John and Elaine moved to Papua New Guinea two weeks ago. Elaine writes a bit of their story and what they will be involved in there.
John has just finished working as a building tutor at Ara Institute of Technology, where he’s been since 1985. Over twenty years ago he took three years sabbatical to work in Mendi in the Southern Highlands, Papua New Guinea in the early 1990’s.
When we left there with our four sons, we said “Well, that’s done, goodbye PNG!”
Now we’re saying, “Who would have thought we’d go back?!”
We always thought we’d like to volunteer around retirement age but this was just slightly sooner than we imagined.
Now we have four grandsons and will have no family with us at Kapuna. We feel God has really set our path straight before us with support coming in from Gulf Christian Services, Hope Hornby Presbyterian Church and NZCMS.
I’ve worked as a Midwife and Registered Nurse and have just finished work in Christchurch. In Kapuna, I’ll be working to help with health education and anything else along those lines that is required and John is going to assist in hospital extensions, renovations and various other projects around the hospital.
Please Keep John and Elaine in your prayers as they settle into their new location and work in Kapuna, Papua New Guinea.
NZCMS Board member, Ian Daily, reflects on how those gifted with singleness find and belong to an intimate, fulfilling and outward looking community.
“Don’t expect us to be your friends – we’re very busy people!”
The words of this thoughtless and unfeeling remark left me stunned and without words for a minute. Here I was, returning home to New Zealand after 21 years away – a single person without a spouse with whom to share the challenges of adjusting to a new life in an environment that was now strange and unfamiliar.
I suddenly felt very alone.
The family members and friends I’d had when I’d left so long before had all moved on with their lives and I realised that my network of relationships had to some degree unraveled. There were now few common interests, and not many could relate to my overseas experience and weren’t very interested anyway. I needed a new community into which I could be welcomed, where I could find a place to give and receive, and where I could serve God in a new context. And I was now well and truly middle-aged!
Of course, all this had happened in reverse 20 years earlier when I’d arrived in South America, but I was young then and was invigorated by discovering how to live in a new culture and learn a new language. There were quite a few other single Mission Partners (as well as welcoming missionary families) and friendships were quickly formed, many of which have endured to this day. There was an instant missionary community we fitted into and we forged friendships with many of the local people.
The number of single people in overseas mission was, and still is, quite striking. At present 30% of NZCMS’s Mission Partners are singles. This is a far higher proportion of single adults in this age group than you will find in the general population. What would overseas mission look like were it not for single women who have been open to serving God in this way throughout the generations?
The blessings and dangers of a single life
We all start our lives as singles, and as God’s children we are to accept that gift. For many, there comes the opportunity to exchange the gift of singleness for the gift of marriage and they are to embrace that gift as God’s calling on their life. For the rest of us, we still have the gift that God means us to have. Some will go on to take vows of celibacy but most of us are “unintentional” singles who “ended up this way” but who are to continue embracing the gift God has given.
Singleness often brings loneliness and a lack of human intimacy, sometimes a sense of not fitting in and an unwarranted sense of failure. But it brings freedom and opportunities that couples often don’t have. I’m not sure I would have visited more than 70 countries on mostly work assignments had I not been single! And, for many, a deeper level of intimacy with God is found.
It also brings dangers of self-indulgence and of shutting other people out. The bottom line is that we must echo Paul’s words in Philippians 4.
“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation… I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”
So what can we singles do to find a sense of community? Looking back over the 20 years since I returned home, I have found the following strategies helpful.
Maintaining family networks while away
I have literally dozens of cousins and we have reunions every few years. This engenders a sense of belonging and reinforces a sense of personal identity. I have people out there who belong to me, and I to them. Get to know them again and strengthen old ties.
A place of work is a great place to build new relationships. The same applies to where you live – getting to know neighbours and getting involved in local activities. This has certainly been true for me, living in a community of 59 families, and now co-chairing the committee that oversees the care and maintenance of our homes. Many nationalities live here and I can even speak Spanish to my Colombian neighbour!
Every Friday I drive the buggy at Selwyn Village for those with mobility issues. This has allowed me to get to know a totally different group of people, both staff and residents, and provides me with moments of ministry and a window into a completely different world.
