Charles Hewlett mentions three things that stood out for him today at the Baptist World Alliance conference in Norway. Charles is the National Leader of the Baptist Union of New Zealand.

Firstly, most of today was about participating in the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation gathering (see the picture below). With both India and China in our Federation this is the largest BWA region numerically.

Charles writes, “While much of the gathering was focused on the suffering people are facing in our region, I was given the opportunity to speak about the ministry and mission of New Zealand Baptists. I also had the privilege of praying the closing prayer (photo at the top). We were given a warm welcome!”

Secondly, Charles mentions, “A personal highlight for me today was the sermon preached as part of the morning worship time (photo below). While the preaching style was out of this world, I was deeply challenged by the content.”

From Acts 8 the speaker highlighted how the gathered church became the scattered church as the result of persecution. He then shared four things that happen when the church is scattered:

1.    We become a movement and not an establishment (8:4a)

2.    We become more courageous than cautious (8:4b)

3.    We become more vocal than voiceless (8:4b)

4.    We become good news spreaders rather than good news holders (8:4c)

He preached, “May Baptists from all over the world not be involuntarily sent, because we didn’t voluntarily went!”

Thirdly Charles mentions the conference celebrating the publishing of the book, ‘Seeds of the Church; towards an Ecumenical Baptist Ecclesiology.’

He writes, “I am keen to make you aware of this book, as it contends that the distinctive Baptist ecclesial vision is best embodied in twelve core practices of Baptist churches and their interrelationship: covenanting, discerning, gathering, befriending, proclaiming, equipping, baptising, discipling, caring, theologising, scattering, and remembering.”

‘Seeds of the Church’ highlights what is possible when Baptists engage with people of other Christian traditions in the exploration of the common heritage of people belonging to the one household of faith.

“On my mind…”

Charles writes of the enormous honour it has been for him and Joanne to represent us in Norway. He talks of the many things going through his mind:

  • Baptists are a missionary people – mission is New Zealand Baptists DNA.
  • We need a fresh understanding of the greatness of our God – the sovereign, powerful, holy one who has no equal.
  • As a result of such confidence in God we need a greater expectation of what he is able to do, and what he can achieve through us. Let’s set bigger goals!
  • We need to have a greater commitment to prayer - it must become the foundation of all that we do.
  • It’s important we have an active global awareness - being insular, naval-gazers will limit our Kingdom contribution.
  • There are many people in the world suffering because of their Christian faith and service.
  • Relying on New Zealand media for international news is inadequate.
  • We have so much to learn from the people who are different from us.
  • Our desire for comfort and security hinders the spread of the gospel.
  • Getting side-tracked by unimportant things is such a tragedy.
  • It is good for New Zealand Baptists to be part of the BWA - to join in their initiatives, to participate in their leadership, and contribute to them financially.
  • We need a greater focus on church-planting.
  • We need to learn how to engage intelligently and biblically with young people on the issues that are important to them.
  • I love New Zealand Baptists!

See previous updates from Charles at the BWA gathering:

Update from Norway: Highlight of Day 1

Update from Norway: Highlights of Day 2

Update from BWA in Norway: Highlights of Day 3

Photos: provided by Charles Hewlett.

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