was your role?

I started with NZCMS in Feb 2012 as Personnel Director. The role was to support all the Mission Partners that were overseas and journey with those who were interested in becoming Mission Partners, both long-termers and short-termers.

What was it that interested you about working for NZCMS?

I knew almost nothing about NZCMS when I applied for the role!  But I knew a lot about living cross-culturally overseas having been overseas myself for 25 years. Additionally, I had been doing a similar role for 2.5 years with a Mission organisation in the UK called Latin Link. Whilst the job description for the Personnel Director role at NZCMS seemed to fit me like a hand in a glove, I made the hard decision to return to NZ principally to be closer to my parents who were in their late 70s/early 80s.

What are some of the ‘stand out’ memories you take away from your time at NZCMS? Can you think of any specific moments or stories that stick out to you?

For me the ‘stand out’ memories without a doubt are the opportunities I had to visit our Mission Partners in their locations overseas. To become a part of their worlds for a few days and be truly inspired by them as people, the relationships they had built with those they were living amongst, the ways they had adapted to the often-difficult realities of their context, and how they were a part of God’s transforming work in those places.

As I remember all those visits what remains with me most deeply are the many occasions in which I sat with Mission Partners as they interacted with the people around them, sensing the mutual respect and care that spoke more loudly than the words that were being spoken generally in languages that I didn’t understand. Whether that was in a small home-based bible-study discussion group in a small city, encouraging international students in a large city, sitting with neighbours in a slum, having a meal together under a starlit night in a tiny rural village, opening the bible in a cafe, listening to patients in a hospital clinic, teaching children English in a small hut, supporting the Master of a Boys Hostel, enthusing young people into mission or sharing knowledge with assistant pharmacists, respect and care flavoured their interactions with those around them.

I was also impacted by how the Mission Partners persevered in the face of many challenges; heat, bugs, corruption, mind-numbing ‘shifting sand’ bureaucracy, lack of consistent water, electricity and internet, team difficulties, tough security restrictions, bribery, language learning, misunderstanding and feeling misunderstood, loneliness, and more recently lockdowns and all the uncertainties of a covid-19 world to name a few.

I have been challenged and enriched by sharing in the lives of these truly inspirational people.

Over the past 9 ½ years with NZCMS, what changes in global missions have you noticed? What do you think will be the future understanding and practice of “missions” in the Church in the coming years? 

At one level nothing has really changed. I believe global missions as I have seen it through the eyes and lives of Mission Partners has continued to be about God-loving people being willing to step away from the relative security of life in NZ, and share their lives, their love of God, and their God with those they have chosen to live amongst; and in the process allow God to transform them and bring transformation through them.

Obviously, Covid-19 has brought tremendous change for many of our Mission Partners and will have an ongoing impact especially with regard to the reality of travel and living in a Covid-19 world. I believe that there will always be a place for God-loving people to reach across cultures to be channels of transformation and in the process be transformed, whether that is overseas or here in NZ.

NZCMS is about to publish a series asking people in our community to reflect on John 20:21: “Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” So, what does being a “sent person” look like for you?

For me, a ‘sent person’ means someone who is in relationship. Jesus’ sense of ‘sent-ness’ came from his relationship with his Father, for us to be sent we too need to be in relationship with the triune God; that must be at the very core of who we are.

Being ‘sent’ also suggests movement; being open to going outside our comfort zone, and that will look different for each of us. And the movement is not an aimless wandering, although where we end up might look nothing like what we had imagined or thought and that would be true for most of our Mission Partners!, It has a purpose, which isn't just about the destination; the transformative journey is as important, perhaps even more important than the destination.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Being a part of the NZCMS family has been a huge privilege; there have been challenges, joys, laughter and monotony. I am thankful to God for growing me as I have journeyed alongside our Mission Partners, been a part of a great staff team, and been inspired by many faithful supporters. Thank you to you all!

Lesley, NZCMS Personnel Manager 2012 - 2021

4 thoughts on “Celebrating Lesley

  1. Hi Lesley! I was new about the same time as you! I appreciated your advice and friendship sooo much! That helped me to feel accepted, as I negotiated what a mission partner was to do! In fact, I always looked forward to visitibg the office. THANK YOU! May God bless you in your new vocation.

  2. How sad to hear you are leaving the position, Lesley. Thank you for your reflections, and for your service and understanding and support of mission partners. May you be blessed in the next season of your life. May the Lord continue to be the “lamp for your feet and the light for your path.”

  3. Thanks for your work Lesley. I was really inspired by your heart for the mission partners (and your cycling!) in my year as a Haerenga intern. All the best in your next adventures.

  4. Thanks for being the best possible organiser, mentor and counsellor for us that we could have hoped for. Sorry to see you go, but excited about your future and you have helped us become better people. Tena koe and apwoyo matek!

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