Words by Jairus Robb, NZCMS communications
Pocketed away on the corner of Gayhurst and McBratneys Rd in Dallington, Christchurch, a humble Op-Shop sits between the local diary and fish and chips shop. If you were to walk past without going in you would think nothing more. But if like me, you received an email from the owners and were invited to visit you would be immensely surprised to find out this newly opened shop is supporting cross-cultural missions around the globe.
Jan and Tony Rawstron opened the Window of Opportunity Op-Shop in March 2021 with the following mission statement: to be a volunteer charity, selling second-hand goods, with all profits going to overseas Christian workers, to improve the well-being of those in need.”
Despite only being open for a couple of months, this establishment is a hive of activity. As I introduce myself, Jan quickly ushers me past the rows of clothes, changing room and bookshelves and behind the front counter where a high school student on work experience is regularly ringing up customer’s items.
It seems as if I’ve stepped into another world that is at odds with the relatively quiet and unassuming street corner that the shop is on. I almost feel disorientated at the number of people in the wee shop and the hustle and bustle going on inside.
Jan introduces me to the four volunteers in the back who are busily sorting through the newly arrived stock generously donated by the Dallington public.
“This place has been empty since the earthquake,” Jan said. “It was a chemist shop. A guy came in one day, and I said ‘Are you ok?’ and he says ‘Oh yes I used to run the chemist shop. I was here for forty years!’”
With the help of St. Stephen’s Church, Jan and Tony et up the business and were able to get charitable status through them.
I find out that Jan and Tony attended a missions course run by two of NZCMS’ own staff members, Mike and Ruth Robb. Having completed the course they headed off with Servants Asia on a short term trip to Manilla for six weeks. But it was when a friend of Jan’s went away to do missions work in Korea that Jan was inspired to find a way to support her. It was then that the idea to create an Op-Shop to raise support was born. Having volunteered in a Salvation Army, Jan had already picked up a lot of the skills needed to run Window of Opportunity.
“With my love of Op-Shops,” Jan said, “I thought they must be able to make some money because there are enough Op-Shops around! If you had an Op-Shop in a church that would be great because you wouldn’t have to pay rent. You would just pay electricity.” At the moment Jan and Tony rent our current space.”
So far the business has been able to make generous donations to three Mission Partners serving through NZCMS and other organisations, with several more donations due to be given.
The response from the community has been fantastic. In just a couple months Window of Opportunity is already well known and is by no means struggling to get enough stock.
“All this has just come this morning,” Tony said, gesturing to the large collection of items that the volunteers were sorting through out in the back. “And it’s good stuff! The quality is really good. We’re not a dumping ground for people clearing out. It shows the Lord’s got his hand on something here.”
When asked about what inspired the name of the shop and the front window display Jan replied it is a bit of a secret.
“My idea is that the green, and the red and the white are symbols of Jesus’ blood, eternal life and the white, washed clean,” she said, referring to the flags set up in the store’s front window. She chuckles to herself. “It’s a secret code.”
When asked if she would ever have imagined the shop being this successful and busy after only four months of being open she was quick to respond.
“No. Not really. But as I say you couldn’t do it without a team. They (volunteers) are great.”
“But we’ve got a few years left in the shed. And we wanted to do something for the Lord. And we were thinking, if we don’t do it now, time will pass by.”
For a couple who have named their new shop the “Window of Opportunity,” it’s no surprise that Jan and Tony are living out that ethos themselves.
You will find the Window of Opportunity Op-Shop at 148 Gayhurst Rd, Dallington, Christchurch.
It is open Wednesday to Friday at 9:00am – 2:00pm and Saturday from 10:00am – 2:00pm.
- Open for business
- Some of the stock available
- There is all sorts here!
- Front desk ready for action
- Some of the incredible volunteers
- Jan and Tony chatting with some locals
Hello from Papua New Guinea! Thank you to those of you who have reached out to check on how we are doing since our last update. Things have been a bit up and down and challenging to navigate with Covid-19 since its arrival here in Kapuna.
