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.

There were many good things about our National Hui. One of the most important for me (Charles) was hearing the aspirations and dreams of Baptist Māori. We have so much to be thankful for. 

I give thanks to God for the te Tiriti journey the Baptist family of churches has been on.

I give thanks to God for the clarity and commitment of our Treaty Affirmation Statement.

I give thanks to God for the hard work of Tauroa Truby Mihaere, Lionel Stewart, Sam Emery, and David Moko.

I give thanks to God for Luke Kaa-Morgan and his important role of Te Pouarataki mō te hikoi (our Treaty Guide).

I give thanks to God for the innovation and creativity of our younger Māori leaders, and their love for Jesus.

I give thanks for Arotahi and the way they have turned to face Māori once again.

I give thanks that Carey Baptist College is a learning community embodying the vision of te Tiriti o Waitangi, informed by Scripture. 

I love this photo of Denny holding my hand at Hui.

I know that Baptist Māori will lead us well in helping to bring gospel renewal amongst Tangata Whenua.  

Kawepūrongo

And And what about this…

Ten people got baptised at Te Puke Baptist Church on Sunday morning!!

Josiah Carr (pastor - Te Puke Baptist) writes, "I had a crazy dream in a leadership meeting earlier in the year that we’d have 10 baptisms in 1 service…was a bit of a faith-stretching thing because we hadn’t had many at all in the last few years. Seeing that come to fruition on Sunday was a massive blessing for our church family – a big celebration for our church whānau as these 10 acknowledged their desire to follow and love Jesus for the rest of their lives!"

Dreaming bigger with our local churches

How awesome for me to spend the weekend in the Marlborough District visiting Picton Baptist Church on Saturday (see photo below with Alf Millar – pastor), and then spending Sunday with the Baptist church in Blenheim – Connect Church (see photo below with Shanan Barnett – pastor). 

As part of Connect's ‘Dream Sunday’ Chris Chamberlain, Bradley Nicholson and I were interviewed about gospel renewal and some of the radical examples we are seeing of this around the country. What a service – I definitely came home inspired to dream bigger about what might be possible! Thank you Shanan.

Lead Team retreat

Then on Monday I ‘retreated’ with the Lead Team to Karen Warner’s home for the day (Karen has the best Christmas Tree ever...I guess I shouldn’t be surprised :) )

We discussed together the strategic goals that have guided a lot of our work over the last few years. And then we began talking about the things that might guide us over the next few years.

Ha, most of the conversation was around mission being the Baptist DNA and what it means to be a community of faith planted in our local neighbourhood …living as Christians in our world in 2024. 

"Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end... establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness (Isaiah 9)."

Serving with Carey

Most of Tuesday was Carey Baptist College facing. In the morning I participated in a meeting with Carey staff on how together we might best serve the Baptist family of churches through regional training days. In the afternoon, I attended their Board meeting where we got to hear some of the preliminary findings of their Strategic Review that is currently being undertaken.

Convos with the General Director of Arotahi and the Bishop of Wellington

On Wednesday, I loved hosting Alan Jamieson (General Director – Arotahi) and Justin Duckworth (Bishop of Wellington) at my home. The purpose of the day was to encourage one another in our leadership, to reflect together on the church in New Zealand, and to dream about what the future could be. We talked about:

- The hope that Jesus and his transformative gospel brings

- The incredible privilege it is to be a leader

- How we might best form leaders who are deeply in love with their neighbourhoods

- Ways we might encourage people to fall more deeply in love with Jesus

- And how there is nothing greater than giving your life to the mission of God

I came away from the day challenged and inspired!

A prophetic painting

The highlight of Thursday was receiving this prophetic painting. 

It is a picture of me on my knees, on firm ground, my eyes firmly fixed on Jesus, one hand raised towards God, the other hand touching a measuring stick with Matthew 7:24 written on it: 

"Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.”

The artist kindly spent 30 minutes with me explaining how important it is, in my position of leadership, to continue listening to God’s voice, and in a posture of humility speak God’s truths.

What a gift this is! My God is alive and wanting to speak to me. I sit here carefully looking at the painting. Reflecting on the artist’s comments. Listening for God’s voice. Speak to me.

Upper South Association AGM

And then on Thursday evening I got to jump online and participate in the Upper South Association AGM – with gatherings in Ashburton, Christchurch, and Nelson. How cool is this!  “I thank my God every time I remember you” (Phil. 1:3).

Matawhaiaro 

Kia ora Baptist Whānau

In my regular catch up with our Regional Leaders this week we each shared a couple of verses from Scripture. They were verses we'd been thinking over and that were relevant to each of us right now. I love the fact that pondering these scriptures took up most of our meeting time!

Peter Foster called us to be confident, pointing to John 15:16, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you”, and then 1 Thessalonians 5:24, “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”

Reti Ah-Voa read out Acts 2:42-47, reminding us of the power of living an attractive life, “They devoted themselves...And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

Chris Chamberlain was all about Philippians 1:3, and being thankful for those in gospel partnership with us, “I thank my God every time I remember you…”

Rachel Murray took us to Habakkuk 3:17-18 and spoke about learning to be thankful in the times that are hard, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines...yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour,” and then Colossians 3:15, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

I explained how important Psalm 55:22 is to me, “Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders – he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out.”  And then Christine Stride finished our time with the beautiful, confident words of Psalm 104. Verse 1 reads, “Praise the Lord, my soul. Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendour and majesty.”

Mike Warring missed our meeting this week as he cared for his family.

Ha, as a group of leaders we didn’t talk business. Rather, we listened hard for God’s voice in his scriptures and the things he might be saying to us through them. And in a strange way, I came away feeling like a lot of business was achieved.

May New Zealand Baptists be known for their love of the Bible.

Charles

Karakia

This week I asked Dave Catto (pastor - Levin Baptist Church) to write a prayer on our behalf, giving thanks for the Scriptures - the very words of God speaking to us. 

Heavenly Father, we thank you that you are a God who speaks clearly, by your Spirit, through the scriptures. We praise you for revealing the precious truth about Jesus in these pages.

We thank you that you promise to equip us for every good work, may your word equip us today for the challenges we face. We thank you that your word rebukes and corrects us, give us humble hearts.

For those of us who regularly teach the bible, save us from assuming we understand a passage because we have read it many times before. Give us fresh eyes and diligence in preparation.

We thank you that your word is a delight, a lamp to our feet, our comfort, supreme wisdom, the path to blessing. May it be all of those things for the Baptist churches of Aotearoa New Zealand. Give us ears to hear, and courage to obey you.

Amen


Photos provided by Charles Hewlett

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