IN THE RUBBLE
DIOCESE OF CHRISTCHURCH
THE MUNDANE AND THE GLORIOUS MY SURPRISE CALLING
ISSUE FORTY SIX
CALLED TO COMMUNITY
LITTLE BRIGHT STARS
THE STORY I THOUGHT I WOULD NEVER TELL
FEB / MAR 2017
THE YOU TUBERS
CALLED TO ARMS
RESTORATION IN THE DIRT
04. FINDING GOD IN THE RUBBLE
01. 02. 08. 10. 12.
FROM THE BISHOP: Surprises THE BRIEF FEATURE: Eathquake Prayer ARTICLE: Little bright stars ARTICLE: Called to arms
14. THE YOU TUBERS
17. MY SURPRISE CALLING
16. 19. 22. 24. 25.
20. RESTORATION IN THE DIRT
CAPTURED DIALOGUE: Called to community CULTURE THEOLOGICAL THOUGHTS: The mundane and the glorious PERSPECTIVE: The story I thought I would never tell
AnglicanLife is published bi-monthly by the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch. Editor / Jo Taylor-de Vocht /firstname.lastname@example.org, Contributing Writers / Cathy Maslin, the Rev’d Indrea Alexander, Sara Cornish, Megan Blakie, Contributors / + Victoria Matthews, Naomi Haussmann, the Rev’d Chris Spark, Anne McCormick, Lukas Thielmann, the Rev’d Joshua Taylor, the Rev’d Jill Keir, Advertising Enquiries / Ivan Hatherley / email@example.com, Editorial Enquiries / Jo Taylor-de Vochtfirstname.lastname@example.org, Design / www.baylymoore.com, Printed by / Toltech Print, Sustainability / AnglicanLife is printed on recycled paper using vegetable-based inks. Cover image / New Zealand Defence Force
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FROM THE BISHOP
SURPRISES Words: Bishop Victoria Matthews When I was very young I tended to think every surprise was a good surprise. That is a sure indication that my earliest years were spent in the context of a safe and secure family setting. The experience is very different for children who grow up with a parent or parents who are erratic and substance dependant. But regardless of circumstances, as one grows older there are regular reminders in life that one is not in control and what one is sure is going to happen may not turn out to be the case at all. Days after a trip to England, when over 90% of those with whom I spoke said that the UK would certainly vote to stay in the European Union, the vote was overwhelming to exit. Then the American election went against what many of us expected. Then in December, when in Cyprus on Anglican Communion business I was astonished to hear that our Prime Minister John Key had suddenly resigned. I arrived home to the newly signed-in Prime Minister, Bill English. Even more recently the proposed agreement regarding the reinstatement of the Cathedral in the Square, that I fully expected to have been sorted out prior to Christmas, remains unresolved (or at least it did at the time of writing this on the 27th of December). Would I have interrupted my study leave to return to the Cathedral negotiations had I even a hint of what was to happen or rather not happen? What does this teach me again and again? The message for me is that while we need to be responsible in all that we do and seek to accomplish, we are not in control. Earthquakes happen both physically and spiritually and we suddenly find ourselves
on a different path and headed in a surprising direction. However there are promises that will never fail. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27.1), and “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8.38-39). As we continue our journey in 2017 my resolution is to hold firm to the promises of God and hold lightly the assurances of the powers of this world. One of the highlights for me in the Diocese of Christchurch is the number of youth and young adults who are joining me in this conviction. More and more are deciding to commit to being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Christian discipleship does not rule out surprises but it does offer a context in which to ponder the ways of humanity in the context of larger vision of the Kingdom of God. Sometime after the initial earthquakes in Canterbury the community began to speak of the need for resilience. That need continues and I can think of no better building blocks for resilience than prayer, especially thanksgiving; the regular study of Scripture; generous outreach and advocacy; and participation in a loving supportive Christian community. These are all part of being a disciple of Christ. Perhaps you need to join those making a serious commitment to follow Jesus. +Victoria
LOVING THOSE WHO CURSE YOU “We don’t want you because you believe in Jesus now. You will have to earn money and support yourself when you go to school. And, we won’t buy you a bicycle or any clothes or books. You have to support yourself.” This is what Anna’s parents told her a few years ago. She was only 13 years old. Anna’s family live in a remote village in Laos, a country where a decision to follow Jesus is frowned upon and even punished by families and communities that practise Buddhism. Becoming a Christian in Laos is considered a threat to traditional ways of life and religious practices. Telling your family that you believe in Jesus, like Anna did, is an extremely brave thing to do and can have dire consequences. In Laos we help believers like Anna, offering them a place to stay, helping them to get an education, and discipling them. Today Anna looks back at her experience and says that she has forgiven her family. “I try to show God’s love to them, because they don’t understand and are in the darkness,” she says. “That’s why I try to call them as much as I can, even though they never contact me. I get a lot of support from my church. Christian families took me in and cared for me. This encourages me a lot.” There is no easy Christianity for persecuted Christians like Anna. Yet, they forgive their persecutors and pray for them. Just like Jesus they fight persecution with the only weapon available to them: love. Please pray for courage and wisdom for the Laotian Christian leaders who care for and disciple young Christians like Anna. Download our free Voice of the Martyrs Prayer App for daily prayer points for your brothers and sisters under persecution. You can also support safe houses and bibles for new believers in Laos through vom.org.nz.