We have also had varied power and internet access of late. This is largely due to the start of the rainy season.
An amazing solar power system was installed late last year, which has been providing better power than before. This has meant that the hospital has round-the-clock power for vital machines without using the generator. It also means significant fuel savings!
We feel very blessed to have access to more power in our house than we thought we’d have. The community is now, however, navigating what happens to a solar power energy system during its first rainy season where it can rain heavily. All. Day. Long! And therefore we don’t get enough sun to charge the batteries for the community’s needs. I understand that the high humidity levels have been problematic for the batteries.
Scott has fitted into his role here in the community very well. It is amazing how his assortment of skills – from knowledge of engines and carpentry to business and funding proposals – are all needed in his day-to-day work life. He is overseeing the worksite, working alongside the workshop team with hands and boots dirty, while also spending time applying for funding for future projects including the Water Sanitation Project in the projects office.
Scott visited the other hospital run by Gulf Christian Services, Kikori. It is five hours each way on a dingy. He has identified a very long list of remedial work that needs to be done along with an urgent need for solar power. Kikori is currently reliant on fuel donations from the local Minister and Oil Search who are operating in the region, but this donation stream has become very unreliable due to Covid-19. Scott is preparing an application for Solar Power to the local Minister along with planning the logistics of this which is quite challenging as, although Kikori isn’t as remote at Kapuna, it’s still fairly out there!
As I mentioned in my last email update Covid-19 arrived in Kapuna just before Easter. It was almost the school holidays, so we went into ‘lockdown’ but work still needs to go on! I stayed at home doing schoolwork with the kids but Scott had to ‘mask up’ and head out to the site to support whatever was needed. If the power went out, someone needed to get that working again! A sink was leaking in the hospital Scott was the one to fix it while the workmen had to remain in their villages.
Fortunately there appeared to be only a few cases of Covid-19 from that initial detention so lockdown came and went and life got back to normal except for us cautious Kiwi Wheeler’s who are used to our ‘Go Fast and Go Hard’ motto and kept our masks on. – A few weeks went by until it reared up again This time there were more cases and people a bit more unwell. One of the positive cases was a girl in Isaac’s class, which was quite a close contact. School shut for three days and we put ourselves back into lockdown.
The kids and I have had a couple of weeks at home working more intensely on our home-schooling which has been good. We are just emerging from that phase again and have just returned to school and we’ll see how things go!
We appreciate your prayers and all your messages of support. It really means a lot to us.
We feel like we are in the right place for this time. There are many good things we can get involved in – lots and lots of things! – and are starting to develop friendships with various local people.
It is very hard though, in this crucial relationship-building time, to have to be cautious of being too close to people and not being able to share a drink together or shake hands. Masks are a physical barrier to seeing a smile and sharing an expression – not to mention, very, very hot!
The weather has dropped a few degrees from an average of 30-ish degrees to the high 20’s with a humidity rating of roughly 90-100% all the time. It is much more comfortable but impossible to get the washing dry! I think NZ is having similar washing drying problems at the moment, but a lot colder I believe.
My work as a Physiotherapist in the hospital continues when I can, which is well received and satisfying being able to share good advice with people who otherwise would not have input like this as part of their care. It has been a learning curve for me with the majority of my patients being paralyzed from Tuberculosis of the spine. Most patients with TB stay several months on the TB ward but also occupy many beds in the adult ward due to the huge numbers of people infected. Once their initial treatment is completed they are often discharged home with 6-7 months worth of their medication to continue in the village with the hope that they will remember to complete the course.
I am also helping the community in other ways.– I’m learning how the shop runs and helping as needed in the office and am also assisting with house inspections for the maintenance team. We feel called to serve the people of this community in any way they need us, and that makes for varied days!
