7.14: Pray for Myanmar.

The 7:14 AM + PM prayer is the idea of Asia Pacific Baptist Federation President Rev. Edwin Lam, as we think and pray for our brothers & sisters in Myanmar. He shared this dream for corporate prayer during a Zoom prayer meeting on Tuesday night with many Baptist leaders from around the region, inspired by 2 Chronicles 7.14. We will be joining Baptists all around Asia Pacific as they too pray at 7:14 AM + PM. Pray with us.

Pray for the safety and protection of innocent civilians.
Pray for the laying down of weapons.
Pray for restored democracy.
Pray for productive discourse.
Pray for the families of those who have lost their lives.

“He moana pukepuke e ekengia e te waka”
“A choppy sea can be navigated by a waka”

This whakataukī speaks to our time. 2020 certainly saw choppy seas here in Aotearoa, but these seem like ripples in a bathtub compared to the full global impact of COVID-19 and the economic upheavals the rest of the world is experiencing. The poor, the refugees, those who are trafficked and those who have no voice—their experience could be better described as a tsunami

The pandemic, a crisis in its own right, has brought to light many other global crises. Dr Jay Matenga1, speaking to Mission Council in December, commented that the impacts of the pandemic are like petrol on the smouldering fires of change in global mission. Trends that were merely embers prior to 2020 are now fully aflame, leaving mission agencies and churches struggling to catch up.

We at NZBMS are no exception—we’re aware that we find ourselves part of a sudden and dramatic shift, needing to listen to God’s quiet voice in the midst of a storm. But there is goodness to be found! As the Old Testament prophet Nahum recorded, “God’s way is in the whirlwind and storm.”2

So which way do we go? 

Jay quotes Nobel Memorial Prize winner, Milton Friedman—“Only a crisis produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.” In other words, there are ideas, learnings, failures, past successes and crucial insights already on our waka that give us clues to navigate the new storms. 

Psalm 107:23-24 (KJV) says,

They that go down to the sea in ships,
that do business in great waters;
these see the works of the Lord,
and His wonders in the deep.

At NZBMS, we are actively searching for the works of the Lord and seeking his wonders in the depths of the storm. We’re reassessing our waka and the lessons learned over the years. And what are we seeing? Here are at least some clues:

NZBMS began in 1885 because of the Baptist churches’ desire to send people called by God, to partner with him in his global mission. No church could do it on their own, so we joined together to achieve what we couldn’t alone. 

Since then, we have been sending and supporting global workers in India and Bangladesh, especially those working with the West Bengal people. Over a century of continuous partnership means we have formed deep roots, developed trusting relationships and been involved in significant gospel transformation in the lives of local people.

We have made mistakes. Withdrawing from Māori mission in 1888 was a costly error. For more than 60 years we felt the repercussions of that and it was only last year that an official apology was extended to Māori leaders. There is much humility needed as we seek to re-engage with, and learn from, Māori. We too have made mistakes in our Freeset journey, ones we are seeking to learn from through an independent review that is currently underway.

As all global workers who have served for more than a decade will tell you, “I learnt more and grew more than I gave.” We, in humility, need to recognise that we have more to gain through engagement in global mission than we will ever give to those we learn from, especially in our personal faith and the health of our church lives. We know our journey is one of mutual transformation. 

NZBMS is integrally linked to our Aotearoa Baptist churches and we need to share the same vision, heart and direction. Moving forward, we want to weave ourselves into the national Baptist vision as ‘a collective of faith communities bringing gospel renewal to people and places in our local neighbourhoods’.

We must stay close to the scriptures that have guided the many generations that precede us. We personally find the four great calls of Jesus to be lighthouses from which we can navigate the worst of storms. His Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) that sets the worldwide scope of God’s mission, his Great Commandment (Matthew 22:34-40) that sets our hearts to see and love our neighbour, his Great Compassion (Matthew 25:34-40) that sets how we are to love, and his Great Commitment (John 17:18-25) that sets out God’s priority for deep relationship and unity. As Jay points out, the early church had a focus on doing life together, believing that this was the greatest witness of all. 

We know the sea is rough and storms abound for so many right now, but there are always clues through which to navigate the waka. Jay’s final message to Mission Council was about resilience. God’s mission is not complete—he is still calling and awakening hearts to the needs of the world. That means we, as an organisation, have a responsibility to stay the course. We will support those who God is calling, share our resources, and form relationships that show genuine partnership and mutual learning. As Jay would say, we will continue to “#stayonmission!” Join us.

