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Baptist Churches of New Zealand


G O D ’ S


Debunking myths about adolescence

Is there a secret to contentment?


| J u n e / J u l y 2 0 1 7 | v. 1 3 3 n o . 3 |

Lessons for all who do mission



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T H E H E AV E N S ~Psalm 36:5 EDITOR Sarah Vaine GLOBAL MISSION EDITOR Greg Knowles ART DIRECTOR Rebecca McLeay | WindsorCreative PRODUCTION MANAGER Jill Hitchcock ADVERTISING Marelize Bester FINANCE MANAGER Daniel Palmer __

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Baptist Churches of New Zealand PO Box 12-149, Penrose, Auckland 1642, New Zealand 09 526 0338 __ Printing Image Print, Auckland __ Photography, Front cover: uschools/ __ Scripture Unless otherwise specified, Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Extracts from the Authorized Version of the Bible (The King James Bible), the rights in which are vested in the Crown, are reproduced by permission of the Crown’s Patentee, Cambridge University Press. For scriptures marked GNB: Scriptures and additional materials quoted are from the Good News Bible © 1994 published by the Bible Societies/ HarperCollins Publishers Ltd UK, Good News Bible © American Bible Society 1966, 1971, 1976, 1992. Used with permission. __ The NZ Baptist Magazine is the magazine of the Baptist Churches of New Zealand and the New Zealand Baptist Missionary Society.

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“Faithful”— steadfast, loyal, unchanging

CONTENT 04 08 12

A word from the editor As we continue our year reflecting on some of God’s attributes, we turn our attention to the faithfulness of God. In this issue, Csilla Saysell reflects on God’s faithfulness from her own life and from Scripture. We take time to look at God’s faithfulness in creation and ask what it means for us. We consider contentment and where the origins of discontent might come from. Plus we share some challenges to our perceptions of adolescence. In addition, we continue our series on grace and ask what it means to embody grace. We also have lots of exciting initiatives and inspiration in our Family News section, and we share lessons for all who do mission in our Global Mission pages, alongside lots of encouraging stories. God is faithful. What does that mean to you? Does it resonate with you? As I have been involved in preparing this issue, I have had a nagging sense that to grasp this notion more fully would be life-changing. Part of understanding faithfulness is to recognise that God is worthy of trust, and to trust God more completely releases us from so much and opens us up to so much. So, as we engage with God in this issue, I pray that he might work in and through us increasingly.

~Sarah Vaine

16 19 22 31 33


Grace embodied


Remembering God’s faithfulness


Debunking myths about adolescence


Is there a secret to contentment?


Get your hands dirty—participating with God in creation FAMILY NEWS



Lessons for all who do mission Stories Small bites Opportunities to serve

Baptist / F E A T U R E




The gift that cannot be detached from the giver



rincipal of Carey Baptist College Charles Hewlett (my boss) has a mantra that goes something like this: “At Carey, we love Jesus, we love the church, we love Scripture, and we love the gospel.” I think we can say that as Baptists (or as Christians), we love these things too. We might also add, “We love mission” to such a list. This brief essay reflects on what the embodiment of grace might mean with particular attention to this list.

Thinking about grace Most of us will be familiar with the definition of grace as ‘God’s riches at Christ’s expense.’ It makes sense, it’s cute, and it seems to work. Right? It represents (to some degree) what we find in some of the scriptures where grace is kind of instrumentalised, or turned into a form of stuff to be dispensed, used, and consumed.

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GRACE IS A GIFT AND ONE WHICH IS NEVER TO BE D E TA C H E D F R O M THE GIVER—GOD IN J E S U S C H R I S T. up, we get to Jesus Christ. Grace is Jesus Christ! As Joel Green has written: “From a biblical-theological perspective, ‘grace’ is fundamentally a word about God: his uncoerced initiative and pervasive, extravagant demonstrations of care and favour for all. On the one hand, his favour is poured out indiscriminately (‘to the ungrateful and the wicked’, Luke 6:35); on the other, those in dire straits, the poor and marginalized, can be assured that his compassion reaches especially to them. God’s grace is given freely, but it also enables and invites human response, so that people are called to behave towards God with worship, gratitude and obedience; and towards one another in ways that reflect and broadcast the graciousness of God.”1 What’s my point? Simply that when we limit grace to a concept, slogan, ideal human character trait, or even to a feature of God (where we think of a feature as something God possesses but not something God is) then, good friends, we have not understood grace, and we cannot embody grace. The problem with such thinking is that we have tended to make grace something that is external to God, and so outside of us. But to make that all we say about grace is a travesty. Grace is not some mystical stuff, or superpower, or a form of magic. It is not divine ooze one squeezes like toothpaste out of a spiritual receptacle and applies to wounded or debilitated parts, or people. Grace is not there to be dispensed like Coke from a vending machine. If we follow the biblical teaching all the way up, we realise that God does not simply give us things like mercy, goodness, and grace: God gives us himself. Grace is a gift and one which is never to be detached from the giver— God in Jesus Christ. We find that what is so amazing about grace is that it is God’s personal self-impartation. Grace is Jesus.

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Grace is used 154 times in the New Testament and 200 times in the Old Testament using other terms: grace is loving-kindness, mercy, or undeserved-favour of some kind. Grace is given and received, grace is shared, grace is free, and grace is always amazing. The subjective effects of grace may sometimes seem to make God’s grace an independent virtue; a ‘thing’ possessed by the believer. Think here of Acts 4:33: “With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.” (See also Acts 11:23, 13:43, and Romans 5:21). But if we look closer and pay more attention to the context, we see that these scriptures are rather references to the operations of the “Spirit of grace” as Hebrews 10:29 says. Grace is not simply a human virtue— it is a characteristic of God. Even in the Old Testament we have this clearly stated. Think here of the self-revelation of God in Exodus 34:6-7: “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means clearing the guilty...” (italics added). So while the initial reflections here are not wrong, as such, we need a more biblical, more theological, and more comprehensive understanding of what grace is if we are to listen carefully and obey faithfully what God has said to us. Some scholars have defined grace as God providing for people who cannot provide for themselves. And again, that is true. But it begs the question: What has God provided? What is the great gift to which the word grace acts as a partial definition? Let me remind you of John 1:16-18: “From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known” (italics added). Or Titus 2:11-14: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.” What these and many other texts say, when read together, in context, and in light of the entirety of God’s word, is that ultimately when we follow grace all the way

Baptist / F E A T U R E

As one scholar reminds us: “The grace of God given to us in Christ is not some kind of gift that can be detached from Christ, for in his grace it is Christ himself who is given to us. Properly understood grace is Christ, so that to be saved by grace alone is to be saved by Christ alone.”2

Embodying grace Grace, by very nature, has only one direction which it can take: grace always flows down. This refers, of course, to the love of God revealed in the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ. There is then, when we look for it, a certain logic of grace that makes sense of what we mean by grace embodied. We do not mean, in the first instance, that we embody grace, or that we are the good, the merciful, and the holy. That would be to claim too much. Rather Jesus Christ, God-made-man, embodies grace for he is grace; Christ is good, Christ is merciful, Christ is holy, and Christ is for us and our salvation. Now let’s keep going and see where it leads. Jesus is grace, for the gift and the giver cannot be separated. In salvation, we receive grace because we receive Christ. It is by grace we have been saved, for it is in Christ that we have been saved. To embody grace is to be united to Christ who is himself embodied grace. And when we are found in Christ, we realise that all of grace does not imply nothing of us. All of grace implies all of us. This leads us to think about the relationship between Jesus Christ and four key aspects of our faith: • Church • The Word • Gospel • Mission It is only right to say that in some very real and foundational sense, Jesus Christ is the church, Jesus Christ is the Word, Jesus Christ is the gospel, and Jesus Christ is mission. We have particular ways of

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speaking about this. When we talk about being a Christian, or salvation, we have to be clear. We shouldn’t start with the how’s and why’s of evangelism, but instead with the paramount theological question: Who is Jesus? This is followed by two further questions: What has Christ accomplished in his person? And how can one participate in what has been accomplished in Christ? There seems to me to be a clear truth presented in Scripture—it is that Jesus is central, he is the point, and he is the focus of the whole. And so we have Christ overall and in all. Unfolding out from Christ we can then consider church, Scripture, gospel, and mission. But for each there is a necessary link, and one which Baptists have perceived in especially clear fashion.

Church and the Word We could draw a horizontal line of sorts between church and the Word, and talk about that. Christ constitutes the church; the church is the body of Christ of which he is the head. And so the church and Christ become united to such an extent that there is no church without Christ. So as Christians we live in the awareness that Christ is in our midst, in our lives, and in our world to lead and direct, to comfort and care, and to speak and declare. Where the church is, Christ is. Yet a church in which Christ is not the focus is not a church at all, for Christ is the church. Baptist theologian and pastor John Colwell writes in this regard: “The gospel story... defines the life of the Christian and the life of the Church, while the life of the Church and the life of the Christian is, correspondingly, a retelling and reinterpreting of that gospel story. The world has no access to the gospel story other than as it is narrated in the life, worship and proclamation of the Church... Through its service and being as witness, the Church is a rendering of the gospel to the world.”3

But it is equally true that where the church is, there is the Word of God. Borrowing from Karl Barth, we rightly affirm the threefold Word—Christ is the living Word, Holy Scripture is the written Word, and in church we hear and participate in the proclaimed Word. I think we would do well to add a fourth element here, and speak of the embodied Word as that which we eat and drink in Communion, and live out in our daily lives. In each instance, it is not that grace acts as some independent substance making us holy, smart, or powerful. Rather, as we live with Christ’s presence in our midst, the church of the Word and the Word of the church—church and Scripture— work together to create communities of faithfulness with Christ at the centre. This is not possible for anyone apart from the church and apart from Holy Scripture.

Gospel and Mission We could then draw a vertical line of sorts between gospel and mission, and talk about that. The gospel is the good news that God has reconciled the world to himself through Christ and the Spirit. The gospel is the stunning revelation that Jesus is God with us, and is God’s Word to us. The gospel is, ultimately, Jesus. He is its content, its subject, and its object. The good news is Christ, and what is so good about this news is that Christ has come to make us one with him in his response to the Father and the Father’s love for us. As such, we do not simply have a message to proclaim, but a radically new life to live. As Christians, we do not act like the New Zealand Herald telling people on Sunday the winning Lotto numbers from Saturday. We don’t simply declare the gospel; there is a sense in which we are the gospel. That is, as believers we become the good news—the gospel—as we are found in Christ. Our transformation into the image of Christ is the gospel. We take up our cross daily and follow him.

We worship his Father as our Father in him. Christ gives us his Spirit to live for God. Our lives are changed by Christ; radically altered, crucified, and made alive again to him. Galatians 2:20 is but one text which sums this up: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (KJV). And so we literally become the gospel to the extent that we are found in Christ. Thus gospel and mission are inextricably linked as we who are believers live our new lives on a public stage. As we bear witness in word and deed to the one true God and the lordship of Christ, and as we participate by the power of the Holy Spirit in God’s work—his mission of reconciliation and restorative justice in Christ—we do so, like Christ, even at the risk of suffering and death. Grace embodied: from start to finish, grace is Jesus Christ.

Take outs... 1. How do you explain grace? 2. What hinders and encourages the embodiment of grace? Story: Dr Myk Habets Myk is the Director of Research, Dean of Faculty, and Head of Carey Graduate School at Carey Baptist College, where he lectures in Systematic Theology and Ethics. Myk has published over fifteen books and many journal articles. Myk attends Windsor Park Baptist Church with his wife and two children. This article was based on a presentation from Carey Baptist College staff, facilitated by Myk, at the Baptist Hui 2016.

1. Joel B. Green, “Grace,” in New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, eds. T.D. Alexander and B.S. Rosner (Downers Grove: IVP, 2000), 527. 2. Thomas F. Torrance, Preaching Christ Today (Grand rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), 20.