Thank you again for all your support and prayers. Keep in touch. I enjoy your emails, even if I can’t always reply, they do bring a smile to our faces and we appreciate that when we are feeling weary, there is a support network out there praying for God’s strength for us and holding us in your thoughts.
Many blessings from the Wheelers,
Nikki and Scott, Isaac, Abby and Levi
The bugs are still here. I’m making it clear we are not happy about being flatmates but we have accepted a certain variety of Orb spiders who generally stay out of the way and will hopefully help with the mosquitoes. Although I think by getting rid of the large huntsman spiders which scare me I’ve now got rid of The Orb’s predator. The Orb has since had many offspring and we’re getting dangerously outnumbered There is a lesson in here somewhere about not messing with a balanced ecosystem but the 20cm Huntsmans are still not growing on me!
- New friendships
- Nikki treating a patient. No dumbells here so wrist strengthening exercises are done using an axe!
- Hand washing system before entering church – Step on the wood to pour soapy or fresh water.
Nikki Wheeler, Papua New Guinea
“Have a muffin! Try Jesus!”
I remember baking muffins, so many muffins. We stayed up late writing bible quotes on serviettes with felt-tip pens, signing off each masterpiece with an invitation to our weekly school Christian group. What better way to ‘do mission,’ than to lure our classmates to encounter Jesus with free, blueberry studded sugar?
My earnest, nerdy school friends and I also got involved in lots of cool things. We kick-started a school recycling system, spending ‘trashy Tuesdays’ removing banana peels and cling-film from recycling bins before class. We fundraised for the 40-hour famine; my friend volunteered with the City Mission. But none of that was really ‘mission,’ I thought.
The question, ‘what is mission?,’ or what is the essential work God gives his people, can be divisive. Should bringing others to Jesus be our priority? Is knowing the poor and marginalised and confronting injustice equally central? Is social justice a strategy of evangelism, or a result of it? Differently-orientated churches can be quick to turn their noses up at one another. Within churches, there are debates on how to spend the mission fund and what to teach in youth group.
Maybe you are already objecting with thoughts of “It’s a false dichotomy! Both are important!” I’m with you, stay with me. How we weigh the relative importance of social justice and evangelism, however, is bound up in deeper questions well worth wrestling with. As theologian Tom Wright points out, the problem, ‘what is mission,’ is entangled in the bigger questions, “What are we waiting for, and what are we going to do about it in the meantime?” We could add, what is the Gospel? What is salvation? Since becoming Christian, I’ve taken a long-winding journey on these questions. Here’s my whistle-stop tour:
As a new Christian, I was blown away by God’s love as his presence and spirit dislodged my petty jealousies and selfish thoughts and began to slowly dissolve my deep insecurities. I had a conviction to share this truth and these gifts with an urgency I’ve struggled to regain. I knew God’s grace and grasped the Gospel. Or at least part of it. If I’d read theology at the time, maybe I’d have agreed with the likes of John Piper: Jesus died to save us from our sins, to make us right with God. So go, help people believe. It is good to help the poor, but that’s not what makes Christian mission Christian, it won’t save souls, so don’t get distracted.
Enter university. As I embarked on a new diet of international politics and anthropology, my secular education quickly outpaced my knowledge of the bible. Was the Gospel really just about escaping to heaven when we die, and recruiting others while we wait? As I all-too-self-righteously studied poverty and genocide, social movements and development, this ‘good news’ didn’t just seem far-fetched, it felt hollow, even heartless. Not willing to let go of God, I stumbled towards liberation theology: was the Bible story about God’s deliverance from injustice and oppression, and Jesus primarily an agent of social revolution? I wasn’t sure, but setting aside my trite attempts to convert the lost to roll up my sleeves for radical social change was alluring.
I’m grateful for older, wiser ones who patiently gave me better tools to tackle the bible, and for friends who shared teachings, books and experiences that exploded open my understanding of the ‘good news.’. I re-encountered Jesus, the homeless, wandering first-century Jewish teacher who said the last will be first. Who ate with the down and out, the rejected. Who challenged the rich, the oppressors, but ultimately called them all to himself. Jesus exposed and challenged unjust practices and political oppression of his day, and showed us another way, but not the way we might expect. Things clicked into place.