Being involved in a faith community
Despite the dispiriting start to this article, my closest and most faithful friends and prayer partners did surround me with encouragement and support. I also joined a small and warm congregation, which incidentally has many singles, including the “once-were-married” and the widowed. Very quickly a sense of belonging and community developed and this is where I felt the strongest sense of community as I became involved in the activities and ministry of the parish.
Those who have never married are not to be considered objects of pity, suspicion or condescension. Their life has simply taken a different path – they have received a different gift in life from the majority. They have been granted freedom and time to devote to Christian ministry as the Apostle Paul noted as being one of the advantages of singleness (I Corinthians 7).
And many have discovered a special intimacy with their Lord and the joy of being able to channel their reserves of love to the widest possible number of people around them. Let us bless God who gives us the grace that goes with each and every gift he bestows!
Questions to consider
In a society that is so focused on romantic relationships as being the pathway to true happiness and fulfillment, in what ways can singleness be viewed as an alternative model of human completeness? How can love of others, as opposed to love of the human “significant other”, help us to understand the character and breadth of God’s love?
What ideas do you have about how the gifts and experience of single people (whether they have overseas mission experience or not) could be harnessed to enhance the ministry and outreach of local faith communities?
Most churches have significant numbers of ‘home-aloners’ in their congregations. Many will have felt that their networks of relationships have unraveled over the years, or have worries about living alone, especially if they are older. What more can your faith community do to strengthen a sense of community, belonging and care?
As Chairperson of NZCMS I am writing to you as NZCMS supporters to inform you that this morning it was announced that our National Director, Steve Maina, has been named Bishop-Elect of the Anglican Diocese of Nelson.
I know you will join me in congratulating Steve on this appointment and we wish him and Watiri every blessing as they take up new responsibilities and ministries in Nelson. We also wish to thank God for the immense contribution Steve has made to the life of NZCMS for more than ten years. It is expected that his ordination as a bishop will take place later this year at a time to be determined.
Please pray for us all as the first steps are taken to search for a new National Director, and especially for Steve and the Nelson Diocese in the this period transition.
Paul Cooper, Chairperson NZCMS
CMS Mission Partner, Dianne, reflects on the fruit and faithfulness of God as she leads a children’s ministry in the Philippines.
“You did not choose me but I have chosen you…….that you might go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give it to you.” – John 15:16
I went back to Philippines in January 2018 with a broken arm. A good way to start the year! But I knew that way back God chose me to come here to the Philippines and therefore he would fix it.
In January 1976 I was driving my rusty little VW over the hills to Camp Raglan where 120 plus children were arriving for a week long camp. I read the verse for today on my dashboard which said ”…the Lord has chosen you…to serve Him.” – 2Chronicles 29:11. At that moment the word “Philippines” flashed across my mind.
I told the Lord “I don’t want to go there!”
I could go to England yes, because I could visit relatives I’d never seen before. However I then added “Well Lord, if this is really from you please make it clear!”
The next day my director went to our P. O. Box for the mail. I hardly wrote letters, so I hardly received any. He gave me a blue airmail letter, which was my first ever letter from the Philippines, and it contained a direct invitation to join the children’s ministry there! Since then, I’ve known very clearly this whole time that God has chosen me to minister in the Philippines and he provides what we need to obey him.
Fruit that I’ve seen
Our fruit for Jesus just keeps on growing! From teachers sharing the Gospel in their classes, parent’s Bible studies and the odd parent our Principal leads to the Lord, to children and staff devotions in the Children’s Home and visiting disabled people who are “shut ins” in their homes.
We held a Summer Children’s Camp, to which 80 came. I worked with four Bible Clubs which saw 80 plus come to Jesus. Two training seminars brought in another 170 children. A very meaningful event for me was hearing the blind pastor in our Camp for Disabled clearly preaching a salvation message along with his own personal testimony using his braille Bible.
Overall, I can conservatively estimate that 400 people have come to Jesus in the past year, most of those mainly children. What incredible fruit!
