v.131 † no.5
Baptist Churches of New Zealand
BUSINESS CEO OR WELFARE PROFESSIONAL?
NAVIGATING THE ROAD WELL FORGIVING WHEN IT REALLY HURTS
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SUFFERING AND THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD
Revelation 21: 4
Good Grief † Child Sponsorship
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Can there be hope?......................4 Magazine Manager Angela Pedersen Editor Sarah Vaine Art Director Sue Pepper Global Mission Greg Knowles Business Manager Daniel Palmer __ Contact Editorial email@example.com Churches in Action firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising email@example.com Website baptistmag.org.nz Baptist Churches of New Zealand PO Box 12-149, Penrose, Auckland 1642, New Zealand Telephone 09 526 0333 __ Printing Image Print, Auckland Photography shutterstock.com and lightstock.com __ The NZ Baptist Magazine is the magazine of the Baptist Churches of New Zealand
RE FLE CT IONS
Navigating the road well.............8 RE SO UR CE
R E VIE WS
Equipping you.............................9 D I SC I P L E SHIP
Suffering and the faithfulness of God....................10 FA M I LY
YO U T H
Good grief.................................16 C U LT U R E
Forgiving when it really hurts................................. 19 LE A D ER SHIP
Business CEO or welfare professional?.................22 GLO BA L
In a class of their own..................26 Changing lives one at a time.......28
Distributed through local Baptist Churches in New Zealand and dependent on their contributions. Registered with POHQ as a newspaper. ISSN 1176-8711
D I RE C T ORY
A word from the Editor In this issue of the Baptist Magazine, we are looking at the painful areas of loss and grief, the faithfulness of God in the darkest places and some of the things we can do to journey healing with him. We are very aware that this is not a complete guide and there will be important areas that we have not been able to include. This does not diminish their importance. We also have no desire to give pat answers and are aware that there are sometimes no straightforward answers. Our prayer is that we might provide a place of authenticity, hope and encouragement to remember one another in our journey ~ Sarah Vaine.
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CAN THERE BE
HOPE? Mark and Suz Holmes had been married for ten happy years and had four little daughters. Life was really good for the family... until April 7th 2000, when Mark was diagnosed with a massive brain tumour. 4 â€ v.131 no.5 baptistmag.org.nz
Over the next ten years, Suz rode a traumatic rollercoaster towards widowhood. Yet, somehow, she has emerged more in love with God than ever before. Suz, with co-writer Jenny Wheeler, has written a book about this journey called Missing You, Finding Hope in Hardship. Here, the reader is allowed to eavesdrop on an intimate exchange with God, where Suz looks God full in the face and demands answers. We are privileged to share a little of the story here as well as some thoughts about a few of the tough questions. Suz, tell us a little about your journey after April 7th 2000. Suz: The next year was rough as we faced cancer, surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and then the conversation no person ever wants to have with a doctor: “there is nothing else we can do.” At age thirty-one, Mark was sent home to make the most of the life he had left, which according to the average was about two years. Three years later, Mark was very sick: he needed a wheelchair when we went out and had to have assistance to shower, shave and dress himself. He suffered three different kinds of seizures, had constant headaches as well as stabbing pains in his head which would send me or my daughters running for morphine. He was incontinent, threw up on a regular basis, had to have his food cut up for him, his drinks made for him and was unable to do most things for himself. We thought for sure the tumour was big and Mark did not have
long to live. But a routine MRI sent us on a trip we never expected, never wanted and only through the grace of God did we survive. It revealed the tumour was gone and in its place, causing the symptoms Mark was now living with, was radiation necrosis. Basically the radiation therapy which had been administered to kill off any tumour that was left after surgery had continued to work and had killed off a whole lot of healthy brain. Mark was now brain damaged and disabled from this treatment. And he was no longer terminal. This was now his life! “I’ve watched myself many times on the TV documentary that was being filmed at this consultation – the documentary which was intended to record Mark’s and my faith journey through this dark time... My darling Mark is not going to die. He is going to live on and on, just half the man I married... ‘You must think this is terrible that I am crying, but I have to look after him,’ I manage to croak. I point to my husband of thirteen years in his wheelchair, also stunned at the news we have just received. He is overweight, his face swollen from the heavy steroid dose he has been on to reduce the swelling around what now appears to be the non-existent tumour. He is looking from me to Dr. Harvey and back to me again. ‘It’s a lot of b----hard work, and to think that I could have years of this.’ There’s a long, tense silence.” (Excerpt from Missing You: Finding Hope in Hardship).
I think if the end result of heartache is a more intimate relationship with God as Father, then the outcome is good.
Mark and Suz, 1997
Nothing in this world could ever have prepared me for the journey I faced from that dreadful day. As a woman who loved God, who had served him on the mission field and who had been truly confident in the goodness of my Lord, I was now thrown into a crisis of faith and a journey of wondering where my God was in all of this. How could he allow this to happen to us? For nearly ten years, Mark was sick and as a family we lived with something that was truly horrible for everyone. Yet Mark’s sudden death in December 2009 took the girls and I on yet another awful journey as we faced life without him. The only comfort came from knowing Mark was now eternally healed and living in the loving presence of the Saviour he had trusted through it all. You asked where God was in all of this. Did you come to know this? Suz: God was right there. He put up with me screaming and yelling at him. He put up with me giving him advice on a better plan for our lives. He spoke to me constantly through the Bible, through friends, through strangers, through church and with that “still small voice” that I got to know so well.
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Nothing scared him off and I knew that nothing could because he promises in his word not to leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31: 6). When you asked, “Why?” did you get any answers? Suz: No. I wish I could say I had, but I didn’t. In fact, I got the same response that Job did thousands of years before: “Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind: ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words?’” (Job 38: 1-2). God is God. He is unboxable and unlimited. He allows what he allows, he stops what he stops, and he heals sometimes. I don’t and will never know his reasoning behind what goes on in this world and why Mark and I went through such a trial. But what I do know is that the character of God is unfathomable love. I know that when I finally made peace with this fact and stopped trying to boss God around and manipulate him to do it my way, when I finally relinquished control and let God be God, it was then and only then that I had peace and could learn how to be content in all situations like Paul (Philippians 4: 11). Is it possible to journey such heartache well? Suz: “Well.” This is a deeply personal word. I don’t think I journeyed Mark’s illness or death well. In fact, for most of the ten years I was screaming, crying or pleading with God to change it and then when Mark eventually died I wondered what I had been thinking! Death was ten times worse than what had gone before. Here I was, a deeply committed Christian who had been a missionary to other nations and yet I wrestled continually with God and with myself about how to cope with this heartache. But I think if the end result of heartache is a more intimate relationship with God as Father, then the outcome is good. I know that for me, it did bring me into a closer relationship because I couldn’t and still can’t do life alone.
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Can you expand on this? Suz: During Mark’s illness, I saw firsthand what a horrible person I was and how deeply I needed my Saviour. This was good for me as being brought up in a Christian family and becoming a Christian myself at an early age, I wore a little self-righteousness that I honestly did not know I had. That got ripped off me when I came face-to-face with the person I was when I wasn’t in proper relationship with Jesus: I was acting like a truly nasty person towards the man I had vowed to love, honour and cherish in all circumstances until death. I am so grateful for the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross so that I could be forgiven of my dreadful nature and I am so grateful to understand more deeply what that sacrifice has actually saved me from. Because of this long journey full of heartbreak and suffering and because of what God did during that time, I am completely besotted with my heavenly Father. I want to spend every day of my life and every breath in my body either worshipping him or telling the world about him. He deserves nothing less. Relationships over tasks have become my priority. In the past, I tended to be more task-orientated and of course that is part of the territory when you have young children, but that is no longer my focus at all. There is a great quote from Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This is the truth. I remember how Mark made me feel: loved, cherished, adored, and worthy. So I want to live my life loving people and making them feel special. My girls are not going to remember what I did for them but they are going to remember how I loved them. In his last few years, Mark was unable to do most anything but he still cuddled the girls, talked with them and told them he loved them. Their lasting memory is of a daddy who loved them and whom they loved and it had nothing to do with what he did for them.