Stepping back, I began to get a sense of God’s bigger story of multi-dimensional redemption of the fractured relationship between himself, humans, and the earth. As thinkers like Christopher Wright unpack for us, Israel’s prophets and poets anticipated a suffering servant, wounded for their failings to make them whole. They equally spoke of a coming King of justice and righteousness.
In Jesus, the strands of Israel’s story, and our story, came together. Jesus lived and died to free us from our sin, but also to launch God’s just kingdom on earth; a kingdom ‘in our midst’ (Luke 17:20-21), but still to come. Through Jesus, God is restoring “all things” to himself (Col 1:20). The whole Gospel, I began to see, is not about disembodied escape from earth to heaven, but about entering God’s growing kingdom on earth as his forgiven and restored people.
There is no single equivalent word in Hebrew or Greek that translates to “mission”. All too often, the idea of ‘mission’ is used to create distinctions and priorities that Jesus never made. When Jesus says, “come follow me” he calls us to live the upside down and inside out life of the kingdom. We are sent out to be disciples who live out Jesus’ kingdom way of being and acting in the world, and to make other disciples who do the same. We need, rather, to ask, what is God’s mission? What is God doing in the world, and how are we drawn to be involved as his ‘co-workers’ (1 Cor 3:9)? It won’t look the same for everyone. We are made differently, with different skills, callings and loves. We can’t all do everything, we are a collective. Whether it’s through faithfully raising children, building things, protecting water-ways, drafting law, cleaning streets or teaching maths, we all have work to do with God.
I’ve felt pulled to work with people to understand the structural injustices behind problems they face, and to take steps to bring change. As part of a local community of Christians here in Uganda, I feel drawn to sharing my slowly growing knowledge of the bible with others. But I still feel hesitant when talking about God to people who aren’t already on the journey.
In recent years, I find myself moving full circle. So much of the work I’ve been involved in, whether in Uganda or New Zealand, begins to fray at the seams not just under the pressure of a struggle against an unjust law, or a greedy company, or corrupt government workers, but within the group fighting for change itself, and within our own hearts. I once worked with a group in Christchurch struggling to get councils to ban hydraulic fracturing who almost imploded in conflict.
For a few years now I’ve been trying to support a community struggling for land rights. Their resistance strategies outstrip everything I thought was possible, but the most constant threat to their progress is selfish ambition and internal power wrangles. And this is amongst the people who care and are fighting for their communities and the environment! We all (me very much included) need Jesus to renew our minds and transform us from the inside out. So if I’m privileged to know him, and to have experienced this change, even if just a little, I need to learn to share it.
Tessa Laing, Community Development, Uganda
Jesus said to his disciples “Where two or three of you gather in my name there I am among them.” (Matthew 18:20). What a mystery that must have been for his followers. Can you imagine your leader or pastor saying that to you? How would you have interpreted this statement?
The Church Missionary Society was birthed out of a group of men who gathered in the Castle and Falcon pub in London in 1799. Their topic of discussion that day was how to form a new society that would spread the Gospel in a globalising world. And from there an entire missionary movement was born. In just over 220 years there are now five Church Missionary Societies around the world. One in UK, one in Africa, one in Asia, one in Australia and one here in New Zealand. And that’s not even mentioning the other organisations and causes that have been birthed from this same community.
What must it have been like in that pub that day? A group of people had come together in the name of Jesus, to find ways to participate in God’s transforming work in the world. And Jesus was among them. I can just imagine him pumping his fist with excitement and cheering when he saw the passion for mission stirring in their hearts. I can almost hear the Holy Spirit whispering ideas to them and fanning into flame the spark beginning to grow.