Fruit going on for Jesus
Another area where I have seen fruit is in the ongoing involvement of former students. We held reunions for both former Bible College alumni and Children’s Home alumni, which brought about 80 people to tell their stories and catch up with us. A good number are involved with churches, some with Christian schools and some are overseas or in far distant places. Three new teachers in our school are former pupils and converts, who want to continue this legacy.
To top it all off one of our former children’s home boys, who is now a businessman, contacted me a month ago from Qatar. He had started a church plant there for a Baptist church a few years back and wanted lecture material on children’s ministry so he could teach their members! How is that for fruit going on for Jesus!
“Whatever you ask in my name, I will give to you”. – John 14:13
Another story is very close to my kiwi heart! One of the most joyful events in the Children’s Home is when we celebrate a children’s birthday. All was set for the day. The decorations were ready, the gifts were wrapped, the games were prepared, and the favourite food was ready to cook. And of course we had a cake. Unfortunately, we had no ice-cream! We had prayed, but there was just not enough in the budget for it.
However, the Lord says “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.” – Isaiah 55:8.
Early next morning there was a knock on the Children’s Home door and a man entered with a steel container with two big tubs of ice-cream! The owner of the Popular Ice-cream Company was having his birthday that day and he thought he would share his blessings with the children in the home. Everyone was surprised and jumping with joy. Thank you Lord!
If you remember, at the beginning of this article, I wrote about how I broke my arm at the beginning of last year. Well it has now healed beautifully and I can even do push ups! In reflecting on the fruit that I’ve seen God grow in the last year, I am constantly reminded, just like with the story of my broken arm, when God chooses you he provides your needs!
What are the challenges inherent in Jesus calling his disciples friends? Our Mission Partner in the Solomon Islands, Jonathan, shares his story.
Election is a difficult subject for most people. And I’m not referring to what went down at the polls in the United States. I’m speaking about the scriptural teaching that God elects or chooses certain people to fulfil specific purposes. This teaching raises several tough issues. While talking to God, Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof points out two of them when he says –
“I know, I know. We are your chosen people. But, once in a while, can’t you choose someone else?”
1) The choosing of some means that others are not chosen. 2) The chosen do not always like it. Though we can’t hope to address both of these issues adequately here, we can look for a moment at the second.
We overhear Jesus in John’s Gospel declaring that he has elected his disciples. “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (15:16). Jesus speaks of his election in the past tense. And as it turns out, he is referring to something he mentioned just a verse earlier when he said “I no longer call you servants…Instead, I have called you friends.” If any evidence is needed of Jesus’ right to call his disciples friends, he has already supplied it when he says that he will lay down his life for them in John 15:13. So Jesus elects the disciples as friends by loving them to the end.
The Challenge of Election
Listening in attentively, we hear Jesus telling the disciples what this friendship entails.
“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing” (15:15).
And a little later in verse sixteen –
“I…appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.”
The two thoughts, knowing what the master is doing and going to bear fruit, are connected. The friend, knowing the master’s plan for the vineyard, can no longer use the servant’s excuse for passivity. The servant will spoil the master’s plan if he acts in ignorance of his will. So the prudent servant waits and does not act until the master commands him. But not so the friend. He knows. And because he knows he is summoned continually to “Go! Bear fruit!” As long as the master is working, his beloved friends work with him. Far from lessening the workload of the newly-befriended, Jesus has increased it three-fold!
Warming to the challenge that this election will present to his disciples, Jesus continues. The world will hate them because, now that he has chosen them, they are no longer of the world (John 15:18-19). If they needed any proof of Jesus’ words, they had only to wait a few short hours before the mob arrived in Gethsemane.
“So let’s get this straight,” they might have been thinking. “Now that we’re your friends, we’re going to work harder than ever before, and we’re going to be hated by the world the same way you are?” To borrow a line from Shakespeare – “Ay, there’s the rub.”
And we’re not even done yet! 1 John makes it clear that God’s friendship with the apostles is paradigmatic for his friendship with other disciples.
That’s right, with us.
When John calls his readers “beloved” he is referring primarily to God’s disposition toward them (4:7, 11). We have this name because of God’s choice. 1 John 4:10 says: “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us.” We also have the same responsibility that the disciples had, born of the knowledge of God: “[L]et us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (4:11). And finally, we’re caught in the same intense hostility between the love of God and the world (2:15-17) in which they were entangled.