Should we move on from such heartache? If so, what does this look like as a Christian? Suz: No we shouldn’t “move on.” We should allow God the time and space to heal us from our grief. Then when he has done this, we are made whole with suffering as part of that wholeness. This is a gradual process of honesty before God and letting all the emotions come to the surface for us to acknowledge and for God to heal. I walked a long slow path to healing and it was made complete when I went for prayer with two people I trusted. But that was the final ointment after years of grace, love and comfort from the Holy Spirit. Who supported you through this and what did they do that was helpful? Suz: There are too many people to even begin to mention and each did their own personal thing that helped. People often think they have nothing to offer to others going through a hard time. That is rubbish. Writing a card of encouragement, dropping around a meal or baking, letting someone rant about how bad life is, taking them out for a coffee... seriously, anything and everything was a wonderful help, support, and encouragement. How would you journey this with others? Suz: By just being their genuine friend. We need to let people be honest and not freak out if they seem to be having a crisis of faith or if they are blaming God. We need to let people voice what is going on in their heads. God is big enough to take care of it and he can handle someone having a crisis of faith better than we can. Being present and available is important. I know that when someone is going through a hard time, whether cancer, infertility, divorce or other heartache, we naturally shy away if we haven’t experienced that particular journey. We feel a bit anxious that the person suffering won’t cope with our
blessed situation, but that’s not the case most of the time. Even if it is hard for someone to rejoice in other people’s blessings when life is so sad, most people would prefer to have others around them, loving them, rather than keeping their distance. Do you believe that God heals? Suz: Absolutely and without doubt! I will continue to pray for healing for those who are sick, but when I pray I know God views healing very differently to me. He views it with both sides of eternity in his vision. Mark was not healed on earth but now he is completely whole and healed in heaven where sickness will not touch him again. There are times when God heals people on earth and there are times when he doesn’t. I don’t understand his ways but as he says in Isaiah 55: 9: “Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
Jesus healed people when he was on earth and so because of his example, I will continue to pray for and believe for healing. Whether I ever see that person healed does not matter, but what does matter is that I am following my Saviour’s example and then I leave it in his hands, according to his will. Closing thoughts Suz: My prayer is that all who hear my story will either come to know God for the first time or know him better and experience that he is so very real and so very present in all our trials and suffering. __ Story: Suz Holmes and Jenny Wheeler Suz Holmes, from Manukau City Baptist Church and Jenny Wheeler, from Life Church, met at an interview for Life Church magazine ten years ago and felt a Holy Spirit connection. Missing You grew from there. Get your copy of Missing You: Finding Hope in Hardship on amazon.com. You can check out Suz’s blog at suzholmes.com.
TAKE OUTS! 1. Is there something that you are journeying with that is painful? What might help you with this? 2. Are you able to see where God is? Are you able to believe he loves you deeply through all circumstances? 3. Are there areas that you need God to heal? How could you explore this? 4. Are there people around you who are struggling with their pain? What could you do to support them?
21 NOV 2015
Carey Baptist College 473, Great South Road, Penrose, Auckland Cost $40 (includes lunch) Register and pay online at www.carey.ac.nz Email enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
A CELEBRATION OF PREACHING, NARRATIVE AND CREATIVITY
There’s nothing like a good story well-told. So why do preachers so often reduce the great stories of Scripture to a dry lecture with three points? Come and be inspired and equipped in the art of narrative preaching. This festival will be a blend of interactive workshops exploring practical issues regarding narrative preaching, and a host of creative sermons from New Zealand preachers showcasing the rich potential of this form of preaching.
This colourful and energetic event will inspire and equip you to embrace narrative forms of preaching that both honour the scriptures and engage your listeners.
Besides a rich cast of New Zealand preachers, we will also hear from: Tatiana Hotere. Tatiana is an accomplished actor, dancer, artist and public speaker. She has a Diploma in Film Making and a Bachelor of Theology. She has appeared in a wide range of screen and stage roles, most recently starring in the Newmarket Stage Company’s production of Death and the Maiden and TV3’s Westside. Stu Duval. Stu is a professional storyteller and visual artist who performs regularly in schools and corporate settings. Coming from a background in Advertising as an award-winning Creative Director, he is also a novelist, painter, and preacher.
Baptist / R E F L E C T I O N S F R O M C R A I G V E R N A L L
NAVIGATING THE ROAD WELL Church leadership can be demanding: the call of Christ plus real or perceived expectations from others and self can result in ‘hallowed hyper-activity.’ Seeking physical, emotional, spiritual and relational well-being is key to serving sustainably.
On a road trip, I like to set cruise control to 100kph and then manage the speed when corners come up. That’s a very simple strategy for getting from one place to another. In my work life, I’ve attempted to do the same: find the optimum pace and establish a consistent level of output. Not surprisingly I’ve found that this model is good for driving but miserable for life: it assumes that all my dials can be managed simultaneously and that I have control over all the challenges I’ll face. But when unexpected problems hit and I already feel like I’m operating at maximum, the road can lose traction – this is problematic. So over time I’ve begun to use my highway illustration in a more sustainable way. Like a road trip, life will have times when it’s all uphill. During these times I have to slow down: I can’t expect to maintain 100kph without boiling over. Equally, there are times when decisions are challenging to make and awkward to navigate. I have to slow down to ensure I make good decisions and take people with me as I go. Then there are downhill times when I can take my foot off the accelerator and allow for some gravityfed momentum to keep up the speed. My default setting (which I’m still learning to overcome), is one of feeling guilty when I look around and see that life is pleasantly sustainable. Pastors can have a bad habit of maintaining busy schedules to justify their existence.
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While laziness is unacceptable, there are times when you can take advantage of the quieter periods, knowing full well that the reserves you are building up will likely be called on sometime soon. Here are some of the best pieces of advice that have helped me to seek well-being and sustainability. Some seem ridiculously simple but make a world of difference. Take time out with your spouse or a friend and over coffee or dinner consider the following: • Ensure that your basic disciplines of spiritual input are maintained. • Consistently invest in your marriage. Lock in these times tightly. • Make sure your children know that they have first rights to your time. • Own a good bed! Your day is only as good as sleep allows for. • Laugh! Sometimes after a hard day, I watch YouTube comedy before bed. • Set a date for your next break within a week of coming back from holiday. Work to a rhythm. • Set some short, medium and longterm goals for your physical health. • Have a hobby that will last you into old age. Join a club. • Get good counsel regarding your personal money management. • Create a wide circle of friends. You’re a church leader, not a monk! • Enjoy social time with fellow staff and leaders without agenda. • Have people other than your spouse who will ask care-frontational
questions about your health and wellbeing. These questions will be life, marriage and ministry-savers. • Plan your sermon series in advance. There’s nothing more draining than a Saturday night special. Don’t fool yourself that adrenaline bursts of panic are the Holy Spirit: he can guide you well into the future. Add more to this list: it’s not exhaustive. But you are! Too many church leaders have metaphorically fallen asleep at the wheel of church leadership allowing the church to drift. Your well-being is the best long-term investment that you can make for the welfare of your church and ministry life, and sustainability is your ticket to a fruitful ministry life. Seek what helps you grow and be the best you can in service for Jesus. __ Story: Craig Vernall Craig Vernall is the National Leader of the Baptist Churches of New Zealand.
