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

The calling upon my life is to help local Baptist churches thrive so that gospel renewal might take place.

I long for God to use you and your faith community, to put right all that sin has marred and destroyed in your neighbourhood – both people and places.

This is my prayer for New Zealand Baptists.

In this regard, I am keen to share with you a couple of things I am doing over the next week:

Firstly, on Friday I facilitated a retreat with Assembly Council on how we might pivot our strategic priorities more towards gospel renewal.

We will be exploring two questions together:

1. What does gospel renewal look like? From our diversity we will endeavour to paint a picture of what the coming of God’s Kingdom might look like within our context.

2. What do our priorities need to be so that this gospel renewal might occur? What things must be promoted to allow revival to come through New Zealand Baptists? 

Secondly, on Wednesday and Thursday, Ethan Miller (youth catalyst) and I are retreating with ‘30 around 30’ to consider the same two questions. What priorities will 30 of our leaders around 30 years of age say we must promote? I can’t wait!

I look forward to sharing with you the priorities Assembly Council and ‘30 around 30’ articulate in this regard.

I wonder if your leadership teams, your people, answer these questions together? Have you painted a picture of what gospel renewal might look like if it came to your neighbourhood? What would your strategic priorities be to see this achieved? Would things need to change? Ha, I would so love to hear your answers to these two questions!

May this be our collective prayer – “Come Holy Spirit, bring revival through your church now.”

Baptist pivot to mission

We invited four New Zealand Baptists, who know a lot about gospel renewal, the following three questions:

What does a missionary movement look like to you? 

What does it mean to be a church planted in our local community? 

What does it mean to live as a Christian in the world in 2024? 

Please do take time to click on and read their full responses in the article entitled, 'Baptist Pivot to Mission'. Here's a taster:

Image: L-R Sarah Beisly, Lyn Campbell, Dave Tims, Raewyn Moodie 

What does a missionary movement look like to you? 

I see a group of ordinary Kiwi people gathered around our extraordinary Jesus. We're on our knees and we are crying out, "God, may your Kingdom come"... We reflect, we discuss, we dream about what God's Kingdom coming might look like in our place with our people. – Sarah Beisly

What does it mean to live as a Christian in the world in 2024? 

We need to understand that things like tension, uncertainty, being on the edge and in uncharted territory are our ongoing experiences. We should expect them. God is present and active, calling all of us to mission outside our comfort zones. – Lyn Campbell

What does it mean to live as a Christian in the world in 2024? 

We need to change our thinking. If we are going to be responsive in following Jesus, then there’s a call for us to care for those who are the least. That means we have to let go of a lot of our wealth and security so we can share it with others. – Dave Tims

What does it mean to be a church planted in our local community? 

To be planted in our local community, we as churches need to know the felt needs of those in our communities: go survey, ask questions, talk to people, and don’t be afraid of their answers. Most people aren’t actually looking for a Sunday morning service to go to.  Raewyn Moodie 

Arotahi Renew Together 2024

Speaking of gospel renewal, I wonder if you’ve registered for ‘Renew Together 24’ with Arotahi

This annual initiative is such an important part of being Baptist and will provide your faith community with 3-weeks of excellent resources to explore mission together. This year, our focus is on the book of Acts, and we explore: Knowing God's Heart, Choosing God's Heart, and Going with God's Heart into the mission around us, locally and globally. I ❤️ Arotahi. 

Click here to register and see the promo video

Te Pouarataki mō te Hīkoi

From our Treaty Guide

About 50,000 people were at Waitangi for Waitangi Day on Tuesday, including our Treaty Guide Luke Kaa-Morgan. Here are some of Luke's impressions of what he describes as a "phenomenal" day:

> There was a strong overall sense of kotahitanga, of unity for a positive future. There was a real sense of Maaori coming together and using their voice for the sake of all New Zealand.

> The presence of tangata Tiriti and their desire to preserve that covenant relationship and their commitment to it was notable. 

> The collaboration before Waitangi Day of Kingiitanga, the Ratana faith and Te Paati Maaori brought a real weight of leadership to the day. Maaori leaders portrayed a real strength and dignity, and there was a feeling of being amongst allies.

> The hymn Whakaaria Mai was sung many times, and the presence of karakia was notable. There were 5am prayers and a 10am service.

> Those who protested did so within boundaries set by elders. As much as some people were pushing back on some political statements, there was a sense that "we will not go backwards".

> There was a real celebration of all we've achieved in the last 50 years.

Please pray into the hope experienced at Waitangi.

Matawhaiaro

Dear Baptist Whānau

Shelley Motu’apuaka (pastor – Whangarei Central Baptist) asked me what my favourite Bible verse was. Wow – a great question that got me thinking. Do you have a best-loved verse? How would you answer Shelley?

In the end, I chose Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Hope, not hopelessness, is at the heart of the Christian faith. Our Gospel is a message of hope. Our Bible is a book of hope. Followers of Jesus are people of hope. The Lord says, “For I know the plans I have for you…They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  Paul tells us, “I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”  

My daughter’s middle name is Hope – from this very verse!

The most played song on my Spotify now is ‘Radical Love (The Joy Song)’ from Stockholm Worship. Click to have a listen – the chorus goes: 

May the God of hope fill our hearts

With a joy and peace, let it be

As we trust in Him

Living now in the overflow

What a radical thing 

I want you to know that whatever the situation you find yourself in today, there is always hope. Remember, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” With God, there is always hope. May you overflow with his joy and peace. 

Stand firm in your faith, be courageous and strong,

Charles

Karakia

God of Hope

We commit to you today the Baptist leaders, pastors, chaplains, and overseas workers who are toiling hard to see your Kingdom come.

As they place their hope in you, please fill them with all joy and peace. Make their joy complete and help them to experience something of that peace which transcends all understanding.

We pray for those amongst us for whom life is particularly hard at the moment. Help them to understand afresh your power and might; that you are a God who is present. Hear their cries for help. Comfort them. Surround them with supportive people. Renew their strength. And open their eyes to a way forward.

God, New Zealand Baptists are completely dependent upon you. In your goodness, please use us to bring Gospel renewal to our nation and beyond.

Come Holy Spirit, bring revival through your church now.

Amen.


Photos supplied by Charles Hewlett.

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