NEW CITY MISSIONER FOR THE CHRISTCHURCH CITY MISSION The Christchurch City Mission has announced the appointment of a new City Missioner. As of March 2017 Matthew Mark takes up the role of City Missioner for Christchurch. Matthew was previously the Chief Executive of Ronald McDonald House South Island, and brings many years of experience in management and finance to the position. “Matthew is an accomplished business man and a person of active Christian faith,” says the Rev’d Peter Williams, Chair of the City Mission Divisional Committee. “He has a strong desire to help others as evidenced by his work for Ronald Macdonald House and his volunteer work mentoring young people. I will be very proud to introduce him to the staff at the Mission, the Diocese, and to the public.” Matthew Mark takes over from the outgoing City Missioner Michael Gorman, who retired in January after 12 years of leading the City Mission. “The City Mission would like to thank the outgoing City Missioner Michael Gorman for his many years of faithful service,” says the Rev’d Peter Williams. “He has been an excellent City Missioner. Under Michael the City Mission has been an approachable place for people in need to go for help. He has commended the Missions’ work to a very wide general public. He has also been a superb manager of the staff. Michael leaves the Mission in very good heart.” The next issue of Anglican Life Magazine will feature an interview with Matthew Mark to get his perspective on taking up the mantle of City Missioner.
REPAIRS FOR ST MICHAEL’S “OLD STONE BUILDING” St Michael’s School at the site of St Michael and All Angels in the City is the oldest school in Canterbury. It was established by the Canterbury Association, the body responsible for the colonisation of Christchurch. As pioneers settled in Canterbury, the Canterbury Association sought to set up schools associated with parish Churches to provide education to children based on the values of the Church of England. When the school first opened in 1851 in the “Church of Christchurch” (on its consecration in 1859 it was dedicated to St Michael and All Angels) it was the first school in Christchurch. In 1912, the prominent architect Cecil Wood was commissioned to design a new classroom block. This building is now known as the “Old Stone Building.” The building of the new classroom block caused much financial distress for the parish — not helped by the vicar the Rev’d Harry Darwin Barton abolishing pew rents in 1916. The “Old Stone Building” was in use up to the Canterbury earthquakes. Church Property Trustee’s Recovery Admin Support Julie McQuilken (Deputy Averill House Leader 1976) remembers
many happy times there, particularly with singing, a passion she maintains today as a member of the Christchurch City Choir. Following the earthquakes the building has been closed due to damage. As well as the need for repairs the building required earthquake strengthening. Following a generous $880,000 grant from the Christchurch City Council, work has now been able to proceed on the 1.6 million dollar project. Work is being done to fix damaged stone masonry, along with the reinstatement and strengthening of the gable ends, and earthquake strengthening on the interior and exterior walls. With the regeneration of the central city and the return of workers to the CBD and its fringes, St Michael’s School is once again looking at a growing roll. The “Old Stone Building,” when completed in March 2017, will resume its place in the life of the school. St Michael’s School is an Anglican independent co-educational primary school. For more information about the school please see www.saintmichaels.school.nz
FINDING GOD IN THE RUBBLE Words: Jo Taylor-de Vocht
Photo by the Royal New Zealand Navy, the New Zealand Defence Force help evacuate travelers and locals from Kaikoura.
KAIKOURA It’s November the 11th and Jeremy Flett, a 21-year-old youth group leader from Sumner Redcliffs Parish, is snaking up State Highway 1 in his Subaru Legacy. A podcast by Tim Keller is playing; it’s a sermon about how God never leaves you no matter your circumstances. This is going to prove useful encouragement in the coming days. Jeremy has just finished his exams and is off to enjoy a peaceful long weekend of solitude at his family’s bach in Kaikoura. As it turned out, this trip included a lot more solitude than he bargained on. In the end he spent an extra four days trapped in the small town. The earthquake struck suddenly in the night and Jeremy immediately knew it was major. As the shaking continued he ran outside and hung onto a tree until it was over. He spent the following few hours sleeping in his car up the hill from the bach in case there was a Tsunami. Once the initial threat had passed and he began talking to his neighbours, he soon realised the magnitude of the event and that he was trapped in Kaikoura. This was a big problem. He knew no-one in the town, and had no water or food of his own. “I guess you instantly go into survival mode,” says Jeremy, “I was savoring what I had, I had some leftovers from the night before and I found a loaf of bread in the freezer. I had to go to the marae to ask for food and water. “It felt quite, well whatever the opposite of self sufficient is; like you are staying in someone else’s house and having to eat their food.” He wasn’t the only one, hundreds of tourists and backpackers shared his dilemma. The marae was a very important source of food and water for the many people like Jeremy who didn’t have stores of their own. Over 500 people came through their welfare centre seeking help with emergency supplies. Kaikoura’s churches also played an important role in the response to the quake. Jeremy’s family have a loose connection with Kaikoura New Life Church so he went down to see them to see how he could help. When he arrived the pastor said “how about you come for dinner instead,” he then joined the pastor’s family for a meal, along with 1520 young American students who had taken refuge at the church. The Rev’d Kevin Topp, the Vicar at St Peter’s Anglican Church in Kaikoura, spent the hours and days immediately following the earthquake visiting people to offer practical help, emotional support, and prayer. “Often it was just a matter of listening to their stories,” says Kevin.
Photo by the Royal New Zealand Navy, HMNZS Te Kaha’s SH-2G(I) Super Seasprite helicopter moving earthquake stores to Kaikoura township.
In the coming days his Parish distributed emergency financial grants to those in immediate need in the community. The small grants helped people with things like moving and setting up new places to live, or provided some extra grocery money to restock pantries. A week after the earthquake all of the churches came together to organize a joint open-air service for the community. “It couldn’t have been better,” says the Rev’d Kevin Topp. “It was just a time to be together. Many people in the community who didn’t normally go to church came.” The Christchurch Diocese also played its part. Along with setting up a fund for Anglicans to donate to victims of the earthquake and collecting emergency supplies, it also supported Save the Children to run a Child Friendly Space in Kaikoura. Child Friendly Spaces provide children with protected environments during an emergency situation. According to Save the Children, these are “supervised, safe and fun spaces to which parents and caregivers can bring their children while schools are shut.” They are also used to disseminate information and raise awareness about risks for children in the area. The Diocese was able to send three of its trained and police checked children’s workers to staff the spaces. In the end they were used by more than 50 children a day for six days. 5
“Although Child Friendly Spaces are done all around the world, this was the first time that it has happened in New Zealand,” says Melanie Patterson, Child and Family Psychologist at Save the Children. “It was great having Anglican youth/children’s workers as part of our team as they were obviously experienced in providing care and programmes for children but additionally, they had so much energy and really positive attitudes.”