TAKE OUTS! 1. What do you need to address for your well-being and sustainability? 2. Do you feel guilty when life is sustainable? Pray about this. Ask a friend to keep you accountable in your attitude.
R E SOUR CE
Where Is God When It Hurts? – Philip Yancey Beginning with the role of physical pain, this book broadens its focus to the conundrum of a good God who allows suffering. Answering the title’s query, Yancey proposes God is in us, not in the trials we undergo. Thus our focus is more constructively placed on our spiritual response to hurt than on vainly attempting to unravel cause. Yancey discusses how Christians should respond to the suffering of others, and includes questions designed for group study but also suitable for personal contemplation ~ Linda Grigg. The Hurting Parent: Help And Hope For Parents Of Prodigals – Margie M. Lewis with Gregg Lewis This book captures the emotions and pain that hurting parents feel when things go ‘wrong’ for their children. Issues of addiction, crime, sexuality, and turning away from the values parents sought to instil are discussed, amongst others. It aims to help parents understand their negative
emotional reactions and to provide survival strategies and a way through. It is written for parents who suffer, for friends who are trying to understand and for those who seek to counsel hurting families. Full of true stories, it is a candid and honest book that offers hope ~ Sally Wayte. You’ll Get Through This: Hope And Help For Your Turbulent Times – Max Lucado Max Lucado uses the Genesis story of Joseph, alongside contemporary anecdotes of suffering, and the faith of those in pain, to point to a kind of divine “Pantene” experience. Getting through tough times won’t happen overnight, he implies, but it definitely will happen – with God’s help. The book closes with a section of reflective questions, inviting readers to delve more personally into the issues it raises ~ Linda Grigg.
Resilient Ministry: What Pastors Told Us About Surviving And Thriving – Bob Burns, Tasha Chapman and Donald C. Guthrie This is one of several recent titles focusing on the epidemic of pastoral stress, burnout and failing. Five priority themes are presented for leaders who want to grow in their ability to adapt to the challenges of contemporary ministry: spiritual formation, self-care, emotional and cultural intelligence, marriage and family, and leadership and management. Each section is full of real life insights with questions to ponder for personal growth in resilience. The book aims to build awareness and to provide practical guidelines for moving from surviving to thriving ~ Jonathan Weir.
R E VIE WS
Embodying Forgiveness: A Theological Analysis – L. Gregory Jones This is widely regarded as one of the classic forgiveness texts. In a theologically insightful and brave way, Jones presents a compelling argument for people to forsake their sin, heal, and forgive. Given the difficult nature of these tasks and the widespread resistance to them, Jones draws on a wide range of sources including the Bible, Bonhoeffer, and Dostoevsky, to encourage people to embody forgiveness as a craft. In this way, he challenges the concept of cheap forgiveness, engages with critics of forgiveness, and outlines a number of key practices to assist people to forgive. A must-read text for those interested in authentic forgiveness ~ Phil Halstead.
Making Sense Of The Jigsaw Puzzle: A Parent’s Account Of A Child With Autism – Theuns and Tania Henning This frank account of parenting a child with autism showcases the daily struggles that one family encounters. Pain and joy are candidly expressed, alongside insights into this complex diagnosis, and the dynamics of family amidst complexities. Recommended for anyone who cares for those with autism and families trying to make sense of difficulties. Visit amazon.com to buy your copy. We share a follow up article on the Child & Family section of baptistmag.org.nz ~ Sarah Vaine.
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SUFFERING AND THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD A Meditation on Lamentations 3: 1-23
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One of the things I love about the Old Testament is that it doesn’t shy away from real life. It tells it how it is, showing us people of faith who are trying to work out what a life lived with God looks like in all the nitty-gritty of daily reality. So as an Old Testament scholar, who believes in the whole witness of the whole Bible, it dismays me that parts of the Bible have been ‘edited out’ of our churches and our worship. There are little-plumbed depths of the Old Testament that I’m willing to bet you’ve never heard in church! Sure, some of those parts of the Bible are edited out for good reason: they’re gory, violent, or seemingly just plain irrelevant. But I reckon there’s a breadth to Scripture that, if allowed, can connect with a whole range of human experience. As preacher Barbara Brown Taylor puts it: “Our book has everything in it – wonder and terrors, worst fears and best hopes – both for ourselves and our relationship with God.”1 I suggest that engaging with some of the lesser-known bits of the Bible can help to shed light on parts of life we’d really rather didn’t exist. One of these lesser-known books of the Bible is the book of Lamentations, a collection of five short prayers of lament. Each of these prayers expresses something of the pain and grief associated with the destruction of Jerusalem and her
rom where this man sits, it seems like God is not simply absent, not even distant, but actively against him. It is, of course, hyperbole, but I wonder whether we too can sometimes relate to the state of mind that we find in the strongman’s tirade. Who of us, in all our human frailty, cannot at times identify with his cry?
temple, and the exile to Babylon in 587BCE. It is a book that is caught in the clutches of indescribable suffering, and yes, it is depressing. But Lamentations can also offer profound comfort to those who are suffering, by inviting us in to share in its prayers of grief, lament and complaint. So I invite you now to open up your Bibles to Lamentations 3 and read along with me as we meditate on one of these complaints. Here we find the lament of a man who found that his preconceived ideas of God came crashing down when it started to conflict with his day-to-day reality. It begins with the outburst, “I am one who has seen affliction.” This first-person “I” perspective immediately allows us, as individuals, to read ourselves into the poetry. We find ourselves aligning with the heart cries of this “one” as the chapter continues. But there is more to his opening statement than this. The Hebrew word geber, translated “one” in the NRSV, but more correctly translated as “man,” has connotations of a strong man, a mighty man, perhaps even a warrior. But more than that, a geber is a man in right relationship with God: a giant, if you like, of faith. Right from the start, the speaker declares himself to be a particular kind of person: a strong man, a man of faith, a man in good standing with God. This is remarkable, in light of all that follows:
“MY SOUL is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is” (v. 17). Now, knowing the backstory of Lamentations, and recognising that in the rhetoric of the Old Testament the fall of Jerusalem is explained as punishment for sin, helps to explain why this man is so reduced. He is a byproduct of the inglories of war, left with the poor in the ruins of Jerusalem after everyone important has been taken
“I AM ONE WHO HAS SEEN AFFLICTION under the rod of God’s wrath; he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light; against me alone he turns his hand, again and again, all day long. He has made my flesh and my skin waste away, and broken my bones; he has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation; he has made me sit in darkness like the dead of long ago. He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has put heavy chains on me; though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer; he has blocked my ways with hewn stones, he has made my paths crooked. He is a bear lying in wait for me, a lion in hiding; he led me off my way and tore me to pieces; he has made me desolate; he bent his bow and set me as a mark for his arrow. He shot into my vitals the arrows of his quiver; I have become the laughingstock of all my people, the object of their taunt-songs all day long. He has filled me with bitterness, he has sated me with wormwood. He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes” (vv. 1-16).
off to Babylon. But there is a hint of woundedness here too. There is a ring of the, “Why me?” in this complaint. And this is perhaps because, before the exile, there was a particular brand of popular theology that resisted any hint that the city of Jerusalem could ever be taken by an enemy. Just like any good heresy, this Zion theology had a kernel of truth that lent it an aura of authenticity. On a good day, Zion theology affirms that God reigns from his temple on the
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“I am one who has seen affliction.”