The challenge of being elected God’s friends is no bed of roses! And so we run into the perennial temptation to re-write the script. We internalise the idea of God’s friendship in the following – distorted – ways.
Jesus – “Hey guys, I love you all just the way you are. I wouldn’t change a thing about any one of you!”
The disciples – “Yeah, we know. We’re all pretty decent…”
Jesus – “I don’t want to force this on you, but I want to let you in on my master plan. It’ll be pretty tough, so I don’t want you to agree until you know what you’re getting yourselves into.”
The disciples – looking at each other with uncertainty – “All right…”
Jesus – “I want you all to love other people the way I love you. It’ll be pretty hard at first, but the world will come around sooner or later to the fact that all it needs is love.”
The disciples – “Can we try it on for size first and see whether or not we like it?”
The biggest problem with re-writing the script in this way is that we begin to participate in a world that is not real. And “the rub” – as Shakespeare put it – is eventually much stiffer in this imaginary world. Why? Because God is not at work there, in this imaginary world of ours. Instead, Jesus is our consultant friend and we are its kings.
Resisting the Call
Allow me to illustrate. Recently, obedience to a clear leading from God and ecclesial authority led my family to take up a missionary post in the Solomon Islands. Our first year was difficult and when the second year arrived things didn’t improve. Our children got sick on a regular basis. My wife and I, for what seemed like months at a time, were taking care of their sores from dinner to bedtime. My work wasn’t very satisfying. I spent hours preparing for lectures that, as far as I could tell, had very little impact on my students. The climate was stifling. We had some serious relational problems with our fellow-villagers.
So I stopped investing. I began to work on various projects that had very little relation to my missionary vocation, but that satisfied my longing to do something fulfilling.
This period lasted for over a year. Through out I had numerous warnings that I was responding to these difficulties in a way that was unfaithful to my calling. I tried to ignore them, and had a sense that I was turning my back on God and the people he had sent me to. I wanted to sleep constantly, but this had more in common with the guilty sleep of Jonah than the tranquil sleep of Jesus on the Sea of Galilee! After my wife and I realised how depressed I’d become, we began to pray, asking the Lord to give us joy in our vocation again. Several months later, after recommitting ourselves fully to the work before us, joy began to return.
The Three Facets of Friendship
I had been forgetting three spiritual matters so important to the life of friendship with God. First, God remains Lord when he elects us to friendship.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you.”
Within this divine choice we’re free to act as God’s friends, working with him in the way that we know he is working. In my case that means teaching his Word faithfully, loving and being present with his people, and praying for them daily. But we’re no longer free to withhold what God has claimed as his own when he calls us friends. I became depressed because I was acting against my own being as a friend of God. I was acting against freedom.
The second spiritual aspect I had forgotten was –
“I appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.”
The kind of fruit we bear depends wholly on whether we’re working in the Lord’s vineyard, or in vineyards of our own planting. We know now what our friend and master is doing. He is planting a harvest that will grow up to everlasting life. To refuse this calling is to bear fruit that will perish or to bear no fruit at all.
And finally –
“I appointed you so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”
For the present, our own evaluation of whether our work seems fulfilling or not is unreliable. We’re told though that our future desire will correspond with his. We will come to love that which he loves. This will happen as we claim that for which God has elected us. We will pray for and receive things beyond our comprehension now, because he is inviting us “further up and deeper in” to that friendship whose depths are eternal.
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (15:7).
Let us come to know God not in the imaginary friendship we would elect for ourselves. Rather, let us receive God’s friendship as it is, given to challenge and change us, and given before we could even ask for it.
Are you a strong administrator who is looking for opportunities to put your skills to work? Have you ever wanted to have a role within an international mission organisation? This job opportunity is a unique opening that allows you to connect the nuts and bolts of administration with the big picture of what God is doing around the globe! We are looking for someone who is competent in managing donor support and office administration to join our team.
The New Zealand Church Missionary Society (NZCMS) is a Christian mission organisation that currently equips and supports 37 Mission Partners in 14 overseas countries and in mobilising New Zealanders for mission. You will be the first point of contact to the office. In addition you provide a vital link by engaging with donors and churches to ensure accurate processing of donations.