NORTH CANTERBURY In North Canterbury, the circumstances are different but equally challenging for many of the small communities in the region. Serious damage to housing is significant but patchy. The long term
Children having fun on the swing at the Child Friendly Space in Kaikoura.
economic and social harm however, is widespread. “The effect on the service industry is huge. The road not being in operation has had a marked effect on the service industries in the village. Their custom has virtually dried up. The lack of traffic has astounded me,” says the Rev’d John Hearne, Priest in Charge at Cheviot. This rural community is also struggling through years of drought. Like Kaikoura, the Anglican churches in North Canterbury have been heavily involved in supplying practical help and comfort. Talking to the various church staff in the area you get the impression that they are well integrated within their respective communities. “There is no ‘us’ helping ‘them,’” says John. “The church here in Cheviot is quite well embedded in community, there’s not a line between church and community. “We helped people whose houses are damaged clean up, secure their houses, secure personal effects — keep them safe and dry, and helped people shift out. A fair bit of what we have done has been getting alongside people. Being there to talk about it while we are engaged in the physical aspect.” John also delivered supplies to Goose Bay. “I did a couple of runs into Goose Bay. I took a couple of tonnes of water and food stuffs, some of it came from 0800 Hungry and some of it was donated by people outside of the district.” In Amuri Co-operating Parish, the Rev’d Colin Price reported significant damage to rural infrastructure. According to Colin, problems with rural access roads and damage to farm equipment like irrigators and milking sheds have caused major stress for locals. Some communities like Mount Lyford were completely cut off for a time.
Tom helping Red Cross/Plunket unload nappies for the people of the Kaikoura District.
Jaymie building a skate park out of playdoh with Paki.
“Our first priority was to get around as many people as we could in the church and community. We were giving out gifted food, visiting, supporting, and praying for people.” “Really it’s de ja vu from Christchurch,” says Colin. “People are emotionally and physically exhausted.”
SPIRITUAL RECOVERY Alongside offering immediate practical help there has also been the need for local church leaders to offer theological truth and spiritual support to their communities. As so often happens in the aftermath of a natural disaster, some unhelpful ideas around God and suffering have surfaced. Following comments from a well known New Zealand church leader which suggested the earthquake was a punishment for sin, the Rev’d John Hearne began receiving some pointed remarks from unimpressed locals. In response, he and his colleague the Rev’d Helen Ensor wrote an article to their local newspaper challenging this perspective and emphasising that this was not a viewpoint they shared. “God created the world with governing laws, natural physical laws like the law of gravity and within these laws, God does not interfere,” write John and Helen. “Also within those laws, our world is ageing and changing and earthquakes are part of this process, if we build our homes on earthquake prone islands it is inevitable we will have earthquakes. The God I know and love, loves us no matter what we do and will always love us, and if we ask Him, he will walk with us each day, giving us the strength and hope we need.” There has also been the need to support people to process trauma
Holly and Simone doing crafts.
in a healthy way. For the Rev’d Colin Price the theme of lament in Psalm 88 is important. “Often people can be silent and angry,” he says, “there is a biblical process of lament. There are times of loss and it’s ok to be upfront with God. We have hope in Christ.” Whilst practical help was rallied quickly in many areas affected by the earthquakes, all of the church leaders spoken to have found that there is still a need for visiting, praying for people, and offering a listening ear.
COMING THROUGH As many in the Canterbury district know, it’s a long road to recovery from major earthquakes. Social, spiritual, psychological, and economic concerns in this region will remain elevated for many years to come. The people of North Canterbury, Kaikoura, and the communities north of Kaikoura will need our support for the long term. In the end, Jeremy came through the crisis well. He was fed and watered by the local hapu at the marae and made friends with other tourists and students trapped in the town. After four days he was evacuated on the HMNZS Canterbury. “I just felt God was always with me, I learned that God is with us in the mundane things and in extreme situations. You can have a feeling of safety or assurance wherever you go; even if you are by yourself, God can help you. You can also rely on other people for help — you don’t have to be fully self sufficient.”
Jaymie, Tom, and Holly playing jump rope with children.
Tom playing touch with children.
EARTHQUAKE PRAYER Words: Megan Blakie Creating, modifying Dynamic Presence You have drawn our attention to You recently, Not through sun-filled good days But through the hillside shattering of tectonic plates. Our response is not elaborate: It’s a low pitched groan, An adrenaline fueled “Not Again?!” Followed by a numbed realisation That we are powerless, utterly powerless Against the forces of nature You established. And yet... ...what we experienced, what we witness on the media Is a doorway: A doorway to human generosity A doorway to small and large acts of kindness And a doorway to loving our neighbours. May our thoughts and feelings, prayers and protestations Open the doorway of our hearts and minds.
Help us to actively seek silence in the mayhem of life To hear your voice. Guide us to recognise signs of the kingdom peeking through like weeds in a parking lot. Grow in us: joy for living loving concern neighbourliness self-acceptance acceptance of others And acceptance of the paradox That we are insignificant beings in the midst of the continuing Genesis story of creating Yet significant active participants In the continuing Easter story of redeeming Let us recognise You in our midst. Amen.
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The Church of the Good Shepherd at night time, by Jose Gallego.
