We are very excited to announce that NZCMS has employed a new staff member! Anna Smart will be our new Promotions Officer, working part-time with our Mobilising team to promote Better World gap year. In this article, she shares the incredible way God has led her into this role.
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
Kia ora tātou, say hello to the new kid on the block! I am delighted to have just accepted a role with NZCMS as a Promotions Officer! But before telling you more about this role, I wanted to share some of my personal history and story first.
Involvement with CMS is a family tradition, it seems, with my maternal grandparents, Ross and Pauline Elliott, paving the way for me with their years of mission abroad. My mother and her siblings grew up in Nairobi, Kenya, which has not only shaped them profoundly but also blessed me with a deep sense of connection with such a rich and beautiful nation. I have memories of praying for my grandparents as a child while they were living in Uganda, reading books that they sent back to us about life in East Africa, and mum cooking us her favourite dishes she learned from her childhood in Kenya. I’ve been undeniably shaped by the ways my parents and grandparents have chosen to partner with God in their context, and what a joy it is to recognise and draw strength from that.
In 2019 I ditched university and took a gap year with NZCMS, Better World’s pilot year. So many things were learnt, new experiences had, and friends made, all of which I will be writing and speaking about over the coming months. During this time, I realised how little opportunity most young people get to engage with the world’s brokenness in helpful forums. There are not many safe spaces for our rangatahi/youth to wrestle with that brokenness, engage with truthful historical narratives, and practice participating with God in bringing his Kingdom to earth. Better World is one of the few. Sadly, the global pandemic has thwarted a lot of plans and elicited logistical gymnastics the NZCMS Mobilising team never knew they could accomplish. But God has been present in all of that. There is something peculiarly special about Better World, and I am convinced that it is here to stay.
So, cut to 2021, and I’m sitting in a café with our director Rosie Fyfe and suggesting to her, with all the zest you can possibly imagine, that if ever there was an opportunity to work with the Mobilising team, I would be extremely keen. And folks, a few months later, here we are.
So what does my role as Promotions Officer for NZCMS look like? I will predominately be promoting the Better World gap year to schools and youth groups across the mōtu/country. It is my privilege to be involved in the mobilisation of future change-makers, knowing that there have been some phenomenal mentors in my own journey who have helped me recognise my own giftings and strengths that I have to offer the Kingdom. Special thanks and acknowledgement of those people. You know who you are.
I am full of hope for the ways in which young people can be drawn to connect with the heart of NZCMS, and Im hopeful for the future of Better World. Ultimately, it is my hope that people, young and old alike, come to see the hand of God in their neighbourhoods, whether that be in Aotearoa or abroad. And upon noticing that presence, having the passion and the tools to work alongside our good God to see justice, healing and restoration come.
I’ve recently been thinking a lot about spiritual ancestry and the ways in which we are connected to the spirituality of those who have gone before us. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, it does not escape me that I am standing on the shoulders of giants, especially those in my own whānau. It is an immense privilege to be invited to work with NZCMS and to be part of the story that my whānau was writing long before I arrived. Who we are really matters because we are each created for different purposes, are shaped differently by our contexts and families, and have different gifts to bring to the table. Who I am and the people I come from has led me here, and I am excited for the journey ahead.
To quote one of my favourite characters, Rafiki from The Lion King, “The question is: who are you?” We all know (and if not, watch The Lion King, you will not regret it) how much the answer to this question phenomenally changes Simba’s life. I wonder how much more it might change ours?
Anna Smart, Promotions Officer