Please download the Job Description here for a detailed description of the role.
Please send your applications to email@example.com. Applications close 28 February 2019
How God used Peter and Christine Akester to reach Muslims in northern Tanzania.
In a small city in Northern Tanzania, God is at work powerfully answering prayers and creating opportunities for Christians to share the Good News of the Gospel with the majority Muslim population.
Former NZCMS Mission Partners from 1979 to 1998, Peter and Christine Akester responded to God’s call to mission again in 2015, when they returned to Tanzania to serve in the Bible School in Kondoa.
“We both knew it was what God wanted,” says Christine. “But it still was difficult to leave family because we have two daughters and two grandchildren and none without difficulty. It was quite a sacrifice in some ways, but we just had to leave them in God’s hands.”
When they arrived in Kondoa Peter was appointed Principal of the Kondoa Bible School, and Christine worked as Dean of Studies and the Registrar. Together they taught students the Bible and prepared them for ministry in the region. But their ministry extended well beyond the walls of the school.
As the only Europeans in Kondoa, it wasn’t hard for Peter and Christine to get noticed by the locals, and as they walked around the town and the market, people would approach them and ask where they were from, why they were in Kondoa, what they were doing with the Anglican Church and why.
“They were almost dragging out a testimony from us,” says Peter. “It was often a good way of asking the question – why would these people bother to come here and do that?
“We did have some really good conversations with particular people – one of the leaders in the mosque bailed me up while I was walking by and we had a really long conversation about who Jesus was to him.”
But much of their ministry outside of the school was related to prayer.
When someone from their church was ill and in hospital, they (and nearly everyone else from their church) would go visit and pray for them.
“Sometimes when we’d go to see one of those people, there’d be a whole lot of people around that person’s bed and they’d all pray together. One time we went in and prayed for this person and then the person in the next bed said, ‘well, aren’t you going to pray for me?!’”
Even though the neighbour was a Muslim they were happy to have Peter and Christine pray for them in Jesus’ name. Once they were finished, the next patient asked for prayer too.
“We ended up going down the whole ward!” says Christine.
“That sort of thing was quite a ministry without us actually realising it. We and others would pray for somebody and they’d get better,” says Peter.
Christine recalls another elderly lady who was “old and decrepit and needed someone to prop her up. She asked for prayer, so we prayed for her, and little by little she just started to free up. By the end of it she was just sort of dancing. I think she was praising God and moving freely. It’s sort of exciting to see these things that don’t happen much in New Zealand; the faith is certainly there.”
For Christine, one of the great joys of her time in Kondoa was the slow evolution of her relationships with Muslim women.
“I was really struck by all the women walking along the road with their burqas on. At the beginning I would look at them and smile but there was no response at all. Gradually, over those two or three years, they’d start looking at me, and I could see their eyes just sort of noticing that someone’s continuing to have contact with me.
She would occasionally get to speak to these Muslim women, but not very often.
“I’d ask them the names of their children and they’d tell me. That was the ministry I thought I could do at the beginning, just relating to the women. And I thought that was quite special really. Later on, they would stop me and ask how my children are,” says Christine.
One special friendship developed with a local Muslim woman who knew all about Christianity but didn’t know Jesus personally.
“She could tell you all about the Easter week and what was happening. She was always having accidents, and we were always praying for healing, and every time she was healed. We told her Jesus was the one healing her, not us, and she said ‘yes, yes I understand that. I know about Jesus’.
“I asked her if she believed in him,” says Christine. “And she said that she believes he is there. But after three years she never came to the point of accepting Jesus for herself. She had a very large Muslim family in another village and I think she realised they would reject her, totally. And that would have been a very difficult decision to make.”
Sharing the Gospel in Muslim-dominated areas of the world like Kondoa, where 95 per cent of people are Muslim, is slow and difficult. But Peter and Christine can attest to the fact that God does the work of providing opportunities to explain the reason for their hope in Christ.
Having now returned to New Zealand, Peter and Christine believe that Christians in New Zealand can learn a lot from Tanzanian believers.
“We need to be thankful for anything and to trust God within that thankfulness” says Peter.
