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