An update from the General Director of the New Zealand Baptist Missionary Society, Alan Jamieson, for 2022.

It’s been a full-on year! In March, I was in South Asia with our people. I was often called ‘proton visitor’ as I was the first international visitor to many of our communities for two years. It was wonderful to be in our global workers’ neighbourhoods and to walk the streets with them. My highlight was visiting Tr—ra. Few NZ Baptists probably realise the length and depth of relationship we have with Tr—ra Baptists; their wider faith community whakapapa back to NZ Baptist global workers and consider us family. Tr—ra Baptists deeply respect the generations of work of NZBMS global workers. They are passionate about serving the poor, sharing the word, growing the church, and training people for ministry. If possible, I would take each of you there to meet them as they are truly inspiring! There are now 997 Baptist churches in Tr—ra, almost 4x as many as here in New Zealand. More than 15,000 people came to faith, were baptised, and entered Baptist membership during the pandemic years—the church in Tr—ra is growing phenomenally! John and Helen M, who lived and worked in Tr—ra for many years, were there with me as the Tr—ra Theological College Women’s Hostel was opened. It was a day of great celebration, especially for the women faculty and students. Now there is a permanent, purpose-built home for women on campus as they study to be evangelists and leaders in the church.

Those relationships and stories are your relationships and stories. NZBMS is owned by the Baptist churches of Aotearoa, New Zealand. That means you own us. We are your global, cross-cultural mission work. Here are some reasons you can be proud of that:

  • We go to the most vulnerable— serving trafficked people, marginalised children, inner-city slum dwellers and those trapped in cycles of poverty.
  • We go to the least reached— all our neighbourhoods are in the so-called ‘10-40 window’, where Christians are in the overwhelming minority—some of these nations are mainly Muslim or Buddhist, and some have atheistic state control.
  • We go for the long haul—building consistency through generations. B—h: 137 years, T—a: 84 years, K—a: more than three decades. We plant deep roots in families, communities, and cities.
  • We go for the community, looking to see locals take ownership and leadership of sustainable businesses and organisations— through the decades, we have been a part of sparking new schools, hospitals, churches, theological training spaces, and businesses. We continue to give ownership, control, and leadership to locals. One of these businesses is currently one year into a three-year succession journey of transitioning ownership, governance, and leadership to the staff and their community.
  • We seek holistic transformation— physical, social, emotional, and spiritual gospel renewal in individuals and communities. We long to see people discover their God-given identity as loved members of Jesus’ family and their true vocation as partners with God in the Missio Dei.
  • We are learning to go as a bi-cultural people—we may be beginners, but we know God has given us a precious taonga as a bi-cultural people that can be a great gift to the people of the world. This is a space where we have much to learn but where we can already sense God’s hand at work.

It was wonderful to share our heartbeat, and core values with you in our formational Renew Together messages, videos, study material, and children’s resources.

For us, in the office, there have been a few changes! We sadly farewelled Steph, Shayla and Lorna but joyfully welcomed Ruth (Admin & Accounts Lead), Niki (Admin support & CRM) and Annie (Global Catalyst) into permanent roles. We have also been blessed by Luke (Te Pouarataki mō te Hīkoi) and Michelle (Projects Manager) joining us part-time for six-month positions.

This year we have welcomed home Carol, Ryan & Sophie and their boys, and John & Helen from their global communities. Carol has accepted a children’s pastor role, and Ryan and Sophie have settled in the South Island, where Ryan has been able to continue his IT lead role with a business in South Asia. John and Helen are also home in Te Wai Pounamu (South Island) but are far from hanging up their ‘missional boots’! John continues in governance roles alongside Tr—ra leaders and the structural and legal transitions of a global business.

Looking ahead, we have some initiatives we are focussing on. While working and discerning alongside Te Kapa Rautaki, we are looking to identify and support a specific Māori-led mission initiative; by Māori and for Māori. More news on this at National Hui. At the same time, we sense a new chapter is emerging in our partnership with the B—sh Baptist churches and communities. An investigative team from Mission Council and Te Kapa Rautaki will visit Ross & Cindy and B—sh leaders in November to explore and discern what this might look like. Looking further ahead, we will investigate how we can serve and build meaningful relationships in regions of the Pacific. These initiatives are rooted in the past two years’ strategic process and planning.

The strategy will create two new opportunities for our Baptist faith communities on our shores. Firstly, offering global experience and exposure trips. Annie will be available to support and lead short- term teams to experience majority world contexts and learn from our global partners/communities. Secondly, we want to support churches to discern a global ‘people and place’ in relationship with a community different from their own for the sake of ‘mutual gospel renewal’—a relationship where God brings mutual transformation through sharing, learning, giving, and teaching together.

In the background, we have been applying for IRD Schedule 32 status. This would allow us to offer tax receipts for global humanitarian, educational, developmental, and aid work. So far, we have received IRD approval for charitable status and can provide tax credit receipts for donations to work in NZ.

Finally, we are currently working through a rebrand. This is not because we are sensing a change in our call—actually, quite the opposite. We are rebranding our public-facing name (not our legal or constitutional name, which will remain NZBMS) as we focus afresh on our call. This call, and our heart and charism, will carry us forward with all generations. Our new name, which we will launch at National Hui, will be Arotahi. Arotahi carries the meaning of focusing in one direction, looking towards one horizon simultaneously, concentrating on one thing together. Although there are many different works and areas we are involved in, we have one common focus that unites us.

We look forward to another exciting chapter of transformation with you, our NZ Baptist whānau, and our global neighbours!

This update is from the 2022 Annual Report of the Baptist Churches of New Zealand, which you can view here.

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