A part of a Heavenly Family
NZCMS was born from a group of people who were attempting to live in community as a part of joining God’s mission work. They were people who loved, trusted and were committed to sticking with each other. Not easy stuff sometimes, but it was driven by their desire to see God’s Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. And this vision of family and community has continued to be intricately a part of NZCMS’ DNA. Not as something that we feel we’ve manufactured ourselves, but something that naturally overflows as we live in our identity as the Body of Christ.
Words like ‘community’, ‘family’ and ‘whanau’ seem to be common buzz words these days. When something is over-used it can lose its essence or feel like a fad. However, in using ‘family’ and ‘community’, we’re trying to find words to explain our sense of belonging and serving together, not because it’s a new idea, but because it seems to be God’s idea of how we are created to be as his people in the world. Jesus sent a group of 72 followers out in pairs to preach the Gospel and heal. He chose twelve to be the growth catalysts and leaders for the budding Church. Before he ascended to heaven, he told his followers to pray together for the coming Holy Spirit.
Jesus commands us to work in community. In teams. As family. Just as God’s very nature and being is communal – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – so God calls us to be his image-bearers on earth, living in an interdependent community. Where once we have all been strangers to each other, he calls us to develop relationships of love, trust and commitment as adopted children in Christ. To become a family under our heavenly Father. And as we grow in relationship with each other we reflect the glory and majesty of God who has made us.
It is a posture we believe God invites us to express in every aspect of NZCMS family. Our NZCMS ‘family’ includes those who pray, those living overseas as Mission Partners, those who give, those who are on staff, those who serve on our Board and those who gather to hear stories about and pray for God’s mission work to extend in the world.
Learning to be an NZCMS Family
At NZCMS we’re constantly attempting to ask ourselves questions like:
“Is what we are doing here deeply relational?”
“How are we participating in ‘family life’ with one another across NZCMS?”
“Who do we need to learn from about what belonging looks like in this cultural moment?”
These questions are often difficult to ask and know how to outwork, as we feel the prodding, and sometimes the conviction, of the Holy Spirit to uphold God’s call to be an NZCMS family. As I’m sure you’re aware, interdependence and doing deep life together with family isn’t easy! Often it can feel like the hardest way to do things. It takes a lot of humility, learning and grace. Sometimes it can get messy. But for the furthering of God’s transforming work in the world, we commit to coming together and remaining together in the name of Jesus. Because this is who Christ has called us to be. And this is how Christ has called us to live.
Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, we’re grateful for the ways we are part of this NZCMS family with you. It is through family that God has chosen to bring his Kingdom to earth. We pray we can continue to grow in understanding of what that looks like for you and me and NZCMS as we come together in the name of Jesus.
Jairus Robb, NZCMS Communications Officer
The author of this article is one of our Mission Partners serving in South Asia. Due to the location he serves in we need to refer to him and his location vaguely and carefully to protect him, his family and the community where they serve.
Early in my twenties, I signed up to be staff on a mission training school. I found myself responsible for the growth and development of a number of young adults from all over the world. It was on me to support them in their spiritual journey, lead them on three months of cross-cultural mission experiences, and then release them back into the wild as well-formed, mature young adults. After a month’s worth of leadership training, I was supposedly ready for action.
As it turns out, developing people is far more complex than I had supposed – both a science and an art. I felt increasingly incapable and incompetent, fumbling along without knowing what I was doing. I found it pretty easy to meet with those I was responsible for, listen to them process and get them talking. But I found myself tongue-tied when it came to offering profound advice that would solve all their problems. All the while, my fellow staff seemed to be rocking it! They had no problem diagnosing people’s problems, identifying what was going wrong, and telling them what they should do (At least, that’s what I thought was going on).
As it turns out, just like me, all of us can buy into false understandings of what makes a good leader. I had defined a good leader as someone so wise that they always had the right answer to share. And perhaps a better leader would have an answer ready before the person has finished sharing the question. But is that what leadership, discipleship and developing people is all about? Having the right answers?