Contributor: Alan Jamieson, NZBMS General Director

References:

  1. Jay is the executive director for the World Evangelical Alliance Mission Commission and leads Mission Interlink NZ. He is at the heart of global mission conversations and well-positioned to reflect on current trends.
  2. Nahum 1:3 (New International Version).

Please email [email protected] to have your say on the strategy of NZBMS moving forward. We want you to be invested and involved! 

Dear Heavenly Father,

We pray for the people of South Asia in this tumultuous time with a lot of political, a lot of social upheaval. We pray that your peace would be upon that group of nations, upon that people, people with a lot of passion. People with a lot of love. We pray that they would come to know your love, and that your Holy Spirit would touch those nations.

We are so grateful for Your work that You are doing amongst those people. We are thankful that You’ve invited us to join that work and we pray that Your Kingdom would come to South Asia. Your Kingdom of peace and love, of grace. We pray that Your Kingdom of forgiveness and restoration would come into the lives of many in South Asia through this difficult and challenging time.

In Jesus name,

Amen 

-written by our global worker, Paul

Play is important! Kids thrive with play and play-based learning, no matter where in the world they are. So, our global workers are bringing play back.

Carol: South Asia
We've started the community play space, a play based environment, to counter local schooling methods.  Most of the local schooling is dictated and copied. There is no room for free thinking, students simply recite what the teacher has told them.  Play based learning encourages children to think creatively, be resourceful, and use things in different ways.  When we first started, children were playing one dimensionally. They would only use toys for their intended purpose or in the way we had set them up.  For example when we first started, the green fabric under the doll houses couldn’t be moved it, it needed to stay where it was.  Now it’s used to create a hut between the table and the kitchen counters.  In the week before we closed due to Coronavirus, children started making their own masks using paper. One day we ran out of staples for the stapler. Instead of giving up, my friend looked around for what else she could use – a hole punch and some string to tie it together!  Creative thinking, being resourceful and persevering are all things we learn through play and creativity. Through play, if something doesn’t work the first time, we look for solutions, we adapt, we try something else.  We want to encourage this creative resilience within our community.

Robyn: South East Asia
Near our house, in the community we serve, there are a number of families with children. Our children play with these kids. Initially, they would play together with balls and bikes on the small lane each evening. One day, our kids invited their new friends to come play at our house. We set up a room with toys, blocks, and colouring in activities, and outside we have a trampoline, basketball, and soccer ball they can play with. We soon regularly had around 10-15 children come over to play in the evenings after school. This started informally, but we soon realised the importance of providing opportunities and space for them to play. In this country, children learn in formal classrooms by rote learning. We wanted to encourage creativity and freedom to choose how and what to play with at our house. Nearly all of the children in our neighbourhood live with their older grandparents. Some of them live with just their mum or grandmother, and therefore they have no adult male role model at home. These kids particularly enjoy interacting and playing with Josh, for example by kicking the soccer ball around together. We have enjoyed getting to know the children, talking with them, encouraging them, and meeting their families.

Dr Christina Baird PhD, Founder and Director of Bread & Pomegranates, is a psychologist, coach and professional supervisor helping people to critically reflect, explore the future and respond creatively through one-on-one sessions and group reflective learning opportunities. This article was originally published by Missions Interlink in the April 2020 Bulletin.

You may have noticed an increase in people’s fear and worry in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. When we face something this large and this unknown it is natural for people to be scared and worried.

Here are some strategies that you can use to support people who are trying to cope with their fears and worries. In a nutshell: express sympathy, help them to soothe their own feelings, encourage them to be specific about their worries and help them strategise how to manage things that remain in their control.

SYMPATHISE

Respond to the emotion that is behind whatever is being expressed, rather than the details that are given. If someone says they think schools should be closed now, rather than debating that, say something like, "it sounds like you are really worried about your children getting sick". Then normalise the fear and worry that you notice, “It is really natural to be concerned and worried right now, those worries are a normal part of facing danger.” Encourage the person you are working with to explore their feelings and allow them to be, as a natural response to a changing world. Ask if they have any kind friends or family members they can talk to, or suggest they journal or draw about their feelings as a way of accepting them as a normal response. You may also like to enquire about any past trauma or anxiety disorders that may be being exacerbated by the current situation, and encourage them to seek appropriate help with them.