Tanzania recently experienced two years of famine and Christine says, “there are stories of families who would sit around a table in the time of famine and pray and thank God. But there was nothing on the table; they didn’t have any food but were just saying thank you Lord that you’re looking after us. And then there’d be a knock at the door and someone would bring some food.”
Tanzanian Christians have a deep awareness that everything they have comes from the hand of God.
God chose Peter and Christine to take the Gospel to Tanzania, and having twice made the choice to give up their life in New Zealand and serve God overseas, they have some advice for anyone considering a similar decision:
“Listen to God’s voice,” says Christine. “We usually think of the problems that are holding us here, and why we like living where we are and how much we’re needed for our family. Yet God is a big God and he can care for all that. I was full of worry this time, but he showed me to just leave the worries in his hands.”
Peter says, “Once you’ve got that surety that God has said this, almost expect that there will be difficulties that will come to try and discourage you, but just keep claiming the promises of God that he will lead us and smooth the path.
“God has proved faithful and will prove faithful and it’s our job to run with that task that he’s given us.”
Our Gap Year program is called Better World. The vision is to equip a whole generation of young people to bring the light of the Gospel into the suffering of the world around us. Our team for 2019 consist of six participants and two leaders who will be living in community together for the next ten months. Meet them below and join us in prayer as they undertake this life changing journey.
If you want to know more about Better World, click here.
Over the past few months, I have been learning a lot about myself, mission and God through the internship program with NZCMS as a part of my preparing to go to Fiji. I found myself reflecting and reminding myself that God is just as much as in the small stuff as He is in the big picture. While spending five months in Fiji, is a pretty major life event, I am realising that much of my day will not look that different from my current day. I will still be interacting with other teachers and children. Reminding myself that even when I am changing nappies God is still working and moving.
As part of the training, I also took a deeper look at understanding what is brokenness and poverty. I found many similarities between what the course was saying and New Zealand’s Early Childhood Curriculum Te Whāriki. In that it is important to view from a holistic view, in recognising that poverty is more than just a lack of material items. So in order to support people we need to empower them to make a difference, which all comes down to strong relationships.
I leave to Fiji on the 28th January. Please pray for:
· The final stages of preparations
· Safe travel
· That I settle in quickly
· the children, Sisters and staff of St Christopher’s home
· For my family and friends in New Zealand
Hi everyone! I’m Sally and I will be doing a mission internship with NZCMS from April 2019. I’ll be living in the Solomon Islands with the Hicks family, experiencing their daily life for three months. I’ve been wondering about how to better the world since I was a child. I was desperate to go on a mission trip once I finished school, but my parents convinced me that a degree may help me better reach my goals. I completed a law degree with the dream of helping children internationally receive their basic human rights.
When I was 19, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. It was really hard at the time but I’ve come out the other side with an unshakable faith. God has since shown me that he is bigger than anything the world can throw at me. I’m so grateful that my health is no longer a barrier to what God has placed on my heart.
I hope that I can come home from this missions trip with a better understanding of how Christianity operates in other cultures and that God will use this time to show me the best path I can take to follow him.
I would really appreciate prayer that my eyes will see the doors God may open for me. I want to be conscious of any opportunities where I could be used by him, before I leave and while I am overseas.
Please also join me in praying for my family, as they support me over this big period of change in my life.
Ruth, along with her husband Mike, have been on the mission field in Papua New Guinea and Cambodia for an estimated 14 years all together, with up to five children with them. All five of their children are now grown up and all are pursuing God’s mission in one way or another. We asked Ruth how they have gone about teaching her children to be missional.
When we were back in New Zealand for the birth of our twin boys, I heard someone speaking on Radio Rhema about how easy it is for parents to have a “castle mentality”. We want our children to be safe and so it’s tempting to live behind a protective Christian wall and tell them, “Don’t rock the boat, stay with what you know,” so they can have a nice, safe life and go to heaven when they die!
Jesus’ call is so different. We’re here to take the light of his love into the darkness. Whenever Mike, my husband, and I read Bible stories to our kids, we talked about how God is with anyone who steps out and trusts him. Even when things go wrong, God is always there. As was appropriate age-wise, we shared and prayed with our children for God’s answer for us and others around us, wherever we lived. While living overseas we had the privilege of meeting people from many cultures who chose to follow Jesus and often at great cost. Our children saw the reality of their faith and that God is not a Kiwi but is at work throughout the world that he created and loves.