holy hill in Jerusalem. But taken to its extreme, this Zion theology had became a kind of lucky charm, a talisman. There was a mistaken notion that the temple was there to serve and protect the city, without any corresponding recognition of the need for Jerusalem’s inhabitants to act like the people of God: justly, loving mercy and walking humbly. But with the Babylonian invasion, this theology, like the temple and the city themselves, had crumbled. And here is the strongman, brought down to the ground by a God who now seems to be acting like an enemy – instead of the immunity idol the people had made him out to be. But despite all this, despite the litany of complaint, the strongman has still asserted that he is a geber: a strongman, a man of faith. A man of faith, even though, for the moment, he feels like he is beaten down by the God he thought was for him. A man of faith, even though, at the present time, he is utterly humiliated. A man of faith, even though he dwells, for
the time being, in darkness and desolation. This is a faith that, despite the apparent absence and opposition of God, and the dissolution of all his ill-informed theology, will not easily be given away. Finally, after twenty verses of noholds-barred complaint we come to a moment of hope. The strongman, sitting amidst the stones of his ruined city, lifts his heart and his eyes and this is what he calls to mind: “THE STEADFAST LOVE of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (vv. 22-23). Suddenly, unannounced, and with no explanation, something’s changed. After all that complaint, what is it that makes the difference? Well, notice that from the very beginning of the chapter, this man has been talking about God in the third person, listing everything that God has done to him. He has been talking about how
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he has been experiencing God in this time of darkness, how God appears in relation to his pain. But in vv. 22-23 the strongman turns, and focuses directly on God, not in relation to how he has been experiencing him, but simply on God as God is: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end” (v. 22). There is no longer any “me” in the statement. There is just the Lord, who is love, and his mercy. The strongman then turns further, from describing who God is, to directly addressing the God of heaven, declaring, “great is your faithfulness” (v. 23). He turns from introspection to a bigger vision of reality. He turns from the reality of his situation to the reality of God’s unchanging nature, and lifts his heart, his eyes, and his voice to the God of heaven. He recognises that through it all, these three remain: love, mercy, faithfulness. So, what can we take from this little known bit of the Bible? Well, for one thing, I think it is important to acknowledge (in a way that is often not recognised in churches today), that the ‘dark night of the soul’ is still within the range of the life of faith today. From the midst of terrible
suffering and long complaint, this man still claims to be a person of faith, suggesting that we too can entertain doubt and question God without faith having to fall away entirely. But more than that, when we look up out of the reality of our everyday situations and focus on the reality of who God is, what we find is that God is, and has been, with us all along, whether we recognised it or not.
of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” “THE STEADFAST LOVE
1. How have you viewed the
Story: Miriam Hinksman (née Bier)
practice of lament? 2. Is this a passage that you
Miriam studied at Carey Baptist College and is a lecturer in Old Testament at London School of Theology. Original article first published in Insight, a publication of London School of Theology.
can relate to?
3. When in pain, what is your response to vv. 22-23?
Barbara Brown Taylor. Preaching the Terrors. Journal for Preachers 15/2 (1992): 3-7.
Lament, the expression of grief, is not a topic we often talk about. Yet it is a vital spiritual discipline. The Hare and The Tortoise: Learning to pace ourselves in a world gone mad has an excellent chapter on this and other spiritual disciplines. Here are some of their thoughts1: • “Throughout Scripture we see the people of God repeatedly caught up in circumstances that are tragic... Even Christ’s own resurrection, our promise that one day all things will be revived and restored, does not shelter us from the current realities of pain and loss. Lament – the profound feeling and expression of grief and sorrow – is the right response to that pain and loss.”
• “... we need to understand that we have permission to lament as individuals and as communities. God does not consider it a sign of lack of faith for us to feel sorrow and grief... Lament – crying out to God in our distress – is actually a sign of faith, a statement that God is big enough to handle the world’s problems.” • “It is a commitment to living our faith in reality – life as it actually is, rather than our fantasy of a perfect utopia…Those who have learned to lament well tend to carry authenticity.” • “He [God] does not promise us freedom from lament yet, but he does promise to meet us in the midst of the pain, although often
after a time of feeling very alone... Almost all the psalms of lament have, by the end, declared the goodness of God. He has met the writers in their trouble, or they rest in the knowledge that he is working to overcome evil – their cries have been heard. Of all the gods, he alone is worthy of the name ‘Redeemer.’” • “Christian hope is unique and it can be held even through long seasons of lament.” Andrew Shamy, Sam Bloore and Roshan Allpress. 2013. The Hare & The Tortoise: Learning to pace ourselves in a world gone mad. NZ. Compass Foundation, Venn Foundation. 1
You can purchase this fantastic book at venn.org.nz/product/hare-tortoise.
november bethlehem featuring baptist church main speaker erwin raphael mcmanus tauranga
judge david ambler
baptist research sutherland lecture
register online at
earlybird: until 5pm, 14 October | final cut-off: 5pm, 21 October
Baptist / F A M I L Y N E W S
BAPTIST WORLD ALLIANCE
We recently received a report from the All Right? initiative, headed by Canterbury District Health Board and the Mental Health Foundation of NZ, citing some of the things that have helped those recovering in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes. This includes some of the great work that churches have been involved with. Parklands Baptist Church is just one of the many churches in New Zealand that have played such an important role in this process. You can read their full report on the community section of baptistmag.org.nz under ‘All Right?’ UNIFIED WORSHIP
PHOTO: BRUCE CROSSAN
August saw around 1000 (mostly young) people from Anglican and Baptist churches in Auckland come together in Holy Trinity Cathedral to worship God. The different aspects of Anglican and Baptist worship were beautifully assembled into a stunning evening of unified worship. We asked some of those involved in creating this time together to share the journey with us – this article can be found in the youth section of baptistmag.org.nz under ‘The Beauty of Unity.’
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Nicky Moran, from Hamilton South Baptist Church, has been travelling around New Zealand visiting prisons, sharing the love of God, telling her story and playing songs with prisoners. Check out this great story on the community section of baptistmag.org.nz under ‘Prison Ministry.’ In May 2015, Omokoroa Peninsula Baptist Church celebrated ten years as a fellowship after being planted from Bethlehem and Katikati Baptist Churches. Our guest speaker was Craig Vernall, and we had a great time together with some wonderful food! The church does not have a full time pastor at present, though the expertise and leadership of Gerard Marks and his wife Heather for several years was truly cherished by all. We endeavour to be a church that is relevant to our community and are committed to helping people in prayer or practically wherever needed. Though we are a fellowship who is largely in the second half of life, we have a Sunday School as required and welcome frequent visitors. Seeking photographs of Christian imagery or messages to accompany articles, either directly related or metaphorical. Upcoming themes include ‘Unexpected Hope’ and ‘Identity.’ You would be credited as the photographer. Specifications: high resolution images (300dpi) at 297x210mm or larger.
Over 2, 500 delegates from eighty countries (including seven of us from New Zealand) joined together in South Africa in July, for the twentyfirst Baptist World Alliance (BWA) Congress. The theme this year was ‘Jesus the Door.’ Held every five years, this was the first time a congress had been hosted in Africa. It was therefore particularly significant that amidst the African flavours and insights, Rev. Paul Msiza from South Africa was inducted as the new president of the BWA. Each day began and ended with worship and plenary teaching from worldwide speakers. Deeper Bible study in one of five languages, and seminars on the themes of worship and Christian fellowship, mission and evangelism, freedom and justice, and aid and development gave depth of understanding into the work of Baptists globally, and the challenges and highlights of believers in some very difficult circumstances. The stories from many locations quite simply helped bring Scripture alive. To gather and worship with, and learn from and with Baptists globally, was an immense pleasure.
Ranui Baptist Church Seeking Youth Pastor ––––– This role is focused around the multi-cultural mid-week youth ministry, alongside our excellent youth team. It is for someone Spirit-filled and evangelistic with great communication and organisational skills. Great support from the wider church. Two days/week (may become full-time mid-2016). ––––– Phone Senior Pastor Russell Watts 09 833 7815 or email email@example.com.
