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

There are a number of things I have loved about my week…

Celebrating Arnie Hall’s induction at Nelson Baptist Church

I loved participating in the induction service of Arnie Hall to the role of pastor at Nelson Baptist Church (photo of Arnie and Aly out the front of NBC). I loved the way their colleagues, friends, and family spoke of a couple overflowing with the fruit of the Spirit and motivated by a willingness to serve others. Thanks for personifying for us the Baptist way. God has truly blessed Nelson Baptist.

Women connecting across the South

I loved receiving the photo below from Rachel Murray (Regional Leader – Otago & Southland Baptist Association). About 135 women from around the Otago and Southland region gathered at Alexandra Baptist for a day of worship, connection, and input. 

The event's theme was ‘Believing your Worth’. Here are Rachel's reflections:

"Key speaker Sarah Beisly shared on Human Flourishing, and some of the things that have the potential to curb that flourishing. Other ‘spotlight’ testimonies from women around the region highlighted many of the challenges women have and do face but also God’s goodness in provision and care. There is no doubt many were challenged, even disagreed at times, and it has created ongoing discussion about some things we don’t often delve well into! But equally many experienced God’s affirmation and healing hand through the day, some finding release after carrying decades of pain, which we are thrilled about and celebrate."

I loved receiving these photos of very healthy Baptist faith communities

Riccarton Baptist Church:

Stoke Baptist Church:

Nelson Chin Baptist Church:

In fact, I have loved travelling around the country and participating in a number of healthy Baptist church services (both big and small).

I observed how these services had a few things in common. The list is not exhaustive - but significant enough in my mind to share with you:

– Facilities looked cared for (inside and out). 

– A clear expectation from the front that God would be present and move within the service (stories were told by congregants of God acting in the concrete realities of their life – good and bad). 

– The Bible was read. 

– Space was given in the service for young people to actively participate (a 10-year old boy prayed at one service). 

– They were extremely outward looking - they gave service time to pray for gospel renewal in their neighbourhood. 

– Expectation was placed on the congregation to enact their faith - a healthy level of accountability. 

– They obviously invested in making fellowship after the service work (hanging out together was an intentional goal). 

– There was plenty of laughter.

Talking ministry and mission in Wellington

I loved my day in Wellington on Thursday. I gathered for a couple of hours with fourteen Baptist leaders in a cafe in Hutt City to talk ministry and mission.

Influencing change for people with disabilities

I loved spending time this week with Mike Potter (CEO – Disability Connect). Their mission is to lead and influence change for people with disabilities and their families.

If your faith community wants to immediately join in the mission of God, find the nearest special school and begin to serve. Trust me – your church, and the people within it, will never be the same.

"When you give a banquet, make it your habit to invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then you will be blessed because they can’t repay you."  Luke 14

Baptisms at Pakuranga Baptist Church

I loved receiving these photos from Pakuranga Baptist Church of six young people being baptised!

Jacqueline Sua writes, “Their journey to baptism began at eCamp 23, where they made a heartfelt commitment to follow Christ and expressed their desire to be baptised. These young people have been part of our Friday Intermediate Discipleship group, meeting every two weeks for fellowship, Bible study, and mutual support. It's incredible to see how this group has fostered deep bonds and encouraged each other to stand strong in their faith. This baptism marks a record for our church, surpassing the previous record of another five young people from this discipleship group baptised together in 2022.”

Isn't God amazing!

Gospel renewal in Oxford Terrace Baptist Church’s free English class

I loved receiving this news from the free English Class at Oxford Terrace Baptist Church (see photo above).

"We've had 17 people who said prayers of confession to accept Jesus as their personal Saviour, and at least 7 have confirmed that they will receive baptism. We hope there will be more."

They also write, “We had more than 100 students. It's hard to count the number precisely because people just kept coming, but we're sure there were more than 100 people from over 30 nationalities. Tonight, we had newcomers from Cambodia, Argentina, Italy, Russia, France, Somalia, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Mexico, who spoke French, Spanish, and Portuguese, etc."

This is gospel renewal.

What does gospel renewal look like in your community? We're running a photo competition, with $1000 on offer for first prize ($500 to the photographer and $500 to their church).

Take your camera/smartphone outside your church service and capture something of what God is doing in the everyday of your local church and neighbourhood.

Click here to find out more and enter 

Te Pouarataki mō te Hīkoi

From our Treaty Guide

I had the privilege to be with our Baptist Māori leadership, Te Whāriki, and an Arotahi team in Kaiteriteri. We had the amazing opportunity to participate in the pōwhiri of the national waka hourua festival hosted by Te Hau Kōmaru Trust.

This was the third festival of its kind with the purpose of raising awareness and educating people about the cultural significance and history of waka hourua, providing access to expert knowledge and fostering a deeper understanding of waka hourua traditions to keep it alive for generations to come.

This is an ongoing work of reclaiming Māori knowledge and a celebration of culture. Sean Delany, a member of Te Whāriki and Arotahi's Mahi Pai work in Motueka, took a lead role as host of the week-long festival based in Te Tau Ihu at the top of the South Island.

Carey and Ngā Pou Amorangi graduate Caleb Te Kahu, navigates this space in leadership roles with skill and passion. They are wonderful expressions of mission and ministry in the Aotearoa context.

Would you join me in praying for them in their significant roles? This is truly hand-carved mission. He honore, he korōria ki te Atua.

- Luke Kaa-Morgan

Karakia

I am aware of several families in our movement who have recently lost their mums to illness.

In this regard I asked my Executive Assistant Christine Stride to write a prayer for them. Can I encourage you to please put some time aside today and pray for those amongst us who are mourning. 

Lord God, thank you for your love for us, your children.

Thank you for giving us mothers, and those who stand in as mothers.

Lord, we cry out to you on behalf of all those who are facing or dealing with the loss of their mum.

Would you be a real presence to them in their grief. 

Cover them with your feathers, shelter them beneath your wings.

Bind up the brokenhearted. May they know your peace. 

Please prepare the hearts of those around them to help meet their needs, now and in the days ahead. 

And when those days seem too long and too difficult, God of hope, would you renew their strength.

Thank you, Lord God, for your love for us.

In Jesus' name, Amen

 

P.s. the next couple of weeks are school holidays – Charles Mail will have a break too :)

 

Photos: Provided by Charles Hewlett

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