By Jairus Robb,
NZCMS Communications Officer
When I was seventeen, my twin brother and I were helping Dad move our house. After getting a question from Dad I said, “Musky that”.
He glanced at me in amusement. “It’s so funny you guys still say that.”
“Say what?” I asked.
“Musky that,” he said. “That Mutu phrase.”
My brother and looked at each other in confusion. “What? Doesn’t it mean ‘no problem’ or ‘never mind’?”
“It does,” Dad responded. “But it’s not English. It’s a phrase you learned as toddlers in Papua New Guinea. It’s a word in Mutu. Spelt M-A-S-K-I-E.”We were completely shocked. My parents had served as missionaries in Papua New Guinea for over ten years before coming back over to New Zealand permanently when we were two. We didn’t remember much but our whole family had grown up using the phrase ‘Maskie that’ and we had never realised – or been told! – that it wasn’t English until that conversation at 17 years old! To this day saying “maskie that” is still as natural to say as any English word or phrase.
The Global Church Connecting
When I think about mission I all too easily gravitate to the tangible and the practical. Similarly phrases like ‘engaging in mission’, often conjure up pictures of overseas tasks and the ways I could helpfully contribute. It’s a classic New Zealand attitude, isn’t it? We constantly ask questions like “How can I help?” or say “Just give me something to do!” This attitude is a manifestation of our worldview and what we value. We’re a pragmatic people and yes this is something we should celebrate. But what I’ve been reminded of over the last couple of years has been that element of mission that so often goes unrecognised – The Global Church connecting.
Having grown up as a toddler in Papua New Guinea and then later as a teenager in Cambodia, I built experiences and formed friendships with those who had a vastly different perspective of the world than I did. These seasons instilled in me a deep understanding that my western view of God and the world was only one small lens within a kaleidoscope of perspectives that make up the Global Church. It’s easy to acknowledge this when I grow up thinking a word like ‘maskie’ is English for seventeen years and, not only that but find out that there is no English equivalent that can ever fully encapsulate what it means.
What if it is this connection that is precisely the missions engagement God is calling followers of Jesus to today? What if He is asking each of us to not be so quick to jump into the ‘doing’ and take time to dwell in the ‘being’? To still our hands and feet and turn our heads and hearts to each other.
Kenyans and Camps
Back in 2019 my wife, Jasmine, and I got a call from our Pastor inviting us to a trip to Kenya to attend a conference for leaders and pastors. He also said one generous congregation member had offered to pay for all our flights! Well, why wouldn’t we go!?
We had some incredible experiences and learnt much from the teaching and worship. But when I think back on those two weeks that we visited, the memories that stand out to me were the meals and hot drinks we had with the couple who hosted us in their home. I was particularly impressed by Jasmine who asked plenty of curious and powerful questions about Kenyan life and culture. She invited the voices of this Kenyan brother and sister in Christ into our lives and they equally invited our voices into theirs.
Later that same year, a then acquaintance (and now friend) who pastors a Chinese Young Adults Church invited me and Jasmine to speak at their camp. The Spirit moved in some powerful ways in the lives of the young people, but we were surprised at what God was doing in our hearts as well. We came away from that camp in awe at the passion and commitment these young people had for Christ. I was continually encouraged and challenged by the conversations and stories from many of them who had such an ‘all in’ attitude to serving Jesus and their local church. Feelings of complacency that had dampened my own engagement began to burn away by simply listening to and observing the fire in their lives.
In both of these experiences, it was the moments of connection and deep relationship, it was the voices heard and the stories shared that were the stand-out memories. Jasmine and I came away from that place with a fresh perspective on God and His work in the world and I heard the Spirit remind me ‘Jairus, connect with the Global Church’.
The Power of Connection
When we immediately jump to the actions, all too easily, God’s call for us to “make disciples of all people” turns into social justice. Or running a church service. Or financial support. Or painting a house. There is nothing wrong with those things. Let’s continue to do them! But let’s do them together, bringing God’s Kingdom to earth with servant hands held and guided by hearts and lives that are ‘weaved’ together!
I believe there is a call from God for the Global Church to sit down together again to share and receive the gifts that are uniquely ours to give. The gifts of our experiences. The gifts of our worldviews and values. The gifts of our perspective of God and His mission. The gifts that have been formed in us by God himself.
By listening to the voices from around the world, by building deep connections with the Global Church, our knowledge, perspective and character are deepened, sharpened, and enriched. Just like the Mutu word ‘Maskie’ gives me access to a concept that my native English language will never be able to fully convey, the Global Church can give each of us new opportunities to understand and experience God’s love and will for us and for the world. Together, through humility and reciprocity, we can grow as ‘Global Disciples’, not limited by our own perspectives and isolated in our ‘get on with it’ attitudes but with our hearts and minds flavoured with the understanding of others and supported by deep relationship. That sounds like the Church transformed by the work of His Spirit. That sounds like mission!
Growing Global Disciples
Sometimes, one of the hardest questions to answer when it comes to mission is “Where do I start!?” Luckily we have a fantastic option for you! NZCMS has put out a free, small group resource called “Growing Global Disciples” that aims to turn our heads and hearts to God’s work and to the world. If you’re wondering what the next step is in your missional journey, I strongly encourage you to grab some like-minded people and engage with this resource.