Harmonious and Inspiring Meetings 100 YEARS AGO
Earth has few richer joys than the joys of friendship. Cicero said, “we have received nothing better from the immortal gods, nothing more delightful,” than friendship, and Augustine Birrell says that the very sight of the word in print “makes the heart warm.” There is no finer sphere for the exercise and enjoyment of friendship than the church of Jesus Christ, the noblest of all fraternities. The chains of love that bind men to “the Sinner’s Friend,” bind them to each other. In the society which he has founded, a genial atmosphere prevails, in which the flowers of friendship display their fairest beauty and exhale their sweetest fragrance. The nearer any church attains to the Divine ideal, the purer and the more helpful will be the friendship which binds its members together in sacred bonds. If this be true of each local church, it will be true also of the united churches in their associated life and work. When they meet to plan for the enlargement of the kingdom of their Divine and
Unseen Friend, they will cultivate that mutual friendliness that makes co-operation a delight. Rivalry will be suppressed. Envy and ambition will vanish. Ungracious thoughts and feelings will yield to mutual esteem and service. Each will seek the others good and all to the Master’s glory. It is not surprising, therefore, that the friends of Christ bearing the Baptist name, enjoyed much hallowed friendship during their thirty-fourth annual conference. The spacious and commodious Tabernacle, with its complete equipment, afforded an excellent field for the meetings, and the Auckland churches which united in entering the delegates did everything in their power to ensure the happiness of their guests. Unbroken harmony prevailed throughout the meetings, and, although differences of opinion were freely expressed, the bonds of friendship were never strained. __ Baptist Magazine, November 1915
T H E B OT TO M L I N E T H E R U L E S H AV E C H A N G E D From April 2015 all registered charities have to comply with new financial reporting standards. Unsure how this impacts on your Church or Trust? You may need the services of CATAS. For information about the services we offer to Churches and Church-related Trusts look at our website or contact us to see how we can help. CATAS (Church and Trust Accounting Services Ltd) was set up by the Baptist Union in 2005 to provide professional and affordable accounting and payroll services to churches and trusts.
Contact us today to find out more:
catas.co.nz EMAIL. firstname.lastname@example.org WEBSITE.
Church and Trust Accounting Services Limited
Baptist / Y O U T H & F A M I L Y
GOOD GRIEF Helping teenagers cope with loss.
GRIEF CAN BE EXPERIENCED THROUGH MANY SITUATIONS. IT DOESN’T NECESSARILY MEAN THE EMOTION OF LOSING A LOVED ONE, BUT THAT IS ONE AREA THAT I CAN EMPATHISE WITH. I grew up in London. By the age of seven, my parents had separated after it emerged that my dad was leaving my
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mum for his secret girlfriend who was having his baby. I watched the struggle my mum endured and the resulting suicide attempt on her life. During this time, we were cared for by my grandparents. I’m not sure I really understood what was going on, although the atmosphere was tense and undesirable. To add to Mum’s pain, her beloved dad, who had been a rock for her, passed away on the day
my dad’s son was born, so becoming a constant reminder of her pain. By the time I was eight, my mum made the decision to take my sister (aged ten) and I to New Zealand. Though she knew no-one in NZ, she sold up everything to give us a better lifestyle. Back then, fathers didn’t have much say and we were torn apart from Dad at the airport. As we sought to find a home and a job for Mum, she
remained unsettled so took us back to London to live. Yet after just a short period, we returned as she could not settle in London either. (My mum is an amazingly strong and courageous woman, not someone prone to random decisions!) Back in NZ we carried on, missing family back home and not having family of our own in NZ. By the time I was sixteen, my sister was on her way to a successful music career, having won a number of competitions and had been offered a contract in Australia to begin a few months later. We saw her perform on the 19th August... but tragically the next morning she died of a heart attack, after taking medication that reacted with her asthma. Now I really did know grief, loss and suffering. There is so much more I could say about that time, but my main concern was that at sixteen, I had to become a mum: my poor mum struggled to cope with such loss and I had to grow up overnight, take responsibility of her, and the other day-to-day decisions. (As a side note, it took the birth of my son ten years later to truly give her great joy and happiness again). We all deal with grief differently. For me, it was important to not let my life be defined by the loss of my parent’s relationship, the pain of moving away from family in the UK, and the overwhelming grief of losing my beautiful sister. It was important to take positive steps in saying that I could make a difference and look ahead to achieve the goals I had set for myself. I’m not perfect and still struggle with the loss now, but I have been blessed with an amazing husband and four incredible sons: good comes even when hardship feels overwhelming. __ Story: Sarah Grut
The reality that we will no longer see that person again can be overwhelming.
... experiencing loss can be a chance for young people to learn about both the joy and pain that comes from caring deeply for others.
ior Sarah, it was helpfuli ithat I knew her sisteri iand could process heri igrief with her.i Over my years as a youth pastor, I have worked with teenagers contemplating suicide and experiencing the loss of family members and peers. I have come to understand that loss is something that we will face in our lifetime but it can be gut-wrenchingly painful when someone you are close to, have relied on for support, and been encouraged and loved by, is suddenly gone. These are times when we search for deeper meaning in life and answers to the big questions that maybe we have not wanted to face. The reality that we will no longer see that person again can be overwhelming. Yet I am convinced that caring adults, parents, teachers, counsellors, friends, and professionals at times, can support teens through times of grief. If adults are open, honest and loving, experiencing loss can be a chance for young people to learn about both the joy and pain that comes from caring deeply for others. There are, however, some important considerations. Firstly, teens need to understand that grieving is a natural process that consists of pain as well as remembering the significance and joy of walking life with someone who was close to us. We get to carry a legacy and the memory of a loved one who shaped our lives, but in losing this relationship, it’s ok not to be ok. Secondly, we need to remember that the grieving process takes time
and varies from teenager to teenager. Sometimes as adults we are quick to label the way a teen grieves, yet we cannot prescribe the grieving process. It will vary depending on the person grieving and the nature of the relationship that has been lost. Thirdly, we need to understand that teenagers have an adult understanding of the concept of death, but do not have the experiences of life or the coping skills of an adult. The outcome of that grieving experience may leave teens behaving in ways that seem inappropriate or frightening. Keep an eye out for: • Symptoms of chronic depression, sleeping difficulties, restlessness and low self-esteem. • Academic failure or indifference to school-related activities. • Deterioration of relationships with family and friends. • Risk-taking behaviours such as drug and alcohol abuse, fighting, and sexual experimentation. • Denying pain while at the same time acting overly strong or mature. These flag that additional support may be required, whether with a mentor, counsellor, doctor or someone who has got through the pain they’re experiencing and doing well. Even in the absence of these features, teens need the loving support of parents and adults through times of grief. Spend time with them and give them space to express feelings and emotions. Don’t be surprised by sudden outbursts of emotion; embrace them and show them support through
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compassion and understanding of the feelings and emotions that they are facing. Facilitate honest expression in caring relationships and encourage teenagers to be real with God about how they are feeling. In the midst of this, help them to understand that their current experience of pain will not last forever. This can provide hope and strength to help them journey through such painful times. __ Story: Gary Grut Gary Grut is the National Team Leader for Baptist Youth Ministries. He and Sarah have been happily married for twenty-eight years.
TAKE OUTS! 1. Is there someone who comes to mind as you read this article? How could you be supporting them? 2. What could you learn from cultures other than your own that might deepen your understanding of the grief process?
