By Rosie Fyfe, NZCMS National Director
Each of us at NZCMS shares a deep passion: to see the church engaging in mission. We exist to enable this – as a sending organisation, we provide resources, prayer support, and logistics to send people into mission.
Who, then, is a missionary? To unpack this, we need to look backwards briefly and reflect on how our answer has developed over time.
NZCMS was founded in 1892, in response to the challenge from CMS UK to “take your own share in the evangelisation of the world: send out your own missionaries and support them.” At that time, mission was predominantly from the ‘West to the rest’; and even now, many of us would think of a missionary as someone who goes overseas.
At NZCMS, John 20:21 has become the focus of our reflections on mission, helping us further understand the intent of Jesus’ call. When Jesus first appears to his disciples after his resurrection, he says “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” It’s a broad commission: Jesus sends all his disciples into mission, not only those who go to distant places.
As followers of Jesus, we are all called to be sent people – to live out and proclaim God’s love in the world. If you think about it, global mission is just local mission somewhere else; our global Mission Partners, sent out from NZ, will partner with local Christians as co-labourers. What all Christians have in common, wherever we are, is that we are sent out by Jesus into the world.
This language of sending is used throughout the Gospel of John. God the Father sends Jesus into the world: crucially, mission is first and foremost God’s mission. As we read in the story of Scripture, God has always been reaching out in love to His people, and the full expression of this saving love is when God reaches out in the person of Jesus Christ.
When Jesus says “As the Father has sent me”, he uses the verb ‘send’ in an ongoing sense, not just as a ‘one-time’ sending. We as Christ’s disciples do not take over Jesus’ mission, replacing him; but rather, his mission continues and is effective in our ministry. The work we do is participating in Christ’s mission, not our own. Our service, placed in Christ’s hands, is to continue his redemptive work as “the sent One” within this world which is so loved by God.
We work in the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus sends his disciples in John 20:22, he breathes on them and says “Receive the Holy Spirit.” The calling is the same today. Mission is not just our own actions or good works. Mission is always done in God’s strength, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
All of this makes for a truly transformative vision of life together. God calls the church to be a sent community of people, to participate with God in His redemptive purposes for the world. NZCMS continues to send people globally – to take the Gospel to places where Christ is not known, and to partner with local churches, empowering and training local believers. But even as we ‘send globally’ we know that all Christians are ‘sent people,’ sent to live out and proclaim the love of Christ wherever you find yourself.
Our artist has depicted this idea of ‘everyone sent’ through birds. Birds travel and move around. Some travel far and some not so far; some are from New Zealand, and some from other parts of the world. These beautiful bird illustrations symbolise how we work together in response to God’s leading: unique disciples, moving with a common, unifying purpose in mission.
Please spend time exploring our website – there is something here for everyone, no matter where you find yourself on the journey of exploring mission. Join us – Everyone—Sent!