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

Kawepūrongo | News

Collaborating on our churches’ response to disaster

On Saturday morning (18 Feb), it was a privilege to host a Zoom conversation between some of our Hawke’s Bay pastors and some of our pastors who led through the Christchurch earthquakes. Thank you, Alan, Chris, Kim, and John—your experience, wisdom, and empathy (forged out of some pretty tough times) are such a gift to our family of churches. Thank you for lifting our eyes to the mountains and reminding us where our help comes from (Psalm 121).

And then on Thursday afternoon, Mike Warring (Lower North Regional Leader) and Derek Wenmoth (Lower North Chair), and I spent some more time engaging online with our Hawke’s Bay pastors. They are doing remarkably well and are very grateful for people’s prayers and support. Thank you, Andrew Reyngoud (Flaxmere Baptist Church), Andrew Mitchell (Napier Baptist Church), Paul Davison (Hastings Baptist Church) and Cameron Jones (Village Baptist Church), for your capable and caring leadership.

Support from the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation

It was deeply touching when we received an email from APBAid on Monday, letting us know they were processing a transfer of USD 2000 towards the work we are doing as part of the flood response. (APBAid is the Humanitarian Aid division of Asia Pacific Baptist Federation, a regional organisation of the Baptist World Alliance representing 40,000 local churches, 65 conventions in 22 nations of Asia Pacific).

Director Roshan Mendis writes:

Our hearts and prayers are with you as we hear further news about devastating loss caused by Cyclone Gabrielle. We can fully identify with the sense of multiple buffeting you may be experiencing, just when you perhaps thought you were getting a handle of the situation, as you respond to this second onslaught of extreme weather, that comes hard on the heels of the floods. Our prayers are very much with you and the team. Please do let us know if there is any way we can assist you from here, in some way at this time.


Identifying risks and opportunities

Wednesday was definitely the grunty workday of my week. Under Wayne Schache’s leadership, I participated in The Audit and Risk Committee meeting in the morning.

The purpose of this committee is to identify significant risks and opportunities for the Baptist Union of New Zealand and advise our Assembly Council on how the risks might be mitigated and the opportunities maximised. 

And then, in the afternoon, we met with Peter Crow (photo below). At last year’s National Baptist Hui, a formal motion was passed: “That the Assembly Council be asked to form a working group to investigate structural and constitutional changes to the Baptist Union to position the movement better for gospel renewal and to ensure better stewardship of our resources, and to bring to the 2023 Hui a proposal with a view to the 2024 Hui approving constitutional change.”

Our meeting with Peter (who has significant experience in governance) was to discuss a process for this review and a potential way forward. We look forward to communicating more on this exciting journey.

Youth catalyst

If you were wondering where we are at with the appointment of the Youth Catalyst (see my November article Spectacular Youth: Youth Catalyst) —we have now concluded the interviews and have made an offer to someone who God has led to apply and who we discern is the right person for this role this next season ahead. The formal announcement will be coming soon, so keep a lookout for this. Praise God! I am excited for the future :)

Te Matatini 2023

Some of our Baptist Māori attended Te Matatini—National Kapa Haka Festival on Thursday and Friday. Luke Kaa-Morgan writes: 

Te Matatini 2023 here in Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland, is often described as the Olympics of kapa haka. How fantastic to be among the vibrant crowds of spectators and supporters as competing kapa haka groups from all around Aotearoa, New Zealand, gather to demonstrate the creativity, expertise and discipline of this performance art.
My spirit was stirred, and I wondered how as a songwriter, I might write waiata/songs that kapa haka groups, such as those on stage, might sing to the glory of God. If not me, maybe you? :)
Excellence was the standard of every performing group. The verse from Psalm 8 saying, O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth, was brought to mind each time the crowds rose to acknowledge the groups in applause and in response haka.
I was also glad to bump into a bunch of Baptists while I was there.

Karakia | Prayer

Please continue to hold the cyclone-hit communities in your prayers. We think of all those who are supporting, caring and showing God’s love at this time—we lift them up in prayer.

It was my wedding anniversary during the weekend. So while marriage is on my mind, I asked Paul and Angela Cossey to write a prayer for those of us who are married (recognising that this is not the case for everyone):

Dear Lord,

I thank you for my spouse (name them) and for the way in which you have brought us together to bless and support each other. Thank you for the friendship and partnership we share. 

Continue to help us to submit to each other, to love each other sacrificially and to honour each other in our words, actions and thoughts.

Holy Spirit, please search my heart and show me where I am not living up to the promises I made to my spouse and before you. Help me to communicate and repent of anything that is causing us harm.

Lord, may you remind me of the joys and dreams we have shared that have blessed us and others we share our lives with, so we can continue to live together with united hearts and under your blessing.

In Jesus’ name, I pray this,

Amen 

Matawhaiaro | Personal

Dear Baptist whānau

I wrote last week, “New Zealand Baptists are awesome.”  

And this week, it has only been underlined for me. I have lost count of the number of people I have engaged with—and it’s true—we are an incredibly and diversely gifted bunch of people. God is so good!

I must admit I was personally encouraged in my own calling by both Margaret Loh and Jacqueline Sua (pictured below)—your passion and desire to serve God in your area of ministry have inspired me. 

I love the New Zealand Baptist’s collective heart for the mission of God, expressed through our individual giftings—reflecting the true picture of the church that we see in Romans 12:4

...we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people...So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvellously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be...(MSG)

Be proud of the unique giftings God has placed in your life—thank you for using them for his purpose and, in so doing, reflecting the Body of Christ!

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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