What Would Jesus Question?
This raises a pretty obvious question: how did Jesus lead? Or more specifically, what was the role of questions & answers in Jesus’ ministry? A big part of my role is applying coaching skills to develop emerging leaders in Asia, and, crudely, we could say that coaching is all about asking powerful questions. So, naturally, I’m very interested in the questions Jesus asked.
Stop and consider for a moment how many questions did Jesus ask?
Think about the question itself. The Son of God, God-made-flesh, is walking the earth. It’s amazing he asked any questions at all! Surely God-in-person would invest all their energy telling people what to do. After all, isn’t a lack of information our core problem? Well, Jesus asked about 307 questions! That’s considerably more than the approx. 183 he was asked, and he only actually answered a handful himself. Whether we can consider Jesus an example of ‘professional level coaching’ or not, he certainly put a lot of value on asking powerful questions.
So what do questions do? Typically we think questions exist to extract information. But questions do far, far more than that! Questions get our minds and hearts engaged. Questions help us see new options and different futures. Questions create space for possibilities. Questions get us out of hard-wired neuro-pathways and onto new ones. When you use powerful questions they turn the focus from your brilliance, experience and skills to their strengths, internal resources and ability. Questions enable others to listen to and follow God for themselves rather than always relying on you.
Let’s turn back to 20 year old me. I thought I had to have the answers to be a good leader, but it turns out I only needed to have the questions. In fact, giving answers can actually undermine the development process and stunt someone’s growth. Stunting the physical growth of a child is something we all find appalling, yet we stunt people’s growth all the time in churches and discipleship groups without giving it a second thought! And amazingly, when my role isn’t seen as fixing things but listening well & asking questions that provoke discovery, there’s a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. In fact, coaching at its best is a “facilitated monologue”; the coach is playing the role of a mirror, disappearing so that the person can hear themselves think and process.
Listening And Mission
It turns out, learning to listen and ask questions can do wonders for our leadership. But it also has huge implications for mission. This paradigm helps us see that our role is to empower other people and to never get in the way of their own development. It also helps clarify the role of the ‘outsider.’ Whenever possible, we shouldn’t be coming in and fixing everything for or doing everything for someone, but finding ways to empower others to ‘do the stuff’ for themselves.
If I can come alongside a person and empower them to reach higher and further, then not only is the task of mission accomplished but people are developed and meaningful partnership is forged. And what I’ve discovered is it’s so much more fun and fulfilling – and honestly easier – when we don’t need to carry it all on our own shoulders but are instead trained in how to empower others. Over one cup of tea, I can help someone influence a network of 130 church planters reaching well over 10,000 people. Just by being deliberately present, listening intently, and asking a few well-placed questions. All over just one cup of tea.
If Jesus would spend so much of his time asking questions, perhaps it’s time we learn to do so too?
Dr. Omar Djoeandy is the SIM Australian Missions Engagement Consultant. He has recently published a book titled “Redefining Success According to Jesus.” In this article, he gives an intro to the book below. If you would like to buy it, you can order it here.
What makes a successful year?
2020 has come and gone. Possibly it was a good year for you, but many might have thought, “Good riddance to the year of the COVID pandemic, deaths, disruptions, recession, cancelled plans and failures.”
I struggled with feeling like a failure because I didn’t meet some major goals. I was anxious and afraid when our income and savings declined, partly caused by cancelled speaking engagements.
At the start of 2021, there was hope that we turned the corner. Surely it could only get better. Within weeks, we discovered that 2021 might be similar to 2020. Most people are still living under some form of lockdown, and life cannot return to the pre-COVID ‘normal’, even with the vaccine.
Was 2020 a failed year? Will 2021 be a failure too?
Most people suffer from harmful definitions of success, but they might not be aware. Just as we define a successful life, we often measure a successful year according to more possessions, achievements, external gains, and the fulfilment of our dreams and plans. We often expect that each year will bring more money, new purchases, unique experiences, opportunities to climb the ladder of success, and so on.