SOOTHE

Living with constant worry, concerns and fears puts our physiology into heightened alertness. It is important that the person you are supporting has strategies to calm (or regulate) their body and mind so that they are able to have some time when they are switching off. You are probably familiar with the fight or flight system that our bodies have, but they also come with soothing systems that help us wind down from the fight or flight response. One of the key ways to activate the soothing system is through affection and bonding with others (this releases oxytocin and other soothing neurochemicals). Encourage the person you are working with to identify a family member or friend who makes them feel safe, connected and loved. They may need to develop strategies for how they will remain in contact with them. At this time when we are being encouraged not to touch others, it can be useful to know that we can use soothing touch to calm ourselves. This can be as simple as giving ourselves a hug or placing our hand on our heart. Talk to the worried person about ways to calm their body too. Activities like prayer, meditation, mindfulness and singing all have calming effects. Breathing exercises are particularly effective, these should be slow and even, deep abdominal breaths, and the out-breath should be longer than the in-breath like a deep sigh.

SPECIFY

People tend to express a vague and amorphous sense of dread. I suspect that some of it is grief that their expectations of safety and how the world works have been turned upside down, but often they can’t articulate that yet. Help them to become more curious about their fear and worry, ask them to specify what it is exactly that worries them. You may say something like “there are so many things to be worried about in this situation, is there something specific that you are afraid or concerned about?"

If you have the time you can gently explore with them what their two or three most pressing worries are.

STRATEGISE

The most stressful situations are ones that are unpredictable and out of our control. When someone is stressed and worried, it can be helpful to assist them to identify things that they can control. Prompt them to make plans and to prepare for things that they might be worried about. Empowering them to take action on the things that remain in their control can help them regain a sense of agency that strengthens them in the face of their worries. Reinforce that no matter how uncertain the world becomes, their behaviour is still within their control. They can still take action in line with their beliefs, values and principles and they can still take action to improve their well-being. If you notice that the person you are working with is very stressed and anxious about all the COVID-19 related information (and misinformation) suggest to them that they limit the media that they consume. Sticking to 1 or 2 reliable sources once or twice a day may be an action they can take to improve their well-being. Finally, it can be helpful to remind the people you help that, on the whole, people are resourceful, adaptable and resilient and that the majority of people cope with disaster remarkably well— coming through it stronger and with a greater sense of who they are and what is important to them. Reassure them that they too can be resourceful, adaptable and resilient, and they will have surprising abilities to cope with whatever they face in the coming days.

Christina Baird can be contacted for virtual appointments by email at: [email protected]

Sona wants to share her story with you! Our global workers Peter and Leonora have been so encouraged by Sona's transformation. We really do believe Jesus is working in all hearts.

“My name is Sona and I am 14 years old. I have a mother, and a sister who is married. My father left me when I was very little. In August 2019, I received an Operation Christmas Child giftbox containing various beautiful gifts. I felt very special and so happy because I had never received a gift like this before. The Sunday School teacher explained that Jesus sent this gift for me, so I desired to know more about Jesus and started attending the Church here. It was at Church that I came to know that God loves me. I now regularly attend Church. I am changed on the inside, and right throughout my life.

I used to feel alone, but not anymore.
I used to feel irritated, but not anymore.
I used to fight often, but not anymore.

I used to feel insecure because I had no father, but now I am so full of confidence because I have two fathers’- the Heavenly Father, and Pastor Baba.

The local women question, and scold me, but nothing will shake my love for the Lord Jesus!

During a dream, Lord Jesus told me to take a water baptism, but my pastor told me to wait due to my age. In February, I received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit! I am so happy to be in the Lord. I love Jesus with all my heart.”  

Leonora is just as excited as Sona is: “Sona is so passionate about sharing Jesus! Please pray for her. Her mother does not celebrate her new found faith and seeks to hold her back. It could be an issue if her mother arranges a marriage for her that will take her off track.”

Arohanui to Sona and all those on their own faith journey.

This Easter weekend our greatest resource is prayer.

If you and your church could take ten minutes this Easter to pray, and if every Baptist church took up this challenge our prayers would be multiplied to thousands of hours of prayer time. 

Pray for the people the Baptist churches of NZ have sent overseas and the communities they live and work in. Prayer that the poor and vulnerable of the world desperately need at this time. 