LITTLE BRIGHT STARS Words: the Rev’d Indrea Alexander Starry night skies are a feature of Tekapo, but a new church and community initiative is seeking to serve some “little bright stars” closer to home. In 2016 the Bright Stars Trust was formed to work toward establishing a preschool in a church-owned building in the isolated Mackenzie community. All going well, the Tekapo facility should open in July. The project was sparked by the Church of the Good Shepherd committee, which usually considers matters relating to their iconic lakeside church, its congregations, and its huge number of visitors 10
and weddings. A couple of years ago they wondered how to get better use out of their Lake Tekapo Guild Hall. The hall, which is not near the church, was being used by a small community playgroup six hours a week but apart from that stood empty. With the support of their Mackenzie Cooperating Parish council, the church committee initiated a community consultation about how the facility could be better used. The community identified a need for early childhood facilities in the area, and the charitable trust was formed comprising church and community representatives. “We are relatively isolated here so the project’s quite important,”
says the inaugural Trust Chairperson Penny Wilson. At the time of the Trust’s formation Penny was both a member of the Church of the Good Shepherd Committee and president of the Play Group committee. “The nearest preschool is 45km away in Fairlie,” says Penny. “For parents working in Tekapo this involves two round trips in a day for drop-off and pick-up, totalling 180km. “It’s a lot of distance, it’s hard on the kids and the parents as well.” Accessible childcare is also important as many people move to Tekapo without a local network of family and friends. “There are a lot of tourism operators in Tekapo and the tourism and hospitality opportunities draw families to New Zealand,” Penny says. People arrive to a “unique little community” and appreciate their children having a rural New Zealand upbringing. Penny and her husband arrived in Tekapo eight years ago. “We initially thought it may be short term but it’s an incredible little place and we’ve decided to stay. I am grateful for the lifestyle and opportunities my family have in this wonderful place, and I am excited about personal opportunities with this project and in my Wellness Business.” “My faith is about using my skills and passions to serve my community. This project has been an interesting challenge of perseverance and faith, but I am grateful for the support of the Church of the Good Shepherd Committee, and am blessed with a fantastic group of talented people on our Bright Stars Trust.” From the outset the Bright Stars Trust had a key question to grapple with. “We have an existing facility, what would it take to
get it to accredited standard?” The short answer was $300,000. “A combined effort of community grants, fundraising, and donations is required to meet the target,” Penny says. The Ministry of Education agreed to provide an isolation grant, and Trust efforts got underway to find the rest. A “Raise a Star” campaign was launched inviting the community to get behind “our little bright stars, our under fives.” A family donation of $250 or business donation of $500 awards the donor one of the star plaques that will feature on fence posts around the upgraded preschool. The upgrade will include bathroom and kitchen facilities, fencing, provision of parking, playground safety surfacing, disability access, recladding of the building, and meeting fire safety requirements. The centre, which is directly opposite the primary school, will be registered for up to 19 children aged 2–5 which Penny says “will meet the needs of the community for the medium term.” Bright Stars Trust will ensure the facilities are up to standard, and an Early Childhood Education provider will lease them and run the kindergarten. The Play Group will continue too. It is cherished by the community as a gathering place for parents with pre-schoolers, “a little hub for us with under fives,” Penny says. “This is a great opportunity for the Church to fully utilise the Aorangi Crescent Site and Guild Hall building for the benefit of the wider community. It is an example of how a partnership between a church and a community can serve to meet the needs of those that live and work there.”
CALLED TO ARMS Words: the Rev’d Jill Keir with resident of Anglican Care Fitzgerald Village, Derek Moreton. Image: Brewster Buffalo
Avro Anson and airmen planning their next mission.
Derek would have liked to join the Royal Air Force but instead he became a pilot for the Royal Navy. He served during the Second World War landing planes on aircraft carriers. Derek flew in many parts of the world before eventually being shot down over Japan and rescued by an American submarine. In 1940 Derek began serving in the army. He was awaiting officer training but after a while he felt there must be a better way than walking to war. He asked his father to sign his papers for the Air Force. 12
Photo by United Kingdom Government, British aircraft carrier Ark Royal with a flight of “Swordfish” overhead, circa 1939.
His father refused. There had been several fatal accidents at Wigram about that time and he was concerned for his son’s safety. Derek was determined to go. “It was my big chance to go overseas and everyone else was going,” he remarks. Sometime later he tried again and asked his father to sign the papers, this time for the Navy. His father accepted that Derek was fixed on going and signed the necessary papers. He eventually reported for duty in February 1942 and went on board a transport ship as an honoured guest of the Canadians. However, on reaching Canada, the reality of Navy life kicked in. Various training courses followed and Derek was chosen to train as a pilot after completing basic training in England. “Landing planes on moving ships was pretty scary!” he admits. They trained on the ground having to land within a restricted space but landing on a moving ship was quite another matter. Not only was it moving forward, it also rolled up and down and from side to side, sometimes pitching up to forty feet. He learned to fly in a single engine plane called a NP1 before progressing on to the Stearmans which he describes as magnificent training planes. Later he flew the well known Harvards. There were two planes he did not like, the Corsair and the Brewster Buffalo. The Corsair was “a bit frightening and difficult to land.” Derek says the Brewster Buffalo were “dreadful machines at first but gradually we came to realise what good planes they were!” His ship was shot at several times and the aftermath was often quite chaotic. In 1945, his aircraft was shot down over Japan. Two flights were flying together and the leader was shot down. Derek took charge but an anti-aircraft bomb was let off from the ground below, it exploded just under Derek’s plane. The bomb fractured his petrol system and the floor of his cockpit was floating in petrol. He
just had enough fuel left to fly out over the sea before hitting the water. The other pilots radioed back that Derek had gone down. Fortunately, it wasn’t long before he was rescued by an American submarine which transported him to Sydney to rejoin his colleagues. In Sydney he had a memorable night out where he met Pamela, the love of his life. They married later that year on September 3rd and shared many happy years together. While still in Sydney, he met Admiral Fraser who enquired how long Derek had been away from home. “Three years, Sir,” was Derek’s reply. Before he knew it, all the New Zealanders in his group were flown home for two weeks leave. When he was asked what he had learned in serving in the Navy he replied, “I learned lots about discipline, both personal and within a group and this stood me in good stead in my working life. I learned how to gain respect, how to care for others, and to use discipline sensibly.”