When so much of 2020 was disrupted and cancelled, we are tempted to consider it a loss and failure. We are anxious and afraid that 2021 may be more of the same.
Would Jesus consider 2020 a loss and a failure? What if we could see 2020, even with the losses and cancellations, with a different perspective? What if the pandemic – though tragic and terrible – could contribute to us being a success according to Jesus? Perhaps you grew closer to God as a result of the pandemic?
How might Jesus define a successful year?
In Luke 12:13-34, Jesus shocked the crowd when He contradicted the popular definition of success. Even back then, most people succumbed to worldly success that defines your worth according to your possessions, popularity, power, achievements, appearance and other external signs.
Jesus warned against all kinds of greed – the desire to acquire and wanting more. Measuring ourselves and others according to worldly success will only lead to harm. But Jesus doesn’t just oppose worldly success; He teaches us how to be a success in His eyes.
He mentions three essentials which you can read in the table below.
Whatever comes in 2021 can become an opportunity for us to identify harmful definitions of success and grow in ‘Redefining Success according to Jesus’.
We are very excited to announce that NZCMS has employed a new staff member! Anna Smart will be our new Promotions Officer, working with our Mobilising team. 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
After lockdown last year and as I went through my week of debriefing with NZCMS, I found myself asking “What could I, a retired missionary and rather weird senior citizen, do?”The debriefing showed me how I was going in adjusting to New Zealand life, where I’ve come and how I can go forward.
I’m an encourager and I have a real love for people. When St. Paul’s Symonds St, my home church, reopened after the first lockdown in 2020, I discovered they had an international ministry for students. So I asked if I could help. I joined them on their Wednesday “Free lunch and English conversation” sessions they had. St. Pauls is right between Auckland University and the University of Technology so there are heaps of people walking past! People from Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka, Nigeria – you name it! I learned that Auckland City is amongst the top five most cosmopolitan cities in the world!
For many of these people who attend, it’s the first time they’ve ever been in a church. We have about 20 people who volunteer, from many nations and backgrounds. And each and every one of them serves so that they can eventually help those who attend come to Jesus.
The leader is Jeremy – a Korean man who has just the right laidback leadership style for this. Some of those who attend are lonely, dispirited, financially struggling and/or poor in English. But most are also willing for prayer. One time a very troubled young woman came in for the lunch. She was from Sri Langka. As one friend of mine Grace and I chatted and prayed for her, it surfaced that she was a Buddhist. I thought “Oh I’m out of my depth here.” But Grace told her of her Buddhist background and how she came to Christ. And the woman responded! It’s so encouraging to see some come to Christ and grow in Him.
After attending the lunch they’re then invited to join a Thursday night Worship and Bible study or the Friday English lessons that the church runs. When their time in NZ is finished, some of the people have gone back to their countries of origin and started Bible studies and even churches!
More recently, I’ve joined the Church prayer team. One day as I made my way to the front to stand with the other prayer team members during a response time – and telling myself that I am a very inadequate prayer team member – a young Indonesian Muslim woman came up to me with a cry in her heart to get closer to God! I was able to lead her to Jesus and after just one week she is looking so much happier and has also found an Indonesian woman in her office who is also a Christian. Isn’t that incredible! Who knows what else God has in store for her.
Recently my beloved sister died in November. Her sickness was one of my main reasons for returning. I still don’t have a place to live yet. But I have found ministry and I am believing in God for more.
Dianne Bayley, Former Mission Partner
There’s been quite a quiet spell recently as I work with NZCMS on what this year will look like. It’s good to be able to share with you now about what has been decided. Thank you for all your prayers!
After a lot of prayer, thought and discussion, NZCMS and I think it is best for me to remain in New Zealand for this year. It has been a tough season in Spain and we both see that what I need is some quality down-time in NZ to recover and refresh before looking at the next season. We agreed that as of April I’ll be on an extended Leave of Absence until November 2021, when we will seek to jointly discern God’s leading around a possible return to Spain.