3. Reflect on this line: “There is a sense in which we are the gospel. As believers, we become the good news... as we are found in Christ.” Ask God what he is saying to you about this. 4. What might it look like to be a community of the gospel, as opposed to a community which talks about the gospel?

3. John E. Colwell, Living the Christian Story (New York: T&T Clark, 2001), 185.

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faithfulness How the past can keep us moving forward


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silla, tell us a little of your story. How did you come to be an Old Testament lecturer at Carey? Csilla: I grew up in Hungary during the tail end of the communist period, and came to faith when I was fifteen in our local church. Very quickly after that I started leading Bible studies. I’ve always had an interest in the Bible, and the idea of teaching was always in the back of my mind. In fact, my first degree was in secondary school teaching. I had a sense that God wanted me to do something related to teaching the Bible, although I didn’t want to become a pastor. At the time, theological training was only available for pastors in Hungary, so I ended up studying theology in England. During my undergraduate degree, I realised that lecturing was actually a job, and after doctoral study I briefly taught in England. During this time, my husband (who is a Kiwi) and I began to think about moving to New Zealand. We booked an exploratory trip, looking mainly at Christchurch (where his family is), but there didn’t seem to be any openings. We thought that perhaps God didn’t want us to move and that we would stay on in England. Then I received an email from Charles Hewlett, Principal of Carey, saying that one of my former tutors from London Bible College had recommended me to him, and that they had an Old Testament job available. He didn’t know that I was in New Zealand, or that I had any connection here, and so his email was funny because it started with, “Greetings from faraway New Zealand”—we were in Nelson! I replied, we flew up for an interview... and the rest, as they say, is history!

God’s goodness and covenant faithfulness seeks out his people, chases after them, and doesn’t let go. Have you always been interested in the Old Testament? Csilla: I’ve always had an affinity for the Old Testament. Often it is mistakenly criticised for being all about how God is wrathful, cruel, and impatient, and not the loving Jesus of the New Testament. But I don’t think this is so, and I’ve found that you get more of a sense of God’s character, and how he is dealing with his people, through the stories of the Old Testament. Because the Old Testament is probably less well known by most people, it can feel like there is more to discover. I was lucky enough to have lots of good preaching on the Old Testament, and so it didn’t seem as alien to me as it does to some. I also had a very significant year in Israel, which particularly helped me to realise the deep riches in the Old Testament. I had been on a tourist trip to Israel previously—it was an amazing experience and I had a sense that I would go back, though I did not know how. In the following year, I went into a Christian bookshop in Hungary and bumped into an American man who engaged me in conversation. It turned out that he had been to Israel, and he gave me the details of a Christian youth hostel open to tourists and travellers. I worked there for a year cleaning and working on reception, and shared the gospel with people from all over the world. As a staff team, we would have Bible studies. The manager of the hostel was a wonderful teacher and had a deep love for God’s word. It was my first encounter with in-depth Bible study, and I took to it like a duck to water: it opened my eyes to how much there is in God’s word, and it trained me in some of the basic discipleship principles that are still in my life today. It was a deeply significant time that contributed to where I am today, teaching the Old Testament. What is your favourite Scripture about the faithfulness of God, and why? Csilla: I have lots! A longstanding one is Isaiah 43:1: “But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” Isaiah 40-55 is addressing Judah in exile. They have lost their land, their temple, their king—everything that defined them as God’s people and everything that God had promised would stand forever. You can imagine the exiles thinking, “Why? How could God do this to us? Does he not care? Is he not powerful enough to help?”

The scriptures answer that he is able to do what he wants to do—he is the creator of all things—but also that he cares. For me, personally, Isaiah 43:1 became very significant. When I came to faith, I couldn’t make sense of how the cross worked, and somehow I felt that because I couldn’t understand it intellectually, then I wasn’t a true Christian. As I struggled with the question of whether I was God’s child, I remembered this verse. It was given to me by my pastor a few years earlier, when I wasn’t a Christian. I remember reading it and thinking how amazing it was that God knew me long before I even acknowledged him, and he said, “You’re mine.” Another one is Jeremiah 29:11—also a famous verse: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” Jeremiah is writing to those who have been exiled to Babylon. You can imagine them wondering how long their exile was going to be, and Jeremiah tells them to settle down: the exile was to be for the long-term, but not for disaster. Even amid judgment and tragedy, God is saying to the exiles that he has hope for them, and a plan beyond exile. The process of discovering my calling took quite a while, and several times along the way I felt so unsure. Just taking one step at a time, I had no idea where I was going, and it sometimes felt like it was all going to end in disaster. This verse kept me going, and reassured me that God had a plan with a future for me.

What do we actually mean when we say God is faithful? Csilla: I think the word that best sums it up is the Hebrew word hesed. It is translated as love, kindness, mercy, and grace, but really it is covenant faithfulness; loyal love. It describes how God has committed himself to his people, and he is going to love them and stick with them no matter what. When I think of God’s faithfulness, I think of passages like Hosea 11 where God describes Israel as his son whom he called—but the more he called, the more Israel went a different way. God describes how judgement has to come, but there is suddenly this cry where God says, “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel?... My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender” (Hosea 11:8). We see that even when God judges, he does so with a heart that is grieving for the people he must discipline. I also think of Psalm 23:6: “Surely goodness and mercy [hesed] shall follow me all the days of my life.” The word “follow” here is a bit tame. The Hebrew means to pursue or chase, so it’s actually saying that God’s goodness and covenant faithfulness seeks out his people, chases after them, and doesn’t let go. I guess I’ve always understood God’s faithfulness

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Baptist / D I S C I P L E S H I P

like this: God made a commitment and he’s not going to go back on it.

You’ve told us about your time in Israel. Have there been other times in your life where you’ve seen God’s faithfulness? Csilla: Lots! The final year of my PhD was significant. During that year, my dad died suddenly, I got engaged, I submitted my PhD and defended my thesis in a viva, and a month later I got married. Firstly, it is a miracle that I completed seven years of theological study in the UK without being in debt at the end. The money spent on my education could have bought a house in Hungary. Through the generosity of friends and church, as well as some scholarships, God always provided. This reassured me that God was behind it all. My dad’s death was unexpected and hard. I was really close to him, and he had the greatest impact on my life—I was always daddy’s girl! But amid wondering why his death had to happen at this time, I remember being so thankful for the wonderful relationship we had had. We loved each other, we respected each other (even though we didn’t agree in everything), we had spent a happy summer together before I returned to England for the last year of my PhD studies. Thankfully I was ahead in my PhD, because for a month after Dad’s death I was at home with my mum, supporting her. I felt physically exhausted with grief a lot of that time. In addition, several months before this I had begun a relationship with Phil, who is my husband now. Phil was wonderful at providing the background support without taking advantage of the fact that I was emotionally vulnerable. I often think of God’s amazing kindness in the timing of that relationship. What I remember of that year was God’s presence very near amid everything that was going on. I don’t remember any huge struggle

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GOD MADE A COMMITMENT AND HE’S NOT GOING TO GO BACK O N I T. finishing off the PhD, which is often the case in that last year of doctoral study. My wedding dress, which I had ordered a few months before, arrived in Durham (where I studied) on the week when I was going to have my viva. By that time I wasn’t living in Durham, so I took the train up to have the viva in the morning, and then went for my wedding dress fitting in the afternoon! Everything dovetailed to make getting married and starting fresh a smooth process. This really spoke to me of God’s faithfulness.

How do we identify God’s faithfulness in our lives? Csilla: Sometimes circumstances line up in such a way that it is hard to miss it. Other times we need to pray and ask God to show us. This is particularly true when things don’t seem to work out—it is harder to see what God is doing in these situations. I had a year like that when I was a volunteer with Friends International in the UK—a group that reaches out to international students in universities and language schools. At the time, I started out with the expectation that my involvement might develop into something long-term, and a couple of months into the job I was specifically offered such a role. I was torn between wanting to accept it, and feeling like a square peg in a round hole. It took me a long time to work out why it was so hard, and I didn’t understand why God brought me into such a situation (I gave up my paid job back in Hungary) when it wasn’t going to

work out long-term. But through it, I learned about where I fit—it made me realise that I am not cut out for the kind of unstructured ‘people-work’ that pastors and many Christian missions require. I also learnt a lot through sharing the gospel with people from significantly different cultures from my European background. I can see God’s hand in it when I look back on how it’s worked out, but that wasn’t how I felt at the time. Sometimes we can think that God’s faithfulness means everything goes swimmingly. But that’s not always the case. When we are walking with God through something, we have to trust that God will carry us through.

If we could fully grasp God’s faithfulness, do you think this would make a difference in how we live our lives? Csilla: Absolutely! I think the question that I mentioned earlier, “Is God powerful enough and does he care?” is a major one for everyone. If we could believe that he is faithful, able, and willing to help, it would make a huge difference in how we approach life, and how much we trust God. I suppose that if we believe in God’s faithfulness, then in a way that’s trust; that’s faith— we are trusting in God’s character and so we don’t need to panic when challenges come up. Faith is like a muscle that must be exercised to grow strong—often in situations where God’s faithfulness is not visible ahead of time. We must trust in the midst of situations. As we see God’s faithfulness, our trust grows. How can we remind ourselves in each day of God’s faithfulness? Csilla: It’s actually very simple, though not necessarily easy—we just have to do it. In Deuteronomy 8, Israel has come out of Egypt, gone through the wilderness, and they are on the threshold of the promised land. Here God is saying, “Remember. Remember how I fed you in the wilderness. Remember when you

enter the richness and the fullness of the land that it wasn’t always the way. But even in the hard times I was with you” (my paraphrase). In the Hebrew, “remember” (like a number of other verbs) is an active word. It’s not simply reminiscing about the past. When God remembers, he acts. When God remembered Noah, the rain stopped. When we remember, we need to have the same attitude of acting on that remembrance. One way of doing that is to cultivate gratitude towards God. When I look

at my life now, and think of some of my uncertainties before, I thank God for bringing me this far. As I do that, it becomes easier to trust him with today’s doubts and fears. The more we store up these memories and bring them to mind, the more we have a resource to draw from when the going gets rough. We were called from darkness into light; into a new life of holiness, and God is able to keep us from falling. “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

Story: Csilla Saysell Csilla lectures in Old Testament at Carey Baptist College.

Take outs... 1. Where has God been faithful in your life? 2. Look up some scriptures about God’s faithfulness. How can these help you to remember God’s faithfulness? 3. There are plenty of things in our world today that promote instantaneous results and independent living. God doesn’t always seem to work like that. Where might God be asking you to patiently trust him? Do you find this easy or difficult?

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myths A B O U T

adolescence Using a long lens to look backwards and forwards



xcept for “grouse,” this sentiment could have been written today. It sounds contemporary, modern, and familiar—especially the part about how much youth has changed over the past twenty years. But this sentiment was not written yesterday. It was written more than sixty years ago in the popular magazine Picture Post. Besides grousing about teen clothing (girls in jeans), the article also bemoaned the acceleration of puberty, escapist entertainment, and a laundry list of bad attitudes and behaviours. And that’s just in the first few paragraphs. This is interesting because many current parenting books imply that in previous eras youth were respectful, well-behaved, courteous, mature, neat, grown-up, settled down, and basically all-around wonderful. This myth of ‘the properly mature and wonderful adolescent’ is, I believe, a direct outgrowth of an even more wide-sweeping and insidious myth: the myth of ‘the recently invented and culturally constructed adolescent.’ If you’ve read any youth ministry, adolescent development, educational, or parenting books written in the past thirty years, you’re likely to be familiar with this myth. It says that adolescence is a recent social and cultural construct resulting from industrial advancements, economic shifts, and expanded compulsory education. It usually goes something like this: Before the twentieth century, adolescence wasn’t part of the life cycle. For most of history, people moved directly from childhood into adulthood. There was no in-between stage. Until the modern era of high schools and technology, teenagers were responsible, respectful, and mature.

