‘Getting to know...’ is a new column where we discover more about our Baptist whānau, meeting someone in our team of 40,000 in each post. Let's kick it off by getting to know Charles Hewlett, the National Leader of the Baptist Union.

What is something you think everyone should experience at least once in their life? 

Visiting Rio de Janeiro in Brazil – it is spectacular! Copacabana beach, Christ the Redeemer statue, and Sugarloaf Mountain. Some of the most stunning things I have ever seen!

If you could be a pro at any one thing, what would it be?

I would love to be a professional squash player. I played a lot of squash in my early years – best game ever – concentration, hand-eye coordination, strength and fitness, mental well-being...I definitely need to start playing again!

What is a random interest that has completely nothing to do with your study or work? 

Hmmm…I am struggling to answer this one – bad eh! My work-life balance is clearly not as it should be. 

What is the oddest fact you know?

The Bible is the most stolen book in the world – so much for the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt not steal,” Apparently, Bibles are regularly taken from hotels and hospitals etc. – I guess this is a good thing?!

What is the most boring thing you’ve ever done?

Once I went on a road trip with Carey Principal John Tucker. After explaining Baptist history, he moved on to Baptist ecclesiology and then tried to justify preaching being a sacrament. Fortunately, we arrived at our venue just as the conversation turned to keeping in shape!

What is your favourite way of connecting with God?

Going for a very long walk along the beach, listening for the voice of God as the waves crash onto the shore. Psalm 93 always comes to mind, “Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea - the LORD on high is mighty.”

Can you describe a significant moment when you experienced God’s love?

Strangely, the significant suffering of my children has helped me to know God deeper. I remember one evening in Starship Hospital, holding my daughter as she convulsed from her brain tumour. It was at that time that I understood the God of Romans 8 and that nothing is able to separate me from the love of God. Even in the darkest moment of my life, I experienced God’s presence and love.

What is your favourite thing about the neighbourhood where you live?

My house is only 75 meters from Ellerslie village. I love wandering down the hill and walking past the many cafes and the many people spilling out on the street. The coffee, the food, the conversations, the smiles, the diversity…I love the sense of community - of belonging somewhere smaller in the big city of Auckland! 

What do you love most about being Baptist?

I immediately think of four core things that come together to make Baptist: Commitment to the Bible (guiding us, directing us, giving priority), Uncompromising Discipleship (Jesus Christ and the Gospel are worth giving up your life for), Inclusivity (everyone has value, everyone’s voice matters), and Space to be Imaginative (having a radical edge and the flexibility to re-invent ourselves). I believe that when these four things come together, things will happen! Who doesn’t want to be part of that?!

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