In this regular column, our Baptist National Leader, Charles Hewlett, keeps us posted on the happenings in Baptist faith communities across Aotearoa. The original Charles Mail is emailed out on a Friday and reproduced here the following Monday.

Kawepūrongo

4 stories of gospel renewal

I love the fact that New Zealand Baptists are a collective of faith communities bringing gospel renewal to people and places in their local neighbourhoods.  

To me, gospel renewal is about putting right all that sin has marred and destroyed.  

Most weeks, I hear a story of gospel renewal from within our Baptist family. Last week, I heard of four things that I am keen to share with you:  

#1 

I hope it's okay to start with a gospel story from my own daughter Jess - this is quite a watch - Ana's testimony is amazing! Click here to see how a random Instagram post resulted in a young woman’s life being transformed by the gospel.

#2 

And then this from Glen Eden Baptist Church – each year they do the ‘Coast to Coast’ walk to raise funds for families in need of food. This year 19 brave walkers trudged 16 km’s through a wet Auckland day to raise $22,000. 

Gary Grut (pastor) writes, "This is our way of bringing gospel renewal to our community, to support families through Christmas. These funds go towards our event with Visionwest called ‘Christmas from the Heart’, an event that supports over 700 families. These families get a Christmas shop from Manaaki Kai our social supermarket and a shop at Santa’s grotto for presents for the kids." Wow!!

#3 

It was so uplifting to watch this TVNZ interview with Aly and Catherine, who recently reunited after a heart breaking encounter in Sierra Leone thirty years ago.

Image: mercyships.org.nz

Aly Hall (pictured right, Manukau City Baptist Church), was a nurse volunteering with Mercy Ships when she encountered pregnant 18-year-old Catherine Conteh. Complications during delivery meant Catherine needed an emergency caesarean section, but, unable to afford one, she and her baby had been left to die. Aly heard Catherine's cries for help and prayed for her and her baby. 

Watch the interview find out what happened.

#4 

And then I became aware of a great training opportunity next year from Orbit, 'Re-Formation'; being present for people and places - to help you acquire a framework for community-led development. Mutual gospel renewal at its best!

Click here for more details.

A visual reminder

Thanks you to our leaders who are sending me photos of the wooden figurines we each received at the He Rito evening that celebrated our young people at Hui - a visual reminder to be thinking about, praying for, mentoring, and discipling a young person we know.

I've shared some of them below. 

In good hands

Speaking of young people, if you thought our National Hui was great then you should have seen the Baptist Youth Hui. I got to spend an afternoon with the amazing group of youth pastors and leaders pictured below. Bring on the future...our movement is in very, very good hands!

We’re talking about communities and pastors thriving for gospel renewal

I love my Tuesday mornings. I get to hang out with our Regional Leaders. This week Christine, Karen and Wayne joined with us. The conversation and prayer together are only about how we might help our faith communities and pastors thrive for gospel renewal. I appreciate that we don't have all the answers, but we want to serve you the best that we can. 

Staff reviews

Our next couple of weeks will be busy at the National Support Centre with staff reviews. In my experience employees like the opportunity to discuss with a supervisor how they are performing. They appreciate receiving feedback on what they are doing well, and what might require improvement. 

And I'm included in this as well. On Wednesday this week Kerry Brewerton (Outgoing AC Chair) completed my annual review, and then worked through my Registration Development Agreement with me.

What a gift Registration is to Baptist churches in New Zealand, and the communities we minister within. Ha, leaders who see themselves beyond review and account perhaps concern me the most.

Te Pouarataki mō te Hīkoi

From our Treaty Guide

What a privilege to attend the Waananga Symposium 2023 hosted by Te Tii Marae at Waitangi last week. It explored Christianity, the Maaori world and colonialism in Aotearoa and featured leading international and New Zealand scholars. 

Dr. Andrew Picard (Te Kāreti Iriiri o Carey, Carey Baptist College) presented a paper on Maunsell and Grey and the establishment of Mission Schools in Aotearoa. We have a deep appreciation for the research and expansive work that Andrew is doing in our Baptist world. Eugene Fuimaono and Jordyn Rapana were panelists discussing contemporary reflections on church, gospel and culture in te ao Maaori. It was deeply encouraging to have Baptist voices contributing in this space. He waimarie maatou.   

From Luke Kaa-Morgan

Karakia

Our prayer this week is from Baptist President Susan Osborne, writing from India where she has been visiting family and friends. 

This photo of Susan, with outgoing President Ravi Musuku, was taken at our National Hui.

Two amazing people!

Heavenly Father, 

Thank you for your lavish and inexhaustible love for each one of us. Thank you that you have called us to be in community, sharing that love both in and outside of these communities. We thank you for the Baptist Hui earlier this month- for those who served, shared and supported this wonderful time together. Thank you for the fresh vision of how to move forward together.

Lord Jesus, give us a posture of humility for making difficult decisions, and having difficult discussions. Too often our egos get in the way of your voice. Forgive us Lord and encourage us to keep learning how to engage with one another in a way that honours you.

Lord Jesus, open our eyes to explore new ways of making decisions together. Open our minds to discover better ways to include the many voices within our family of churches.

Lord Jesus, we confess that our churches have not always been safe places for our people and we are keen to change this, providing environments where those who are vulnerable and at risk are surrounded by structures and people who will keep them safe.

Lord Jesus, thank you for blessing our movement with resources to build your kingdom. We pray for courage to step out in faith in using these gifts in mission to reach this world. May we be faithful stewards of all you have given us, using them in the power of the Holy Spirit for gospel renewal.

May these ‘big bites’ guide us as we work to shape our future to be more like the kingdom of God.

Amen.

Matawhaiaro

Dear Baptist Whānau

I’ve been reflecting this week on how the effective leaders I know are open to learning from others – proactively giving mentors permission to speak honest feedback and critique into their lives. Oh, they have convictions, but they realise they will not always get it right.

It’s not difficult for such leaders to admit when they get things wrong. They don’t waste time justifying their thinking and actions. In fact, they feel quite comfortable in both seeking help and changing their minds.

This week I have been drawn back to the book of Proverbs. Verse after verse encourages us to put aside our pride and to be open to learning from others. Here are just six:

> Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances (11:14).     

> Arrogant know-it-alls stir up discord, but wise men and women listen to each other’s counsel (13:10).     

> Wise men and women are always learning, always listening for fresh insights (18:15).

> Take good counsel and accept correction - that’s the way to live wisely and well (19:20). 

> If you quit listening, dear child, and strike off on your own; you’ll soon be out of your depth (19:27).  

> For people who hate discipline and only get more stubborn, there’ll come a day when life tumbles in and they break, but by then it’ll be too late to help them (29:1).    

> As I sit here at my desk this morning, I pray for you in your leadership. May God surround you with lots of wise people! And may we listen very carefully to the things they say to us.

Thank you for all the hard work that you do.

Charles


Photos provided by Charles Hewlett

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