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• If adolescence is new, resulting from cultural and societal norms, then it would suggest that we are dealing with an unnatural stage of life with questionable inherent purpose, value, and meaning. • If teenagers used to be responsible and respectful family members only in the days before adolescence existed, what hope is there today for healthy relationships between teens and parents? • If people used to jump directly from childhood into adulthood, engaging in all the corresponding adult behaviors—maturing, getting married, settling down, getting a job, ‘adulting’—is there any hope for today’s teens (who aren’t jumping directly from childhood into adulthood) to have a normal, healthy, and satisfying life? • If the passage through adolescence today is unnaturally keeping our teenagers from reaching the physical, emotional, and social maturity they ought to be experiencing, can they embrace and journey into a vibrant and fruitful life of following Jesus at this age? But what if this premise were wrong? What if the foundational ‘facts’ upon which we’ve built much of our parenting and ministry structures are based on errant historiography? What if we are being guided by misguided theories? What if we are worried and alarmed by misinformed fears?

In fact, history reveals a very different reality from the one we’ve been taught. Adolescence has long been recognised and referred to as a distinct stage of life, and adolescents themselves have long been the subject of artists, educators, policy makers, parents, and preachers.

Ages of man Throughout history, the most common trope for discussing human development was known as the Ages of Man. Different experts included anywhere between three and twelve distinct stages of development. In every case, there was a stage between childhood and adulthood known as adolescence or youth. People believed that the typical characteristics, attitudes, and behaviors of this life stage were caused by the following: planets, months, seasons, natural elements, and bodily humors (blood, bile, and phlegm). In other words, this age was directly influenced by nature, so it was viewed as a natural stage of life. As early as the fourth-century BC, Aristotle described youth—those between the age of discretion and full adulthood—as lacking self-control, hating to be mocked or slighted, having strong sensual passions, hoping and expecting to do great things, wanting to spend as much time as possible with friends, doing things to excess, and thinking they know everything (The Art of Rhetoric). In the early 1500s, the morality play The World and the Child journeyed through the Ages of Man. As the main character advanced through the different life stages, he was given new names. He was called Infans up to age seven, Wanton to age fourteen, and then Lust and Liking as he entered adolescence—a name he kept until age

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Redman Creative/

For some people, these unsourced and presumptive facts carry little weight. But for others—especially parents and youth workers—there are significant implications of these ‘facts.’ For example:

Baptist / Y O U T H & F A M I L Y

Adolescence has long been recognised and referred to as a distinct stage of life, and adolescents themselves have long been the subject of artists, educators, policy makers, parents, and preachers.

twenty-one when he became Manhood. However, it took him a number of years to finally settle down into full maturity with a job, home, family, and social responsibilities. Surprise: extended adolescence and emerging adulthood was a real thing, even way back then. These are just a few of countless examples of how people have historically understood and explained adolescence as part of human growth and development.

Parents and teens—a historical generation gap Parents are perhaps some of the hardest hit by the ‘adolescence is new’ narrative, and can feel frustrated, helpless, and even hopeless in the face of today’s daunting and defeatist rhetoric. But this, too, is not a new thing. In 1616, parents were given advice on how to instruct their children during each specific stage of life, including the stage that began at age fourteen. According to the experts, if parents weren’t fully invested and involved during this stage, then all their hard parenting work of previous years would go up in smoke, and all the years to follow would be “poor,

foolish, and miserable.” Adolescence, they said, is “full of strength, courage, activity, easily drawn to liberty, pleasure, and licentiousness.” Parents, they said, are responsible for guarding and guiding their children on the road to full adulthood.2 In 1636, parents were warned that “as soon as [their daughters] touch the teens,” they will want to make their own decisions and take control of their own life.3 In other words, be ready for teens to push against boundaries and pursue autonomy. And in 1699, a father said of his adolescent daughter’s interest in boys: “She has wearied me out ever since she came into her teens.”4

400 years of youth ministry Though the vocational role of youth pastor may have a short history, pastors and other adults have long been involved in the lives of youth, preaching about the cares and worries of the ‘rising generation,’ warning youth directly about making wise choices, and challenging parents and apprenticeship masters to do all they can to make sure adolescents understand and embrace a life of faith during these important and formative years. In 1655, Simon Ford said this about the church’s youth: the pride of people in this present time is so great that “as soon as they are gotten into their teens (as we say), they think they are too old or too great to be catechised!”5 One pastor lamented that youth thought sermons were boring, preferring to stay up late carousing on Saturdays and sleeping in on Sundays.6 Another pastor worried that those in their teens were the ones most likely to forget God as a result of youth pleasures and lusts.7 Still, preachers believed that adolescents could understand and embrace the gospel and a genuine life of following Christ. After describing his own misspent youth until the age of nineteen, Samuel Pomfret said to a crowd of young people: “I see there

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be many of you that are just entering the teens; well, hear it for your good, you are in the possession of a jewel which some here would give the whole world for if they had it, supposing they had their eyes opened to see the cheats of sin and youthful pleasures.”8 Even without organised youth ministries, many pastors and clergy preached and wrote specifically for adolescents, and many adults invested in the lives of those same teenagers. Most interesting of all is a letter sent by Thomas Bray from England to the churches in Maryland. He’d visited the region in 1699, and in his followup communication he wrote about youth more than any other single topic. Specifically, he recommended that youth (those past the age of thirteen but not yet twenty-one) gather together on Sunday afternoons in what he called “Catechetical Societies,” either at the church or in some other generic location. He believed if the young people could be together and away from the larger gathering of parents and adults, they’d be more committed and likely to show up. He recommended that a trained clergy be present to teach and answer questions that came up. Most telling of all, he encouraged a trained musician to lead the groups in lively songs using the “new tunes” included in an updated Psalter. He believed this focus on good music would be a draw for the youth and would “charm them into constant attendance.” He admitted that this strategy would “catch them by guile,” but because of St. Paul’s biblical example, it would be “an innocent and unsinful pious fraud.”9 Thus did the power of worship music make its youth group debut— more than 300 years ago.

So what? The real question for us in youth ministry is this: What significance, if any, does this corrected history of adolescence have for parents, preachers, and youth workers (beyond getting our facts straight

and speaking with sourced authority, both of which are always good and honourable)? That conversation needs to be happening, alongside the ongoing conversations about current trends, cultural shifts, and adolescent experience. Here are two takeaways uppermost in my mind. Firstly, let’s all stop worrying about adolescence being a hopeless and unnavigable stage of life. Such a defeatist attitude is neither helpful nor biblical. It is a worldly and nihilistic response. We are not of the world; we are of heaven’s glory. We are not nihilists; we are spirit-filled children of the One who created all things. That same creator designed all the stages of human development in order to reflect his glory and his nature in all its fullness. Secondly, let’s use a longer lens when looking both forwards and backwards. Like the writer of Hebrews, we should willingly and carefully look back through the pages of actual history (not just someone’s flattened version of it) to get a realistic picture of where we’ve come from. At the same time, we should joyfully and intentionally look forward into the coming years so that our youth ministries are not simply focused on getting our students through today, tomorrow, and this immediate school year, but instead are committed to developing disciples of Christ who will follow him for a lifetime.


Story: Crystal Kirgiss Crystal is a veteran youth worker from Indiana. She has a PhD from Purdue University and speaks to both students and adults on a variety of topics. She has written more than ten books on topics ranging from jazz music to youth ministry. Her most recent book is In Search of Adolescence: A New Look at an Old Idea. You can read more from Crystal at 1. “Leave Youth Alone!” Picture Post (September 24th 1955). 2. Anon, The Office of Christian Parents: Showing How Children Are to Be Governed Throughout All Ages and Times of Their Life (London, 1616). 3. Frances Meres, Witts Academy: A Treasury of Golden Sentences, Similes and Examples, Set Forth Chiefly for the Benefit of Young Scholars (London, 1636). 4. William Pinkethman, Love Without Interest (London, 1699). 5. Simon Ford, A Sermon of Catechizing (London, 1655). 6. Northbrook, A Treatise Wherein Dicing, Dancing, Vain Plays or Interludes With Other Idle Pastimes Commonly Used on the Sabbath Day, Are Reproved (London, 1579). 7. Matthew Mead, The Young Man’s Remembrance and Youth’s Best Choice (London, 1700). 8. Samuel Pomfret, A Sermon Preached to Young People (London, 1698). 9. Thomas Bray, A Circular Letter to the Clergy of Maryland (London, 1700).

Take outs... 1. What assumptions have you made about adolescence that might need to be reviewed? 2. What are some of the challenges of the teen years? How can these be worked out for good? 3. What are some of the fantastic elements of the teen years? How can these be celebrated? 4. How can youth ministry be an investment that develops disciples for a lifetime?

Three years ago, I sat in a seminar where Crystal Kirgiss presented the idea that adolescence is an historical concept and not a modern construct. Her book In Search of Adolescence is reshaping the thinking of youth pastors and challenging the long-held beliefs we have had on the topic of adolescence. Through Crystal’s indepth work we now see adolescence not as a social construct, or as a social problem to be solved, but as a phase of life designed by God. In Search of Adolescence has re-aligned my thinking on youth ministry, in particular how youth ministry is structured, how I teach, and, more importantly, how I work with and encourage parents. Any pastor serious about understanding and ministering to young people needs to read this book. Gary Grut - National Team Leader of Baptist Youth Ministries

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Is there a secret to contentment? Finding rest in a world that wants more



see contentment as “a mental or emotional state of [happiness and] satisfaction... drawn from being at ease in one’s situation, body and mind.”1 From this definition, contentment is understood as a state of mind rather than a set of circumstances. But I also want something that I can practically apply to my life: examples, proof, or someone to say, “This is where I’ve been, and this is where I am now.” So, I turn to biblical greats Paul and Job. I have never understood these two men. How could they keep praising God and be so content when they had no reason to be so? I find myself judging them for their faith and contentment! While enduring kidnapping, beatings, shipwrecks, illness, and prison, Paul still managed to bring praise and glory to God and rejoice in his sufferings for Christ. Even after losing everything, Job was still able to say, “the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21). Within the worst of circumstances, both Paul and Job still believed in God’s goodness and resisted becoming discontent.

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Given Ideas/

Baptist / C U L T U R E

When I moved to New Zealand, I found myself missing the big crashing waves of home. I could only find waves too small to make any impact, or too large for me to swim in. I told God how much I missed the waves of home, and I heard his whisper: Like waves in the ocean, the highs and lows of life make an experience worth remembering. The lows give contrast to the highs. Both Paul and Job knew that life contains both highs and lows, and they did not allow either small or large lows to dictate their level of contentment in God. Their security, stability, and “peace... which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) came from their rock, Jesus, rather than from circumstances. I used to think that true contentment lay in the pockets of joy I experience when I’m with people I love—where heaven seems to meets earth. But this does not last: people move on, they die, and at times they let you down. True contentment cannot rely on circumstances. I think Paul and Job understood this. Perhaps Paul and Job kept faith because they knew their lives had a greater purpose—to bring God glory. And maybe it was this desire that enabled truth to surpass circumstance, knowing true contentment can only come from being anchored to the one who “is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). For only God’s love can bring real contentment and lasting joy. So, what do we do when we find ourselves stuck and discontent with our circumstances and the God who is allowing them? I have a four-step plan that I try to follow in journeying from discontent to contentment.

