In this regular column, our Baptist National Leader, Charles Hewlett, keeps us posted on the happenings in Baptist faith communities across Aotearoa. The original Charles Mail is emailed out on a Friday and reproduced here the following Monday.

Kawepūrongo 

Dear Baptist Whānau

Happy New Year!

As you may have seen on the Baptist NZ platform, the new Assembly Council met at the beginning of December 2023. At that meeting, the Assembly Council asked me to review my decision to finish a year early as National Leader. 

Over the summer break, my family and I gave this plenty of prayerful thought. Alongside this, we listened carefully to the voices within the wider Baptist community. Almost daily, someone contacted me saying it was not the time to finish. My summer Bible readings have been from the book of Isaiah. I have found myself deeply inspired by the prophetic description of the Kingdom to come – there is nothing better to give my life to!  

As a result of these things, I have advised the Assembly Council I am happy to stay on until the end of 2025 (the end of my term).  

What a privilege it is to serve you:

I love the people who make up our churches. I love our hard-working pastors, chaplains, and overseas workers. And I love our purpose of bringing gospel renewal to people and places.   

I appreciate Assembly Council’s comments that we are in the middle of some significant changes (e.g. the ‘big bites’ discussed at our recent National Hui). I agree that having continuity of leadership (and unity) over the next few years will be important. It won’t all be easy.  

I was also encouraged by Assembly Council’s permission to allow the pivoting of my strategic priorities more intentionally towards mission – gospel renewal! I can’t wait to share more with you about this.  

A major factor contributing to this decision has been the two wonderful teams I have the privilege of working closely with – our Regional Leaders and my Lead Team. And I love the staff team at the National Support Centre. All these people are very important to me – why would I not want to work with them! 

May God continue to use the Baptist Union of New Zealand to bring honour and glory to his name. 

And Rod Robson (Assembly Council Chair) was keen to add a note: 

Dear Peeps 

I trust that you are as pleased about this news as I am. Please be assured Assembly Council are doing all that we can to support Charles, and we will continue to do so. Please pray for him and us as we navigate the season of change that God is leading the movement through. 

Kia kaha, Rod Robson  

Baptisms at Ōtūmoetai Baptist Church

How awesome on my first day back to hear the news of seven baptisms at Ōtūmoetai Baptist Church, Tauranga – all on the same day! Pastor Scott Muspratt tells me that one young person came to support a friend from youth group but decided on the day to be baptised, and of the seven baptisms there were two lots of siblings, which was pretty special.

What a great way to start the year!

Te Pouarataki mō te Hīkoi

From our treaty guide

Ngaa Hau e Whaa, kia Kotahi ra, a powerful message from the Maaori king, Kiingi Tuuheitia, during the recent national Hui-aa-Motu at Tuurangawaewae Marae in Ngaaruawaahia.  

This was a call to unite and strengthen Maaori in response to recent concerns over Government policies in relation to Maaori. The spirit of the hui was positive, peaceful and future focused. 

It was a joy to attend alongside the estimated crowd of 10,000 and discover a bunch of Baptists who were there to support the Kaupapa.  

The opening karakia of the day led by Archbishop Don Tamihere reminded the people of the importance of aroha over hatred and highlighted the life of Jesus in a relatable way to Maaori. Can I encourage you to be praying as this story continues to unfold, particularly with the upcoming Waitangi Day. Kia Kotahi taatou. Let us be one. 

From Luke Kaa-Morgan

Matawhaiaro

Two things that have encouraged me personally over recent times have come from my EA, Christine Stride: 

Firstly, have you heard Christine talk with Emma Wells, youth pastor at Whakatāne Baptist Church, on the Baptist People podcast? Emma shares why she and her husband bought a house in an area people advised against and how God has opened doors for them in their neighbourhood and the wider community. Being Baptist at its best! 

Click here to be inspired!

Second, Christine has written a reflective article on peace and the presence of her heavenly Father in life.  

She writes, “Our Father, who knows us intimately and who delights in us, deeply feels for us. He knows the frustrations, the knocks, the knock-backs, but he offers way more than the ‘Oh dear’-type platitudes.” 

Click here for an encouraging read.

I pray that you too would be inspired and encouraged.

Have a great week,

Charles

Karakia

Lord,

We worship you as the God who is alive and active, and working in the lives of your people in 2024.

As New Zealand Baptists, we want to acknowledge our utter dependence upon you. You alone are the one we look to for help. We know that it is not by might nor by power, but by your Spirit.

Therefore we cry out to you to pour your blessings upon us.

Fill our pastors, chaplains, and overseas workers with your new hope and joy and peace. Raise up strong and courageous leaders prepared to take Kingdom-sized risks. Open our ears again to the richness of Scripture. To listen carefully to the prophetic voices you have placed among us. Give us a renewed confidence in the power of the Gospel. Work miraculously in our midst. Provide us with the financial resources we need to serve you and others. Protect us from the challenges of the evil one.

As this new year commences, we look expectantly to you. Please use New Zealand Baptists to bring gospel renewal to the people and places in their local communities. May many people give their lives to Jesus in 2024 because of the work we do on your behalf.

We ask these things in the name of Jesus,

Amen.

 

Photos: Supplied by Charles Hewlett

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