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.

Matawhaiaro | Personal

Dear Baptist Whānau...

Three days after Joanne and I arrived back from the Baptist World Alliance conference I had my hip replacement surgery. 

The last ten days have been a bit slow for me, and despite being on sick leave, I am keen to catch up with you all...just briefly. Ha, I find it hard to not think about work (something my counsellor is very aware of). Baptist ministry and mission is enormously important to me and central to this is the well-being of our leaders. I trust that things have been going well for you - please be assured I value you greatly.

On the way home from Norway, Joanne and I had a couple of nights in Amsterdam and then a couple in Dubai. We loved the opportunity to see Anne Frank's house, and to visit the Van Gogh museum (a wonderful experience for my art teacher wife!)

A big thanks to everyone who contacted me re my surgery – don’t you love knowing people are praying for you?! Everything seems to have gone well. Awesome surgeon, awesome anesthetist, and awesome nurses – I am feeling sore but very blessed.

The week ahead…

I am hoping to get back into things the best that I can this week. We have an important few days:

Rātū (Tuesday) – a Regional Leader retreat day here in Auckland with Mick and Ruby Duncan. A day of care, encouragement, and exploring the role of our Regional Leaders going forward. I always come away invigorated after meeting with this team.

Rāapa (Wednesday) – a day when our Assembly Council, Regional Leaders, and Lead Team meet for conversation. So good to have Craig and Michaela Vernall, and Sarah Beisly joining with us for the day as we interact on some of the bigger issues facing us as a movement. Can’t wait!

Rāpare (Thursday) – a day for Assembly Council to meet for our bi-monthly meeting. A busy few days – I hope I make it to the weekend!

Feeling blessed… 

Being on leave has reinforced to me what a capable, experienced team of people I have working alongside me. I have been particularly thinking this regarding our Regional Leaders. How fabulous to go on leave knowing they have everything under control :)

Reti Ah-Voa (Northern):  How important for us to have a Pasifika woman leading the region with one of the highest Polynesian populations in the world. I reckon we need to unleash Reti! My dream is for New Zealand Baptist to bring Gospel Renewal to South Auckland in ways never seen before!

Peter Foster (Bay of Plenty & East and Waikato):  Pete’s the one in our group who ensures we don’t get sidetracked by unimportant things. Always wanting to know the Gospel purpose in our decision making. My dream is for New Zealand Baptists to be baptizing new followers of Jesus daily!

Mike Warring (Lower North Island):  I love how Mike is leading the region where many of our leaders of the future seem to be based – he’s the master at identifying, mentoring, and trusting new leaders. My dream is for New Zealand Baptists to be led by people a hang of a lot younger than me!

Chris Chamberlain (Upper South):  Chris’ Luke 4 standard has already changed our team. His confidence in how our ecclesiology can bring Kingdom change to people and places is second to none. My dream is for New Zealand Baptists to make brave and courageous (radical) decisions for the poor and the oppressed!

Rachel Murray (Otago & Southland):  I thank God for a team member who never gives up. Rachel knows what it means to put on her gumboots, to roll up her sleeves, and to get stuck in – there’s never any excuses with her. My dream is for New Zealand Baptists to work hard on the solution side!

I told you we were blessed. Please be encouraged to get behind your Regional Leader and help them make your Association the best in the country – we need your support and help.

From the Baptist Māori Hui…

The news from Luke Kaa-Morgan (Te Pouarataki o te Hikoi – Arotahi, Carey, and the Support Centre) regarding the recent Baptist Māori Hui has been very significant. 

Luke writes, “I’m thanking God for our Baptist whānau today after three incredible days with Baptist Māori. It was filled with joy and laughter, grace and humility and a commitment to see Māori and our wider Baptist whānau flourish. The hui mandated a season of structure and leadership transition allowing the new model and personnel to be presented at Baptist Hui.”

He notes, “The anticipation and peace that unites Baptist Māori is incredible and there is a wonderful sense of God’s presence.”

I look expectantly to the future.

The last 2023 Regional Hui…

As this note goes out, the Northern Regional Hui has taken place (July 27-29) at Marsden Bay Christian Camp situated at the mouth of the Whangarei Harbour. (Reti sent me this awesome photo below - wow!!).  

Sadly, because of my hip, I was unable to attend. However, I have loved the four others I have participated in. The revitalization of our Regional Associations has been one of my top highlights over the past four years.

The associating, unity, and leadership within our Associations brings me so much joy!

And from the Bible…

I love it when God speaks to me.

This week it was through the random ‘verse of the day’ that comes through my Bible App. It was Isaiah 26:4:

“Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.”

My thoughts quickly went to 1 Corinthians 10:4, and how we read of the Israelites:

“They drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.”

Rock, as a title for Christ, was very present in the hymns I would sing as a young boy attending Marton Gospel Chapel.

Phrases like, “On Christ the solid Rock I stand,” and “Be our Rock, our Shield, our Tower,” and “We have an anchor…fastened to the Rock that cannot move.”

Remember Fanny Crosby’s, “He hideth my soul in the cleft of the Rock?” Maybe I am just old!

Toplady’s hymn was my favourite, “Rock of ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.”

Growing up, the rock was a symbol of strength and endurance. As a follower of Jesus I learnt that I could declare with confidence, “You are my Rock and my Fortress” (Psalm 73).

In some of my current life uncertainties I appreciated God speaking to me this week, gently reminding me of the greatness of the one in whom I trust.

Lord, help us to avoid the sinking sands of life and to build on you – who alone is the solid foundation.

Karakia | Prayer

Did you know that August 13 is CareySunday? I am really keen to encourage you to celebrate this in your church services. Click here for some good resources.

Carey is a wonderful treasure of the Baptist Union of New Zealand. Please take time to pray the prayer below for Carey with me.

Lord, we give thanks today for the wonderful gift of Carey Baptist College.

We acknowledge you have blessed New Zealand Baptists with an amazing resource, and we ask that you continue to provide them with the resources they need to meet their purpose of, “serving the church by developing leaders for ministry and mission.” 

Lord, the Baptist Union of New Zealand needs robust leaders to help our faith communities bring gospel renewal to people and places in our nation and beyond. Please raise up people prepared to give their lives to this task. Help us all to identify those around us with such a calling, and then to practically encourage and invest in their education and training at Carey.

Be with our Principal John Tucker and his staff team. Fill them with your joy as they serve the Baptist family of churches so diligently.

Lord, please pour out you blessing upon Carey today.

In the name of Jesus


Photos: Supplied by Charles Hewlett

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