Step One: Acknowledge discontent As a child, there was nothing I wanted more than a Newborn Baby Doll. I prayed, dropped hints to my parents, wrote letters to Santa, and wished on every eyelash I accidentally-on-purpose pulled out. Come Christmas morning, I unwrapped the most perfect gift, my doll, complete with her birth certificate and feeding bottle. I distinctly remember how happy I was. But soon after I found myself thinking, “Now what?” and slowly discontent crept in. “Kirsty needs a cot,” I thought. “She needs more clothes, and she needs a sister!” Discontent tells us we must have more so we can be happier. Discontent believes we won’t be happy until we have it. Often I have wanted something like my doll so badly,


and yet when I got it the momentary happiness didn’t fulfil me like I’d hoped and believed it would. I still wanted more. The first step towards fighting any enemy is recognising it. In The Art of War, Sun Tzu says, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”2 There are times when I find the psalmists so refreshing in their willingness to bare their souls to God— they yell and scream and cry their discontent. This begs a question: Is discontent bad? Is it a sin? There was a time when I believed discontent was one of the Enemy’s greatest weapons to separate us from God. But I have journeyed from believing discontent comes from the Enemy, to wondering if perhaps discontent comes from God. As Christians, we live in the tension of always searching for more because we were made for more: God “has put a sense of...future into [our] minds” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and so we are always longing for what we do not yet have. There is an element of appropriate discontent! But still we must remain in the tension of the now but not yet. And so how do we find contentment within our discontent, and how do we turn our longing from worldly possessions to godly pursuits? Darkness must flee where we cast the light of Christ, so I believe that to recognise the root of our discontent is to start the journey of seeking Christ-like contentment within God-given discontent. When I cry out to God, when I tell him I want more, I am acknowledging my discontent to him and opening the door to welcome the light of Christ in to my darkness. I am admitting that I am thirsty for what only God can provide, and I am listening to his call, “everyone who thirsts, come to the waters” (Isaiah 55.1).

Step Two: Turn discontent to gratitude “It is better to be satisfied with what you have than to be always wanting something else” (Ecclesiastes 6:9 GNB). Sometimes a pity party is a wonderfully self-indulgent thing, but it doesn’t serve me or God. Choosing to dwell on negatives and play the self-pity tape on repeat invites bitter discontent to take root and I start losing sight of what God has already done for me. To turn discontent to gratitude in spite of my circumstances is to change my perspective by choosing to focus on what is right, not on what is wrong, and find something beautiful in every situation. A friend recently sent me a documentary on a tribe who live in the Amazon who do not have words for numbers or colours. They have no need to describe the colour of the sky or the number of fish they caught that morning. They are content with what they have and with what they don’t. They have no expectations and no disappointments. Likewise, Paul learned to show gratitude in every circumstance, choosing to use his time in prison to worship God and minister to his captive audience. Paul could have spent his time storing up bitterness and discontent.

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Baptist / C U L T U R E

Instead he chose to thank God for and enjoy the strength that came from the power of Christ working through him. How can we change our perspective to be like the people of the Amazon and Paul? I find it helpful to have an accountability partner because I am stronger in community. I take a break from social media—a breeding ground for discontent. I keep a gratitude journal. Some days all I can write is, “Thank you that my cat is curled up next to me,” or, “Thank you that I still have a warm bed.” But gratitude changes my attitude and moves me from saying, “It’s not fair. How come she got the job I was more qualified for?” or, “How come they can go on holiday and I can’t?” to saying, “It’s not fair. How come I have a solid roof over my head when so many people are homeless?” or, “Why can I go to church freely without fear of being persecuted or killed?” Gratitude reminds me that no matter what my circumstances, I always have something to praise God for.

Step Three: Look up “But I will hope continually, and will praise you yet more and more” (Psalm 71:14). I often wonder how Jesus didn’t cave when Satan tempted him at his most vulnerable. I think he was so filled with contentment in God that there was no room for worldly discontent to take root. I find comfort in knowing Jesus fought discontent with the true Word of God—the same Word that lives in you and me and gives us the same power and truth that will set us free. Job refused to join his wife and friends cursing God; Paul continued to praise God while under the harshest of persecution; I can choose to focus not on my circumstances, but on how faithful my God is within them and what he can do through them. So how do we move from tempted to contented? I choose to rely on my rock, Jesus. I fix my eyes on God and place my

hope in him. I choose to set aside my own desires and ask instead that his will is done. I choose to trust that he knows what I need, and I remember that he sees the end from the beginning. For me, this means memorising scriptures and songs that reorient and anchor me to God: “Be still, and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10); “It is well with my soul” (Horatio Spafford). I go in search of my cat who is inevitably sleeping in amongst some chaos or another, oblivious to his surroundings, and content in the knowledge that he is loved, safe, and cherished. When we know the truth our vision is clear. It shifts our attention and focus; it allows us to rest in contentment.

Step Four: Bless others “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). A past spiritual director of mine loves saying: “When you’re feeling blue, do something for someone who’s worse off than you.” We are called to have servant hearts like Jesus, and I find that when I’m helping others my own burden feels lighter and more manageable. A favourite cartoon of mine, by Francisco Javier Olea, depicts how our smile and our heart are connected: When our heart is full it pulls our mouth down into a smile; when our heart is empty so too is our smile small. Closing thoughts I wish I could tell you that I know the secret and I have the solution— that I am now content and have transcended my circumstances. But I’m still figuring it out and I’m still journeying through. What I do know is that discontent can either keep us stuck or propel us forward; so I fall, I stumble, I cry, and I pull myself back up. I keep pressing on because contentment is a choice I make regardless of circumstances. I let myself be wherever I am while looking up. I remember that I can be content

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within my discontent because Jesus is stable. And I know that “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). Perhaps the greatest irony of all is that the real question is actually this: “Why am I so discontent when I have every reason to be content?”

Story: Patsy Way Patsy is on the Pastoral Care team at Windsor Park Baptist Church. She is a South African import, and an avid tea blender and drinker.

1. “Contentment.” Wikipedia, 2. Sun Tzu, The Art of War, trans. Lionel Giles (USA: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017), 8-9.

Take outs... 1. Have you thought about contentment being a state of mind rather than something based on circumstance? 2. Where does discontent lead you? Is this something you need to turn from? 3. Do you think discontent could come from God? What might God’s invitation to you be? 4. How might the practice of gratitude help you? Are there other forms of worship that could be constructive?

Baptist / L E A D E R S H I P



magine what it would be like if tomorrow humanity vanished from the earth. There would be a shock to animal ecosystems as new balances of power between predator and prey worked out, and there would be a number of potential disasters due to pots left on stoves. More seriously, there would be fallout from unmaintained nuclear reactors and the like. Otherwise, the so-called natural world would go along quite merrily without us. Plant and animal life would retake those spaces humans now occupy and, given enough time, concreted city streets would turn to forest or grassland. That the earth could flourish without humanity is amazing and humbling. A large part of this possibility is due to the earth’s natural soil-building process; the land surface of the earth wants to turn itself into soil and for vegetable matter to grow in it. Soil, though perhaps a humble thing in our eyes, is very important—as humble things often are. Soil is not (as we might imagine) inert matter, but a living and breathing web of microbial, invertebrate, and plant life engaged in a constant cycle of growth, consumption, death, decomposition, and regrowth. All life on earth depends upon the soil. You depend on it for the food you eat, which at some point grew in soil or ate something that did. The air you breathe is dependent upon the ability of trees to grow, and they grow best in soil. All this sounds very naturalistic—almost materialist in its description. But as Christians, we know a deeper truth about the world—it was created, ordered, and is continually sustained by God. The earth goes on as it does because of God’s creative genius and trustworthy promise to keep it running. In that way, the ongoing functionality of the earth bears witness to faithfulness of the creator God. Humans are highly unlikely to vanish tomorrow and despite the hopes of some radical environmentalists, it would not be desirable if we did. This is because even though God could sustain creation without us, he has desired not to. He instead deemed that we bear his image in his world as his representative stewards. In Genesis, God commissions humanity to care for his faithfully upheld creation. We are, in that text, given “dominion,” which implies a combination of rights and responsibilities. We are entitled to enjoy the benefits of the natural world, and expected to care for and protect it. We are to “subdue” creation where it is unruly, and bring it, with God, to its flourishing self. You might call this

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Participating with God in creation

Baptist / L E A D E R S H I P

Our response to ecological crises should be more radical and participatory than relying on others to do the work for us. mandate ‘earth stewardship’ or ‘creation care.’ Sadly, humans are not doing a very good job of this in many respects. We are witnessing, and in fact presiding over, a raft of ecological problems from pollution of air and waterways, to the erosion of arable lands and the extinction of species, right up to the large-looming matter of climate change. Humans have always had a profound impact on the environment, but when ecological damage occurred prior to the industrial revolution, it was—relatively speaking—far more localised and far less permanent. We now have the technological capacity to muck up the planet to an unprecedented degree, and on a global scale.

Whose way? Our participation in God’s natural order ought to result in the improvement of creation, but in fact we are having the opposite effect. Let’s keep looking at our example of the soil. The earth’s soils tend towards growth, but this is a very slow process. On average, they increase by three centimetres of topsoil every thousand years. In theory this means that if you measured the depth of the soil under your front lawn, and then left it alone for a thousand years before re‑measuring, it would be (on a world average) three centimetres deeper. That is a slow rate of growth. Against this, humans are now depleting the world’s soils. Agricultural methods such as deforestation, tillage, chemical fertilisation, and pesticide use are eroding our soils at an alarming rate—at least ten and as much as forty times faster than they naturally grow. This means most of our productive soil will be severely depleted before the end of this century, which means less food production, higher prices, more hunger, and more conflict over arable land and access to water.1 The stakes go even higher: Loss of soil really means loss of carbon from the soil. This carbon goes into the atmosphere, so soil health is a climate change issue. Though the efficiency of this proposal is up for debate, one way to begin dealing with carbon emissions could involve regenerating soils to sequester that carbon.2 God is faithful in upholding creation. The natural process God uses is slow, but it would be sufficient if we humans took sufficient care with it. However, we continue to be unfaithful in caring for it, and our care of the earth has farther-reaching consequences than we want to admit. So one of the big questions for Christians at this time is this: What on earth do we do about it?

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Outsourcing our responsibility or participating in the blueprint? A number of solutions are on offer. Political parties, to a lesser or greater extent, have visions for how to care for the environment, just as they offer solutions to the economy, poverty, housing, crime, and whatever else. Some businesses are producing ‘organic’ products and seeking to do things in sustainable ways. One may support numerous charities. These kinds of efforts are important, but they are severely limited in certain respects. For one thing, there is a low degree of political or business willpower for such efforts to become the norm on a largescale because they are generally costly in the short-term. The agricultural methods destroying our soils are not sustainable, but they are alluringly productive and result in cheap products and food for the consumer. Current ‘organic’ methods may do less harm, but they are no cure-all either. This is partly because they can be inaccessibly expensive, but also because growing ‘organically’ does not necessarily set a high enough bar. Some methods which could be certified as organic are merely less wasteful versions of the same soil-depleting, fertiliser-based, tillage-heavy farming systems already causing the problems. So the definition of such words needs scrutiny. The word ‘sustainable’ too needs some qualification. One agronomist suggests that the case is far too dire now for us merely to sustain it. We need regeneration before we can talk about sustainability.3 The deeper issue for Christians, though, is a close analogy to how we approach, say, global poverty. Voting and engaging in ‘conscious consumerism’ are noble ideas; giving to charity is a worthy thing to do. But are these efforts enough? The problem is that reliance on government, business, or charity to address these matters on our behalf is exactly that: reliance on someone else. As laudable as those efforts may be, they represent an outsourcing of our own responsibility, at the personal and local level, to care for the earth. It’s basically saying that caring for creation is someone else’s job. But if the call to creation care or earth stewardship is part of what it means to be human, and if being Christian disciples makes us members of God’s new humanity, then our response to ecological crises should be more radical and participatory than relying on others to do the work for us. Back to the soil So here’s a simple solution to a complex problem: Get your hands dirty. Start a compost bin and grow some vegetables. If you already have one, consider expanding it. There are two sides to this story. To begin with, by growing your own food you begin to detach yourself from the ecologically harmful practices mentioned above because you become less reliant on that fertiliser and fossil-fuel-dependent system. Fewer trips to the supermarket is a good thing too, and it means using less in the way of wasteful plastic