Photo by Daventry B, Royal Air Force official photographer, Brewster Buffalo, August 1940.
THE YOU TUBERS Words: Jo Taylor-de Vocht Photos: Dan Rackham
Every day more than a billion people all over the globe switch on their computers and watch YouTube. In New Zealand, Neilson research tells us that 2.8 million people use social media every month and Facebook and YouTube are the most popular platforms. In fact, two million kiwis use Facebook daily, checking it 15 times on average within a 24 hour period. Are you cringing into your printed pew sheet yet? Well stop! According to organisations like the Gabriel Collective this is a great opportunity for the church. The Gabriel Collective is a group in the United Kingdom made 14
up of young people interested in sharing their faith via social media platforms. The Collective’s goal is to help people “talk about Jesus in a way that makes sense to their peers,” says Luke Fogg, a You Tuber and founding member of the Collective. It all began when the Archbishop’s Evangelism and Mission Advisor Dr Rachel Jordan-Wolf went to a digital conference. After the conference she began to suspect that the church was not interacting with young adults in a contextual way. At the same time research was surfacing in the UK which found that millennials (18-30 year olds) were largely not being reached by the church. In attempt to change
this, the Archbishop’s office decided to gather young adults interested in sharing their faith over social media and form a collective to help them do it effectively. And the Gabriel Collective was born. “You can tell a really powerful story through video,” says Luke, “It’s a really accessible way to be a part of people’s lives.” The Collective organises “meet ups” where young people get together, are given a tutorial on producing videos for social media, and then sent out in groups to make videos about their faith. At their last meet up, groups were given an envelope with some cash in it and told to go and tell the Christmas story through blessing people. “Generosity at Christmas is an easy theme for people to get hold of ” says Luke. “Video is a non-invasive way of reaching people. You hope your peers will watch it and then it will start conversations.” Does this kind of thing really make any difference to people? Well, as Luke says, “at least it’s not another video of a cat.” He actually makes a compelling case. Another example of a video produced by a member of the Collective is a testimony about mental health. A young adult shared her experience of mental illness and how knowing God makes a difference for her in that context. “There was a powerful response on social media,” says Luke “many people got in touch and said ‘I didn’t realise your faith meant this to you.’” While the Gabriel Collective is unique, there are a handful of other individuals attempting to share the gospel over social media. Dan Rackham is a vlogger (video blogger). He has made some 60 videos over 18 months with the overall aim of sharing his faith online. Dan vlogs about his life in Liverpool, local events, travel, his church, and his faith. This mixture of content attracts a broad spectrum of interest; so far he has had 1.4 millions views and bodies like the local newspaper use and promote his content. Dan’s Christmas video from last year reached 130,000 people including 500 churches who downloaded it for ministry use. He also produces a Christian You Tube channel called “Go Chatter” which creates videos with Christian themes that can be shared on social media or used as multimedia content for sermons. “400 hours of content is put on You Tube per minute,” says Dan. “So many young people spend time watching things that might be interesting but won’t speak to them about the life that Jesus offers.” In saying this, Dan is clear that producing a video is not sufficient to lead people to Christ. “These are just useful ways of engaging with people, it’s our love for people that will really make the difference.” Is this some sort of special calling? “Yes and no,” says Dan, “we are all called in the Bible to live faithful lives and be witnesses. We are all called. I just gave it a go and friends told me to keep trying, so I did.”
Despite their success, these small toeholds for the Anglican Church in the digital world are still in their infancy. The Gabriel Collective has been going for about two years and needs to grow in capacity to meet the burgeoning demand from churches and young people wanting to be a part of what they do. It’s one small step for a handful of brave young adults — a giant leap for the Church of England.
“DO NOT BE AFRAID. I BRING YOU GOOD NEWS THAT WILL CAUSE GREAT JOY FOR ALL THE PEOPLE. TODAY IN THE TOWN OF DAVID A SAVIOR HAS BEEN BORN TO YOU; HE IS THE MESSIAH, THE LORD” (LUKE 2:10-11).
The live nativity scene at the Children’s and Animals’ Christmas Service at the Transitional Cathedral, by Naomi Haussmann
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MY SURPRISE CALLING Words: Anne McCormick
“YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT ……IN A HOSPITAL……IN CAMBODIA?” As I sit in my workspace at the hospital I overlook a tranquil tropical garden scene on a pleasantly overcast afternoon. I wonder to myself how I got here and just what I’m doing. A few years ago I had prayed that God would use me and knew it might be overseas again. I had already worked cross-culturally for six years in Pakistan from 19891995. But a hospital in Cambodia? That’s a different kettle of fish altogether!
You see, I am not a surgeon, doctor, nurse, anaesthetist, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, pharmacist, radiographer, or any other of the myriad occupations needed to run a hospital. No, I am a librarian, and had been for 35 years when God called me to Cambodia to work as Activity Co-ordinator at World Mate Emergency Hospital. With my dislike of hospitals (I don’t have a strong stomach) I am the last person you would expect to find
Previous page: Felicia, a volunteer from Christchurch, assists with papermaking. Left: Maureen and Gerald Harley visiting on behalf of NZCMS pictured with Sokhim, Anne’s assistant in the activity programme. Above: Ursula from Switzerland runs a knitting class.