When we returned to New Zealand our children did find it hard at times, feeling so different. They were pastor’s kids, missionary kids and home schoolers! We never pretended that this was not true, instead we talked about how all Christians are called to be aliens, not really belonging in this world. We looked for opportunities for them to meet people who were willing to be radical followers of Jesus and were still cool! We did this so that they learned that there were many expressions of how to live for Jesus, and that we’re each responsible for playing our part and being active in the community of believers that God places us in.
We often discussed that following Jesus is not an excuse to be weird or harsh in our relationships with others, but rather an opportunity to share the love and acceptance we’ve experienced from him with those around us. We encouraged them to dream big, use the gifts they have, live boldly with Jesus and be agents for God’s Kingdom in the world. I believe this is mission,wherever you may live. And this is how we took our family along on the ride with us.
Our National Director, Steve Maina, shares three highlights of NZCMS’ work in 2018. To watch the video please follow the link below.
We asked some families how they’ve taught their children to be missional. Kesh and his family moved to Christchurch in 2017. He is studying a Masters in Social Work and attends the Presbyterian Church where his wife, Esther, is an ordained Minister.
To the Sabey family, mission is simply shining God’s light through our words and actions. While we have always encouraged our children to share their faith verbally, we place more emphasis on living in a way that attracts others to the light of Christ.Here are some practical ways in which our family aims to be missional:
Share Christ with your actions: Being kind, helpful, sharing a smile, encouraging others, playing with a lonely child at school and standing up to bullies are not just ‘good deeds’. They are powerful ways in which others are attracted to the “different” in us.
Be natural when talking about your faith: Look for natural conversations and circumstances to share the Good News. Try to avoid churchy jargon and religious lingo that an unchurched, primary-aged child would not understand. Simply put,“Don’t be weird”.
Don’t be discouraged when you don’t see any fruit: Being patient with those we are influencing is a powerful fruit of the Spirit. Every sincere, Christ-like word or action we share with others is a seed which has the potential to sprout in due season. The “due season” may be tomorrow or twenty years away.
Listen first: In a culture where everyone wants to “have their say”, there are a great number of people who simply want to be heard, understood and accepted.Simply listening and empathising, rather than leaping to provide answers, makes others feel cared for. When someone feels cared for, they will take you and your message seriously.
We hope that you find these tips helpful. We will leave you with a little “Sabeyism” we say to our kids before they leave for school: “Be kind, be respectful and shine like a light!!”
Tess Delbridge talks with NZCMS National Director Steve Maina to find out what courageous faith really looks like.
As John Allen Chau prepared to land on the remote North Sentinel island in the Bay of Bengal, its residents known to be violently hostile towards outsiders, he wrote in a letter to his parents, “You guys might think I’m crazy in all this but I think it’s worth it to declare Jesus to these people. Please do not be angry at them or at God if I get killed.”
According to his journal, during his first interaction with the tribesmen he shouted, “My name is John, and I love you and Jesus loves you.” They shot at him with bows and arrows. The following day, he was killed by the tribe, his body dragged along the beach and buried.
Chau’s story is reminiscent of the story of missionary Jim Elliott, murdered by a remote Ecuadorian tribe in the 1950s, and is somehow both inspiring and frightening for ordinary Christians.
“No matter which way you look at it,we need that sort of grit, where you know you’re going to be persecuted, you know you might die, but you’re still willing to go,” says NZCMS National Director Steve Maina.
“You’re not being asked to die for your faith in New Zealand, but we still find it hard to share the gospel,” says Steve. “Our confidence in the gospel is getting lost, and we need a reawakening of our confidence and boldness in the gospel.”
Steve’s vision for NZCMS is that we would recapture the need for urgent and courageous proclamation of the gospel to all people.
“We need to encounter Jesus in such away that he turns our lives upside down. Sometimes I have wondered whether that is actually the problem,” says Steve.
