In this regular column, our Baptist National Leader, Charles Hewlett, keeps us posted on the happenings in faith communities across Aotearoa.

Kawepūrongo | News

Cyclone Gabriel

What an incredibly difficult three weeks it has been for so many people. As Gill Stewart (Administrator – Village Baptist Church, Havelock North) writes:

 “The loss of lives is the hardest thing, and the pain of loss for our community of homes, and businesses. P.S. Cam has been amazing, cutting his sabbatical short to connect with and pastorally care for members of our church family. No cell phones or internet in lots of areas means that we are making door-to-door visits. We have a skip arriving today and will start the process of mitigating further loss. Insurance claim in process. Through the storm, God has been present. Our church family are resilient because of our love and care for each other, not just in the good times. We value your prayers.”

The photo above is of Village Baptist Church. Please pray for our people and places in Hawke’s Bay—maybe take some time to do this in your Sunday services. And, if you are in a position to help financially, here is the bank account for the relief fund which the Lower North Island Association is managing: 03-0502-0169949-000 (include “Cyclone Relief” in the reference).

Oxford Terrace Baptist Church Housing Community

What an honour it was to participate in the 12 February (Sunday) opening of The Oxford Terrace Housing Community. How awesome to have the Hon Dr Megan Wood and Phil Mauger (the mayor of Christchurch) cut the ribbon alongside Oxford Terrace Baptist Churcher Wendy Robinson. 

The words of Jesus compel us to act. When Jesus says he has “come to set the captives free, to heal the sick and to bind up the broken hearted”, he means it. When Jesus says, “love your neighbour”, he means it! More than that, he means for the church to do something about it! We are building houses because we cannot ignore the needs of the refugees, the orphans, the widows who Jesus says are very close to the heart of the Father…Our church has dreamed a big dream. And big, audacious, impossible dreams can be realised when people pray, and when they give beyond themselves, and when they persist against the odds. These are the kinds of people who will change the world for better. 

I got pastor Chris Chamberlain’s permission to attach the full script of what he spoke here: Bringing gospel renewal to people and places 

Weather disruptions

Last week’s weather ended many of the good things I had planned. For me, it was the cancellation of our Annual Leaders Retreat in Takanini (the 3rd year in a row!) - this is where the Baptist Association Regional Leaders, my Lead Team, and other key leadership people in the Baptist movement gather. However, it did allow me to be stuck at home for sermon preparation. The sermon for my travels this year has been based around Romans 12:9-21—I believe this passage is central if Baptist faith communities are to thrive in 2023. The bad weather enabled me to prepare a second sermon based on the three phrases in verse 12, “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” I couldn’t help but think how relevant these words were for so many in our Baptist family this past week.

Our college: preparing for ministry and mission

I’ve been thinking a lot about our theological college—Carey Baptist College. 

One of the best things about Carey is their one-year intentional discipleship journey for 18-20+ year-olds called Intermission. Last week I caught up with Emma Tucker about how the Intermission year impacted her life. Listen in, in this video. Spaces are still available for 2023.

I often say it’s a no-brainer—if you want to prepare for ministry and mission, get to Carey. I talk about their curriculum—providing the theological and practical foundations needed in 2023. I talk about their teaching staff—academics actively involved in the cutting-edge of ministry and mission. But mostly, I point to their graduates and the significant Kingdom work they are doing worldwide.  

Carey still has a few scholarships available for this year (click on the scholarship titles below, and a summary will appear). I am sitting here praying that there might be someone in your faith community you can pass this information on to!:

Mission Scholarship

Academic Women’s Scholarship

Maori and Pasifika Scholarship

Maori Leader’s Scholarship

Pasifika and Migrant leader’s Scholarship

Postgraduate/Masters Scholarship

Pastoral leadership Accommodation Scholarship

Neroli Hollis, Carey's Academic Registrar (photo below), is waiting by the phone for your call today!

A global gathering of Baptists

Did you know that the 23rd Baptist World Congress is being held in Brisbane on July 9-12, 2025? The Baptist World Congress is convened every five years by the Baptist World Alliance, moving around the continents each time. How awesome it would be to have a massive contingent heading over from New Zealand?! Let’s start the planning now. Click here for more details.

Karakia | Prayer

This week it seems there is just so much to pray for.

There is an important place, as children of God, for lament—a place where we should, and need, to acknowledge our pain, to bring our troubles, our sorrows, and our suffering to Him.

And yet, there is a place for hope, to put our trust in Him and His profound goodness. There is so much to be thankful for! God is faithful, He is loving, and He is sovereign.

In turning towards the God of hope, resting in His peace, with thankfulness, isn’t it incredible that we do not need to deny our pain and sorrow? In one breath, we can genuinely bring both to our loving Father.

Please join me in praying this prayer written by Kathryn Heslop at the Baptist Support Centre:

Dear Lord,

We lift up those impacted by natural disasters in recent weeks. We think of cyclone Gabrielle and the devastating earthquakes in Syria and Turkey. Lord, comfort the grieving. Bring energy to rescue teams, those providing relief, and those caring for displaced communities. Bring wisdom to leaders, we pray.

We lift up those impacted by illness at this time. Those who have ongoing health struggles. Those who have recently undergone invasive surgery. For family members walking alongside their loved ones, we pray for your grace and peace to be upon them.   

But Lord, you are faithful and good, and we put our hope in you!

Thank you for faithful servants like those at Oxford Terrace Baptist who are willing to dream big. Who are compelled to act. Who pray audacious prayers. Who persist against the odds. Who refuse to ignore the needs of the refugees, the orphans, and the widows.

Lord, thank you for our new Baptist leaders and the calling you have placed on their lives. We pray for Whakatane, Ranui, Taupo and Napier as they embark on a new season with a new leader. Lord, may your spirit guide them with your wisdom, grace, and strength.

Lord, we thank you for the many who seek to serve you with their lives. Thank you for those who are bringing good news to the poor, comforting the brokenhearted, healing the sick, and setting the captives free. Thank you for their heart to serve you—may you bless them.

In Jesus’ name, we pray,

Amen.

Matawhaiaro | Personal

Thank you so much for all the hard Kingdom work you and your faith community do.

Here is just one example I came across last week from the Remuera Baptist Church newsletter. Pastor Murray Jenkins wrote to the church:

I rang the Mangere Civil Defence Centre this morning to see if our church could help in any way, and volunteered our church as a collection point for donated goods, which they appreciated. They mentioned that they particularly need bedding, towels and pillows at the moment.

We have set up some tables in our church foyer for people to drop off items, and advertised this need in our wider community.

Murray goes on to ask, “If you’re available to transport any donated goods down to the Civil Defense Centre, please let me know.”

Often our hard work doesn’t get noticed—and that’s okay because that’s not why we do it. But as your National Leader, I often see firsthand all that gets done by our people, and I want to encourage you. New Zealand Baptists are awesome!

May God bless you heaps

Charles

This content is adapted from the weekly Charles Mail email sent out by the Baptist National Leader on most Fridays to church leaders. Feedback about this content has lead us to share this more widely through this column, starting on 20 February 2023.

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