working in a trauma hospital amongst people with horrific injuries. What was God thinking when He sent me here? What was I thinking when I agreed to come to start an activity programme? It surely was a surprise calling! Yet, the patients here are ordinary people who have had the misfortune to meet disaster or tragedy in some form. They are scared, worried about money, and about losing their job due to their injury. They are also very bored and they crave something— anything—which will distract them and bring a glimmer of hope to their desperate situations. God was asking me to use the skills I had previously acquired at work and as a volunteer working with children and young people. I marvel that with God nothing is wasted and I see how my past has prepared me uniquely for what I am doing now. Before I went, I wondered if I would be equal to the task or if my dislike of hospitals would get the better of me. Thankfully, “God who calls is faithful“(1 Thessalonians 5:24) and “He has done abundantly more than I could ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). With His help, I see past the hospital environment to people who
need me and my programme. My programme began in 2014, with neither helpers nor resources. God has provided abundant supplies of both, with volunteers from 17 countries so far. Surely only He could provide a lady with both the passion and availability to teach patients and caregivers how to knit and crochet. He provided a creative young woman skilled in card-making to coincide with an increased demand for handmade cards, and an arty YWAM volunteer who painted portraits of the patients to give them. As these volunteers join the programme, I have a great opportunity to input into their lives. This mentoring role was unexpected. It is informal but I know it is appreciated. Some of my most precious moments have been when the volunteers see through fresh eyes the impact of the programme and verbalise that to me. I can say unreservedly, “Thank you, Lord, for allowing me the privilege of working in this place at this time, to shine a little God light into the lives of those who so desperately need it to brighten their days.”
CALLED TO COMMUNITY Words: Sara Cornish with Sister Mere Tuilevuka 25-year-old Sister Mere Tuilevuka wakes up at 5:00 a.m. every day to spend time in prayer. Currently a novice nun at the Community of the Sacred Name convent in Christchurch, next year Sister Mere hopes to take her vows and return to the community house in Fiji. Whilst the majority of the other young women from her home village in Fiji are married with children, Mere has chosen a different path, spending the past six years training for religious service. The community house where I meet Sister Mere is a purpose-built red brick building in the central city, backing onto a spacious rose garden where Mere enjoys spending quiet time. Mere greets me at the door and leads me to a table overlooking the garden. I am instantly put at ease by her open, friendly manner, and the conversation flows easily. As a child, Mere’s dream was to become a nurse. However, after leaving school, Mere returned to her village to stay with her mother and help out in the church community, joining the choir and working with youth and elderly people in the parish. When Mere was 21 years old, sisters from the convent visited her village. Mere was deeply affected by what she saw of their faith and commitment to God. Feeling that this was her calling, she began to pray about the decision and asked to join the order. Mere spent a year with the sisters at the Community house in Fiji, before returning home again to pray and consider her decision for a year. Mere knew she had received a calling to life as a nun. She spent three years in Fiji “testing” her call, spending time both in her village and with the sisters. For Mere, the strongest attraction to joining the order was the commitment to prayer that she witnessed in her time with the nuns. “When I came [to the convent] I saw that the
sisters were really strong in their prayer lives. I was really impressed.” Beginning at 5:00 a.m., every day is based around prayer, with scheduled times for chapel, meals, duties, and individual time to rest, read, or relax. “Prayer is what holds everything together,” says Mere. “Here in the community, we don’t only focus on personal prayer — we pray for those in need, those who face war and starvation.” “I’m not interested in worldly things. When I came to the community I left it behind,” Mere says. “I used to think I will study, I will get a good job, I will have a family.” When Mere returns to her village, she is saddened to see girls of 18 or 19 already married with children. Once she had expected such a life for herself, but now she hopes to encourage other girls to follow the steps she has taken. Mere feels that there is little choice for young girls. “They don’t look that far — they think marriage, family, that’s it. There is no one to encourage them otherwise.” Mere loves children, and looks forward to teaching Sunday school, as well as attending Bible studies and accommodating and reaching out to visitors in the order’s retreat house. She has a particular passion for young people; when she returns to Fiji, she hopes to spend her holidays working with youth from her village. Like elsewhere, drug abuse, life on the streets, and prostitution are common problems amongst Fijian teenagers. Mere hopes to get alongside them and show them that there is more to life than this. “They need someone there to encourage them and give them love.” I leave my meeting with Mere feeling brightened by her open faith and warm manner, with a confidence that her commitment to God and love for people will touch hearts everywhere she goes. 19
RESTORATION IN THE DIRT Words: Jo Taylor-de Vocht with Lukas Frei.
Lukas Frei is a 29-year-old father of two. He lives in Christchurch with his wife Margot and their children Trinni and Wynn. Recently, he made a fairly drastic change that seriously altered his life and the way he is seen by his family and friends.. Lukas walked away from a career as a promising young doctor about to specialise in plastic
surgery. He is now studying landscape design at Lincoln University. I caught up with him and his bouncy two-year-old daughter over a walk and a couple of flat whites (which incidentally, gradually spilled all over both of us and our respective prams along the way).
Why did you make the decision to leave medicine? “I had decided I was going to be a doctor, it was just going to happen. But then the environment around me started changing. I had a family and work got busier, it all became less enjoyable. Margot was suffering and it was difficult having had Trinni. “It felt like I was living behind a lens or a fog, behind this layer which was just kind of getting into a way of coping. I became more robotic and less of myself came through.” Was it an abrupt decision or did it creep up on you? “It was in terms of not thinking it was an option to quit but it being quite unbearable. Then all of a sudden I realised ‘it is an option.’” How did it come on the table? “It happened after Trinni was just over a year old and after my mum died, probably about a month or two later. Life events like that make you think about things a bit more seriously and from a different perspective.” How did it feel to walk away? “It was extremely liberating, it was amazing. It was like a massive burden was lifted and I felt ‘oh wow I have been doing this for so long.’ “That was the initial feeling, and then there were the repercussions from family and friends. They said things like ‘why are you making this decision, it seems rash’ and it might have seemed rash from the outside. They didn’t understand. And then doctors at the hospital. Initially they said things like ‘why would you do that to yourself?’ ‘Why you would you take the pay cut?’” That must have been difficult. Being a doctor is pretty high up on the social pyramid, how was it to give that up? “That was one of the hardest bits, going against the social expectation. The cultural expectation is that you are always progressing in terms of income and social status or what’s perceived to be of more value to society. What is a more worthy calling? That was probably the most difficult thing. The initial decision was easy.” It must have been a scary time? “I’m a really consistent person, consistency is one of my main strengths. It was super inconsistent so it challenged that, some days I was like ‘I don’t even know who I am!’ “The thing which made it complicated for me was that I had implicated the whole doctor thing in my faith journey, that’s what made it confusing. I thought ‘God’s in this journey’ and I had that sense really early on.”
