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

This week I happened to be in the office of Carey lecturer Dr Christa McKirland. I had to ask her about Gospel Renewal. Click here and enjoy her answer.

Christa is working on a book about power and authority in the local church. She'd like to include real-life experiences so if you can contribute, click the link below to fill out her survey. It should only take 5-10 minutes. All survey responses will be kept anonymous.

Click here to do the survey

Think about this...

Among the six baptisms at Pakūranga Chinese Baptist Church (photo below) was Daniel, a convert through the church's English ministry!

Pastor William HC tells me that Daniel was Pakūranga Chinese Baptist Church's first non-Chinese baptism candidate since the church was established in 1992. I reckon this is pretty exciting – bring on the future!

Ordinary churches making extraordinary decisions

Over the weekend, Joanne and I had the privilege of being with Paraparaumu Baptist Church. I loved being interviewed by Chris Beales-White (photo below). My favourite question...

Chris: As you travel the country where do you most see gospel renewal?

Charles: I mostly see it in places where people are making radical decisions for the gospel – risk-takers going outside their comfort zones and the norm. They have an awareness of their community needs and are prepared to take bold steps towards them. These are ordinary churches making extraordinary decisions. 

I then listed 13 examples of New Zealand Baptists having made courageous and brave decisions for the Kingdom in recent times. Maybe I was 'showing you off' a bit too much :)

One of the special highlights of visiting Paraparaumu Baptist Church was having the opportunity to connect with a number of retired Baptist pastors and overseas workers (from left to right: Jill Dodge, Christine Taylor, Graeme and Heather Joyes, Charles and Joanne, Elizabeth and Terry Pallesen, Jim and Gwenda Skett). 

Hosting lunch at Carey Baptist College

It was the National Support Centre's turn to host lunch for Carey students and staff on Tuesday this week (photo below). 

As we stood up the front being introduced, I couldn't help but think of Principal John Tucker's vision for the students in front of us – to form leaders who can "proclaim Jesus, teach Scripture, read culture, nurture disciples, and guide communities into God’s mission." 

23 years of faithful service

A few weeks back Paul Wade (pastor – Stoke Baptist Church) retired after 23 years of faithful service. How nice to be sent these words from David Jensen (pastor – Richmond Baptist Church) about his colleague and friend's ministry:

Paul has loved the people God has called him to serve (at Stoke, Kaitaia, and Whangamata Baptist). 

He has, over the last 23 years, laboured tirelessly for their well-being, even when there was nothing left in his own tank (understatement!). Paul would often wisely say, He tangata, he tangata, he tangata! And he meant it! (John 13:24).

I honour Paul today as a faithful friend, a godly husband and father, a man of integrity, and as a man who has faithfully loved God, His people, and His word.

Te Pouarataki mō te Hīkoi

From our treaty guide

Today I’m so glad to be meeting with Te Whāriki, our Māori leadership team who are gathering here in Tāmaki over these next two days. The agenda is way too full for the allocated time but I’m so thankful for the faithful commitment of these leaders as a gift to our whanau of churches. It’s all done with lots of laughter, kai and a deep desire for Te Rongopai mā te tangata me ngā wāhi, Gospel renewal to people and places. 

Would you join with me in prayer that Te Wairua Tapu would guide us as we hui? On the agenda is the Hui ā Māori 2024 scheduled for July with information being shared in the next week. Please look out for this and encourage Baptist Māori to attend. Mā te Atua koutou, e manaaki.    (from Luke Kaa-Morgan)

Karakia

Each week I receive a prayer email from the Baptist World Aliance that includes a prayer from a different part of the world. I have been appreciating this prayer from Josephine Sanvee in Togo (a country in West Africa bordered by Ghana, Benin, and Burkina Faso). 

A Prayer to the King of Kings

Our Father in heaven, you are the God of gods, the King of kings.

We ask you to bless our governments, our leaders, our elders and all those who are in powerful positions.

Give them a heart which abides by your will so they no longer favour injustice, but act for the well-being of all, in all things.

Give us all humble hearts so that we have good things, right actions, and your blessing forever for our country.

Bless the activities of the farmer, the fisherman, the businesswoman, the artist, and all other workers.

After the dry season, send us the blessed rain and favour us with a plentiful harvest so that we may glorify you.

Have pity on the poor, the soldiers, the sick. Help those who are alone and console those who are devastated.

Support pregnant women and mothers. Help the widows and widowers. Be father and mother to all orphans.

God, bless your word for Christians, and for non-believers, so that they may be assured and lean on you to obtain forgiveness for their sins and become your children.

O Lord, have pity on us. You are the God of mercy.

You are the strength, the glory, the honour and the holiness, forever and ever.


Matawhaiaro

Kia ora Baptist Whānau

All we talked about on Tuesday at our weekly Regional Leaders meeting was the Kingdom of God. I am keen to share the verses and comments of your RLs…

Peter Foster (Bay of Plenty/Waikato Baptist Association) read Hebrews 12:28, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” Peter noted, “In a world where things get shaken around culturally, ideologically, relationally, even death itself, we read that God's Kingdom cannot be shaken.”

Reti Ah-Voa (Northern Baptist Association) turned to Matthew 19:14, “Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Reti noted, “Reminder, for whom we are doing this for – those most vulnerable and unseen.”

Chris Chamberlain (Upper South Baptist Association) read Ephesians 1:18. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” Chris said, “We are told that this is incomparable. Imagine seeing that more clearly!”

Rachel Murray (Otago & Southland Baptist Association) reflected on Romans 5:1-2, “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” Rachel reminded us, “Not through anything we have done, but the grace of God and the obedience and actions of Christ.” 

Mike Warring (Lower North Island Baptist Association) opened up Luke 4:18-21, “He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Mike reminded us (with tears in his eyes), “The Kingdom has arrived, and things will never be the same, yet we still live in the time of the ‘Already But Not Yet’. There is so much hope and life, but there is also pain and death as well.”

Rob Petrini (Interim, Lower North Island Baptist Association) read John 21:11, “So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn.” Rob spoke, “The left side of the boat is where we toil in our own power. Through disappointment, stress, not understanding what’s going on in the world around us… but on the right side, that’s the call of our Saviour.”

I love these people dearly. Thank you for your commitment to the Baptist family of churches in New Zealand.

May God bless you in your Kingdom work this week,

Charles

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