Kawepūrongo | News

Fiona Warring is a 45-year-old New Zealand Baptist living with terminal cancer. She's married to Mike, and they have three children. A couple of weeks ago, I travelled to Paraparaumu to spend some time with Fiona and Mike. As I wrote in Charles Mail at that time, “The sun was shining, Fiona’s home-baked scones were delicious, and we talked together about everything—camping, cancer, family, friends, faith, God, tattoos, healing, death, and the future. Fiona let me press record.” What a privilege. Go to baptist.nz/series/baptist-people to listen in (or find the Baptist People podcast on our Baptist NZ app, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts).

Our Youth Catalyst

The highlight of last week has to be Ethan Millar’s appointment to the National Youth Catalyst role. Click HERE to read more.

I have known Ethan for many years. In fact, he studied at Carey Baptist College while I was the Principal. His love for Jesus, the Baptist family of churches, and the youth of this nation is clearly evident in his life.

Merrilyn Withers wrote to me: 

He will bring both a passionate love for God and young people and a visionary and strategic mindset. I think he will be well up for the challenges of youth ministry in this day and age.

I look expectantly to how God will develop Baptist Youth Ministries in the years ahead. 

In the announcement, I prayed the following prayer—please join me: 

Dear Lord,

We want to see Baptist faith communities bringing gospel renewal to the lives of young people in the contexts in which they serve.

We want to see young people being discipled to fall more in love with Jesus, his Word, and his mission—understanding the relevance of the gospel in their lives and world.

We want Baptist Youth Ministries to be a place that Baptist youth pastors, leaders and workers across Aotearoa New Zealand are keen to be a part of—their source of vision, resourcing and support. Their place of identity, their tribe of belonging.

We are a movement that is passionate about young people. Lord, we know that Ethan shares this same passion deeply.

God, we ask you to resource Ethan with all that he needs for this calling. Show us how we can best support him. And speak to our faith communities in this important space Lord—help us to thrive!

Amen.

A chat with Merrilyn

Talking of Merrilyn Withers, another clear highlight of last week was interviewing her with Kathryn (picture below) for an upcoming episode on the Baptist People podcast on her incredible love for youth. We talked about where this love comes from, what makes a good leader, her sister Dawn, and both her concerns and excitement for youth in the future. This is a goodie! Keep your eyes peeled...

Our future leaders

And how inspiring it was to spend some time this week with the 2023 intake of Pastoral Leadership (PL) and Youth Pastoral Leadership (YPL) students at Carey Baptist College (see photo below). These people are our future leaders! Thank you for being faithful to the call God has placed on your life—Gospel renewal is worth giving your life to!

The place to camp

On Thursday, 2 March I jumped in the car with Raewyn Moodie and headed off to Cambridge to spend the day at Finlay Park Adventure Camp on the shores of Lake Karapiro (the home of eCamp). What an awesome day! What an awesome place! And what awesome people! Thanks to Ian, Joe, and Gus (pictured here) for showing off this wonderful treasure in the Baptist family, bringing gospel renewal to many people. This is the place to have your next church camp!

What’s being preached?

Last week I asked three Baptist pastors to share about the preaching series they are currently leading their churches through. I find it fascinating—what has your church chosen to start the year off with?!

Thank you Rob, Julie, and Craig, for the way you love the people of God.

Rob Petrini (Hutt City Baptist)

Warrant of Fitness: Our car’s health is checked every year. Our physical bodies need a constant check-up. Is not our spiritual health just as, if not more, important? When was the last time you did a spiritual warrant of fitness? 12 weeks. 12 challenges. A 12-point check-up of your spiritual health to re-evaluate, re-align and re-energise your walk with God.

Julie Osborn (Connect Baptist)

My preaching series for much of this year is “Growing in discipleship.” My desire is to see all ages using their gifts and talents to build up the Body and to extend God’s Kingdom on Earth. This year I want us to take the Great Commission more seriously, as Christ commanded in Mt 28:19-20.

Craig Ashby (Alexandra Baptist)

During March, the scheduled teaching series at Alexandra Baptist Church is titled ‘Living and Loving like Jesus’. This is a catchphrase we use lots at ABC – it’s essentially our vision and our mission. The series will include teaching from the life and legacy of Jesus, as well as inspirational interviews with people from ABC about how they try to practically follow in the footsteps of Jesus in their everyday lives.

Karakia | Prayer

And from someone who is an incredible preacher—I asked John Tucker (Principal, Carey Baptist College) to invite God to work powerfully through the preaching of God’s Word in New Zealand Baptist Churches. Please take the time to read John’s prayer through—keeping your own faith community in mind as you do so.  

Lord, we believe…

We believe that you are a God who loves to speak, and that whenever you speak, something happens (Isaiah 55:10-11). We see this all through Scripture, Lord. It’s by speaking—it’s by your words—that you create and give life. You just say the words, “Let there be light,” and light bursts into existence. You just say the words, “Little girl, get up,” and a dead child rises to new life. Your word doesn’t just inform. It performs. It transforms. It has creative power.

We believe that you spoke the Scriptures into existence. They’re “God-breathed” (2 Tim 3:16). It is uniquely in the words of the Bible that we encounter the “living and active” Word of God (Heb 4:12). We’ve experienced this time and time again.

We believe that in every generation you have called people to serve your church by speaking your word. As Jesus said, we “do not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Matt 4:4). So we believe and confess again that the faithful speaking of your word in Scripture is absolutely critical to the life and health and witness of your church in Aotearoa today.

And so we pray…

We pray for those who will be preaching this Sunday. As they prepare, illuminate their minds and captivate their hearts. Open your word to them and open them to your word. And as they preach, anoint them, empower them. Give them the grace to lead your people into the Scriptures. Through their speaking, may they faithfully say again what you are saying in the text from which they preach.

And we pray for those who will be listening this Sunday. Convict them. Comfort them. Guide them. Renew them. From the written word, and by the spoken word, may they catch a vision of the Living Word and hear him speaking to them.

And for us all, preachers and listeners, give us by the power of your Spirit, the grace not only to hear your word with our ears, but also to receive it in our hearts, and to display it in our lives. We ask this, for the glory of your name and the growth of your kingdom.

Amen.

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