T H E G R AT I T U D E M A D E P O S S I B L E AT A T I M E O F H A R V E S T F O R G O D ’ S F A I T H F U L LY U P H E L D C R E AT I O N O U T S T R I P S A N Y T H I N G Y O U ’ R E L I K E LY T O E X P E R I E N C E IN A SUPERMARKET AISLE. packaging. This is a ‘do less harm’ sort of benefit. More positively though (and this is exciting), by composting and growing you begin to actively contribute to the health of the planet’s soils by growing them. The soil producing cycle described above is slow (three centimetres per millennium), but it is the natural way God has chosen to sustain the planet and feed its creatures. If you start a compost bin, you are engaging basically the same process that is going on under the cover of leaves on a forest floor or under grassland. Life, death, and decomposition, in a cycle tending towards abundant life. Composting works alongside this process, and done properly (which takes time, skill, and effort) it is a way to be sustainable in your use of creation and, even better, to regenerate the land. This means working alongside the faithfulness of God, so to speak, rather than cutting against it. There are myriad other potential socio-economic, physical, and mental health benefits to gardening too. We know the deep problems of nutrition and physical health in our society. Well grown home-grown food is potentially tastier and more nutritious than that available

commercially. It can also be cheaper, and it is a great way to provide for one’s family and neighbours. Not the least of these benefits is the sense of value and worth that comes from being physically productive. The gratitude made possible at a time of harvest for God’s faithfully upheld creation outstrips anything you’re likely to experience in a supermarket aisle. At this personal level, connection with God’s creation can and does catalyse connection with God. It is generally a good idea to be suspicious of people claiming to have found simple solutions to complex problems. In this case, however, while growing a garden will not fix the whole world, it may address (in some small way) a huge number of things. Earlier this year, a friend shared a picture online of an abundant tomato and courgette harvest captioned, “My garden hasn’t neglected me, even though I have neglected it!” There’s something in that. God is not neglecting his commitment to upholding and sustaining creation, and we enjoy it even though we are neglecting it. Let’s consider how to turn that neglect around, and be faithful ourselves in response to God’s faithfulness.

Story: Mark Day Mark is on pastoral staff at Hillcrest Baptist Church, and Chaplain at Wintec in Hamilton. He is married to Ainsley and father to Nathan. He sometimes blogs about God, politics, and his vege garden at 1. “What if the World’s Soil Runs Out?” John Crawford: TIME, world.time. com/2012/12/14/what-if-the-worlds-soilruns-out. 2. R. Lal, “Soil Carbon Sequestration Impacts on Global Climate Change and Food Security” Science 304 (2004): 1623-1627, doi: 10.1126/science.1097396 and “Soil carbon storage not the climate change fix it was thought, research finds,” Oliver Milman: The Guardian, theguardian. com/environment/2016/sep/22/soilcarbon-storage-not-the-climate-changefix-it-was-thought-research-finds. 3. “Interview with John Kempf Farmer, Agronomist, Scientist,” John Kempf: YouTube, watch?v=krUyr7PxkMk. Mark acknowledges the ongoing work of the Koanga Institute, which has inspired parts of this article. For more information and some practical ideas to help get you started, check out

Take outs... 1. Do you think caring for creation is important? 2. What could you change to better care for our world? 3. Could you develop a compost bin and vegetable patch? Could you do this with others? 4. Creation care is one area where God calls us to be faithful. Is God asking you to remain faithful in other areas of your life as well? What will this involve?

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to everyone who helped us get over 32,000 Christmas Love parcels to needy families, elderly and homeless people over Christmas-January!

Summer Camp

Life as God intended


who are we?

Our role is to provide essential support and resources for our church staff. The main areas of support are administration and finance, and we provide documentation and advice to make the management of our churches run smoothly. We provide resources regarding personnel advice, building compliance and management, keeping people safe, insurance cover, the Baptist Superannuation Scheme, and staff and church benefits. We also provide meeting rooms at the Baptist Resource Centre for pastoral staff and Baptist ministry partners to meet. In addition, National Resource Centre staff are involved with the management of our conferences, including LEAD and Hui, as well as providing administrative services for the national meetings such as Assembly Council and Regional Missional Leaders. The National Resource Centre interacts with all groups of the Baptist family, including the Regional Associations, NZBMS, and Carey Baptist College. We are always available—give us a call, email, or skype! Daniel Palmer | +64 9 526 0337 |

CAN YOU HELP? Right now thousands of disadvantaged children in Eastern Europe are hoping to get to one of our life-changing Summer Camps. It takes from just $20 (one day of camp for one child) to help change a young life forever.

Could you donate to help one child get there? For more and to donate, go online to or call us

0800 469 269.

At BCFM, our role is to inspire, equip, and support churches as they seek to do both ministry and mission with children and families. Our emphasis is on seeing churches develop strong foundations on which to develop ministry that is tailored to fit their context. We are passionate about seeing churches become missional communities with children at the centre. Children are our taonga, our treasure, that God calls us to nurture in the faith and release to a life of service with him. To this end, we offer training for both volunteers and paid staff, and have a variety of resources available to help churches take their ministry from good to great! Our Regional Coaches also offer local networking, training, and consultancy services. We love to come alongside churches as they seek to do ministry and mission with excellence. Karen Warner | +64 9 526 7958 |

New Zealand Baptists have been passionate about serving young people for over 130 years. A deep legacy has been created over the decades with the establishment of Easter camps, leadership training, and investment into youth pastors, key leaders, and youth programmes. Today, BYM continues to invest in local Baptist churches in New Zealand. We seek to see young people come to Christ, and develop leaders who can relate to and build relationships with young people. BYM is a large NGO youth network in New Zealand. We have over 2,000 passionate people (paid and volunteer) involved in leadership, serving more than 20,000 young people from intermediates through to young adults. We offer several events each year so that youth can hear about and respond to Jesus. We have a wide range of resources through our website, and provide local, regional, and national training for both leaders and young people. We will also consult and work with churches to establish a youth ministry or youth work in its community, and provide ongoing support for churches. In addition, we seek to equip churches for mission, and provide opportunities for youth to serve God in short-term mission. Gary Grut | +64 9 526 7950 | Unfortunately Gary is leaving us soon. Keep a look out for the new team leader.

Our role is to best understand the ways that God’s Spirit is at work today in local neighbourhoods, and how he is leading churches to meet real need, celebrate strengths, and give opportunity for people to come to know Jesus. We provide resources for churches to review and audit current activities, and offer to come and facilitate conversations with leaders or whole congregations. There is a lot of new thinking and models being attempted in this area, and annual regional gatherings are held to talk more about these and learn from one another. To create a space to consider wider issues, we have a Justice Initiative group which will track current issues, create events, and provide online resources which will be accessed via the Baptist website (watch this space!). This is a new development so be patient with us! Ruby Duncan | +64 27 455 5218 |

The EM team partners with our migrant and ethnic churches by serving and assisting with the mission of each church. We offer mentoring, coaching, and advice, and connect pastors and other church leaders to supportive relationships with others in the region. In partnership with Carey Baptist College, we offer migrant church leaders practical and formal Bible and ministry training. We also encourage new pastors to participate in our seminars at the annual LEAD conference. In partnership with administrative leaders of the Baptist Union, we provide seminars and one-on-one advice about navigating the administrative and financial requirements of the Baptist Union. We also advise on Baptist Union registration. In addition, we offer a course with the Carey Centre for Lifelong Learning for pastors and church leaders seeking to connect cross-culturally. We can also advise pastors and leadership teams about cultural insights important to individual ethnic and migrant groups. Steve Davis | +64 22 183 2364 |

Our vision is to see all Māori become followers of Ihu Karaiti—Jesus Christ, fulfilling their potential, and positively transforming their whānau, community, and world in which they live. To do this, MIM offers churches, organisations, hapū, iwi, and whānau a philosophy and practice around ‘belong-believe-behave’ reflected in this passage: “‘Nānā hoki tātou i ora ai, i korikori ai, i noho ai’; I pērā hoki te kōrero a ētahi o ō koutou kaitito, ‘Ko tatou hoki tōna uri’” Ngā mahi 17:28. “For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring’” Acts 17:28. We seek to do this through effective Māori-led processes that are Jesus-centred, traditional and culturally appropriate, innovative and creative in methods applicable to context, inclusive and respectful of all people and their stories, and affirming of te Tiriti o Waitangi (Treaty of Waitangi) as a historic, biblical covenant between Tangata Whenua (Māori) and Tangata Te Tiriti (non-Māori) residing in Aotearoa New Zealand. David Moko | +64 9 526 7952 |

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Randwick Park receives the Mitre 10 Community Award for New Zealand The community of Randwick Park in Auckland has received the Mitre 10 Community Award for New Zealand, which recognises the transformation and change that has happened in this neighbourhood. Together, the community has taken a different approach to bringing about change. Randwick Park has successfully modelled community-led development, where the neighbourhood takes hold of a vision and starts to work in developing its own neighbourhood, working hard to build an even better place to live—and they are seeing change. The award is a reflection of this and has come after a number of years of journeying. The change has been spearheaded by a collective of people, including four local legal entities. They are Randwick Park Sports & Community Trust, Randwick Park Residents Association, Urban Neighbours of Hope (UNOH—a missional order of the Baptist Union in New Zealand), and Te Awa Ora Trust. Dave and Denise Tims head up UNOH. The heart of UNOH is to see individuals and neighbourhoods, with a grassroots, bottom-up approach, be released from the label of poverty; to see people who are made in the image of God find their place with God, family, and in their neighbourhood; and to be able to draw on the resources that most of us take for granted. Over the years, UNOH have learnt some key principles. One of these is to take a long-term development approach to poverty, rather then charity. Charity is needed in emergency, but then it needs to move into empowerment. So instead of seeing poverty as people in need, they choose to name what is good in the neighbourhood, identifing its leaders, and seeing the gifts, skills, and dreams that already exist in the neighbourhood. They then work with the neighbourhood to develop these dreams, walking

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with neighbours towards the ‘well-being’ of Randwick Park. Taking a developmental approach means that people start to identify what it would take for them to become well. Then they move away from a victim mind-set and work out how to help themselves—hand ups. UNOH brought the local leadership together to start a vision and structure. This has resulted in the four legal entities mentioned above, who have access to funding, contracts, etc. They also carried out a survey in Randwick Park to discover the hopes and dreams of the neighbourhood (see randwickpark. Employment was significant, and so they are now concentrating on how to create employment opportunities. As a result, they have a contract with City Care to mow the local parks and employ five people. A bouncy castle business was also purchased to sustain the youth programmes and create work experience for the young people. Collectively, the community can invest into business that will generate wealth to invest back into the community. Winning the award has helped the community feel that they have a profile to enter into other places and have other conversations. For example, the Department of Internal Affairs want to enter into a partnership with Randwick Park, and the community are now able to direct how that goes. With more of a profile, they can talk to government about some of the things they want to invest in. The recognition has also given the community a lot more self-confidence for what they do in the future. For UNOH, it has helped establish their leadership role in the neighbourhood, and they are still exploring and working out how they can take advantage of this to improve what they are doing. God has been a massive factor, and it is amazing how many of those they partner with are Christians. Going forward, the goal is to create a working collective model which can be replicated in other communities.