I pray that this Easter, which will be so different for us all, that you can remember Mary and the disciples self-isolating in the upper room as they reflected and took on board the full impact of that first Easter and waited for what God would do next. A passage that is helping me in this time is Isaiah 30 v 15 – ‘In returning and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength'

May the suffering and risen Christ be with you this weekend.

Alan Jamieson

We now live in a world that feels and looks different to the one we were in just over a month ago. As I write this, I can hear the call to prayer from outside but cannot hear anything else. There is no honking of horns, no shouting, no construction noise, no street sellers calling about what they’re selling, no planes flying overhead. It is, for the most part, silent. Those of you who have experienced this part of the world will understand just how eerie that is. This is the city that never sleeps and has a constant loud hum of noise at all hours due to the seething mass of humanity that lives here. This is the city which has roads that are constantly crowded and bustling with all manner of vehicles and occasional livestock, honking and shouting and crashing together.

And it’s quiet. 

I’ve been here for eight years, and have experienced a few different situations that have forced people into their houses, but nothing as quiet as this. It is incredibly strange and rather unsettling. I went out yesterday to get some things and there are people out, but no buses and traffic on the roads, and everyone is moving quickly with a sense of purpose- no chatting.

My students have written a bit about the current situation and I thought I might include an excerpt written by a Class 9 student.

“At the moment it is complicated how I feel about the Global Pandemic of Covid 19. Many countries have been locked down just to save them from the virus, but they have not only locked us down, they have locked down the factories, the garment industry and transportation. People who are daily labourers are starving. A single microorganism has paralysed civilization.

I complain of boredom, and it is horrible to be stuck inside our apartment, but as a middle class family we haven’t had any problems yet. We have enough of what we need and have all our family at home. My father told me that, ‘we people always complain that we don’t have time to spend with family, but now Allah has blessed us.’ 

I pray to our creator and I believe that this will be over and we can recover.” 

There are many people here who are not only vulnerable to the virus, but also to the fact that they cannot earn any money to feed their family. Many people in this community earn a daily wage, which, due to lockdown, has been taken away from them and there is no margin for them to face the future with. On top of that, with all businesses currently closed, food prices are skyrocketing, further damaging those who are already struggling.  

Like all of you, I am missing seeing ‘my people’ all the time. I feel very far away from my family, but am very grateful for modern technology and also grateful for my community here, who are another kind of family.”

Written by our global worker, Carley.

Covid19 has hit the world hard and fast. The health impacts of the pandemic have resulted in unprecedented travel restrictions and bans worldwide. Just as we face restrictions and challenges here in NZ, our people overseas and the communities they serve are also dealing with the consequences of the virus outbreak. While this may seem alarming, please know that NZBMS is monitoring the situation carefully, and Crisis Management Teams, in our South and South East Asia fields, have been set up to ensure the safety of our people.

At this stage, we have not decided to bring anyone home; however, our team have been advised that we will repatriate anyone who wishes to return to New Zealand.

Just like us, our overseas team and partners are trusting in God and praying for their communities where rumours and fear spread easily. There is genuine concern for the poor as foodstuffs become scarce, prices rise and jobs begin to disappear. Pray for them, their experience of God’s peace and leading and for their communities. Our teams overseas are actively planning their response to their communities.

A message from Alan Jamieson, General Director

We are in a global village. This bug is affecting us all -everywhere. Including the people we have sent into global mission work and their communities. We are in regular communication with them and very aware of the personal anxiety, community fear and economic impacts. Again, it is the vulnerable and poor who are hurt the most. The very people we are specifically called to love and who our people’s prayers and actions are focused on. As you encourage your church to pray this weekend we would ask that you specifically encourage them to pray for God’s people world-wide including those we have sent in global mission. There are some prayer resources attached that could be helpful to resource your church with.

We are in regular communication with our teams overseas. They are all aware that should they determine they need to come home we fully respect their decision and will support them return immediately. We have also set up Crisis Management Teams in specific countries. The appointed crisis team leaders are pulling together their teams, and making plans for how they will respond. Andrew, as head of Tranzsend, and I will be daily assessing the global risk factors and in contact with our crisis management teams in each country we work.

History shows that diseases like this have spread globally before and in these times some Christians have heard God’s voice and shone in prayer and actions to the surprise of society and drawing many to faith in Jesus Christ. Let’s pray that we too would hear God’s voice, pray and obey in our time to shine. 

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