GRIEF OBSERVED BY A CHINESE-KIWI CHRISTIAN
Each family will have different ways of grieving. Within our wider church family, there is much to learn from one another and the different ways grief can be expressed. Shireen Chua describes how her family processed the loss of her grandmother. I come from a Malaysian Hakka Chinese family. Eleven years ago, I lost my maternal grandmother in Malaysia. It was one of the hardest and richest times for me as I experienced being together as a family in the midst of a Buddhist funeral ceremony. Just like the MÄ ori, the Chinese are a very collective and family-oriented culture. When it comes to mourning the loss of a loved one, this is done in community. My immediate extended family spent five days camped out together at the family home, sitting with the body of my grandmother, eating, sleeping and meeting friends and family that came to pay their respects. We all wear white (not black) as a symbol of mourning. In the midst of the sadness and grief was the sharing of life and memories of childhood and our grandmotherâ€™s love for us. This is something I will treasure and was the richest part of this time for me. Depending on the religion of the
family, there are many customs, rites and rituals to be followed. For us, that meant there were Buddhist rituals and practices that the whole family were required to perform. The greatest challenge during this sad time was processing the eternal consequences and how to live out my faith in a way that still showed honour and respect to my family: it is important in my family and culture not to bring shame or loss of face to the family. The Christians in my family chose to stand together with the family during these different rites each day, but not participate in certain practices. Our desire was to honour and respect my grandparents and elders of the family on such a public family occasion, whilst acknowledging Jesus as Lord. The process of grief will vary between us. Beneath some practices and rituals are values, which stem from the way we each view the world. Yet, in the richness of diversity, Jesus remains the source of truth and life. How this message is received will depend on the message-bearers, us, putting it into the appropriate context. __ Story: Shireen Chua Shireen Chua works for OMF NZ in Auckland and is part of Auckland Baptist Tabernacle.
C U LT U R E
FORGIVING WHEN IT REALLY HURTS Forgiveness is a practice that we all know about, but how can we forgive when we have been deeply wounded?
Christine’s body language spoke a thousand words. She marched into my office with a scowl on her face and flung herself into an empty chair. I thought she was going to scream or break something. Instead, after a few deep groans, she began to sob. Time passed. Christine slowly began to divulge that her husband Peter had been having an affair for the past four months and that she had just learned about this.* She was broken, furious and desolate and her pain was palpable. Anger, endless questions, and remorse surged through her. What made matters even worse was her take-home message from the previous week’s sermon: “If you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15). She shouted, “How
can I possibly forgive Peter when he’s done this to me, to our son?” Good question! How should Christine respond to such news, such pain, and such demands? And how might a pastoral caregiver demonstrate genuine empathy for the hurting whilst simultaneously believing that forgiveness “ought to be focused on the reconciliation of brokenness, the restoration of communion – with God, with one another, and with the whole Creation?”1 Questions like these defy trite or prescriptive responses, as every scenario is unique. Rather, thoughtful responses are required, especially as the ramifications of unprocessed wounds and not forgiving often increasingly damage people’s emotional, psychological, physical, relational, and spiritual well-being. My initial response to Christine’s question was silence, pregnant with the
impact of her plight. I then said, “I’m so sorry.” Remen argues that suffering is healed via “compassion, not expertise.”2 Attitudes matter. By showing empathy, Christine hopefully registered that I was with her. Minutes later she plaintively asked, “Is there any hope for me, for my son?” And after a lengthy pause, she added, “Is there any hope for Peter and me?” I slowly replied, “I believe there is. God, community, and a process of forgiveness offer hope. But what you’ve experienced is huge and I imagine it feels like the odds are completely stacked against you at present.” After Christine left my office, I determined to pray for her and her family regularly. One reason for this is that many hurting people are unable to pray for themselves. Payne offers another reason and writes that it is the presence of God that enables people to forgive.3
*This is a fictitious case but sadly entirely plausible.
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Nine days later, Christine returned. She looked lumpish and spent a considerable amount of time retelling her story. She also elaborated on the ongoing fallout from the affair: Peter had moved out of the family home, there were sleepless nights, and she was unable to concentrate at work. Halfway through our session Christine asked me to tell her more about forgiveness. I began by stating what it is not. Forgiveness does not mean that offences ought to be denied. Peter had had an affair and the consequences are real. Rather, forgiveness acknowledges the reality and significance of people’s sins and wounds. Secondly, forgiveness does not require that Christine forgets that she has been injured. Forgetting offences is potentially dangerous, usually impossible, and sometimes wasteful. Having said that, forgiveness over time might assist Christine to remember Peter’s actions differently. Similarly, to forgive someone does not indicate that justice should be forsaken, although forgiveness may enable people to reconsider how justice might be outworked. Fourthly, trust is distinct from forgiveness. Forgiveness may be offered as a gift and/or discovered after it has occurred, but the rebuilding of trust requires time. Fifthly, forgiveness is different from reconciliation (even though reconciliation might be the optimum goal of forgiveness). That is to say, forgiveness may be extended by one party, whereas reconciliation requires the willingness of both parties. And finally, genuine forgiveness of deep wounds cannot be hurried. (It is noteworthy that speedy forgiveness may prevent learning opportunities, sully forgiveness’ reputation in the wider community, and foil persons from gaining the benefits that
authentic forgiveness offers). Christine seemed to be following, so I continued and offered her two definitions of forgiveness. Miroslav Volf explains that “Forgiveness is the boundary between exclusion and embrace.”4 This definition highlights that offences, pain, and wounds exclude people from God, others, life, and themselves to varying degrees. It also reveals that genuine forgiveness can help persons to move beyond violations that exclude and create the possibility for people to embrace God, others, life, and themselves more fully. Thus, forgiveness can rightly be construed as an opportunity for life. The second definition is found in the bestselling book The Shack where God says to Mack, who is grieving the death of his daughter, “Forgiveness is not about forgetting, Mack. It is about letting go of another person’s throat.”5 Twelve days later, Christine and I met again. She seemed very tired. After she had brought me up-to-date with her ever-unfolding story she asked, “How does someone actually forgive?” I responded by stating that some individuals can seemingly cover over and/or let go of (smaller) offences (1 Peter 4: 8) and others can pray one-off effective forgiveness prayers. But when persons have been deeply wounded they usually need to work through a process of forgiveness such as the HEART forgiveness model.6 The acronym HEART recognises Jesus’ call to forgive from the heart (Matthew 18: 35). It accentuates the importance of engaging with one’s thoughts and feelings in order to obtain authentic, lasting forgiveness from painful injuries. Eight weeks later, Christine asked me to guide her through the HEART forgiveness process and over six fortnightly meetings we processed the following:
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Heed your wounds This is no small matter. For Christine this involved naming Peter’s offences (he had had an affair and had broken his promise to be faithful). She also identified some of the current effects of his offence/s (their son was now living in two houses and Christine’s anger was “out of control”). Additionally, she considered the attitudes behind Peter’s actions (she deemed that he had “abandoned and betrayed everyone”). Christine did this difficult work by talking with me and by journaling about these points. In this way, she gave voice to her pain, feelings, and thoughts. She also validated her experience at literal, pragmatic, and affectual levels. Explore why people may have wounded you An advantage of wounded individuals like Christine engaging with this optional step is that their explorations may uncover information that elicits understanding or empathy within them for their violators. These feelings, in turn, may serve as springboards to help them forgive. As Christine talked about the factors that may have prompted Peter to have the affair, it dawned on her that she might have been somewhat complicit to his actions. This shocked her. She grasped that she had “spent the previous three years working crazy hours and despite Peter’s pleading,” she had given him and their son minimal quality time. Fortunately, this sobering insight did not tempt her to excuse Peter’s offence/s. If it had, if she had denied that he had injured her, she would have had nothing to process via forgiveness and she would have excluded herself (and others) from the potential benefits of forgiveness. Acknowledge key Christian traditions that inform your understanding of forgiveness (A) Next, I encouraged Christine to connect with meaningful Christian practices that help her to unite with
