Between 10am Thursday 15 November and 10pm Saturday 18 November four special annual events took place: BMF Conference, Pastors and Spouses Conference, Baptist Assembly and Baptist Conference. Descending on Waikato University and Hillcrest Baptist Church, pastors, leaders, delegates and contributors from across the country came to spend some quality time together. With over 470 registered delegates and 250 who specifically attended the BMF conference, over 700 gathered to discuss and be inspired by things Baptist.
There’s always a danger in saying this, but this year’s Baptist Gathering was the best yet. Not only were there lots of people in attendance but the programme put together was uplifting, encouraging, challenging and, most of all, inspiring.
From a Missionary Society perspective there was much to celebrate. The Baptist Missionary Fellowship (BMF) conference was jam packed with people and content. Led by Martin Baldwin (Caversham Baptist Church), it focused on our overseas work and featured:
• overseas workers like Ian and Colleen, Julian and Claire, and Kerry sharing their stories,
• reflections from Martin Baldwin and Nigel Irwin (Wanganui Central Baptist Church) on their GLIMPSe trip to NZBMS fields in July,
• Ian and Mairi sharing their story as they prepare to head out to South Asia early next year,
• the New Zealand based team sharing what they do,
• Gay Cochran’s introduction as our new Pastoral Care person replacing Lois Irving who is retiring shortly,
• Lois Irving sharing her appreciation for the prayer and support of BMF, and
• the induction of Lesley Bardsley into her role as BMF president.
We acknowledge that there’s still a dilemma for pastors who want to participate in the BMF Conference and attend the Pastors and Spouses Conference which runs simultaneously. This is something we need to address.
The Baptist Assembly—the AGM of the denomination—opened with some family time where two churches and over 25 Pastors were welcomed into their roles. We said farewell to NZBMS overseas workers, Graeme and Christine, and Duncan and Maureen who have served us diligently for 17 years and 8 years respectively.
Ian and Mairi were commissioned for their work in South Asia.
Craig Vernall, the Baptist Union National Leader challenged and inspired us to take responsibility for where the denomination is at and ask questions of ourselves such as, “What are the things we need to stop doing, and the things we need to start or keep doing, in order to stem the tide of decline in our movement?” This theme continued to echo throughout Assembly.
The financial result and the budget for the coming year were approved unanimously and we’re grateful for Assembly’s confidence in the activities of The Missionary Society. I was able to share a little about next year in respect to my sabbatical and the interim leadership of Rachel Murray, currently Team Leader MISSION WORLD.
On Saturday evening we (NZBMS) staged an inspiring and very visual mission presentation. The theme, “village to village,” was full of encouraging stories from our overseas fields. The challenge was the need for more people from our village (New Zealand) to answer God’s call and go to the villages of the world.
Prayer and Self Denial 2013 was also launched. The theme: To Him – What will you give God? Every one received the receptacle, a beautiful gift box.
I concluded that part of the evening with these words:
“The world is not a village. It is made up of villages. And tonight we have heard stories of God at work in villages near and far; stories of people in Thailand empowered and encouraged; stories of people in India being called and commissioned; stories of people in Bangladesh being transformed and reconciled.
“From village to village we have Kiwis like Kelvin, and Kim and Yvonne, and Ian and Mairi reaching out in the name of Jesus. This is what we are about in the New Zealand Baptist Missionary Society – New Zealand Baptists Reaching the World.
“These stories are not isolated examples either; they are the tip of the iceberg. There are many more of us out there in the villages, serving the gospel with quiet determination, touching lives and challenging cultures that don’t yet know the grace and love of God.
“But we could use more. There are still a lot of villages that haven’t heard the Good News. There are still entire communities living in the shadow of poverty and oppression. There are still millions of people living without hope or joy or true life as Jesus described it. Entire villages remain in darkness.
“It leaves us with a challenge: Who has the courage to leave their village and go to them?
Who has heard the call to visit their neighbour across the world with this message of life?
“We are committed to the mission of God in our world, and to enabling our people to participate as He has called them. We will continue this journey you have shared with us tonight – going from village to village as ambassadors of Christ. We ask you to come with us. From your village to theirs, let us take the Good News into all the world.”
With Permission From: General Directors Blog NZBMS