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.

Karakia

Is there a more special weekend in the church calendar?

In the calendar of New Zealand Baptists?! Thousands of youth gathering together to hear the significance of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. 

This week, I invited Merrilyn Withers to lead us in praying for our upcoming Easter camps happening around the country. Merrilyn has served the youth in our movement for over 40 years. Please take her prayer and pray it often this week. 

Father, what a wonderful yet sobering time Easter is!   

Wonderful in that we see anew Your love, grace and mercy poured out in such abundance upon us, and sobering in that we recognise afresh the depth of our sin and separation from You without the death and resurrection of Jesus.  

Lord God, at this time, we lift up our young people and leaders in particular, as they prepare to go to camps all over the country and ask that they will have deep and life changing encounters with You.   

Give our leaders and youth pastors wisdom, strength, vision, love and passion as they lead their young people; and give all the volunteers, camp parents, and cooks who help make camps happen every bit of strength and grace they will need to do everything they are called upon to do.  

And most of all dear Father, please touch the lives of our young people in powerful and profound ways, that they will go on to become lifelong followers of Jesus, and be able to mark Easter 2024 as a time in their lives when they met you in a radical and significant way.

Kawepūrongo

A gift to Oxford, Canterbury

What a privilege it was for me to speak a couple Sunday’s ago at the dedication of the new facilities at Oxford Baptist Church in North Canterbury (picture below with pastors Greg Morris and Iain Froud and guests Miriam Atkinson and Chris Chamberlain). I have been giving thanks to God all week for the health of this church – what a gift this building is for the community and the generations to come!

Does it get any better than this?

Motueka Baptist Church celebrated four baptisms at Little Kaiteriteri Beach, the church's first in more than two years. Pastor Paul Cossey writes, "Such a special occasion with their church family and friends. Their testimonies were very encouraging and showed the importance of practical help, authentic friendship and the power of the gospel." 

Is there a more beautiful baptismal pool?!

What happened at ‘30 around 30’?

A major highlight of my year so far was gathering with '30 around 30'. I got to hang out with the amazing crew below to listen to their advice on how we might pivot our priorities in a greater way towards mission. 

Erin White (Communications Manager – South West Baptist Church), with a few others, wrote up a bit of a summary of our time together. I love it – and thought you might want a read. Click here to read the article.

The outcomes of this Retreat will change the future. Thank you!

Karen Baptist Churches' culture night 

Last week I met Saw Paul Moo, who will graduate from Carey Bible College in May. 

He's a member of the Auckland Karen Baptist Church and was keen to invite people to the New Zealand Karen Baptist Churches' culture night on Easter Saturday 30 March.

The Palmerston North Karen Baptist Church, Wellington Karen Baptist Church and Auckland Karen Baptist Church will all be performing.

Where: Balmoral Seventh Day Adventist School Hall, 10 Wiremu St, Mt Eden Auckland.

When: 6pm-7pm worship; 7pm-9pm culture show.

Northern Baptist Association staff meeting

So good to barge my way into the Northern Baptist Association staff meeting last week – with a tin of chocolate bars (photo below). 

Thank you Reti, Rick, Josie, Rachel, Raewyn, Nathan, Kristina, and Frances for looking after 100 of our churches – helping us to thrive for the purpose of bringing gospel renewal to people and places in our local neighbourhoods. 

Te Pouarataki mō te Hīkoi

From our Treaty Guide

Te Whetū O Te Rangi Marae in Tauranga is host to the 2024 noho marae for some of our Carey students over these few days. Led by Manakinui Te Kahu, a wealth of knowledge, story and shared experiences is helping our students to gain a greater understanding of a Māori world view. So many great conversations and waananga unfolding. I’m so grateful to see the strength and humility of our Baptist Māori whaanau in leadership and service to our wider Baptist community. Whakamoemititia a Ihowā!  – from Luke Kaa-Morgan

Matawhaiaro

Dear Baptist Whānau

As a parent who has had to care for two children with profound disability, I am extremely concerned with the announcement this week by the Ministry of Disabled People that disability support funding was to be narrowed, including purchasing rules for equipment, respite care and out of town accommodation.

Wow! I know that Joanne and I didn’t cheat the system.

A few years back we wrote in our book ‘Hurting Hope; what parents feel when their children suffer':

Clearly they have no idea what it is like. Obviously they haven’t experienced it for themselves. Parenting a child with extreme physical and intellectual disabilities that is. Caring for a thirteen year old body held captive by a six-month old brain. Week-in-week-out, week-in-week out, week-in-week-out, week-in-week-out…the squealing; almost constant from when his day starts at 6:30am through to its end at around 9pm when he finally decides its time to sleep, the care; being dependant on us for all his needs from entertainment and play to changing the soiled nappies, the coffee table; not being able to enjoy the simple acts like placing my hot drink down without the fear of it being knocked over, and being socially limited…

The respite setting is our saviour! I reflect on all the things we have been able to achieve over the years as a result of the opportunity given us to have a break from the emotional, physical, relational, and spiritual strain of caring for disabled children. Is Wilson Centre the reason that we have been able to complete our tertiary studies? It was the reason we were able to successfully finish the Abel Tasman with Mike. Is respite the reason our marriage has lasted, against the odds, as long as it has?  Has it provided us with the energy to maintain some level of regular employment? To maintain some degree of normality? I think so.  

Oh, I have longed for today – Respite Care Day.

In the government’s attempts to balance the books, I am beginning to wonder what segments of society are being asked to pay the most.

Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.” (Luke 14:12-14)

Stand firm in your faith and be courageous and strong.

Charles


Photos supplied by Charles Hewlett.

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