the triune God, in whom Christian forgiveness is embedded.7 For Christine, this involved taking communion with others frequently, receiving regular prayer, attending worship services, and pondering how God’s unfolding story of love has many different scenes. This latter point filled Christine with hope that her story was not completely ruined or finished. (B) Unsurprisingly, some people react sinfully to being wounded; others fathom that they may have contributed to their violators offences. In such instances, it is important to seek forgiveness from God. Accordingly, Christine asked God to forgive her for ignoring Peter, abandoning her family by focusing exclusively on her work, and for “dumping her rage” on her son. (C) The next optional step of forgiving oneself is particularly difficult for some people. Christine struggled to extend any grace or love towards herself at this point. However, as she fathomed that self-forgiveness can be a means of receiving God’s forgiveness and that she was gaining new insights and changing (she had begun to spend more time with her son), her ability to forgive herself grew. (D) Christine then explored the concept of intrapersonal forgiveness, which takes place within a person’s own heart and mind. This kind of forgiveness may entail working through the points outlined above and/or praying prayers of forgiveness. By this point of her forgiveness journey, Christine felt less antagonistic towards Peter and, encouragingly, she ventured to pray for him. (E) If Christine had felt that she needed to forgive Peter overtly, which she did not at this point, I would have helped her to prepare to meet with him. This would have involved discussing such points as her attitude, what she might say, and the location of their proposed meeting. Review any questions and dilemmas you have It is quite common for people to encounter challenges on their forgiveness journeys. For example,
Christine had to learn how to negotiate with Peter around the care of their son, cope with her fluctuating feelings, and communicate with “nosey church members.” Challenges of this nature need to be faced in order to ensure that one’s forgiveness is not thwarted. Target future forgiveness goals Effective forgiveness journeys from deep wounds are rarely entirely finished by working through forgiveness models in a short time. Thus it is generally prudent to set goals to maintain and further one’s forgiveness. For Christine, this entailed trying to demonstrate love towards Peter once per fortnight in a tangible manner, scheduling monthly meetings with me, and joining a support group. Choices like these engender hope, as they involve love, God, accountability, and fellowship. Postscript Like most journeys, the future for Christine, Peter, and their son is uncertain. Peter is no longer seeing the other woman, but he has told Christine that he sees no future for them as a couple. Christine and Peter’s son is purportedly faring well and his parents have found a counsellor for him should he need to see one in the future. Christine reports that she is “prospering.” She says that she is open to God, Peter, her son, and life “like never before.” Given the state that Christine was in when we first met six months earlier, her transformation points to the miraculous power of forgiveness. I surmise that if I had tried to push Christine to forgive Peter during our first meeting, the gift and hope of forgiveness for Christine (and those associated with her) would have been frustrated. Yes, God calls us to forgive but when people have been deeply hurt, forgiveness needs to be contextualised in order for deep healing and lasting positive impact to ensue. __
Dr Phil Halstead is a lecturer in applied theology at Carey Baptist College and works in pastoral care and counselling at St Paul’s Church, Symonds Street. He has published the internationally recognised Forgiveness Matters course.
Gregory Jones. 1995. Embodying Forgiveness: A Theological Analysis. Grand Rapids. Eerdmans. 2 Rachel Naomi Remen. 1996. Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories that Heal. New York. Riverhead Books. 3 Leanne Payne. 1991. Restoring the Christian Soul: Overcoming Barriers to Completion in Christ through Healing Prayer. Grand Rapids. Baker Books. 4 Miroslav Volf. 1996. Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation. Nashville. Abingdon Press. 5 W. Paul Young. 2007. The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity. Newbury Park, CA. Windblown Media. 6 See Philip John Halstead. The Forgiveness Matters Course: A Theologically and Psychologically Integrated Approach to Help Churchgoing Adults Process Their Parental Wounds. Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health 14.2 (2012): 85-110. 7 L. Gregory Jones. 1995. Embodying Forgiveness: A Theological Analysis. Grand Rapids. Eerdmans. 1
TAKE OUTS! 1 Do you have areas of deep hurt where forgiveness is a struggle? What can you take from this article? 2 If you are involved in pastoral care, which of the points here will be helpful? 3 We have three more articles about forgiveness on our website. Check out Tārore and her Book, The Bad Thing and My Brother in the culture section of baptistmag.org.nz. Another thought-provoking read is Ding Dong the Wicked Witch Is Dead! A Pastor’s Response to the Death of His Childhood Abuser. Check it out at thegospelcoalition.org.
Story: Dr Phil Halstead
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BUSINESS CEO OR WELFARE PROFESSIONAL?
Strengthening the emotional resilience and sustainability of church leaders... for the long haul.
22 â€ v.131 no.5 baptistmag.org.nz
iChurch leadership in today’si iworld requires a combinationiofi ispiritual and organisationali istrengths, with the strategy,i logistics and people skillsiofteni associated with businessiCEOs andi the care and empathyiof those ini welfare professions.i
result in emotional distress, exhaustion, burnout and depression, to name just a few potential problems. Emotional resilience is your ability to respond well to stressors and this flows out of your emotional health. This is not only important – it is a necessity for sustainable, healthy leadership.
The role can be burdensome and expectations placed on pastors (or the expectations that pastors place on themselves!) can be debilitating. They can often be under so much stress that they find themselves hanging on by a thread, about to burnout from exhaustion, or blow out morally. In a recent Schaeffer Institute study of 1,050 Reformed and Evangelical pastors, every pastor said they had a colleague or seminary friend who had left the ministry because of burnout, church conflict, or moral failure.1 This isn’t right. John writes to his friend Gaius in 3 John: “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul.” This should be the prayer of church leaders and congregation alike. But it also requires some practical considerations.
Warnings of emotional distress Let’s take a look at some of the possible warning signs that your emotional health may need attention.
What is emotional health? Emotional health “is the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.”2 When emotional health is good, emotional energy flows and you experience excitement, enthusiasm and passion. When emotional energy is low, passion wanes, enthusiasm is lost and slowly you dry up. Your intelligence quotient (IQ) is important. But your emotional quotient (EQ) is just as important. Yet developing and maintaining emotional health is not given the same priority as developing and maintaining IQ. This can be disastrous and
• Significant cognitive dissonance Your head and heart are going in different directions. For example, on the one hand you may feel a calling to a role, but on the other hand, you don’t feel you have the resources to cope. The “double-minded man,” as James 1: 8 puts it, “is unstable in all his ways,” and this loyalty to two opposing beliefs can result in taking too much ownership to serve the idealised role, without the passion needed to sustain it. • Outcome focus The demands of the role and the expectations from self or others causes your focus to move from inner nurture to external outcomebased activities such as budget or congregation size, to the neglect of emotional health. • Poor responses to others Your increasing resentment at expectations and demands are channelled into poor responses to those around you. • Brownout You start to avoid people or gatherings, because it feels like it’s going to take more from you when you actually need to be topped up. You might start reaching for the old false comforters – TV, food, shopping – just so that you’re getting something for yourself.
If your body is tired, can you exercise the mind? If your mind is tired, can you exercise the body? If both are tired, go to bed!