Family News

YEAR OF JUBILEE FOR BLOCKHOUSE BAY BAPTIST CHURCH In December 2017, the church at 504 Blockhouse Bay Road turns one hundred. Here stands the old chapel from which Blockhouse Bay Baptist grew. They are using this as an opportunity to celebrate what God has been doing on the land for a century, and to proclaim a Jubilee Year. Leviticus 25 spells out the requirements of the Jubilee Year, but it is not simply a ‘drop and drag’ for this church. Jubilee was to be a time of total reliance on God as provider. Research has been carried out to see what this means for Blockhouse Bay Baptist, and they are excited about who this will free them to be. Thinking about this reliance and looking forward to freedom, they have four components that they are preparing to undertake: • Reconciliation: Jubilee was to be announced on the Day of Atonement. Part of the preparation for this day was the seeking of forgiveness and reconciliation among the nation. Through teaching, preaching, and a forgiveness seminar, they hope that people will be encouraged to reconcile with one another, bringing unity and healing to the church. Added to this process, they will engage a reconciler, who will be available to help and facilitate walking towards forgiveness. • Liberty: Jubilee released people from debt and bondage, allowing them to return to their home and work in their own fields again. A fund is to be set up for ‘freedom’—not to satisfy debt, but rather allowing people to take steps forward i.e. paying for a person to buy steel capped boots and building tools for a construction course. This is open to the wider community and extended through already existing relationships and networks. • Rest: They aim to move to only one service for a few weeks, asking others to come and minister to them in this time. This provides rest for the church and some humbling as they acknowledge that they too can be ministered to, and that they don’t have all the answers. They hope to offer long-term volunteers some time at a  retreat centre for their own refreshment and renewal. • Celebration: This will be held on the first weekend of December. The church will thank God for his hand in the last one hundred years, celebrate the past and this year’s accomplishments, and look toward the future. None of this can be done without him, and so Blockhouse Bay Baptist are excited to see God’s hand at work as they seek him this year.

Celebrating the Riccarton West community With the red carpet ordered and the invitations all sent, the Riccarton West community recently celebrated the premiere showing of the documentary “Our Story 2011-2017,” which portrays the transforming power of organisations and people working together, and highlights the initiatives and achievements of this community. This journey started in 2010 when Carol Renouf was given the mandate by Riccarton Baptist Church to establish Oak Development Trust, focusing on meeting the holistic needs of the people of Riccarton through providing leadership and resources to support families, multiculturalism, and community. Carol had worked as a registered nurse in community settings, and had some experience in community based activities, but she recognised that in so many areas she had so much to learn. Asking questions and listening was the key. The Riccarton West community was established in the 1950’s with predominantly state housing. Over the years it had become socially disconnected and residents felt unsafe; there were high levels of crime. A Neighbourhood Policing Team was deployed to the area in 2011, as one of the thirty-three teams placed in vulnerable communities across New Zealand. The Trust, together with the team and personnel from Christchurch City Council, began the journey of working collaboratively in this community. Much happened. Relationships with residents were formed and ‘bumping places’ were created in the Community Garden and café. An annual Community Fun Day was established. This attracted 1500 people last year. A Good One party register was set up to manage the student parties. Street clean ups occurred. The Trust established a Nail Care Clinic and social gatherings for the older people. They also appointed personnel to work with the migrant population through advocacy and pastoral care. The mainly music group has become a place for migrant mums to meet. Social cohesion and connectivity is now a mark of the community. Crime and graffiti has been reduced, and in 2016, the Neighbourhood Policing Team was deployed elsewhere. Post-earthquake, Housing New Zealand demolished some of its housing in the area and has rebuilt new homes. The Trust has employed a Community Development Worker to visit each new rebuild to welcome the tenants and provide a welcome pack with goodies and a book outlining what is happening in the community. The vision is that each new resident who settles in the area will be visited. Something of God’s shalom has come into the community. We celebrate this work in progress, but there is more to do...

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Baptist / F A M I L Y N E W S

Easter camps

eCamp This year was the second biggest eCamp on record, with just over 1000 intermediate-aged youth, leaders, and crew on site at Finlay Park. After all the anticipation of Cyclone Cook, the weekend was spent in a bubble of sunshine with great weather for all the many activities on offer for the campers. Each year, one speaker is asked to craft a full gospel message over six sessions for the young people, beginning with who God is and working through to how to walk in relationship with him. This year, the speaker was Dave Firth, from Capernwray Bible College in Cambridge, and he forged a great relationship with the young people through his messages, and also by staying on site with his family during the camp. More than 250 young people responded to an invitation to come for prayer on Sunday night, and many of those were taking a step towards Jesus for the first time in their lives. It has been great to receive feedback on the changes that God has made in young people’s lives since eCamp. Please pray for the leaders in churches from Whangarei to Whanganui who are now discipling these young people as they learn to follow Jesus.

Northern Easter Camp Easter Camp always provides the space for young people to come together for fun, to grow closer together as groups, to eat tasty food, and to experience a personal encounter with God— and this year was no different. The services were powerful and the worship was amazing as God worked in the lives of those present. Kerry Hilton, from Freeset, brought a timely reminder that although our culture tells us that it is all about us, the gospel tells us the exact opposite. The gospel is not about us but is about others and going beyond ourselves to reach out to them with the love of God. The youth from Westgate Baptist responded to this challenge by praying for the needs of people within the Westgate Baptist Church family. It was a powerful moment that not only brought them closer together as a group, but helped them to put their faith into action. Westgate youth group was greatly impacted by Easter camp as they experienced God’s continual work in their lives: “We would love to thank the people who made the opportunity for young people through Easter Camp to have their lives transformed in unimaginable ways by the power of God.”

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Morrinsville Baptist Church youth once again made the pilgrimage to Easter Camp at Mystery Creek in Hamilton. This year was very significant for the group as they came again as a combined group with the local Māori youth group. But they didn’t come as two groups. They came together as one, in unity—kotahitanga. On top of that, approximately 70% of the group were from unchurched homes! Morrinsville youth are so grateful for Easter Camp: “As we shared this amazing experience together, we laughed together, cried together, prayed together, and struggled together. We praise God for the opportunity to work together in his name. What a privilege to see kids from our community having the opportunity to hear the gospel message, encounter God, and engage in a community that loves them! We are so thankful and appreciative of Blue and his team for their faithfulness and commitment to God and the rangatahi of this nation, and for all the prayer, energy, enthusiasm, commitment, and passion they put into making camp what it is. From the speakers and seminars to the gathered times together—even just the fact that there is a camp available to bring our rangatahi along to—we are so grateful.” Easter camp allowed Morrinsville and many other groups to come together for the shared vision of seeing rangatahi journey towards faith in God, and work together in unity just as Christ prayed we would (John 17:20-21).

Central Easter Camp Despite a day’s delay due to the cyclone, Central Easter Camp, based at Manfeild Park in Feilding, stormed ahead on Easter Friday with just under 2000 campers embracing the mud. There was all the usual crazy fun of foam parties, Top Town, the village, paintball, a talent quest, outdoor movies and Opshop Balls, alongside the heart and focus of helping young people connect with God. As one youth pastor said in their feedback: “Easter Camp continues to be an awesome platform for young people to be encouraged and strengthened, and to encounter the living God. What more would you want in an Easter Camp?” And did we mention the mud...? The evening sessions unpacked the notion that as we experience the living God, we come to know him, and from there we are changed by him, that we may be a part of changing the world. Our mainstage speakers this year were: Scottie Reeve, Britney Marsh, Chris Jupp, and Justin Duckworth. Their wise and humble words resonated with the campers. They were hardhitting, vulnerable, real, and honest. The worship band Soul Servant were amazing, as always, and dynamic original storytellers Madd Messenger conveyed creative and captivating messages. One youth leader said:

Southern Easter Camp 3500 people, five days, and lots of mud. For the first couple of days, some had renamed camp ‘Easter Damp.’ But even with the rain, spirits remained high and despite numerous texts from parents (making sure the forecast cyclone was known about), leaders and young people were determined to have a good time. Some young people come prepared to encounter Jesus. For a lot of young people, encountering the living God is a bit of an unexpected revelation. Either way, Bishop Justin Duckworth set the scene right from the start with the challenge to be awake to what God was doing over the Easter weekend—and that of all weekends, Easter is a time when God is likely to speak to us. For Y@P (Youth at Papanui), God really did speak. Some experienced God as a loving parental figure they had been missing. Others simply felt the love of God for the first time. Some were moved by the hope-filled and confronting messages. Others experienced Jesus in community—having a laugh while gathered around a gas heater in a poorly carpeted marquee. Easter reminds us that God is living, that he communicates with us, and that truth and redemption are found in knowing him and being a part of his family. This is the God our young people encountered this Easter!

“When asked what they were enjoying the most about camp, mainstage and the response times were always at the top of the list for my young people!” Bishop Justin Duckworth closed camp on Monday morning by talking about ‘drink stops’ when running a marathon. You don’t run a marathon for the drink stops—they are just there to help you run the race. Likewise, Easter Camp is a great drink stop to help us run the race God has called us to. Chloe Carson, from CCC in Palmerston North, said: “We were refreshed and refuelled. Our youth were so impacted by the messages and worship. We love that Easter Camp encourages small groups and community time, and we keep hearing stories of how the lives of our youth have been changed and challenged.” A massive thank you to everyone who was a part of making Central Easter Camp a reality that impacted the lives of so many young people for Jesus. Mud was definitely a major feature this year, but for Josh Pound and the team from Whanganui Central Baptist: “The mud could have been a real downer, but instead this year’s Easter Camp saw major spiritual breakthrough in the lives of our young people for Jesus—to the extent that we have never seen before.” Praise the Lord!

Thousands of youth encountered Luke’s Gospel this Easter Bible Society New Zealand provided 11,500 Gospels of Luke to thirteen different camps held over Easter, including Baptist Easter camps. Following research in 2016, Bible Society identified a number of key barriers to young people reading the Bible. They included not knowing where to start reading, having trouble connecting with God, time pressures, and simply not understanding the Bible content. In response, the publications of Luke’s Gospel provide feature chapter summaries, an eight-week youth group discussion guide, and reflection sections which invite readers to imagine themselves in a Bible scene using their senses. A key goal in producing these resources is to give youth permission to grapple with their understanding of their faith with others. Since 2011, when Bible Society first began preparing specially designed Bible resources for Easter camps, more than 50,000 Gospels and other resources have been given away to youth throughout the country.

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Baptist / F A M I L Y N E W S

A Family Graduation It was a true family affair at the Carey Graduation this year with three members from the same family graduating together. Robyn Mellar‑Smith graduated with a Masters in Applied Theology, her husband, Grant Smith, with a Certificate of Christian Studies and son, Eli, with a Certificate of Applied Theology after “taking a year out with God” from his tertiary studies in Economics and Public Policy at Victoria University. Life has certainly changed for this household over the past twenty years. In 2005 Robyn and Grant were living in Morrinsville. Robyn was a homeschooling mother while Grant worked as a software engineer. But God had other plans and one night, “Jesus just stood in my lounge and called me to ministry,” recalls Robyn. “He said the fields are ripe unto harvest and I am calling you to be a worker.” The family moved to Auckland, and three years later Robyn graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Theology and Certificate in Pastoral Leadership. Carey was a different place in 2006. Robyn was the only female pastoral student training alongside ten male classmates. “Back then there were no

Robyn Mellar-Smith receiving her award from Grant Harris, Chair of the Carey Baptist College Board

Grant Smith receiving his Certificate of Christian Studies

Eli Smith receiving his Certificate of Applied Theology

female lecturers and fewer female students. It felt like a very male-dominated environment.” Robyn is glad to witness the sea-change evident in 2017. There is a significant increase in the number of women training for both Pastoral Leadership and Youth Pastoral Leadership, and countless others studying Applied Theology. Juggling study, work, and the demands of raising a family have always been a team effort for Robyn and Grant. “It’s like a dance, a partnership. Not many women could say they drop their dirty washing in the basket in the morning and its clean and washed by the time they come home. I am very blessed,” says Robyn with a smile. It was while she was Pastor at Epuni Baptist Church in Lower Hutt that Robyn heard God once again speak clearly to her: “I want you to go back to Carey and do your Masters.” Grant agreed that this was God’s call. The study was a huge piece of work and at times the research was daunting, however, with the encouragement of the Carey lecturers and support of her family, Robyn completed her thesis in March: “The Place of Prayer in Decision Making: Explorations in New Zealand Baptist Pastors’ Experiences.”