You thought God wanted you to train as a doctor? “Yeah or something along those lines, that was when I was heading to medical school. Then I became a house surgeon, then a registrar, stuff got busier and I was like ‘why am I not hearing from God?’ ‘Why has He let me down?’ Probably whack theology. That’s partly what kept me going longer than I would have.” You had a sense that ‘God has called me to this so I have to keep doing it?’ “Yeah and it will work out somehow.” What do you think about that now? “I spent so long charging with this belief that God had told me to be a doctor. One of the parts of my faith journey has been this trust thing, being able to trust God. “I think it’s probably changed my focus from when I thought faith was what should I be doing, very purpose driven, to thinking more like ‘how can I live differently?’ Or live knowing that God’s part of my life. How can I be, rather than what can I do.” And how did you decide to do what you are doing now? “Two things, one was I knew I didn’t need to be as fatalistic about it this time around. ‘This is what I want to do so I’ll give it a go,’ not ‘what I’m choosing now is what I’m going to be doing for the next 30 years.’ And the other thing was, landscaping was always something I had thought about. I had always really liked art and design at school and the outdoors, creating things, and plants, so it felt like a natural fit.” Why do you think that landscape design is an important job? “I like the idea of creating things and I think that is a valuable contribution to society. Through good planning decisions you can influence the way people live and the choices they make throughout the day. If you’ve got a city which is well designed and orientated towards public transport, cycling, and people getting out and walking, then that influences the decisions people make. “Restoration is also important. I wanted to do plastic surgery because of the whole idea of restoration, so working with trauma or burns. “And that’s kind of the idea in landscaping. You can take something and restore it and make it better. For some reason that’s an idea I really like, it’s an idea I can carry across. Probably the only thing I can carry across. “That idea [restoration] gives me so much hope.” 21
FAMILY ON MISSION
OUT OF SOLITUDE
BY MIKE AND SALLY BREEN Words: Lukas Thielmann This book is freeing and challenging in a very exciting way. It answers a question many people are asking. Both clergy and laity often struggle with balancing their family and ministry lives. Some choose between the two and sacrifice one for the other (family or mission); some, through sheer force and “workaholism,” try and give 100% to both or invest in both half-heartedly (family and mission). Mike and Sally present a viable and sustainable alternative, one of family on mission. It’s a shift from a “silos of life” approach where we separate work, family, and mission; and instead, integrates them so each benefits and enriches the others. Through a journey of over twenty years Mike and Sally have learned to structure their lives and rhythms around the idea that mission is something they do together. In Family on Mission Mike sets out the theological and biblical foundations of this understanding of mission and Sally reflects on their experience and how they have seen it play out in their lives and those around them. A key idea that struck me was how Mike redefines our understanding of “family” as one of extended family or “oikos” rather than that of nuclear family. He points out that a biblical understanding of family, church, and mission is centred around extended family sized households that come together with common rhythms and vision, and that this saw the early church thrive. Family on Mission is a quick read and stirs up our notions around family, work, and mission just enough to make you think “wow, I think I can do that!” 22
Words: The Rev’d Joshua Taylor This book is short but deep. It is about the contemplative life and how to tune into hearing God’s still small voice in a busy world. Through the course of the book Henri Nouwen suggests that the contemplative life leads ultimately to great capacity for action in the world. To begin, Nouwen reflects on Mark chapter 1 where Jesus rose before dawn and prays in a lonely place. He suggests that it is these lonely places from which Jesus draws the strength to do all that God has called him to do. As humans we all have a drive to get stuff done, we want our work to count and we want people to see the results; “Before we are fully aware of it, we have sold our soul to the many grade-givers.” This quickly produces an identity crisis. Instead, “In solitude, we can slowly unmask the illusion of our possessiveness and discover in the centre of our own self that we are not what we can conquer, but what is given to us.” In solitude we discover our identity in relationship to God the Father. Next, Nouwen looks at Mark chapter 6 where Jesus multiplies loaves and fish for the crowds to eat. “Out of his solitude Jesus reached out his caring hand to the people in need.” Finally, Nouwen muses on John chapter 16 where Jesus talks to his disciples about his leaving them (his death) and his seeing them again in a short time (his resurrection). “Care born out of solitude can hardly last unless undergirded by a hopeful expectation for the day of fulfilment when God will be all in all.” The Christian life according to Nouwen is living in expectation. Christians live in the space between the first coming of Jesus and when he promises to come again. Living in expectation means being patient. The temptations when waiting are to become either bored or bitter but Nouwen reminds us that the various hindrances, obstacles, and accidents we face in our lives can become “the purifying preparation by which we are made ready to receive the joy which is promised to us.” This little book captures the heart living a contemplative, caring and hopeful life. It’s the perfect read for those among us who opened all of the advent calendar doors on the first day.