• Spiritual painting over You are unable to see your need for input from mentors or counsellors. Instead you gloss over issues with a spiritual paintbrush. Maybe you use verses to paint over the top of pain, or you pray harder, telling yourself that you just need more faith: that you are fine when you are not. • Isolation Fellow pastors start to become competition rather than a source of support making you reluctant to share your journey with them. Keys to emotional health If you can identify yourself or someone else in these descriptions, there are some practical and simple steps that can make a difference. • Listen to your body What is it telling you? If your body is tired, can you exercise the mind? If your mind is tired, can you exercise the body? If both are tired, go to bed! • What truly replenishes you? ‘Me-time’ is not selfish: it is essential to be replenished to love and serve well. But distinguish between entertainment and re-creating. Entertainment causes us to zoneout and makes our minds passive (for example, watching TV, which is not replenishing). Re-creating is when we partake in an activity that refreshes, restores and energises us, such as a walk in nature, or connecting with a loved one or those who inspire us. • Rehumanise your role Idealised expectations, from yourself or others, may be unrealistic. Hear others out and be gently honest in communicating what you believe you can and should do. • Do not feel the need to adhere to idealised expectations Becoming enmeshed in an idealised role will require the ongoing exertion of emotional energy to maintain the appearance of congruence with that role. The risk is exhaustion and burnout.
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Baptist / L E A D E R S H I P
• Operate from ownership rather than obligation Obligation can masquerade as faithfulness, but it is draining. Choose to do whatever you do wholeheartedly or re-negotiate so that you are able to commit in a sustainable way. Ask: “What would need to happen for me to be ok with saying ‘yes’ to this?” • Recognise the gap between vision and reality Where you would like to see your role and church may be different from the current reality. Do not overfunction to try and fill the gap. • Identify your support networks When faced with stressors, church leaders tend to rely on intra-personal forms of coping: faith-based activities such as prayer, Bible reading, contemplation and retreats. These have a vital role, but so does external support for your own emotional well-being. Find people who will ask
you the pertinent questions and then be honest with them. • Stick with your own DNA Comparing yourself with others (or other churches) may not be wise. There are no prizes for being a frenetic and frazzled pastor who struggles to find joy in their work. Do not confuse poor emotional health with committed, sacrificial service. Be honest about your emotional health and seek help when needed. If you are concerned about your pastor, talk to them. They will so appreciate the care! __ Story: Jenny Purkis Jenny Purkis is a counsellor and speaker with Strength2Strength Counselling & Training. This article draws on aspects of Richard Black’s research article Emotional Health in the Role of a Church Leader (unpublished). An article Emotional Resilience in Children is available under the Child & Family section of baptistmag.org.nz.
R. J. Krejcir. 2007. Statistics on Pastors. churchleadership.org/apps/articles/default.asp? articleid=42347&columnid=4545&contentonly=true 2 Daniel Goleman. 1998. Working with Emotional Intelligence. New York. Bantam. 1
TAKE OUTS! 1. Do you recognise any of the warning signs of emotional distress in yourself or someone you know? 2. If it is in yourself, which of the keys to emotional health would be helpful for you to explore? 3. If it is in someone else, how could you talk with them about this and what could you do to support them?
Welcomes you! • 3 meals provided daily • Unlimited internet usage • Off road car parking • Free local buses for Students • Very competitive accommodation fees • Ideal location within the city “Moving away from home to a city where I knew only a few people was an incredibly daunting feeling at first, but I can now say that moving to the Baptist Student Hostel was the best decision my parents and I could have made” Ashleigh. 2014
163 Fitzherbert Ave, Palmerston North, New Zealand. Telephone 06 355 5107
APPLY NOW! ...for more information go to www.baptiststudenthostel.co.nz
Full-Time Pastoral Position (re-advertised) Omokoroa Peninsula Baptist Church ––––– Our ten-year-old church at Omokoroa is looking for a devoted follower of Jesus to lead us on our present journey as a relevant and missional church in this fast growing community. Contact and application to be made by 31st October. ––––– Email email@example.com Phone 07 552 5541 (evenings)
HOSANNA BAPTIST Formally ‘Porirua East Baptist’ 50th Celebration October 17th 2015 at 7pm We’re looking back.
October 18th 2105 at 10am We’re looking forward! Facebook.com/HosannaTurns50 Phone 04 237 6663
ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT GROWING PEOPLE FOR GOD?
30 † v.131 no.5 baptistmag.org.nz
Student Flat Accommodation 2016 ––––– Expressions of interest are invited from Christian students coming to or already in Christchurch for study in 2016. Bryndwr House has five bedroom spaces within walking distance to University of Canterbury. ––––– Please phone Judy 03 351 0771 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for an application pack.
Senior Pastor Mt Roskill Baptist Church ––––– Seeking an engaging Bible teacher and strategic leader to work alongside an associate pastor and child/youth workers, to help us mature in Christ and lead people into relationship with him. Our medium size, family-oriented church is in a mixed income, multi-ethnic area of Auckland and is mission-orientated with a heart for the community. Visit roskillbaptist.com ––––– Email email@example.com for queries or applications.
Senior Pastor/Team Leader Hutt City Baptist Church ––––– Hutt City Baptist is a vibrant, richly diverse church with an exciting opportunity for a senior pastor. We currently have a team of three associate pastors and two admin staff to work with and support you. The church needs and appreciates sound and motivating Biblical teaching. Hutt City Baptist has a missions focus both in its local community and overseas. You are someone with the vision to guide a growing church in the next stage of its life. You are a good team leader with excellent relational skills. You are a strong preacher and teacher with sound theological training. You are a leader with a heart to make a difference in your local community and further afield. ––––– To find out more about us and viewthe full job description visit huttbaptist.org.nz. Email your application and CV to firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone 04 567 9500
Christchurch Bryndwr House
LET US HELP YOU THROUGH... Our dedicated team are available to you 24 hours to help put in place funeral plans. 31 Ocean View Road, Northcote Phone. (09) 489 5737 Email. email@example.com
Carey Pastoral Leadership Graduates of 2015 Hayden Allen (married to Tanya)
“I seek to lead out of example and am passionate about the challenge of mobilising followers of Jesus to put their legs on their faith.”
Lyall Carter (married to Emily)
“Emily and I want to be part of a church that wants the people that nobody in the community wants, bringing them into our ‘family.’”
Colin Gruetzmacher (married to Hayley)
“Our background is in cross-cultural missions and ministry and we have a heart for seeing the church engage in God’s mission in its local community and globally.”
Tim and Lindy Jacomb
“With Jesus, we are excited to be ‘ministers of reconciliation’ within God’s church and God’s world.”
Baptist National Leader
Identifying the Next Generation of Baptist Pastors
Cameron Jones (married to Anna)
“I am committed to helping others discover the spiritual purpose in the everyday. I look to filter decisions first through a theological lens, before a pragmatic one.”
an you help us identify the next generation of Baptist Pastors from amongst our churches? Together, we need to recognise a fresh stream of passionate, gifted and well-trained leaders. Intentional leadership development is crucial for the future of our Baptist movement in Aotearoa. Your church may currently have some of our future Pastors, waiting to be noticed, to be shoulder tapped, to be encouraged to follow the call of God in their lives.
Elliot and Sarah Rice
“We are intrigued by Jesus, and try to live in hot pursuit of Him. Our emphasis is on participating in what Jesus is up to in a local community.”
Carey Baptist College is our choice for training such leaders across our movement. I am praying for a new generation of great leaders to be called, equipped and commissioned to lead our churches into the future. Right now Carey is preparing its student intake for 2016. I would love to know whom you are thinking about in your church. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jonny Weir (Carey’s
Lyndon Twemlow (married to Rachel)
“I feel called to be a revealer and equipper of others as they respond to Christ’s call on their lives.”
Director of Ministry Training) at email@example.com and let us know if we can help in any way. Together, let’s identify our people with potential for leading our churches for the cause of the Gospel in our land.
Kenny Wright (married to Sarah)
“We want to participate with God as He reaches out to His world and together we feel drawn to this call.”
In this issue of Baptist magazine we look at HOPE: - Can there be hope? Suffering and the faithfulness of God. - Navigating the road well -...
Published on Oct 4, 2015
In this issue of Baptist magazine we look at HOPE: - Can there be hope? Suffering and the faithfulness of God. - Navigating the road well -...