New pastor for Omokoroa Peninsula Baptist Church It was with much pleasure and gratitude to God that Omokoroa Baptist welcomed and commissioned Howard and Jane Cross to be their first full-time pastors. They have been gathering together regularly as a church family in the Settlers’ Hall for the past twelve years, and it was very fitting and symbolic that their first part-time pastor, John Douglas, led them there in the commissioning of Howard and Jane in February. They were blessed with the attendance of many faithful preachers who have taught, supported, encouraged, and challenged them over the past twelve years. Their coming was testimony to the faithfulness of God, as they have all had input into the life of the church with the expectation of establishing a Baptist faith community that would be another tangible expression of the love of God within Omokoroa. The hall resounded with God’s praises, and some even thought that the roof may have lifted during this time—but there was no real concern for safety!

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Howard, Jane, and their youngest child, Caleb, have moved down from Kaitaia where they had been pastoring for the last five years at Hope Christian Centre. They left a thriving family church with many community links and activities, and in many ways it was a difficult decision for them to leave. But they sensed the call of God, in the midst of all the seeking and praying, and took a step of faith trusting “him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). The hope of the whole church family is that the good news of Jesus Christ will be faithfully proclaimed and demonstrated within the community and that people will be changed as they come into contact with the living God, who is an expert at turning lives upside down for the better.

Graduation was an exciting day. Eli travelled up from Wellington (where he is continuing tertiary study) to re‑connect with friends he had made, and there were a number of people from Robyn’s new church, Eastview Baptist Church, who came to support. Ethan Miller, who is now Associate Pastor at Eastview, also graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Theology— making it not only a related family affair but also a church family one, and a “pretty special” one at that.

Congratulations to all Graduands of Class 2016

Milestone for Cultural Diversity 2017 was a significant milestone for Carey Graduation as we graduated our biggest cohort of Māori and Pacifica students. Ten graduands in total; four with Certificates of Applied Theology (all gained through completing the Intermission course), five with Bachelors, and one with a Postgraduate Diploma. We are so proud of our student’s achievement and we acknowledge their family and friends who supported them throughout their study. It was great to have the auditorium packed with their supporters and enjoy the different cultural nuances of tautoko. We look forward to this being the first of many graduations with such significant numbers.

Congratulations to our Māori and Pacifica students

Grahame Walker commissioned as Baptist Ecumenical Chaplain for Auckland Hospital Mental Health Services

Reverend Grahame Walker was commissioned as Baptist Ecumenical Chaplain for the Auckland Hospital Mental Health Services in March this year.

Grahame previously served for four years as pastor of Titirangi Baptist Church, and also headed up the Pastor Health and Development Department at the Baptist Resource Centre. The commissioning was a special occasion, and was attended by colleagues of Grahame both past and present. Reverend Murray Cottle, from Northern Baptist Association, reminded Grahame that his call was both gift and task, and as such comes with responsibility and commitment. Grahame responded to the call by accepting the appointment of Chaplain, and committed himself to work alongside those who are dedicated to healing and wholeness, to serve as a member of the chaplaincy team, and to be open to the opportunities in offering support to patients, families, and staff. Grahame chose Matthew 25:34-46 as his commissioning Scripture.

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Baptist / F A M I L Y N E W S

Flaxmere Baptist Church and the Kai Collective Hawkes Bay is a region that is often described as the “fruit bowl” of New Zealand. Over 60% of New Zealand’s apples and over 40% of stone fruit are grown in the region. It is also where Watties was started, and that legacy continues with a large Heinz Watties factory still based in the area. Despite this, Hawkes Bay is also a region that includes some of the communities with the highest deprivation index scores in New Zealand. Going without food or needing to make poor food choices in order to pay bills is part of everyday life for large numbers of people in the community of Flaxmere. Flaxmere Baptist is a small church, with few resources, in a community with high needs. However, they are also in a region where other organisations are already working— there are plenty of opportunities and God is working. In 2012, there were a series of community meetings, organised by the Hastings District Council, to discuss these needs and opportunities. As a result, the Kai Collective was formed. This is a collective of charities, community groups, and supporters, run by a committee of volunteers and chaired by Pastor Andrew Reyngoud

from Flaxmere Baptist Church. The Kai Collective provides a single point of contact to those who donate food. They co-ordinate the collection of bulk food donations and provide storage for it. These donated food items are then picked up by charities and organisations as required and they in turn give the food to those who are in need. This service is done at no cost, avoids duplication, and each organisation remains autonomous. The only rule is that goods must never be sold. This collaborative approach has meant that the Kai Collective has been able to handle the donations of bulk quantities of food that are characteristic of Hawke’s Bay. Using volunteers and donated storage (including the front areas of the church behind the pulpit) has meant that it has been able to operate free of charge. On average, the Kai Collective distributes eleven tonnes of food per year and has contacts from over sixty organisations including Heinz Watties, McCains, churches, women’s refuge, Plunket, Family Works, schools, marae, food banks, and other charities. It continues to be a wonderful success. God is at work.

A great experience for parents and teens JH Aotearoa provides adventure experiences with challenges in the great outdoors, and focuses on the relationships between parents and teens, or spouses. It was an amazing experience for one mother and son from Manukau City Baptist Church. Watching a promotional video at her church, Aly felt a tug at her heart. She really wanted to take her son, Tom. It wasn’t that she relished the thought of teetering high above the ground on a rope, throwing herself down a cliff face, or peddling madly down a narrow track. Tom would love all that. It was just that she wanted the opportunity to spend some time with her fifteen-year-old and give God an opportunity to speak into their lives. She prayed, “Jesus, if you want Tom and I to go then please provide a way.” About three weeks out, Aly received an email from JH Aotearoa and she and Tom were on their way. In the meantime, several other parents from their church had also signed up. Even better, there were people who generously sponsored others which meant that a couple of single parents and their teens could also go. Aly was blown away by the thought and organisation that went into the camp, and she sensed God has his hand on

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this ministry: “You can literally sense the prayer of the amazing volunteers over each camper.” Tom and Aly got to spend some very cool time together talking about topics such as dating, friends, family relationships, physical involvement, and substance abuse. Aly got to spend time with an awesome bunch of parents and go to some practical, biblically-based parenting seminars. They both listened to teaching on topics such as, “What is my God purpose?” and, “Having a soul of obedience.” Aly found that taking time out with Tom to talk, pray, and have fun in Rotorua, while soaking up some amazing teaching that glorifies our Saviour, was a perfect recipe. As a result, it is now easier to talk with Tom about the hard stuff, and she is more confident in herself as a parent (coach not cop!). Best of all, Tom is enjoying a new closeness with God and his Word. As for the adventure stuff... let’s just say that Aly has become a regular mountain biker since JH Aotearoa, after deciding that peddling madly can actually be quite fun—her outdoors and sports-loving husband is pretty stoked about that! Baptist Churches of New Zealand will be offering three scholarships for the next course.

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In Memoriam

PASTOR JAMES CHARLES (JIM) HURN: LIFELONG DISCIPLE AND DISCIPLEMAKER 5TH JULY 1935 – 6TH MAY 2017 On the 10th May, a packed auditorium at Bethlehem Baptist Church celebrated Jim’s life and living legacy. Kaye and Jim, who only three days previously had celebrated fifty-nine years of marriage, came to a faith-encounter with Jesus during the mid-sixties through the witness of a work colleague. This encounter was characterised by their call into both faith and lifelong disciple‑making. Jim grew up in Palmerston North, an electrician by trade, and began his faith journey and discipleship at the then Awapuni Baptist Church. Serving Jesus with others, he never lost the early passion of the “Awapuni days”—it continually and contagiously grew and was renewed. From serving with coffee bar ministry outreaches at Palmerston North’s Teen Challenge Centre and Palmerston North Christian Centre, Jim was called to Faith Bible College in Welcome Bay, Tauranga. For more than two decades, Jim and Kaye served at “Faith” in their respective roles of Dean and Registrar. Thousands were inspired, equipped, and formed within New Zealand and

beyond through their ministry to students and churches. This ministry extended into the South Pacific, Australia, and Asia, and has continued since those days. Jim then went on to plant and pastor Matua Baptist Church (1994-2000) and in 2003, became an associate pastor and itinerant minister in the Bethlehem Baptist Church (BBC) team and community. As an itinerant pastor, he and Kaye together worked with Promise Keepers and visited hundreds of churches and groups around New Zealand, mentored pastors, and tirelessly preached and taught within BBC’s ministries. In recent months, as he experienced the progression of his illness and short cycles of remission, Jim spoke (preaching and teaching) on what dying means from a biblical view of God and his goodness: Death is not the opposite of life; death is the opposite of birth. God is our Creator who allows us to be born. In his good time we depart this sphere of living and return to him. Death is simply the anaesthetic God uses while he changes bodies. I have not left the land of the living; I have actually left the land of the dying that I may enter the land where life is eternal. I go in peace having left my dying day to a living and loving God. Jim passed away peacefully at home on May 6th 2017—the dearly loved and very well-respected husband of Kaye; father and fatherin-law of Richard and Jenni, Philip and Denise, David and Ursula; Poppa to Chris, Jonny, Jeremy, Chloe, Emily, Abbi, Bradden, Kaleb (deceased) and Tyler; and Great-Poppa to Sarah Jane, Jakob, Ellie, Isabella and Caitlin.


Our children and young people are encouraged to discover faith through a range of activities including craft, contemplation, plays, and various social and outdoor events. There is a great opportunity for someone to coordinate all of this. This part-time (0.4 FTE) role is responsible for: 1. Holding the collective vision for children’s programmes and pastoral care of our young people up to school-leaver age. 2. Working with our minister, where appropriate, to coordinate the themes and emphases of the children’s activities. 3. Planning the Children’s Space curriculum, together with the planning team. 4. Leading and/or coordinating Sunday morning children’s activities. 5. Providing, where appropriate, a spiritual component to children’s social activities. 6. Overseeing health and safety matters relevant to the role. EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST BY 4TH JUNE 2017 TO OR People, P.O. Box 8912, Symonds Street, Auckland 1150

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Christian-based accommodation for young people studying in Auckland. The Apartments are part of the Baptist Tabernacle ministry to young people. The Queen Street Student Apartments feature: • Fully self-contained apartment‑style accommodation • Large communal lounge and recreational areas • Convenient Queen Street location • Near all major Auckland City bus routes • On-site managers • Full electronic access and security system • Friendly church next door • Fully furnished including linen, crockery, cutlery, etc. FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT 09 354 3992


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Avonhead Baptist Church is celebrating fifty years as a constituted church. LABOUR WEEKEND 2017

All past and present church family are invited to join the celebrations. Due to building restrictions numbers are limited so register early. TO REGISTER YOUR INTEREST OR FOR FURTHER INFORMATION EMAIL





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32 toru tekau mā rua † v.133 no.3

great is your faithfulness.

Glo bal Mis si on

Photo of the month “But how can they call to him for help if they have not believed? And how can they believe if they have not heard the message? And how can they hear if the message is not proclaimed? And how can the message be proclaimed if the messengers are not sent out?” (Romans 10:14-15 GNB) This trainee monk will have the opportunity to hear the gospel, thanks to our team in South East Asia.