HACKSAW RIDGE PRODUCED BY MEL GIBSON, 2016
“I KNEW IF I EVER ONCE COMPROMISED, I WAS GONNA BE IN TROUBLE,” SAID DESMOND, “BECAUSE IF YOU CAN COMPROMISE ONCE, YOU CAN COMPROMISE AGAIN” —THE CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR DOCUMENTARY. Words: Cathy Maslin “Cliff-hanger” is an apt pun to sum up this movie. My first advice if you haven’t seen it yet is don’t eat before you go. Secondly, if you are a bit of a blood and gore movie buff but haven’t yet found one with a half decent storyline — this one’s for you! The acting has moments of cheesiness at the beginning, however, overall roles are well cast and acted. Graphic special effects play heavily on the shock factor. The only detail regarding the reality of war left to the imagination is the absence of smell. Here is an outline of the story without too many spoilers: Desmond grew up as a Seventh Day Adventist. As WWII descended on America he decided to enlist in the army alongside many of his friends, with one major difference, he wasn’t prepared to kill or carry a gun. He adhered to the biblical commandment “Thou shall not kill” (Exodus 20:13). Based on a true story, producers of the movie used creative license in the parts featuring Desmond’s growing up years and have compressed but not unduly misrepresented his army career. Except,
that is, for the ending when they left out one incredible feat. The reason? It was too unbelievable to put in a movie. Rave reviews about the movie have appeared in well, most places. A lot of kudos is given because of the incredulity of the story; the courage of this guy doing what he did without a gun. Taking the movie purely at face-value it would be easy to construe that the main character’s rationale for his actions had a degree of naivety. The absence of dialogue internal or external doesn’t adequately portray how Desmond accepted and was fully aware that his convictions may cost his life. Regardless, Hacksaw Ridge certainly debunks any myths suggesting living out principles of faith is easy or cheap. Desmond Doss, believed WWII was just, and he believed Jesus came to save life not take it. He found a way to live out these two apparently contradictory stances. After watching this movie one question remained in the forefront of my mind, where do I stand on issues of faith and war? 23
THE MUNDANE AND THE GLORIOUS Words: The Rev’d Chris Spark Do you feel “called” in your current vocation? Whether or not you feel it, in at least one important way, you are. That is because the foundational and most important call of all is the call to follow Jesus Christ, to be one of his disciples and to be united to him by faith. This basic call is more than just an initial call to decision. It is a call to follow Jesus here and now — wherever you are whatever you are doing. Jesus’ call of his first disciples (as seen, for instance, in Mark 1:16-20) resulted in a lifetime of radically following him. In a similar way, the call of every Christian since then has been to a life lived “in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17). Because Jesus calls us to serve him in all of life, every single minute of our lives has an astoundingly high purpose: to bring glory to Jesus Christ. Every day and every moment is filled with extraordinary meaning because every moment is an opportunity to
honour the one who shed his blood for us. This has a direct impact on what we often speak of as our “calling” or “vocation” — the work and occupations, paid or otherwise, which take up a large percentage of our waking hours. They matter, because every minute of our lives is now a potent opportunity for Christ’s glory. However, we are incredibly forgetful of this reality. So we tend to see our everyday lives as mundane. I know I do. We look for the different, the exciting, the surprising. The great adventure. A decent glance at the end of the New Testament letters will show you a very different way of seeing life. There, even the most normal or every day elements of life (and many inconvenient and hard elements of life too) become filled with opportunities to serve and glorify the one who gave himself for us. God cares about every moment, so every moment becomes a chance to glorify him. In Christ, the mundane is now glorious. We are part of something huge, and every minute matters. That’s our highest calling. Let’s live it.
THE STORY I THOUGHT I WOULD NEVER TELL “TRUST IN THE LORD WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND DO NOT LEAN ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING” (PROVERBS 3:5-6). Words: Sonia Fraser with Cathy Maslin Life as a child wasn’t good. I thought I would like to be in heaven, it seemed a good, loving place. My Nana told me about it. That’s where I wanted to be. So I prayed to God to let me die every night. One of many tough memories from childhood is when I answered “What?” when my step-dad had been calling to me. He came down the hallway. I was scared he might grab a belt off the rack and beat me. He took a 22 rifle instead, pointed it at me and said, “What did you say?” I didn’t know what to do. I thought it didn’t matter if he shot me. Mum yelled at me to run. So I did, I ran. I ran and went to marching practice. And I acted normal. Nobody knew what was really happening in my life. I eventually gave up on God. He never answered my prayer. I thought it was all a story. Made up. I was full of bitterness, hatred, and I didn’t trust anyone. Mum told us kids that we were lucky we weren’t like Oliver the orphan in the television programme. She said that if we said anything we would end up like him. Life carried on and I thought Christians were all hypocrites. If anyone approached me on the street I knew I could trump them. I asked, “What does God know that I need?” They never knew the answer. I swore I would never set foot in a church. Years later I was a solo mum, recently separated from my partner, and working night-shift. My supervisor had asked me several times if I wanted to go to church. After a bad night where things went
unbelievably wrong I agreed. “Why not?” I thought, “What harm could it possibly do?” He and his wife came and took me to church. As soon as I walked into the building, I can’t explain it, I knew where I belonged. I had never belonged anywhere. It was like this literal hole in me was filled. A little later, I chose to follow Jesus. God made a believer out of me. There can be no bigger surprise calling than that! The many bad things I experienced are what people do to people. It can go on for generations. It is easy to blame God yet in God you can be the one where the pattern stops. So I am learning to work with God instead of against him. It has been a gradual process due to all the wounds left by physical and emotional abuse. I look at life now as wearing a back-pack. I have God’s word and all his love in that pack. Life isn’t easy just because you are a Christian. So when I slip back into my own set ways and drop the pack, I re-pack the bag and put it on again and keep going. Once death seemed the best option. Yet I have come to know God can give you peace on earth while you are alive. God is healing me and restoring to me things I have never known or been taught. God does not have us as slaves bound by rules as some may think. In him there is freedom, love, joy, and purpose. God does know what our hearts need, he always has. I believed I had every reason to give up on God, but he never gave up on me. Now for me there is no giving up on him. 25
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