“We need to have a living faith and a living encounter with Jesus where it’s his glory we seek rather than our glory or our safety. In 2 Corinthians 5:15, Paul says, ‘he [Jesus] died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.’
“Is there a problem with our encounter with Jesus? Have our lives been transformed so much that we are devoted wholly to the saviour who has given his life for us?” Steve asks.
That’s the heart of the NZCMS mission.We exist to see lives changed by the gospel, bringing glory to God. This year we expanded our mission focus to include various communities at home here in New Zealand. We appointed someone to research how we could increase our work among migrant communities.We have two mission partners specifically focused on mobilising young people for mission, and we have recently confirmed our first mission partner to work among Maori people in South Auckland.
Across the world, the stories of gospel transformation continue. In the Philippines children are coming to the Lord in droves. There are new believers in the Middle East. Families in Asia are being equipped to protect their children from human trafficking, and in Africa, clinics and pharmacies are empowering communities and saving lives. And the stories of transformed lives continue to pour in.
These are the stories of what happens when people have a living encounter with Jesus.
We give thanks to God for our mission partners and supporters, who have caught the vision of courageous gospel proclamation across the world. But we want to go further. In 2019, NZCMS is prayerfully aiming to raise up 20 new mission partners to take up this challenge of courageous gospel proclamation, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.
“We cannot give ourselves to these bold steps without an encounter with Jesus,” says Steve.
“People are not naturally willing to give their lives to something where they think there’s a huge risk. But I’m praying that God can help us challenge that because I’m finding that if we’re going to be raising workers for the harvest, we cannot promise them safety. So we need brave people, men and women who are willing to go to places that are broken in this world and bring transformation.”
But not all of us need to be John Allen Chau, who was prepared to risk his life for the sake of bringing the gospel to the North Sentinelese. An encounter with the risen Lord Jesus enables each one of us to make courageous decisions to share the love of Christ. For some, being brave in this way may mean risking the good opinion of our neighbours or colleagues in order to see some won for Christ. For others it may mean the loss of a treasured job. And for yet others, it may mean a violent death at the hands of an isolated tribe.
Jesus says, ‘the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few’.
“Are you going to be brave or safe?”asks Steve. “You can’t be both.”
NZCMS, in partnership with Te Pihopatanga o Te Tai Tokerau, is excited to introduce Te Hau o Te Rangi (Howard) Karaka.
I’ve been in Kenya for just over two months and I am entering into my final month of my placement. As I reflect on what I’ve been able to do, I’m filled with a joyful gratitude.
Nairobi Chapel, where I have been serving, has been an incredible work place of ministry with amazing people. I’ve been able to serve in many different contexts including the youth department, young adults, PPI (Bible in Schools) with the younger kids and am also involved with the worship team.
I’ve been struck by the faith that the leaders have and the amount of prayer that backs this faith up. There is no limit to what God is capable of in the eyes of the Kenyans and in a lot of cases it is all they have. This is something that’s really challenged my way of thinking and something I hope to bring back with me. It is a challenge to the church in New Zealand and an opportunity to learn from our Kenyan brothers and sisters. An example of this is the vision statement of Nairobi Chapel – planting 300 churches by 2020. They have set an impossible task in the eyes of men but have decided to look at it through the eyes of our Father to whom nothing is too big or too impossible.
The last two months have been filled with highlights and memories I will never forget. I’ve seen my faith tested, my dependence on God challenged and my relationship with him grown. God is working in big ways and I’ve learnt a huge amount about myself and also about Him.
I’m constantly thrown in the deep end and it has been a sink or swim reality. I‘ve been given responsibilities of preaching, leading Bible studies and prayer groups, all of which has thoroughly put me out of my comfort zone. Through all of this, I’ve been learning about the limitations of my own abilities and how to depend on God when I find myself stretched.
As I head into my final month I’m praying that I finish my time here strong and that the Lord continues to teach and mould my character into more of a Christ-likeness.
I want to be able to continue to serve at full capacity and be available in any way I can. I’m so grateful for the support from those in New Zealand and the constant prayer. It means the world to me to know that, as I walk out the door, I’m doing so with the prayers and faithfulness of people back at home. I’m also so thankful to the Lord for making this opportunity possible in the first place.
Blessings from Kenya,