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Baptist / G L O B A L M I S S I O N

A word from Rachel HARVEST YOUR FIELD These days, it’s not uncommon to hear people trot out the phrase, “The world is coming to us, so mission can be done here.” It’s true. The nations are coming to Aotearoa. The question is, “How engaged are we with these people from other nations?” In a recent dialogue with some folk about global mission, some expressed a desire to understand and engage with a particular people group in their neighbourhood. It quickly became clear, however, that many in the group weren’t at all sure what ‘engagement’ actually meant or whether they had the skills to do it. The discussion moved to talk about the need for solid apologetics and high level evangelism to these new immigrants, while very little was said about the place of simple friendship or relationship. Friendship requires something deeper than mere conversation. Relationship is two-way. Relationship requires commitment, loyalty, and time. Relationship requires being alongside in action and support. It requires presence and sacrifice of ourselves for the sake of others. The stories in the Global Mission pages that follow speak to just that—the power and place of simple friendship and relationship; of interest and presence that leads to trust, acceptance, and opportunity to share the grace, power, and love of Jesus. In one of the following stories, the writers comment about being “ordinary people bringing God’s presence into the various places he put us.” It may sound simple but it’s also so easy to underestimate the places we are—work, school, clubs, community—and the opportunities of relationship that sit in front of us every day. Are you prepared to listen to the prompt of God directly and through others to discover what those opportunities are for you? Are you prepared to step beyond comfort into discomfort and the unknown for the sake of Jesus? Not all will go but you might. Not all will stay but you might. Go or stay, our mission fields are the ordinary places that we as ordinary people find ourselves. The challenge is to determine that we will be the ones to harvest those fields.  gā Mihi Nui, N Rachel Murray, General Director

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ne of the misconceptions many people have about ‘missionaries’ is that they are superspiritual people performing superhuman tasks on a daily basis. Having not left the shores of New Zealand until we were in our fifties, Peter and I had already discovered we were missionaries while living and working in our home country­­—just ordinary people bringing God’s presence into the various places he put us. We discovered that mission is merely a matter of location. Having said that, God also chooses to take ordinary people to places that are outside their comfort zones so he can grow them into a deeper understanding of him and his work in the world. So, having been taken out of Aotearoa and all that was familiar to us, and transported to South East Asia, what did we learn during our twelve years there? 1. ‘Being’ is more important than ‘doing.’ Plans fall down every day—what we thought we would be doing often didn’t happen, while the very thing we didn’t expect to happen did. That means we must hold plans very loosely and be prepared to go with the flow. Our western culture is very much orientated towards goal setting and measuring achievement.


That can lead to feelings of frustration and anxiety when our plans fall through and we fail to achieve the outcomes we desired. Letting go and ‘being’ is not easy for us. We try to involve ourselves in constant activity. We have found hanging out with people and building good relationships results in positive outcomes that far outweigh programmes and planned activities. 2. Our human efforts accomplish nothing (John 15:5). We need to abide in Christ daily and allow him to bring things about in his way and in his time. The desire to be seen to be constantly doing something

and striving to make an effort is irresistible; while doing the things God calls us to do and trusting him with outcomes is not always quite so easy. All we do must flow out of an intimate relationship with our Lord. In that way, we don’t expend energy on the wrong causes and we have the energy to do what things God considers important. 3. I am not the saviour of the world. We are called to be part of what the Father is doing; that means we must do what we are skilled and gifted in. However, the saving, transforming work is God’s alone— we are equally in need of his





saving, transforming work within us. Our ‘work’ is to live lives of grace wherever we are, doing only what we are called and empowered to do. It is a huge relief when we realise we don’t have to save anyone, we simply point them to God and allow his Spirit to work within them. 4. God is always almost ‘late,’ but always on time. Over and over we see that our timetable and his are not the same. Trusting that God is in control and not trying to manipulate events for our own ends is another challenge for us Westerners. Somehow it seems lazy or foolhardy to give up control of the timetable—even when we are giving up over to God. But, as most of us have probably come to discover, while his timetable may often not match ours, it’s always on time! I guess I can say, like the Psalmist, “I have been young, and now am old,” and God has never let us down. Instead we marvel at what he does and that he lets us be a part of it.

Story: Lynley

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Baptist / G L O B A L M I S S I O N


Stories of Treasure and Transformation


his face when he got to use it was unforgettable— and so was the inventive way he used it in his song. As the song took shape, with classmates adding piano, more vocals, and drums, he was ecstatic to hear his own song coming to life in recorded form. The finished songs made a ripple beyond the students too. When the staff heard the recordings, they were keen to get hold of them! It seems the recordings provide a way to rally around these young guys, and instill a sense of pride in what they’re doing with their music. What an answer to prayer it has been, to have the chance to be involved in the lives of these young guys in this way.

From a Tranzsend worker in East Asia


Liberation and Worship


I’ve read the story of the Exodus a lot this year; living in a neighbourhood like the one surrounding Freeset makes the relentless call of Yahweh to “Let my people go!” reverberate as inescapably relevant. For many of us who live in the ‘hood,’ that phrase is our heart’s cry. The liberating reality of our God is the healing that our streets and our spirits yearn for. Joining with this very God who is committed to journeying alongside his people from captivity to freedom, no matter how long the road, seems to make sense in a non-sensical kind of way. So often though, the Exodus petition is cut short. “Let my people go...” has a second part—“ that they may worship me!” The fullness of liberation is always found in the fullness of worshiping the one who liberates. At Freeset we are still figuring out how that looks for our community of men and women and all the diversity that their stories hold. Conventional ways of church didn’t seem to be working anymore and so this year we brought our monthly worship services back into our own physical space, allowing our factory to draw people in who would normally be sitting on the fringes. For a neighbourhood well-acquainted with poverty and exploitation, being the recipient of a ‘good gift’ is foreign, but we decided to centre our worship times around the image of the God who gives good gifts; the prayer being that together we would understand more and more how the God who freed them from the trade is the same God in Christ Jesus whose


Music and Disabilities I’m always looking for ways to relate to the locals where I live so that I can develop relationships with them. Over the past few months I’ve been leading weekly music sessions at a local school for students with autism. The music teachers introduced me to two students—“Stevie,” who had an ingenious collection of songs he had written, and “Felix,” a drummer. We started playing and recording songs together—a creative process that developed to include collaboration, exploring new sounds, and sharing the music. Little moments along the way let us know when we were onto something good. After searching high and low for the ‘ocarina’ keyboard sound that Stevie wanted, the smile on


about the work of Tranzsend at

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deep desire is to see us healed and made whole. We focused on the gifts of rest, joy, and forgiveness because of how redemptive such kingdom values are in a neighbourhood heavily impacted by consumption and greed, a robbing of innocence, and deep-seated injustice. Our services are messy because they reflect something of us, and that’s okay because there is much beauty to be heard in the collective cry, “Let my people go, so that they may worship [him!]” and even more beauty to be experienced in the dance between acts of liberation and acts of worship.

From a Tranzsend worker in South Asia

Thankfulness Challenge When I found myself and those around me focusing more and more on the negative, I knew it was time to do something about it. The small group I run with teenagers in the local church I attend, always began with each person sharing something good that happened during the week. But my students were sharing nothing. When pressed, they would say, “Nothing good happens.” (Perhaps that is a somewhat typical teenaged response?) So, we initiated a challenge. As we went through each day we had to write down all the things that made us smile or laugh, or the things we were thankful for, no matter how small they might be. It was amazing the change in what was being shared each week and also the change in our attitudes. In the beginning, it was difficult to find things to share and the lists were small; like being thankful for coffee each day or that we caught our bus on time. However, as time went on, it became easier to identify the good stuff. The more we focused on the things we had to be thankful for, the more we became positive in our outlook. Sharing time became less of a chore and more of a joy. This all happened at a really stressful time of the year; at a time when I myself was feeling particularly down. It quickly became the thing that kept me going throughout my busy days. It’s amazing how changing the way we look at our day, and focusing first on thankfulness and praise, can actually change our entire mindset and health. We now look back on those points and just re-reading them makes us laugh and remember that good things happen every day.

From a Tranzsend worker in South Asia





S u m i t a ’s S t o r y — P a r t Tw o Remember Sumita? I told you about her in the last magazine—about how she escaped slavery and returned to her village in Nepal. Let me tell you about her village. At the same time as I was talking to Sumita about the possibility of freedom, I began thinking about what freedom looked like for the many women who had been trafficked from Nepal. My conclusion was that freedom looked like going home. I had been building relationships with Nepal-based freedom businesses for around eighteen months. In the process of talking with them, it became obvious that God was saying something to all of us—we needed to act! In all, around ten organisations committed to work together to do whatever it took to bring women home. One of those organisations is the aftercare home where Sumita is staying. Those who were at the meeting went back and told the girls about it. These girls had all been rescued from Indian brothels and returned to Nepal. From that first day, those girls made a commitment to pray for their Nepali sisters still in India. Sumita is the first answer to those prayers. You see, when I travelled to Sumita’s village there was something ominous that struck me; there were no girls between about twelve and thirty-five-years-old. NONE!! That’s because Sumita’s village is a known trafficking source. Being hit hard by the 2015 earthquake meant young girls became even more vulnerable because of the poverty of their families. Our vision is to be able to send many more girls back to Nepal, and place them into supportive, sustainable employment. We already have another young woman awaiting paperwork to return. God is definitely doing something with these Nepali women. Join me in prayer for them.

From a Tranzsend worker in South Asia

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Baptist / G L O B A L M I S S I O N




It is with both joy and sadness that we announce Carolynne, serving in South Asia with GEMS school, has recently submitted her resignation to Tranzsend and her work with GEMS School. Carolynne and Shamon, a local believer, have been pursuing a relationship for some time. The couple recently set a wedding date—­August this year. In mid-June, Carolynne will return to New Zealand to complete her final leave. In early August, Carolynne will return to South Asia to marry Shamon, and live independently of Tranzsend. We invite you to join with us in asking for God’s blessing on her and Shamon and their future together.

We are pleased to announce that we have a new family who will be joining The Loyal Workshop team later this year. Andy and Lou, along with their two children Connor (five) and Emilie (three), from Northpoint Baptist Church in New Plymouth, are excited to be heading to South Asia for two years as Tranzsend short-term workers. The decision to head overseas has been stirring within Andy and Lou for the past three years; time God has spent confirming to them that this is something he wants them to do. Andy and Lou will spend the next few months raising financial and prayer support. Please pray for them as they prepare to embark on this new journey.

BOOKS FOR BANGLADESH The Bangladesh book project is complete! Over the past several months we have been receiving donated books suitable for Bangladeshi children and teens. The project was a huge undertaking with (for immigration reasons) every book title and author having to be recorded. In all, hundreds of books for all ages, from quite basic to young readers’ level, were donated. The books are now in Bangladesh and being distributed to fourteen different schools and hostels around the country to build up their libraries. Thanks to those who donated books and who helped sort them. And special thanks to Nova Gibson who coordinated the project.

PRAYER AND SELF DENIAL 2017 A big thank you to all of you who have supported our Prayer and Self Denial appeal this year. We hope you have enjoyed exploring the many different treasures that have been handed down to us. This is just a small reminder that it’s not too late to use Prayer and Self Denial in your church. If you are interested in highlighting Baptist overseas mission in your church, visit or phone the Tranzsend office (09) 526 8440.

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NZBMS, through Mission World, present the following opportunities to join in God’s mission with one of our other strategic mission partners. • Artists in residence (Kenya) with SIM. A unique opportunity to join Kenyan artists for creative folk who practice in the visual and performance-based arts. Working with Children at Risk ministry, supporting those who work with street kids and other vulnerable children in the city. • Dorm parents/dorm helpers plus a nurse (Senegal, West Africa) with WEC. For an international school. English-based, basic level of French desirable. • Administrators, Marketing Manager, Community Relations Co-ordinator (East Asia) with OMF. An opportunity to serve in a growing business environment. • Executive Assistant (Central Asia) with Interserve. Serving with an NGO caring for trafficked children being rehabilitated and reintegrated into society. Support person to the Director of the Programme.

• Short-term IT roles (range of locations) with MAF. For specific projects, to cover for IT staff away on home assignment, or to fill staffing gaps while replacement permanent staff are recruited. Good experience in server and network management and troubleshooting required. • Administrator with focus on financial management (South Asia) with Tranzsend. To support the management and oversight of the NGO. • Finance Personnel (Pacific) with Wycliffe. Conducting ‘internal audits’ around the Pacific and beyond. One-three weeks at a time. • English teachers (Latin America) with Pioneers. Serve future Latino mission workers who need English to be part of international teams.










For more information and to express an interest email or phone 09 526 8446.

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Baptist Magazine v133 n3  

June / July 2017

Baptist Magazine v133 n3  

June / July 2017