Alan Jamieson is the General Director of Arotahi, the New Zealand Baptist mission arm. 

Since NZBMS (New Zealand Baptist Missionary Society) began in 1885, we have run an annual appeal across all the Baptist churches of New Zealand. We are doing it again this year. We started in 1885 by giving people a cardboard box to put coins into. The boxes were collected in church services across the country, and the money went to the mission. 

For many years, we gave a different container each year for people to put their gifts in. Some have collected these, and at least one church has a collection of all the different containers on display.

Today, giving is nearly all electronic, and small change doesn’t meet Jesus’ command to give generously, nor the needs of our global mission. So, recently, we have moved to providing churches with a gift to give their people that reminds them of the needs of the world, our partners in mission, and their responsibilities to the world’s poor and the world church. 

This year, we are giving a leather coaster, each made by a leather artisan at the Loyal workshop in Kolkata, as a reminder of the place of hospitality and generosity in the mission life of the book of Acts. 

In our appeal last year, which we call Renew Together, we looked at the end of Matthew’s gospel when Jesus, risen from the grave and conqueror of the cross, told his disciples that ALL authority in heaven and earth had been given to him. Therefore, they were to go to ALL the world, with ALL of God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and ALL of Jesus’ teaching, to make disciples of ALL nations. As they stepped out to follow this command, Jesus said he would be with them always.

This year, Renew Together 2024 moves from the end of Matthew to the beginnings of the church in the book of Acts. We will trace key incidents in the first half of Acts where God leads the Jesus disciples to cross boundaries and go to the stranger, the enemy and the outcast. We will look in depth at Pentecost and the 3,000 new believers from across the region who form new radical communities around a depth of commitment to Jesus and each other. Then, we will look at the transformations of Paul, Cornelius and Peter as the Holy Spirit gives them synchronised dreams, and they courageously step into unchartered territory. The church will never be the same after the Cornelius dreams. 

Our last week will take us to the conversion of the first European and her role as a leader in the infant church. We will be rocked by the radical openness of God to everyone. We will pick up quotes like this: 

The gospel was for the lame man outside the temple 

The Eunuch who could not enter the temple 

The Samaritan who worshipped at another temple 

And the Barbarians who never went near a temple. 

Our leather coasters will remind us of God’s hospitality to us, the radical inclusion of God, and the demanding call on us all to be involved through our hospitality and generosity. Hospitality and generosity are the last two Christian practices we will highlight in the series. 

In the first week, we will encourage people to pray and fast as part of waiting for God’s call on them. Especially God’s call to everyone as to what they are to give for God’s work in the world through New Zealand Baptists. 

In week two, we will look at how we are given fully to God through baptism and to each other through communion. 

At the end, we unashamedly ask you to give. To give your lives by going, your prayers abundantly, and your finances sacrificially. 

What happens to the money raised through Renew Together? 

Each year, all the Baptist churches of New Zealand collate the mission giving of their people and give it to Arotahi to distribute for the global mission we, as New Zealand Baptists, have committed to. We also receive designated gifts from individuals and churches throughout the year for student sponsorship, support of the people we have sent, and named projects. 100% of the money given to our people, projects and students goes to that work globally. The money raised through Renew Together enables us to:

> Top up specific global projects or people that may not receive sufficient funds from directed gifts

> Meet targets that the Mission Council has promised particular mission projects

> Cover some New Zealand costs for educating and encouraging our churches, children, and young adults in mission. 

Again this year, we will produce an impact report showing where all money has been invested in the mission and the outcomes of that work on the ground. 

In signing up for Renew Together, your church will receive three weeks of resources, including videos designed to be played in church services, preaching resources, corporate prayers, an adults manual, a youth manual, a children’s curriculum packed with creative activities, and, of course, a leather coaster for each youth & adult taking part. 

To register your church or for more details, including a promotion video, go to this webpage: 

Photo: From Renew Together 2024 promotional video

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