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 | News

Goodbye Kathryn!

This week we gathered together at the National Support Centre to farewell Kathryn Heslop.

Kathryn writes, “What an incredible privilege it has been serving the Baptist movement over the last 5 years. We have outstanding people in our midst. I love what we are about, I love the Baptist way of doing church. I have absolutely loved working alongside our National Leader”.

If I were to leave you any parting words, it would be this: Keep fixing your eyes on Jesus. Continue to seek to live as he lived. Be centred on people. Put others needs above your own. Let us act justly, walk humbly, love mercy, and serve one another in love”. 

I am going to miss Kathryn heaps!

Especially when it comes to keeping on top of my admin, emails, and communication. Until we have a new person in place I apologise if I am a bit slow at getting back to you.

Kathryn was also a big help in me getting my weekly Charles Mail out. In the interim I may have to scale things back a little. Make sure you have the Baptist App downloaded on your phone so you are kept up to date. 

Ways God speaks to us

This week I asked a couple of our colleagues ways God speaks to them. Here is what they told me:

Seb Norman (youth pastor - St Albans Baptist) said:

One of the ways I love to hear from God is my regular prayer walk round the neighbourhood. Fresh air by the sea, movement, taking in creation, and a good ol' natter with the Lord - dreamy.

Tom Chapman-Smith (assistant pastor - Morrinsville Baptist) said:

A few weeks back as I spent the day spearfishing in the Coromandel. I found myself marvelling at how God speaks to us through the ordinary, everyday moments in our lives. While doing what I do whenever I get the chance - whether it was a nest of crayfish as they huddled in a crack, an inquisitive juvenile shark, the ever-changing sea floor, or the rising sun peeking through the morning fog, God reminded me of Psalm 104 and His eternal love and care for His creation, for you, for me. 

I love Baptist pastors, chaplains, and overseas workers! When does God speak to you? Let's intentionally take time out to listen carefully for his voice. 

Last week I became aware of the Baptist World Alliance Day of Prayer for Manipur – on Sunday, August 20, 2023.

In May 2023, violence erupted in Manipur – an Indian state located in the north-eastern part of the country along the Myanmar border. As of August 4, the violence has resulted in more than 170 deaths, 1,800+ houses burned, 350+ churches destroyed, and over 500 individuals injured and hospitalised. More than 50,000 people have been forced to flee their homes for refugee camps because of, among other political factors, their ethnicity and faith in Jesus Christ.

Our continued prayers for Christians in Manipur and for a peaceful resolution to the conflict are desperately needed! Maybe the resources here can help you and your faith community pray. I commend this to you.

A special National Hui event

The Baptist National Hui is sounding better every week - and especially all the events on the day before!

I spent an afternoon with Lisa and some of her team at Visionwest (see photo below) to plan the Community Ministry Training Day on Wednesday (November 1 - the day before Hui).

If you are wanting to develop the community ministries within your church, this day is not to be missed. It will provide an opportunity to share about new, growing, and established community ministries that exist within Aotearoa Baptist whānau, and to learn how to take the next step in your community ministries.

Facilitated by Visionwest Waka Whakakitenga – a large West Auckland trust established by Glen Eden Baptist Church – the day will explore a range of topics including our commitments to honouring Te Tiriti, ways of responding to local housing needs, mana-to-mana practice in food support initiatives and developing appropriate cultural practices within our community ministries.

The team is looking at ways to weave your stories and experiences into the programme so that we can learn from each other. If you are running an initiative that is reaching your community, they would love to consider your contribution to the day. Please email Sarah at [email protected] if interested.

Register for our National Hui here.

Kupu o te wiki | Word of the week

Matawhaiaro | Personal

Dear Baptist Whānau

I know I talk a lot about gospel renewal - joining God in his mission of restoring all that sin has marred and destroyed. As Colossians 1:20 puts it, “and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”

This is our purpose as a collective of faith communities.

This week I’ve been challenged about where I place my confidence in seeing this achieved. I've needed to be reminded that the Gospel power of God does not compare to the things that this world views as powerful – things like wealth, power, charisma, technology, clever ideas and so on. As our God tells us in Isaiah 55:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

I have been encouraged by the confidence in the gospel that Paul displays in Romans 1:16-17:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last.”

Firstly, he is very clear in verse 16 that it is the power, “of God” (God is the author of the Gospel we proclaim…we are not marketing our own ideas). 

Secondly, Paul reminds us in verse 16 that the gospel we proclaim is the very, “power of God.” As someone reminded me, “Charles, the gospel we proclaim is a supernatural power from God. A supernatural power whose substance is Jesus Christ. A supernatural power that’s able to transform people and places.”

Thirdly, he knew that the gospel he proclaimed worked, “for (because) in the gospel a righteousness from God is being revealed.” (vs17) - the message can put right all that sin has marred and destroyed. 

I have been singing Stuart Townend’s words all week:

I will not boast in anything

No gifts, no power, no wisdom

But I will boast in Jesus Christ

His death and resurrection

New Zealand Baptists, we can have confidence in the message of the gospel, and we can have confidence in the strength of the gospel. It actually works!! How awesome is this.

I pray that you would experience the power of God in your life and in the faith community that you serve.

Charles 

Karakia | Prayer

This week I invited Murray Cottle to write a prayer for us to pray together as a family of churches. Please pray with us that people would come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour as a result of the gospel work of New Zealand Baptists. 

Jesus, you told us that your mission in coming to earth was to “seek and to save those who are lost”. Then, you asked your church to carry on this work you began.

Lord, we know that we have not always done this well. We find this a tough challenge. The busyness of our church life can distract us.

It is not that we don’t care about unsaved people, but somehow it doesn’t happen.

Jesus, we need your help. We ask that the Holy Spirit will gently but firmly keep reminding us that you call us to care about the people that you came to ‘seek and to save’.

We are your church and we want to be fruitful for you. Empower us we pray.

Amen


Click here for more Charles Mail.

Photos: Supplied by Charles Hewlett

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