I’ve chosen to begin a wee part-time job at a Farmers branch in Christchurch to have some finances coming in and some routine. The job is three days a week so there is time still time to rest and as energy permits, be involved in other things that I enjoy and where I can use my giftings.
Thanks, friends, for all your continued prayers. I feel a bit anxious but also curiously expectant about what this year and beyond holds for me. It has been incredible to see God’s hand at work and he keeps bringing me back to that simple yet profound truth of trusting in Him.
Please keep praying with me for my Church in Gijón, Spain and also for the ministry of the Shop. My church still only meets online but thankfully the Shop has been able to remain open and continues to be a beacon of Jesus’ light in the community.
During this year I’ll still send out updates on the ministry in Gijón, Spain and also how things are going here.
Recently, the Wheelers wrote an update on their arrival to Kapuna which you can read below. If you’d like to receive more of these updates, contact email@example.com.
We are excited to say that we have safely arrived in Kapuna, Papua New Guinea. We’re currently quarantining in the home that has been built for us by the team here. We are incredibly aware of all the things that lined up perfectly for us to get here.
We managed to slip through into Brisbane on a quarantine free flight during a two-day window when the borders were open. That meant we were free to go out to the shops as well, buy a few more supplies and play at a new playground near our hotel. We felt hugely blessed to have all our luggage with us, as a large number of bags had to be left in Auckland as the plane was full.
Once we’d made it to Port Moresby, our transfer to the hotel went smoothly and quarantine began. Fortunately, we only had two nights before travelling to Kapuna because one hotel room felt very small for a family of five! The kids were a bit challenged by the food we were given too – Rice and beef for breakfast, rice and fish for lunch and rice and chicken for dinner! But we are fortunate to have food. Cross-cultural learning has started!
God blessed us again with our travel from Port Moresby to Kapuna. The forecast was for lightning and storms which would make the small plane ride dangerous and the long dingy ride very uncomfortable but the sun shone the whole way and we enjoyed a seamless transfer. The river ride was lovely and kept the kids entertained as they watched for crocodiles the whole way.
We have had an amazing welcome to Kapuna. We are required to stay in the house for the remainder of our 14 days isolation, so fresh fruit, (pineapples, pawpaw and coconut) have been brought to us as well as a few meals and lots of socially distanced chatter and coconut husking demonstrations.
We’ve inherited a kitten called Hobbs from a kiwi couple who left just before we arrived. He is very sweet and a huge source of joy for the kids. I was hoping he’d be a spider and rat catcher for us but he’s not showing signs of being a hunter just yet!
On that note, I’m not feeling brave enough yet to talk about the insect situation. The saucer-sized spider I came across in the bathroom in the middle of the night and who reappeared in our bedroom a day later has my heart racing even while writing this! I’ve been told it may be a Huntsman.
All in all, we’re so grateful for the many many blessings along the journey to get us from Wellington to Kapuna. There were so many opportunities for things to go wrong and nothing did. Travelling to this isolated place is tricky at the best of times but in these times of Covid-19, there are so many more rules and socially distanced queues. And oh the paperwork! We thank God for his facilitation of all this. We’re humbled to be quarantined in a beautiful, tropical, super hot home.
The internet is currently very intermittent and only accessible when leaning, arm extended, over the balcony. Hopefully, that will get better once they can install a repeater but we’re not sure when that’ll be.
We’ll be in touch once we have finished isolating and are able to look around, be introduced with handshakes rather than waves from afar and put to work!
Appreciate your prayers for health over this time. We’ve had two minor tummy bugs in two different people as our guts adjust. We have twice daily check-ins to the PNG Covid Controller on our tracking device app and also daily temperature checks. So far so good!
Thank you for your prayers and support all.
Blessings to you ,
Nikki and Scott, Isaac, Abby and Levi from Kapuna, PNG